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

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.