The memorial service for Gary Gygax was today, an event I wish I could have attended. He passed away earlier this week and I have found myself more saddened by it than I would have expected. During the past few days there have been many tributes and expressions of what Gary meant to his fans, his friends, and those who had the opportunity to work with him. In these same few days I’ve thought hard about why the news affected me so and the deeper significance of what Gary meant to me.
I finally realized today that for me Gary occupied a truly unique position, one I think only a few others might have. With the exception of my family, I can’t think of a person who played a greater part in shaping the life I now have, moreso than any other mentor, friend, or boss I have known.
It was more than just his role in creating D&D. Every gamer who played has Gary to thank for that. But for me, Gary not only created a game, he created an industry, and then he hired me to be a part of that. I remember sleeping on the couch in his den when I came out for my interview. Because he thought I had talent, I was given a chance in the first place and it was while working for him and with him that I learned many of the skills of how to be a game designer. He instructed without trying, teaching through his games, his words, and his actions. And because he trusted my skills, I was able to grow and improve. If it had not been for that time at TSR, I do not think I would be as good a designer as I hope I am today. Quite simply, if Gary had not hired me, I would have been a burned-out English teacher somewhere by now. Instead his actions launched me on a path of opportunities and adventures I never could have dreamed of all those years ago.
And that is what I realized today — that my life was more linked to Gary than I understood. I cannot claim that we were close or good friends; since the years that I worked for him my life has gone in different directions. But that does not lessen the importance he played in my life and the respect I still hold for him.
LECTOR, SI MONUMENTUM REQUIRIS CIRCUMSPICE