Ian Livingstone pays tribute to Gary Gygax

Ian Livingstone pays tribute to Gary Gygax
Michael French

By Michael French

March 14th 2008 at 11:23AM

Man who discovered Lara Croft says D&D inventor "was one of the most influential people in gaming"

Eidos' Ian Livingstone has paid tribute to Gary Gygax (pictured), the creator of Dungeons & Dragons who passed away last week, calling him "one of the most influential people in gaming".

His comments come in a special obituary penned by Livingstone - Eidos' acquisitions man, and the person who saw through the publishing of the Tomb Raider franchise when it was first conceived - for our sister magazine MCV. Livingstone had helped Gygax distribute Dungeons & Dragons via Games Workshop in the last 70s.

Livingstone recounts the influence of Gygax's RPG on the games industry, saying "the chances are that World of WarCraft ... would have been a different game" if Dungeons & Dragons had not set the template for role-playing titles and mechanics.

The full text of Livingstone's tribute is copied in below:

Gary Gygax 1938 – 2008

"You are walking down a dark, dungeon corridor. The air is dank and unpleasant and rats scurry across the floor. Twenty metres further on, you come to a wooden door in the left hand wall that has ‘Keep Out’ written on it in blood. From the other side of the door you can hear scratching sounds. Ahead, a skeletal figure armed with a sword and shield advances slowly towards you out of the gloom.

"'What do you want to do?' The dungeon master asked, smiling..."

This is how people played the original Dungeons & Dragons; a game created by Gary Gygax who died on March 4th aged 69. Every now and then a game comes along that changes the world: Monopoly, Scrabble and definitely Dungeon & Dragons in 1974.

Ernest Gary Gygax was the godfather of role-playing games and one of the most influential people in gaming. He released the power of the imagination of millions of people around the world as they spent hundreds of hours slaying monsters and finding treasure in the comfort of their own living rooms. He was born in Chicago in 1938, the son of a German-speaking Swiss immigrant. He enjoyed playing games as a child and became an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy novels. As a teenager in the late ‘50s he began playing war games, and devising games became his passion.

I first met him in 1976 at GenCon during the early days of Games Workshop when we distributed D&D in Europe. He was a gregarious character, a natural raconteur with a big personality and everybody wanted to listen. There is no doubt that without D&D the games industry would not have been as it is today, such was its influence. The interactive experience of player-characters who are customised and personalised and exist in a virtual world is commonplace in games today. The chances are that World of Warcraft with its millions of online players would have been a different game. Games Workshop may not have survived to create Warhammer, Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks by Steve Jackson and I might never have been written, and hundreds of other video games and novels might never have appeared. Gygax shaped people’s lives and careers and in D&D he created a cultural phenomenon.

After irreconcilable arguments with his fellow directors, Gygax left TSR in 1985. He subsequently worked on new role-playing projects but none got near to the success of D&D.

Gygax had not been well since a stroke in 2004. He had five children with his first wife Mary Jo and a sixth child to his second wife Gail Carpenter.

Gary, you finally failed to make your saving roll and your adventure is over. You will be missed.

Ian Livingstone,
Eidos


(Image supplied by Ian Livingstone)