Empire of Imagination

Empire of Imagination

Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons

Book - 2015
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Amazon Best of the Month pick Here, for the first time, is a comprehensive biography of geek and gaming culture's mythic icon, Gary Gygax, and the complete story behind his invention of Dungeons and Dragons. 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 Vin Diesel 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.
Publisher: New York, Bloomsbury,, 2015.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781632863812
Characteristics: xiv, 302 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (colour) ; 24 cm.


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Jul 08, 2018

This book is easy reading and a fairly typical but not outstanding biography. However, for me, reminiscing and learning what was going on with Gary Gygax and TSR all those years while I was playing the game has been enlightening. A friend who had played the Basic D&D game introduced my older brother and I to his own imitation in 1979. We did the same, playing with poker chips in a can (also described on p87) until we bought 1st editions of the three AD&D books and a set of dice about a year later. We had a subscription to Dragon magazine for years and I am still reminded of the poorly-drawn Fineous Fingers comics everytime I do dishes. Good times.

Apr 01, 2018

This biography contains plenty of interesting details about TSR's magical rise to fame and meteoric fall. Note: I skipped the highly annoyingly geeky mock game-play introductions to each chapter, and you probably should too. I don't usually comment on book covers; however, this book's cover is simply ingenious: it's an obvious riff on the original Unearthed Arcana cover but instead of an aged wizard in his cramped lair, we see an aged Gary Gygax hunched over his trusty typewriter.

May 14, 2016

I enjoyed reading this work. It is an interesting and fitting biography of the creator of D&D.

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