It’s a truism to say that I owe Gary Gyax many thousands of hours of fun. If it wasn’t for him, and the game he created, my life would definitely have been the poorer. He and I traded emails off and on, and posts on message boards, but I did meet him a couple of times at gaming conventions. I think the best way to remember him is to, well, remember him.
I think it must have been GenCon 16 or so, and I saw Gary at one of the bars in the hotel I was staying at. This particular bar offered yards of beer, and I scraped up what little money I had left after hitting the dealer’s room for 2 days straight, and bought Gary a half-yard of “whatever your best beer is” (I was underage at the time, and had to convince the bartender that it wasn’t for me, but rather that “I’m buying it for that guy over there; he’s Gary Gygax, you can watch me take it over there and give it to him”). Gary and I chatted for a few minutes, with me completely starstruck; to this day I haven’t the foggiest idea what he and I spoke about.
But what I do remember is his incredible generosity with his time. There I was, a gawking fan come bearing gifts, and he treated me like a person that he’d known for years, and that just made such an impression on me. He was just… gracious. That is what struck me in our email and message board correspondences over the years as well. He seemed both acutely aware of the fact that he had fans who really cared what he had to say, and that he was not elevated on some higher plane because of it.
You’re missed, Gary.