Revenge of the Nerds

Friday, March 07, 2008


Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax died this week. First published in 1974, the fantasy role playing game has been ridiculed as the pastime of supergeeks, but don't dismiss D&D. Time magazine columnist James Poniewozik says the game has had a profound influence on today's popular culture.

Comments [5]

Kirk Andrew

Jen, everyone I know would have let you play. It was only six jerks who would not let you play.

Mar. 11 2008 11:30 AM
jen trask from Michigan

I bristle at the male / female tone of recent D&D comments on NPR. Along the lines of can you explain why males got into this and not females? In the 1970's I went to university, a geek if there ever was one. Much to my delight there was a D&D group at my university. I went to join.

The shock on the faces of the guys in the room when I went to join was fascinating. They told me that once before they had had a female try to join and they all "ganged up on her, beat her and sold her to a whorehouse." So I said so what ant played them Six guys ganged up on me and killed me.

Then in real life they went off to TP another society.

End of my D&D experience.

Now I pwone in World of Warcraft, only wish the world had let me play D&D


Mar. 10 2008 07:58 PM
Steve Maggi from Austin, TX

Pronounced MAH-jee, similar to DiMaggio without the Di and the o at the end.

At least OTM did their homework to label Gary as the co-creator unlike so many other reports and obits.

Given the limited amount of time OTM had to put this piece together, it was rather shallow. D&D permeates many other things now: music (Weezer's "In the Garage" always comes to mind), and comedy (SNL, Home Movies, stand-up comedian Patton Oswalt) were overlooked.

I got to briefly work with Gary during my time at GDW publishing his horrible comeback, Mythus, 15 years ago. He was a pretty nice guy in public and to your face. Behind your back, he was a conniving, pompous jerk. Hopefully he really learned humility during his final years as D&D evolved into something much better without him.

Mar. 08 2008 10:33 AM
M. (Nyte) Seavey from Ia, USA

Great story, but any discussion of the evolution from paper and pencil D&D to 3D first person multiplayer games like WOW should include mention of MUDs and other all text role playing games. These were the first real time multi-player games on the net and in the middle-late 1990's they were the most popular game on college campuses.

As far as the girl-guy ratio goes. My dad bought me an entire milk crate full of D&D books, dice, etc at a garage sale in 1984 (7th grade). I was SO excited, I knew all the guys at my school who played and now I could join them. Nope! "Girls don't play D&D" :(

Fast forward to 1994. One of my biology professors taught me about MUDs and MUSHs. About a week later I logged in to Stick in the Mud for the first time. Lots of women played here and the GODS (or players who could help make up the a DM in D&D) were always almost equally male and female. So at least in my experience technology brought about a bit of equality too. My MUD just celebrated it's 14th birthday on the 21st of February.

Mar. 08 2008 08:46 AM
Christopher Goetz from Santa Cruz, CA

Hello good people,

I couldn’t help noticing something left out of your report. Paper-and-dice role playing games are their own, unique, medium. Games like Dungeons & Dragons provide a framework for collaborative storytelling, mixing scripted and wholly improvised elements. The quality of this, of course, depends on who you are playing with. A good gaming group allows for an experience of narrative that can’t be found anywhere else.

By the way, in my own personal experience, I found the gaming culture a bit less nerdy than the stereotypes portray. In my circles, the guy-girl ratio was about 3 or 4 to 1. Not a fully integrated scene by any means, but a far sight better than James Poniewozik portrayed.

Mar. 07 2008 11:51 PM

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