Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tackiest headline ever

As some of you may have heard, Gary Gygax, the cocreator of the immensely popular game, Dungeons and Dragons, died yesterday at the age of 69. I played my share of D&D as a kid, forging many adolescent friendships over those campaigns. The game has been responsible for reinforcing (and in some cases, helping to actively define) the fantasy genre for more than thirty years now. It was even featured in the film, E.T., at the height of its popularity. (And don’t get me started on Mazes and Monsters, first a novel and then a dreadful film, released the same year as E.T., and starring a young Tom Hanks.) D&D was also the forefather of new games like the customizable card game, Magic: The Gathering, as well as online games like Everquest and World of Warcraft — though the text-based MUD culture was an intermediary facilitator in their development.

So what’s the tackiest headline you can imagine for announcing his death? How about this one — “D&D cocreator Gary Gygax now beyond scope of healing spells.” And yes, this is a real headline. Here’s the source. For their sake, I hope they roll a 20 on their “save vs. hatemail” throw. Heh.

13 comments:

  1. Gary Schmidt3/06/2008 9:09 AM

    That is pretty tacky, I must say.

    BTW, looking over that Wikipedia page, you'll notice that Gygax is tied with a certain someone for 18th most infuential in fantasy gaming circles. A pretty interesting coincidence, wouldn't you say?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good catch, Gary! And yes, quite an interesting coincidence. I didn’t follow that link myself, but I’m glad you did. Did you ever play Dungeons & Dragons back when?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Gary Schmidt3/06/2008 10:41 AM

    Naah, I was too busy making simulated baseball games with my vast collection of cards. What wouldn't I have given for Fantasy Baseball back then? :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. In a way, that’s really pretty similar, except that instead of STR, INT, WIS, DEX, and CON, you have AB, HR, RBI, ERA, and the like. And instead of a Dungeon Master, you have to do your best Harry Caray impression. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jason

    What a passing - I remember when I was a teenager in Flordia and a group of us went and purchased the first three D&D books and spent a weekend trying to figure out how to play the game. This became two years of weekend marathon games where I usually played the Dungeon Master (I like being a sub creator). Ah well, the Deck of Many Things will live on for ever!

    Andy

    ReplyDelete
  6. Andy. Yeah, and more regrettable because 69 is not really that old. But he’d been in very poor health for a long time now. I had similar experiences to what you describe, which I remember with great nostalgia. I can recall many D&D games around the campfire on Boy Scout camping trips. The Bag of Holding was my favorite artifact!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I never played D & D but felt its influence in MUDs and elsewhere, including the DragonLance and other pulp fantasy books I devoured as a kid. Now it's hard for me to read many of them because they're so poorly written, as I discuss here, but some of the better fantasy novels like the His Dark Materials trilogy and others no doubt came in part thanks to D & D.

    Anyhow, although this is something a platitude, Gygax will be missed, but his legacy will live on.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I spent many a night during the early 1990’s stuck in the MUD myself. :) And I’ve read much of the same pulp you condemn in your blog post, as well as the stuff you praised. Not just Le Guin and Pullman, but Alan Garner, Lloyd Alexander, Neil Gaiman. I could go on ...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Gygax had a sense of humor, too! Remember his appearance (as himself) in Futurama? :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I never saw that (I’ve not seen more than a handful of episodes of Futurama), but it does sound funny. One of my friends is always telling me how I come across like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. I’m picturing something similar with Gygax ...?

    (And BTW, don’t you think “Gygax” totally sounds like the name of some kind of Dragon? Like Chrysophylax. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. One of my friends is always telling me how I come across like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. I’m picturing something similar with Gygax ...?

    You don't remind me of Comic Book Guy, but I suppose all of us Tolkien geeks must make a similar impression on non-geeks. It probably has something to do with speaking Sindarin:)

    Gygax, BTW, does remind me of Comic Book Guy! Actually, half the guys in the local comic and RPG stores look like Comic Book Guy. The rest are nerdy teenagers/college students. If the geek level is too high, I wait in the car and read a book while my husband (a comic collector) shops. Besides, it's embarrassing to run unto my students there. LOL.

    (And BTW, don’t you think “Gygax” totally sounds like the name of some kind of Dragon? Like Chrysophylax. :)

    Totally! I think some RPG (The Illuminati, perhaps) had a rule-quoting monster called a "Gygax." :)

    BTW, our D&D group from high school still plays almost every week. I quit a couple of years ago because I didn't understand the 3rd ed. -- and now they are coming out with a 4th ed.! That makes me feel really old because I remember the original box set (with the booklet size books).

    ReplyDelete
  12. I don’t collect comics myself (though I still have a few), and I haven’t played D&D in about twenty-five years. Still, the cultural impact of Gygax and the legions of “dungeon dwellers” and Comic Book Guys is undeniable. (Oh, and I don’t speak Sindarin either. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. (Oh, and I don’t speak Sindarin either. :)

    I wish I did. :)

    ReplyDelete