The life story of Gary Gygax, godfather of all fantasy adventure games, has been told only in bits and pieces. Michael Witwer has written a dynamic, dramatized biography of Gygax from his childhood in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to his untimely death in 2008.Read more...
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The life story of Gary Gygax, godfather of all fantasy adventure games, has been told only in bits and pieces. Michael Witwer has written a dynamic, dramatized biography of Gygax from his childhood in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to his untimely death in 2008.
Gygax's magnum opus, Dungeons & Dragons, would explode in popularity throughout the 1970s and '80s and irreversibly alter the world of gaming. D&D is the best-known, best-selling role-playing game of all time, and it boasts an elite class of alumni--Stephen Colbert, Robin Williams, and Junot Diaz all have spoken openly about their experience with the game as teenagers, and some credit it as the workshop where their nascent imaginations were fostered.
Gygax's involvement in the industry lasted long after his dramatic and involuntary departure from D&D's parent company, TSR, and his footprint can be seen in the genre he is largely responsible for creating. But as Witwer shows, perhaps the most compelling facet of his life and work was his unwavering commitment to the power of creativity in the face of myriad sources of adversity, whether cultural, economic, or personal. Through his creation of the role-playing genre, Gygax gave two generations of gamers the tools to invent characters and entire worlds in their minds. Told in narrative-driven and dramatic fashion, Witwer has written an engaging chronicle of the life and legacy of this emperor of the imagination.
- ISBN-13: 9781632862792
- ISBN-10: 1632862794
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
- Publish Date: October 2015
- Page Count: 320
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-08-10
- Reviewer: Staff
In this entertaining biography, Witwer follows the life and accomplishments of Gary Gygax, called here the “King of the Nerds” for his creation of the long-enduring Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) role-playing game. As Witwer demonstrates, Gygax was one of the modern gaming industry’s most instrumental figures, taking a lifelong passion for chess, strategy, and wargames, and adding Tolkien-inspired elements to create one of the earliest fantasy games, the Fantasy Supplement for Chainmail. Through interviews and research, Witwer reconstructs Gygax’s journey through the decades in “greatest hits” fashion, dramatizing and expanding on his family life (his first wife was convinced he was cheating on her, not playing board games); his troubled relationship with Tactical Studies Rules (TSR), the game publishing company he cofounded but eventually lost control of; and his erratic post-TSR career. As Witwer states, “Gary Gygax’s legacy lives on through... the culture of geeks who played and subsequently took over the world—a world that he prepared for imagination.” Though Witwer clearly intends the book as a respectful tribute and often paints Gygax as the hero, he doesn’t shy away from his subject’s faults and failures, resulting in a fascinating examination of the birth and growing pains of the gaming industry and of Gygax’s lasting influence on pop culture. Agent: Jacques de Spoelberch, J. de S. Associates. (Oct.)