As you no doubt know if you are a member of the Role Playing Games community, E. Gary Gygax, co-author and primary spokesperson of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away today.

Some of you will be wondering what that has to do with DevCentral. Well, if you work with any geeks, you probably work with people who feel his death sharply. He created a phenomenon that has not stopped growing, spawning everything from cartoons to action figures to MMORPGs. Who knows where the movement he helped to start will eventually end up.

Lori and I have had the opportunity outside of work to labor with Gary (and several others) on his "Castle Zagyg Town Modules" series, published by Troll Lord Games. We knew he was ill - long ago a doctor pronounced that he had six months to live, and he far outlasted that - but still our household is quiet this afternoon. We were not great friends, we were employees of a sort, but working with him made our distant respect for the father of our hobby grow into a close respect for a man who was truly great. He gave of himself so that others could shine, and took chances on un-named talent to allow them to show they were worthy. Those who proved they were received a never-ending stream of praise from him.

I am a true geek, when not writing code of one form or another, I'm gaming or preparing for games. In my life I have discovered that many in high tech are also geeks. Some have left gaming or moved to online only, but every high tech company, many analysts, and a fair share of the journalists I've worked with have played the games Gary helped create, and look back nostalgically on those days.

Much as we and our competitors step out to break new ground, Mr. Gygax (and others, he was certainly not alone) followed what he loved, made it something better, and shared it with the world. In the  process, he inspired the imagination of millions, and has had an impact - however slight - on everything from politics to high-tech. Many of us who are outspoken representatives of high-tech learned through role-playing to express ourselves more easily, and for that too, we owe him thanks.

I do not grieve for Gary, he knew what was coming and was as prepared as any of us could be. I grieve for those of us who thought our icon would live forever. Even the best characters must retire eventually. He will be mourned by millions and missed by hundreds of thousands - would that we all could have that kind of impact before our time comes.

So while the gaming sites are nearly inaccessible today because of the massive outpouring of posts, here is a fond farewell from the high tech sector, one I am certain is echoed by my counterparts in many other high-tech companies. Thank you for everything Gary, may you Rest In Peace, and save a seat at your gaming table for us.

Don.