An article I wrote for my newspaper column that runs on Thursday. Figured some of you might like to read it. By Chris Vicari - Geek Speak Columnist for The Whit Originally I had an article lined up about the Game Developers Conference that took place in recent weeks but upon hearing the grave news of Gary Gygax’s death, I knew that he needed to be written about. He deserves center stage because his passing is more important than 50 conferences combined and felt by millions across the world. As the co-creator of the world famous Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) tabletop game, Gygax’s contributions to the gaming world are vast, numerous, and immense. Gygax had an unfathomable love for games. Without D&D we wouldn’t know what a role-playing game is, hell, the entire RPG industry wouldn’t have existed either. The term “fantasy world” would be something we would only see in our dreams or read about in books by authors like J.R.R Tolkien. Author of dozens of books and creator of a multitude of games, the industry has lost one of its best and most influential. Created in 1974 by Gygax and friend Dave Arneson, D&D allows its players to create unique characters like a human mage or dwarf warrior and have them travel on imaginary adventures to various locales like dungeons, castles and other places based within a fantasy setting. The results of choices characters make in the game and the storyline arc is determined by the Dungeon Master, who basically runs the whole game. The game is also played according to the DM’s interpretation of the game rules. “The essence of a role-playing game is that it is a group, cooperative experience,” said Gygax in an interview in 2006. “There is no winning or losing, but rather the value is in the experience of imagining yourself as a character in whatever genre you’re involved in, whether it’s a fantasy game, the Wild West, secret agents or whatever else. You get to sort of vicariously experience those things.” Since its release all those decades ago, D&D has taken the world by storm. According to a recent article by The New York Times, D&D has garnered an estimated $1 billion through books and equipment and over 20 million people have partaken in the D&D experience. D&D is also responsible for countless spin-offs in both the tabletop RPG and computer RPG realms as well. Companies like White Wolf Inc., creator of the famous Vampire: The Masquerade RPG, and Black Isle Studios, responsible for games like Planescape: Torment and the Baldur’s Gate series, pay homage to D&D and Gygax because if it wasn’t for him, they wouldn’t have existed. In 1967, Gygax organized a 20-person gaming meet in the basement of his home which later became known as “Gen Con 0” and it is where he met Arneson and Brian Blume, a future partner of his company Tactical Studies Rules. This meeting would eventually become the Gen Con gaming convention, the world’s largest annual hobby-game gathering. Gygax died the morning of Tuesday, March 4 at his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. He was 69 and died due to an abdominal aneurysm. Gygax leaves behind six children, seven grandchildren, countless friends and his wife, Gail Carpenter. "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." Farewell and safe travels Mr. Gygax, we will miss you.