Lyn's Reviews > Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons

Empire of Imagination by Michael Witwer
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Gary Gygax changed the world.

Michael Witwer’s FREAKIN AWESOME biography of Gygax and the creation of Dungeons and Dragons is to old gamer nerds like me what a book about Abner Doubleday is to baseball fans or a book about Robert Johnson is to blues aficionados.

It is a study of origins.

And just as there was some kind of ball before Doubleday and there was delta music prior to Crossroads, there were board and strategy games before Gygax’s paradigm shift. But Gygax dragged it kicking and screaming from the basements and back rooms into the mainstream.

It has been said of America that hundreds of years from now, we will be known for the Constitution, Jazz music and Baseball. Can we add gaming? From its very humble origins in the convention halls of Wisconsin, Dungeons and Dragons fueled generations to make fantasy cool and gaming a scholarship source rivaling more traditional sports in billions of dollars of revenue.

And what of the wasted lives of youth spent in hours of mindless devotion and of wearing expensive and impractical colorful, cult like garb? What of grown men acting like kids and of spending precious time in idle and unproductive inactivity? And of course I’m asking about sports fans. Gamers who’ve sharpened their wits on strategy and diplomacy have gone on to change the world one roll of a twenty sided dice at a time.

Witwer chronicles Gygax early years, his shoestring and homemade early drafts of the game that would change the world, his meteor rise to the top and his inauspicious decline. And, most enjoyably, of the recognition in old age of his great contributions to our culture.

True, this may be just for fans, and to be fair, though Witwer is a talented writer, this was not great literature, but to this owner of some second edition books from the early 80s, this was a fun read.

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Reading Progress

May 26, 2017 – Started Reading
May 26, 2017 – Shelved
May 31, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Nick (new)

Nick Wisseman I might have to read this before I go to Gen Con. Great review!


message 2: by Lyn (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lyn Thanks Nick, going to GenCon would be fun


message 3: by Nick (new)

Nick Wisseman Lyn wrote: "Thanks Nick, going to GenCon would be fun"

This year will be my second time going. The first time was a blast. You should definitely check it out when you get a chance. In addition to all the crazy gaming, they get some pretty big sci-fi/fantasy authors to show up. (This year they've got Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Mary Robinette Kowal, R.A. Salvatore, and more.)


Sean Gibson Great review, Lyn!


message 5: by Lyn (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lyn Nick wrote: "Lyn wrote: "Thanks Nick, going to GenCon would be fun"

This year will be my second time going. The first time was a blast. You should definitely check it out when you get a chance. In addition to ..."


Wow, sounds awesome


message 6: by Lyn (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lyn Thanks Sean!


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