Hello BoFN fans and welcome to the last day of 2013. We started the month with a Swiss-American and it looks like we’ll be ending the month with an American of Swiss decent. In some weird way, Arto and I have segued a mind meld on topics that don’t even jive this time. If you read his post yesterday, you’ll see the connection . . . read on if you dare!
How was your Christmas? Perhaps you got the new X-Box or Play Station for Christmas. Maybe you or someone you know, plays MMORPG’s (for those of you not in the know—like me—it’s Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game—phew). Feeling the acronym love here.
Take a step back in time before the advent of online gaming and what do we have? RPG’s, the diet version of MMORPG. (Tomorrow’s when the diet resolution kicks in, right?)
Meet Ernest Gary Gygax, the father of and co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons and founder of Gen Con, the gaming convention.
You have to love a man who’s initials spell E.G.G.. *Fannie geek glasses steam up.*
Gary was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 27, 1938, a few blocks from Wrigley Field. In 1946, he was involved with a large group of boys in a brawl. As a result, his father, Ernst Gygax—a Swiss immigrant and a violinist for the Chicago Symphony—packed up the family and moved them to his mother’s home town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. (Perhaps Liz can tell us where that is? 😉 )
During this time young Gary developed a passion for games and a love of fantasy and science fiction literature. By the age of ten, he and his friends played games that today would be called live action role-playing games.
Fast forward a few years, married, five children, the oldest named Ernest, and going to school, he decided to forego his bachelor’s degree for a job in insurance. A few years later he lost his job. To make ends meet he worked in shoe repair, which gave him more time to work on his role-playing games.
By the early 1970’s he found work with Guidon Games, giving him experience in the game industry. In October 1973, he and partners, Don Kaye and Brian Blume, founded the publishing company, Tactical Studies Rules, later known as TSR, Inc.. By 1974, the first commercial version of D&D was released as a boxed set.
His partner, Don, died a year later from a heart attack. Brian Blume’s father, Melvin, bought out Don’s widow, saving the company.
In 1979, Michigan State University student, James Dallas Egbert III (I loved that there were three of them), made headlines by allegedly disappearing into the school’s steam tunnels while playing a live-action version of the game. It generated a lot of negative publicity for D&D.
In 1982, Patricia Pulling’s son killed himself. She blamed D&D for her son’s suicide, and formed B.A.D.D. (Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons). Gary received death threats and had to hire a body guard. As a result of all the publicity, TSR’s annual gross sales of D&D rose to $16 million U.S. dollars.
Leaving TSR in 1986, he went on to author several books and continued to design games until his death on March 4, 2008 in his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
He once said, “I would like the world to remember me as the guy who really enjoyed playing games and sharing his knowledge and his fun pastimes with everybody else.”