As a certified geek — a pedigreed geek even1 — I would be remiss if I should fail to note the passing of E. Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, and the undisputed father of the role playing game.

I was not your typical gamer. The first time I rolled for initiative was a good seven or eight years after I’d first kissed a girl, rather than before. I didn’t game in high school. That may have had something to do with the fact that the high school I attended was a Catholic seminary, which is an environment that doesn’t lend itself toward games that feature fantastical gods and demons; that would have been superfluous, indeed. (The irony of this is not lost on me.) It could be noted that a Catholic seminary is also an environment that doesn’t naturally lend itself toward kissing girls, but that didn’t prove an especially great impediment.

When I first gamed I was a twenty-something kid who had his first real job and a car payment and a girlfriend. I’d already had a few hard lessons on the differences between Intelligence and Wisdom. Still, I was captivated. Enthralled by a world built out of the collective imagination of our brilliant, conniving Dungeon Master (hello, Brian!) and the odd assortment of my fellow nerds, those weekend gaming sessions were a gratifying and indispensable diversion from an increasingly “grown-up” world. Dungeons & Dragons offered explicit permission to play let’s pretend, long after my school days were over, and even as the workaday world threatened to stamp out my sense of wonder and extrude my imagination into a maze of twisty little org charts, all alike.

Thanks, Gary. In a good many ways you helped armor me for the real world.

  1. Yes, my father before me was — and remains — a massive geek. He was programming computers in the day when you programmed them by rewiring them. []

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