Last week, Gary Gygax, the creator of Dungeons and Dragons passed away. When I was a kid, in the early eighties, you either played D&D and or you didn’t, and I did. I went through a few years of playing a little, not as intensely as some, but a fair amount nonetheless. In D&D I found an outlet for my imagination, and in an era when computer games got no more interesting than Pac-Man, it was a blessing to be engaged in play like that.
My seven year old son is a gamer. I taught him the basics of D&D and we play computer generated campaigns from time to time, slaying piles of orcs and collecting bits and pieces of treasure. He plays other games as well, and he has a fairly impressive Lord of the Rings Warhammer collection for one so young, specializing in Uruk-hai.
So it was with some sadness that I learned of Gygax’s death, and I spent a bit of time reading the reminiscences on Metafilter and feeling a sense of gratitude for the explosiove manifestation of this man’s imagination. I even heard from my childhood mentor, Hanns Skoutajan, who was the minister at my church and who knew me when my gaming instinct was quite sharp. I think at one point he and I were discussing some typical crises in the life of a teenage boy and he said it was a “character building experience.” My reply was “I’d rather roll dice.”
Gygax was influential in many ways. In my life he helped provide some small ground for relationships, between friends who had minds as active and insatiable as mine, between the adults that cared for me and now, between me and my son where we play together in the arena of the imagination.