TIME Bids Fond Farewells to Gary Gygax, Randy Pausch

TIME is currently running a 2008 retrospective, including a section on notable passings which pays homage to a pair of influential gaming figures.

Everyone who follows gaming knows Gary Gygax, of course. Of the D&D creator, TIME writes:

A college dropout from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Gygax was one of the creators of a game that transformed popular culture… Dungeons & Dragons sold millions of copies in the 1970s and 1980s and laid the cultural groundwork for movies such as The Lord of the Rings, video games like World of Warcraft and a generation of fantasy writers and fans…

Also mentioned is Carnegie Mellon prof Randy Pausch, who founded CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center and is best known for his inspirational last lecture, which was later expanded into book length. From TIME:

He could have canceled the lecture. He was, after all, dying of pancreatic cancer. Instead, Pausch, a computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon, delivered a wise, funny talk on the great themes: Captain Kirk, football and how to live your life. Pausch also showed us how to die: calmly, gracefully and gratefully.

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  1. Benjamin_Snow says:

    Gygax is one of the main reason why I want to be a game designer and a vg music compoer.  Randy himself was just a great men who inspired so many.


    R.I.P to them both.

    "We may be human, but we’re still animals" -Steve Vai (World’s greatest guitarist!)

  2. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    Oh, God. You again. *sigh*


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  3. LoopyChew says:

    While I can see "D&D-is-the-devil" people celebrating Gygax’s death, what kinda of d-wad would celebrate Randy Pausch’s death?  Was there some controversy I was unaware of?

  4. Spartan says:

    QFT +++


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  5. hellfire7885 says:

    Both great men we lost this year.


    Breaks my heart to think there are people who will actually celebrate their deaths.

  6. Spartan says:

    It would be great if GP/GC would start a "hall of heroes" for fallen people such as these.


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  7. TheMouse says:

    I think what is ment by the comment that D&D influenced LOTR movies, is that if it were not for D&D and its creators, The LOTR series of books might have faded just enough that Hollywood would never have considered making a movie out of them.. Gary Gygax helped bring Fantasy into the mainstream  by helping to build a driving industry that precursored the fantasy movie and videogame generes.

    I think Mr.Gygax and others like him are… Heros of the Imagination..

  8. finaleve says:

    Gary is going to be rolling in his grave…perfect 20’s

    …its hard to take that offensive or not considering who it is.  Anyways…it was a sad moment in life in this house, considering everyone here has played the game.

  9. Adamas Draconis says:

    Wow I used to have some of those core books. Even incorporated parts into our D&D game. (Like the Wolfen empire, what a shock for the ranger who’s enemy was Lycanthropes.)

    Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

  10. Kris says:

    I don’t want to knock Gygax for doing some fantastic work, but LotR grew popular in the 60s and early 70s, before D&D was created in ’74.

    While the two cultures are probably intermixed, I doubt the game had much (if any) influence on the movies or their following.  

    He’ll be missed.  It’s unfortunate his creation has become such a mess, though.

  11. Krono says:

    Thank you Alex, you got what I was getting at.

    As Alex said, I was not trying to argue in any form that D&D inspired the LotR movies. Rather I was saying that their claim that D&D laid the groundwork for the movies seems to rest on the general cultural effect it had. While it was in is a niche market compartively speaking, it did help grow/encourage the general fanbase, who in turn made their own/competing gaming systems, novels, comic books, etc; with their own fanbases and such. For example, the Dragonlance series. It also took a lot of the early criticism/mocking of people unfamilar with the fantasy genre.

    So by the time 2000 rolls around, medieval fantasy works are much more mainstream than they were in the 70s. Broader popularity, and those that the fantasy genre wasn’t popular with were at least aware of it’s existence. D&D is partly responsible for that.


  12. Alex says:

    Zach, I don’t think anyone’s saying that D&D was directly inspiring the LotR movies. Just that it was D&D that really brought medieval fantasy forwards in pop culture, so that the genre became popular enough that a well-funded and well-done LotR movie series was a viable option. Was D&D alone responsible for that rise in popularity? Probably not, but it was one of the earliest popular medieval fantasy games and probably provided stimulation for the genre as a whole.

    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  13. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Technically, D&D was based off the LotR books. The halflings were origianlly hobbits, but there was a trademark dispute and they couldn’t use the term for the game.

    I am unsure of how much influence the movies gleened from the game. Most of the movies seemed to be based off the books. As for your claim that the movies success was somehow related to the popularity of the game, I don’t think so. D&D does not have the popularity level high enough to account for that success. While D&D is no longer attaacked and is generally accepted, it is still a niche product.

    I would attribute it more to the drought of quality fantasy entertainment. When something comes out that big, a lot of  people will see it. The fact that the movies were good helped its success.

    E. Zachary Knight
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  14. Doomsong says:

    I had no idea that Erik W died…

    I loved his work with Palladium games.

    "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" – Benjamin Franklin

  15. Verbinator says:

    I did know Gary Gygax, though I never worked with him or for him. I met him early in my game dev career (late 70s) and appeared on the guest list with him at a game fest in southern Germany in 1999. Definitely an interesting character.

    Also passing away this year were two more-or-less high profile game development figures, whom I also knew, but who did not or will not get the kind of national attention that Gary got.

    Bob Bledsaw, co-founder of Judges Guild (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judges_Guild), one of the companies that helped make role-playing games a commercial success in the 1970s (and whose better known game adventures are still in print 30 years later). While Bob never worked on computer games, he nevertheless influenced a generation of later game developers.

    Erick Wujcik (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erick_Wujcik), designer of the Amber diceless roleplay system (based upon the licensed work of the late author Roger Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber novel series), and designer of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles roleplay game rules. Erick later went on to have a career in computer games.


  16. Austin_Lewis says:

    At least Al Gore won’t be telling Gary to stop rolling the dice or he’s gonna take them away.

    Seriously though, both of these men were good people, and its a shame to see them go.
    We also lost Ronnie Drew this year.

  17. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    While I originally never knew of Gary, I do know of him now and I gotta say he left before his time, IMO. Good man.


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  18. Krono says:

    I’m guessing that their arguement is that D&D was what made the movies a viable prospect. D&D becomes popular/well known -> fantasy fanbase and cultural acknowledgement of it grows -> movies can be made of the LoR trilogy that are actually well funded, directed, and widely popular.


  19. DarkSaber says:

    I rather think the Lord of the RIngs novel laid the groundwork for the movie trilogy myself…


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

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