So farewell then to the twelve-sided dice

I was sadden to hear the news that Gary Gygax, co-inventor of the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game, has died. I confess that, like many computer scientists of my generation, I was an active player in my youth and I had one of the first copies of the UK version of the game. Although 1970s Britain may have been a grey and grim place of mass unemployment and stagflation, the game easily transported me to a magical land of dragons, trolls, swords, sorcery and heroes.

These games involved nothing more sophisticated than a group of people, lots of pens, graph paper, bags of imagination and of course the famous multi-sided dice collection. Computer scientists tend to have a reputation of being rather anti-social types who like to hide in cupboards but role-playing games could be intensely social and I’ve been involved in truly raucous games with a dozen or more players.

As far as I can tell D+D (as it was known) is the basis of the vast majority of modern computer games. I was interested to read in Gary’s obituary in the Guardian that although he accepted that computer games were inevitable he wasn’t that enamoured with them, preferring the sociability of the original role playing game. He is quoted as saying: “Your imagination is not there the same way it is when you’re actually together with a group of people”.


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3 Responses to “So farewell then to the twelve-sided dice”

  1. Alan Carter-Davies Says:

    More of a Traveller chap myself but none the less this is sad news.

  2. pdanderson Says:

    Now you really are dragging old memories up! I seem to dimly recall having a set of Traveller, which was a kind of space version of D+D, but have to say I preferred the dragons to space pirates.

  3. Belvin Says:

    I am saddened to read about the pisasng of Gary Gygax. Many many hours Phil, Jeff, and I sat around a grid tossing 4, 8, 10, and 20 sided dice while attacking the unknown and, of course, coming out victorious. Dungeons and Dragons was not only a great time, it taught us at a very young age to work together, plan together, think creatively, and most importantly, taught us that it is sometimes better NOT to fight but instead try to talk with the unknown monster aproaching us.D&D will always have a special place in my heart. Farewell Gary…Mark

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