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Gygax D&D Game Inventor
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Dr. Robert Reuschlein, Empire and Climate Expert Dr. Robert Reuschlein, Empire and Climate Expert
Madison , WI
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

 

Beginnings of "Dungeons and Dragons"

Mom had four of us 1947 to 1953 and I was the second of three boys before the first girl.  We grew up playing games together, especially Monopoly, Careers, and Risk.  Then in 1961 I bought the first of many Avalon Hill boardgames from Baltimore, MD.  Gary Gygax bought his first Avalon Hill game in 1958.  I played my earliest games all against my older brother and never lost a game to him.  Avalon Hill decided to publish a newsletter, "The Avalon Hill General" and in 1964 I hoped that Christmas to get a subscription to the General and I did.  I learned about Gary Gygax from the many articles he wrote for the Avalon Hill General and he learned about me from the occasional article I wrote, the contests I won, and the opponents wanted ads we both used to find others in our respective local communities who shared our keen interest in these fascinating complex historical battle games.  Soon Gary challenged me to a play by mail game of "Battle of the Bulge" in 1966.  This was the favorite game of mine and Walter Cronkite, anchor of CBS news from 1962-1981.  I crushed Gary's Germans in one of my patented American counterattacks late in the game, and he resigned.  I was 16 at the time and Gary was 28.  This turned out to be the only game directly between us in our ten years of friendship from 1964 to 1974.  I mostly played about three games a week those years with my high school and college friends in Madison Wisconsin while he mostly played with his Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Group in Lake Geneva Wisconsin.  When Gary started the International Federation of Wargaming in 1967, he urged me to join and I did.  I became a Senator in the IFW in 1968 and Coordinator of Wargaming in 1969.  My 19-1 won loss record was the best in the IFW with the highest rating by a factor of two above the starting point.  Gygax started the Geneva Convention in August 1968 and I followed with the Madison Wargaming Convention in June 1969, which Gary graciously attended.  I attended the first seven Geneva Conventions as attendance grew from 100 to 300.  I won the first tournament of Avalon Hill games in 1973 and tied in 1974 due to lack of time for the final game.  Now attendance runs about 50,000 a year in Indianapolis.  My last year, 1974, was the first year of D&D "Dungeons and Dragons".

Game Invention by Gary Gygax

Gary invented and marketed several games before his invention of "Dungeons and Dragons".  He was an active board gamer but also experimented with miniatures, often metal figurines or plastic armored vehicles that were maneuvered on battlefields in a sandbox, with varied terrain like forests and rivers and roads.  "Chainmail is considered an early role-playing game in a medieval setting.  Towards the end of my seven years at GenCon, Gary started experimenting with sandbox castles and wizards and figurines of a fantasy nature to the amusement of the rest of the crowd of standard wargamers and miniatures players.  Most wargames were ground troops battles, often World War II or Civil War or Napoleonics.  Board games were high level strategic maneuvering of counters representing divisions, corps, regiments, and brigades.  Miniatures were smaller scale fighting units with individual figurines and vehicles.  Sometimes a ship battle would take up the whole floor of a room.  Role playing as an individual or in teams of individual characters with fantasy elements like magic and various weaponry and monsters to confront was the innovation that took off and became D&D, boosting interest into the masses, going from thousands of wargamers to millions of D&D fans.

First D&D Prototypes

I was invited out on Gary's porch once to try a prototype of the early D&D on a sheet of paper where I was given choices of moves until I came upon a chest and opened it.  Later the first D&D game was held (at the last 1974 GenCon I attended) in the back of the horticultural hall about two blocks from the 330 Center Street home of Gary Gygax and his family.  That game ended in 45 minutes with all six participants dead.  Gary graciously sold my old games at those last two conventions in 1973 and 1974 and gave me the proceeds.  When I moved to the State of Oregon in June 1974, I left wargaming behind me except for visits every year or two back home to Madison Wisconsin where I found my wargaming buddies had moved on to railroad games, while I quickly learned to beat them at that.

Video Game Industry

Today's $135 billion industry owes a huge debt to Gary Gygax for the two innovations of role-playing games and levels of development.  Virtually all modern games have these two basic features.  This revenue now surpasses the projected total global box office for the film industry by a wide margin.

Conclusions

Thanks to Camel cigarettes, a habit he tried to hide from everyone around him including his wife, Gary Gygax died way too early at age 69 in 2008.  I witnessed one scene in his living room with his wife, with Gary trying to downplay the habit by saying he only smoked a few Cheroots occasionally, a thin small rolled cigar.  I remember one scene in his kitchen, during the years between his insurance job he commuted to in Chicago and his success with millions of games sold each year in the late seventies.  He was working as a shoe repairman.  He asked his wife if she was buying groceries on sale at only the lowest prices, and whether she was buying in bulk when she found a great price, and she assured him she was doing all that.  This was about 1971 when his second boy Luke was about one year old.  I owe Gary Gygax a lot for being a great mentor to me in my high school and college years.  Wargaming and article writing helped earn me the High School honor of the Math and Science Award and helped bring a reclusive young boy out of his shell to become a leader and eventually even get into politics.  This lead directly into my multi-disciplinary and academic career that produced the economic and global warming cycle models that have propelled me to the verge of the Nobel Peace Prize after six years of press releases and four years of nominations.

PowerPoint History of Gary Gygax and War Economy 8 pages:

https://www.academia.edu/33402923/History_of_Gary_Gygax_and_War_Economy_May_June_2017_8_p

Please cite this work as follows:  Reuschlein, Robert. (2019, August 21), "Gygax D&D Game Inventor" Madison, WI, Real Economy Institute.  Retrieved from:  https://www.expertclick.com/NewsRelease/Gygax-D&D-Game-Inventor,2019194076.aspx

Dr. Peace, Professor Robert Reuschlein, Real Economy Institute, Nominated Vetted 2016 (2 Web Looks), Given Odds 2017 (3 Web Looks), Strongly Considered 2018 (48 Web Looks, one million words) for Nobel Peace Prize, a favorite in 2019 (double pace of last year: 94 Strong Web Looks in 10+ months) for Nobel Peace Prize to be announced Friday October 4th, 2019.

Contact: bobreuschlein@gmail.com,

Info: www.realeconomy.com

 
Dr. Robert W. Reuschlein
Economics Professor
Real Economy Institute
Madison, WI
 
 
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