I never met Gary Gygax, although I once did a book signing with Dave Arneson, who was the other creator of Dungeons and Dragons. I wasn’t much of a D&D player, although my best friend was, and D&D was the inspiration behind two of the games I loved most, the SF role-playing game Traveller and the computer game Akalabeth. D&D also served as the basis for the fiction of the fantasy writer that I imitated in learning how to write my own fiction, Joel Rosenberg.
Gygax and Arneson unlocked a world of imagination for tens of thousands of bored teenage boys. The computer game industry owes as much to them as it owes to Tolkein, Wozniak, and Jobs. Even today, the basic mechanisms they created are still operative in games like The World of Warcraft, indeed, they are so dominant that it is difficult for game designers to even conceive of mechanisms to replace them.
Too often we lionize those who come later, those who cash in, and we forget the conceptual giants upon whose shoulders they stand, who many times are bypassed and ignored by the very industries they created. Every role-playing gamer, every fantasy reader, every computer game player, owes a genuine debt to Gary Gygax. Roll your favorite D20 today in his honor.