Now that I’ve gotten over my initial impulse regarding any death (respectful nothings and maybe a joke to briefly dismiss the lingering fear of one’s own mortality), I wanted to write a little more about Gary Gygax passing.
When I was fifteen, I got kicked out of UTS, a private school in downtown Toronto. UTS was a school for the gifted of the gifted, the really, really smart kids. It was the best thing, in retrospect, that I did get kicked out, because I wasn’t popular and it wasn’t conducive to my mental health for me to be there. But at the time, it was devastating. I already “knew” I wasn’t likeable or cool; now, worse, I was being told by authority that I wasn’t smart, and if I didn’t have that then what did I have?
I’d picked up gaming while there, because gamers will more often than not tolerate people they don’t like in order to have a full round of players. (Some like to delude themselves into thinking this makes them more tolerant. It doesn’t, particularly, but everybody has their little, mostly harmless illusions.) I spent that summer reading guidebooks and feeling desperately lonely and absolutely terrified of transferring to public high school, where I didn’t know anybody and was convinced everybody was cooler than me.
I barely talked to anybody the first week I was there, but on my first Friday there, in my morning chemistry class, a couple of the burnouts in the back row who were already on the no-university-for-you track (partially by their own choice, partially not – this is almost always the case) were talking about their recently started up D&D campaign, and how they’d had this hell of a time with a kobold tribe their DM had thrown with them, and come on, kobolds? I said aloud, almost involuntarily, “wait, he threw a Tucker’s Kobolds at you?” 
And that was how I got into another D&D campaign, and made friends when I really needed them.  And the important thing to understand is that my experience is the furthest thing from unique. What Gary Gygax – along with the other patron saints of nerddom, your Roddenberrys and Lucases and Stans-and-Jacks – did was to give the nerds and burnouts and outcasts their very own lingua franca, their own culture. Even though the paper RPG market is diminishing with every year, a market of late-thirtysomethings not replacing themselves with younger players, it lives on in a thousand thousand iterations: World of Warcraft is just the most obvious, but they’re everywhere.
And I just wanted to thank him for that.
 Someone once said “girls can smell D&D on you twenty years later.” It’s true, but I’ve long since made my peace with it.
 To young high-school nerds reading this: the burnouts are your natural allies. They need smart friends and you need streetwise friends. The show wasn’t called Freaks and Geeks for nothing.