Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Requiem for the Nerd King

I've got the Dungeon Master's Guide.
I've got a 12-sided die.
I've got Kitty Pryde
And Nightcrawler too
Waiting there for me.
Yes I do, I do...

In the garage, I feel safe.
No one cares about my ways.
In the garage where I belong.
No one hears me sing this song.
In the garage.

-Weezer, "In the Garage"

I have always been a nerd. It's a badge I wear proudly though, like many nerds I suppose, this was not always the case. Many nights and weekends were spent disappearing into fantasy realms that presented possibilities not available to me in the real world. There was comfort in this and I was glad for it. Though I am now a reasonably mature and well adjusted adult (I even kiss girls and stuff) I still consider myself a nerd and my awkward, pudgy past is still very much a part of me. So I was deeply saddened yesterday to learn about the death of Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and one of the founding fathers of the role playing game genre. Though my experience with table top RPGs has been, at most, as a dabbler, work inspired by Gygax's has brought me countless hours of joy throughout my life. Whether it was the Dragonlance novels, the old SSI Dungeons & Dragons PC games (what's up "Pool of Radiance?"), the numerous Legend of Zelda games, Magic: The Gathering, Diablo I & II, or World of Warcraft, if we had to pay royalties on fun, I would owe (and will continue to owe) Gary Gygax a lot of money. I've not played more than a few hours worth of traditional D&D, but Gary Gygax's work has directly enriched my life, my childhood and awkward adolescence especially, in very palpable ways. To me that work is as much comfort food and security blanket as it is entertainemnt and that puts him on a short list of creators I hold very near and dear to my heart. Today that heart goes out to Gary Gygax's wife, children, and grandchildren and to nerds everywhere, especially the young ones, who will spend this Saturday night, and many thereafter, in a fantasy world where, for a few brief, shining hours, they finally feel safe.

Gygax (second from right), and some other nerds, on TV's Futurama.

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