D&D Love

Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax died last week.

Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax died last week. Source: Vanessa Pike-Russell hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Vanessa Pike-Russell

Dungeons & Dragons has been a cultural line-in-the-sand for a long time. If you play it, you're a nerd. If you don't, you make fun of those who do.

Even if you don't actively make jokes about the gamers, you can probably nod knowingly when someone else uses D&D as a descriptor, or makes a comment about a multi-sided die. But Adam Rogers, senior editor at Wired, has a more-nuanced reaction to the game. A professed D&D gamer himself, he says that while it never helped him get girls, it did help him understand the world. Read his tribute to creator Gary Gygax, who died Tuesday here, and leave your D&D memories below.



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D&D provides an opportunity for people to engage in collaborative storytelling, an art sorely lacking in modern America. It allows a group of friends to see how moral and philosophical issues play out in a fictional universe under their collective control.

As such, it is not simply escapism for the socially inept, but it is a creative, communal activity.

Sent by Ryan | 2:45 PM | 3-10-2008

Dungeon and Dragons is a game which only kept people out of the real world and what I saw in D & D was folks who never took care of their bodies or even looked for a decent job.

I am so glad I never got addicted to this sad non-drug like addiction.

Sent by Stephen | 2:46 PM | 3-10-2008

I've been playing D&D since 1974 (do the math). I'm still playing.

As a note, D&D allowed me to be some one else. I now do the same by preforming at the ren fair. I believe that D&D might have been a trigger to get me out as a thesbien.

Sent by Paul W Regge (pronounced Reggae) | 2:50 PM | 3-10-2008

As a girl who did play D&D it was an awesome way to meet and hang out with the smart boys. And I did like it as well.

Sent by Laura Lee | 2:52 PM | 3-10-2008

At 52, the standing game I attended when I was playing d & d had more women than men. And the two quietest women players somehow managed to save the whole team at critical moments.

Sent by Deborah Rhein | 2:54 PM | 3-10-2008

Per the Italy phone caller, where were the girls? As a younger sister of an avid D&D player, I would have loved to have joined in the fun at the round table... if only they had unlocked the basement door!

Sent by N. | 2:54 PM | 3-10-2008

D&D and the world of possibilities that through hard work (the eternal quest) and determination that any dream was possible. I will mourn Mr gygax's passing and I thank him for his cultural contibution. :) I also play WoW.

Sent by Rob | 2:54 PM | 3-10-2008

My question is if D&D helped people with Asperger's understand how to interact socially? It seems that the diagnosis rate for this condition is higher now, but that incidence of the disease used to be about the same in the past. I'm wondering if anyone with Asperger's had that experience, or anyone with a friend who had Asperger's did.

Sent by Leah in Oregon | 2:55 PM | 3-10-2008

Hi! I'm a woman who wanted to play D&D in the late 1970s. I think the reason I never did was because had no idea how to get the boys to invite me. (Of course, they didn't know how to invite me either!) Now, I would just barge in and invite myself, but I was less assertive at age 11.

Sent by Laura South | 2:55 PM | 3-10-2008

As a 49 yr old woman who played D&D for over 15 years with a group, I've always had fun and I never thought of myself as a "real" geek. I'm not playing now because I'm writing books instead as well as participating creating in open-source software as a high-end user.

Sent by Beth Hynes-Ciernia | 2:55 PM | 3-10-2008

RIP Gary Gygax! I am a female in my mid-30s and I played D&D, with mostly all boys, in high school. They are still some of my best friends. I'm not, however, a programmer or engineer. I fell for D&D not only because of the smart, funny, kind guys I played with, but because I loved theater and saw this as an extension of playing a character. One of the best memories of my life - getting through an adventure together and then laughing our heads off.

Sent by Kristin in Louisville | 2:56 PM | 3-10-2008

I think of D&D as a "romantic" alternative reality/persona. And as such I think of it along side the hippy romantic role playing - e.g. "Society for Creative Anachronism" and "Renaissance Fairs" and bands such as Fairport Convention

Sent by Ford Johnson | 2:56 PM | 3-10-2008

I personally think that the greatest thing that role-playing games have given us as a society is a notion of the value of cooperative, as opposed to adversarial, gaming. That we can have fun working with each other instead of against each other.

Sent by Carleton | 2:57 PM | 3-10-2008

I was saddened to hear of Gary's demise. I started playing in 1980 (and met and married my wife because of the game) and still play periodically with my two daughters and our best friends kids.

Sent by Randy | 2:57 PM | 3-10-2008

I played almost daily from 1981 through the end of that decade and less son through the mid-90s as life continued to interfere. I found that the constraints of alignment were more interesting in the game than those of the character attributes. I still characterize everyone i meet in terms of their alignment.

All my friends that used to make up our group now are into WoW or work at Renaissance Fairs. I barely have time to earn enough money to pay my credit card minimums with two jobs now.

Sent by Lawd High Imgwanna Kikbudee | 2:58 PM | 3-10-2008

I am 42 and have played since 78' and DND taught me to read complex rules and establish critical thinking at that young age. And much much more. I game today with hi-tek stuff at my fingertips at home and over the net with friends for AZ. Thanks, Gary!

Sent by Corey | 3:00 PM | 3-10-2008

Thank you for the story on D&D. Some of us still play D&D online (www.ddo.com)I wish i could find a good group of pen and paper where I live.

Sent by Momps | 3:01 PM | 3-10-2008

Everyone's talking as if Gary Gygax invented D&D by himself. Dave Arnson deserves as much credit for the game as Gary does. He also was the creator of the first game module.

According to urban legend, Dave Arnson also still owns the rights to the game for all activities at and beyond the orbit of the Moon.

Sent by Lew Wolkoff | 3:01 PM | 3-10-2008

I picked up the original boxed set when I was 8 years old in 1979 and still hold an enormous amount of affection for D&D to this day, one that no amount of relaunches or bad movies based on the property have managed to dispel. I've expanded to other role-playing games and to video games but D&D will always hold a special place in my heart.

To the previous poster who compared this to an addiction, I suggest that there is selection bias in the D&D players you identified.

Sent by Steve | 3:03 PM | 3-10-2008

I was the shy girl in high school. While playing D&D, I could express the parts of me that I didn't feel comfortable expressing in the high school world.

It also taught me a lot about the opposite sex. I don't think I've had a boyfriend since that didn't play D&D at some point. My husband and I gamed with friends on a regular basis. He's always been proud that he didn't marry a "typical girl".

Most of the guys I played with are now in the computer industry and make really good money. The girls they have married are lucky indeed to have found these guys, who tend to be more thoughtful, considerate and compassionate in their relationships.

Gary G, we will miss you.

Sent by Kelly | 3:03 PM | 3-10-2008

what DID you get addicted to, Stephen?
I've had at least one and usually two full-time jobs since I was 14 in 1975 and still managed to eat and shower and play Ultimate Frisbee and take care of my body at least as well as my "jock" peers, who mostly sit behind desks and bemoan their ever expanding body parts.

Sent by Rich | 3:06 PM | 3-10-2008

I Played D&D in high school and while reflecting on my old friends who I gamed with I realized that none of them have done anything with there lives. two are in prison, two others are drug addicts, and the rest all still live with their parents. D&D is a great way to isolate a large group of people in a fantasy world when the real world slapped my friends in the face they reached for their +10 mace and it wasn't there.

Sent by Nick | 3:10 PM | 3-10-2008

Dungeons and Dragons is THE cultural reference, I realized this through 20 years in the navy, and college. If someone falls and you comment "oops, missed that dex check" (for non-gamers that means you failed to roll the right number or lower on your 20 sided die to indicate success or faileur), and if people "get the reference" then you know. In response to the gentleman who seems to think that gamers don't take care of themselves, I say phooey on you. D&D sparked my interest in backpacking, caving, sea-kayaking, snowshoeing and camping. All those things are sort of things my characters had to do to get from dungeon to dungeon. Neener-neener.

Sent by Fred | 3:10 PM | 3-10-2008

This is the real treasure I found in Dungeons & Dragons: D&D marked the evolution from finite games (i.e. chess, Monopoly, etc.) to infinite games. Creativity was encouraged in the written rules. They were the starting point, "more like guidelines," to build upon. Games lasted for months or years, as long as the group of players lasted. The game evolved and grew as the players themselves did, a much better model for learning to succeed in real life.

Sent by Timothy | 3:22 PM | 3-10-2008

I have played D&D since the small-sized edition in 1979 and continue to play the current edition, too. While just a game, D&D has had a profound impact on my life. It opened a world of literature and mythology to me and, after spending years learning about medieval technology, life and culture, and warfare, I am working on a B.A. in History focusing on medieval and late Renaissance Europe and hope to soon start my M.A. and become a college professor. It also has lead me into discovering the Nordic-Germanic past of my ancestors thus greatly enriching my life with a better understanding of where my forefathers came from. Also, I have made many friendships during my gaming career that I still treasure to this day.

Gary Gygax, along with the other two "G's", i.e. George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, and Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, have fueled the imaginations of two generations of science fiction and fantasy fans and have ensured the lasting success of the two genres in film, television, books, comic books, computer and pen-and-paper games, thousands upon thousands of websites, and formed the roots of an ever-growing tree that may lose leaves every now and then but shall never wilt.

Sent by Larry Fausnacht | 3:29 PM | 3-10-2008

Everyone has their own lessons to learn in life, and I am glad to say that D&D has helped me with mine. Not only that, but it fueled my interest in anthropology and now I have a degree in it, I met the love of my life thru game, I have a permanent subject to talk about with my dad, and last but not least, I have made lasting friendships with people who are fun, creative, and who work well as a team together. If it wasn't for D&D I would be a sad girl. Thank you Gary Gygax... Happy dragon hunting...

Sent by Barbie Smith | 3:44 PM | 3-10-2008

I have played D&D since 1980. I don't play as much or as regularly these days but I do still play. I was saddened at the news of Gary Gygax's passing. I met him once at Dragoncon in Atlanta. As an aside to D&D players never taking care of themselves. While its true I am out of shape and overweight NOW I continued to play D&D as an airborne infantryman in the mid 80s and I was certainly in very good shape then.

Sent by Nolan Tomlinson | 4:05 PM | 3-10-2008

I've been playing RPGs for 20 years...and I started with D&D. I've moved onto other pen and paper RPGs (many of them done via PBEM--Play by Email). But if not for Dave and Gary and D&D, they would likely never have existed for me to enjoy.

Sent by Paul | 4:17 PM | 3-10-2008

I still play DND and consider myself an Epic Nerd when it comes to the game. I just celebrated a 40th Birthday with an honorary game titled "Against the Giants". Through DND I have built friendships that are still strong thirty years later. Thank you Gary!

Sent by Trevor Swanson | 4:47 PM | 3-10-2008

I too have been playing for the better part of the last 20+ years of my life. I have a loving gamer wife, and am currently on course to getting my BS, then moving on to masters. This is after spending 4 years in the Airborne infantry also. I will miss Gary and the world is a darker place because of his passing. As to whether geeks take care of themselves, I think that's just a people thing... some more sporty people live in dumps, thinking of their days playing sports, it's more the "person" than it is the sub-culture.

Sent by Cameron | 5:11 PM | 3-10-2008

I loved D&D in Jr. High. Too bad it had such a social stigma about it or I would have kept playing, and been a lot happier embracing my inner nerd than fighting it (with a +2 magic sword). I'm still a nerd, really. :)

Sent by Brad | 6:52 PM | 3-10-2008

Now in my mid-thirties, I'm still closest with the high school friends with whom I played countless hours of the game over a five or six year span -- until college graduations occurred and we all moved to different parts of the planet.

I've lost track of just one of the seven of us, sadly. The rest: all happily married and "well-adjusted" (as far as I can tell), raising 11 children, with jobs on the higher end of the technical and compensation scales, all but one with Masters or Ph.D. degrees.

We still get together to game, though no longer to play time-intensive D&D.

If one of my children reaches teenage years without much enthusiasm for school, I hope he or she will find something like Dungeons & Dragons to encourage his or her creativity, build vocabulary (Mr. Gygax' books were crammed with words you'd only find on an SAT exam otherwise), and learn teamwork and leadership in an utterly safe environment.

Here's to you, Mr. Gygax!

Sent by Alex | 7:57 PM | 3-10-2008

I have to laugh at those that say all gamers have no life, no brain and no hygiene.

I have gamed with a geneticist, a science teacher, a computer network specialist and currently have 3 future teachers(2 art, 1 history) in my gaming group. None of them have "gamer funk" and they are all living productive lives. Of course there are the people that don't do anything and escape to D&D. That kind of personality can also escape into drugs, alcohol, etc.

My only regret is that I didn't discover it sooner. Gamers are the most open-minded and understanding people I have ever met.

Sent by Sandy | 9:36 PM | 3-10-2008

I'm 41 years old and since 1984, I still play Dungeons & Dragons, among a LOT of other RPGs, most Friday nights with good friends of mine. The time our wives (then girlfriends) thought we would tire of it has never come and nothing beats the interactive storytelling/conflict resolution, jokes and retelling of past adventures to the sound a rolling die 20. Thank you Mr. Gygax for all the decades of fun, friends, tall tales and memories we created based in a world of your making.

Sent by Owen | 10:10 PM | 3-10-2008

I've been playing tabletop games for over twentyfive years. Contrary to the stereotypes, the players I've met have come from a variety of backgrounds and occupations. Their one common denominator besides their interest in gaming was independent thinking.
The greatest benefit I get from gaming is the friendships I've made over the years; they're a bunch of 'two o'clock in the morning' friends.
Thanks for everything, Gary. You and your fellow game inventors brought a great deal of enjoyment to the world and indirectly brought a lot of friends together.

Sent by John Koester | 11:39 PM | 3-10-2008

I was introduced to D&D when I was 15 years old. I didn???t just learn to use acid on trolls or use a mirror to fight a medusa; I learned that my actions affected my future. If I worked hard, I could achieve greatness.

Sent by Don | 3:24 AM | 3-11-2008