WHEN WE WERE WIZARDS charts the rise and fall of Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and co-founder of TSR, the company that published it. Despite its enduring popularity, few fans know the true story of ambition, disillusionment, rancor, and betrayal behind the game’s meteoric rise. As D&D took off in the late 70s and early 80s, family bonds were tested, friendships were betrayed, and personal demons were unleashed. For Gary, realizing the American Dream was only the first step; hanging on to it was even harder.
EPISODE 3 – Seizing the momentum of D&D’s growing popularity, Gary and his partner Brian Blume press on with an investment from Brian’s father, Melvin. The company moves into a new headquarters and hires on friends from the Twin Cities and Lake Geneva. It looks like Camelot, but underneath the surface, grievances fester and friendships fracture. Then, a reckoning at a shareholder’s meeting threatens the company’s future.
Episode 2 -
In Minneapolis, a hive-mind of creative synergy reaches a critical mass with a game from Dave Arneson called “Blackmoor.” Convinced of its potential, Gygax and Arneson work furiously to develop the idea into what eventually becomes Dungeons & Dragons. But when he is unable to find a publisher for it, Gary and a childhood friend start their own company to print and sell D&D. The future looks bright until a tragedy tests Gary’s resolve.
Eye of the Beholder
Episode 1 -
In the early 1960s, Gary and Mary Jo Gygax move their young family to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to escape their urban life in Chicago,. Though he works as an insurance underwriter by day, Gary spends his nights and weekends as a central figure in a burgeoning community of wargame players seeking camaraderie and a distraction from a turbulent era. When he’s fired from his job, Gary begins a second career as a shoe-cobbler while continuing to pursue his creative ambitions. Barely able to make ends meet, Gary is on the verge of abandoning his dream altogether when a fellow gamer from the Twin Cities introduces him to a game that will change both of their lives forever.
Introduction - When We Were Wizards
Three years ago, screenwriter, Adam Turner and archivist Paul Stormberg embarked on a project about Gary Gygax, Dungeons & Dragons®, and the company he founded to publish the game, TSR. During the course of this project we recorded our ongoing conversations, not only about the cultural impact of the game, but the profound personal impact it had on Gary, his family, friends, and colleagues. The result is an unprecedented 10-episode podcast that tells the story with the voices of the people who were there, through never before seen interviews, personal letters, and internal company documents.
D&D® was the world's first published role-playing game and, as such, is one of the few types of table-top games ever created by humanity.
Can we say who created chess? Or dice? No, of course not. But we can name the persons who created Dungeons & Dragons®, and we can tell their story. This is that story. One of dreamers and gamers who changed the world.
Dungeons & Dragons® is a truly global phenomenon. An estimated 50 million people have played the game since it was created and it has been translated into dozens of languages. Nearly 14 million people play it currently and 9 million people watch livestreams of other people playing it. It pervades popular culture and has become part of the very fabric of our civilization.
Gary Gygax believed in the power of games to transcend age, gender, ethnicity, culture, language, religion, and class. Even as a child, that power drew him to games like chess, cribbage, mahjong, and others. But all those games were based on competition. In a millenia of game design, a thousand years of human history, no one had broken this paradigm of us vs. them, victory or defeat. The purposes of games were to win, and losing meant failure.
But for the first time in thousands of years, D&D® gives us something different. It’s a game whose only boundary is the imagination of everyone sitting around the table playing it. Where the shared experience is the reward.
Join Adam and Paul as they explore the origins of a cultural phenomena and how it changed the lives of those who created it and then the whole world.
Incredible origin story
This podcast is the best I have heard regarding the story behind D & D. Looking forward to hearing new releases.
Where's the Rest?
This was pretty good (though could stand a little more cultural/historical analysis to go along with the first-hand testimony) but ends in a lurch. . . I want to recommend it, but with the caveat that you'll have to go elsewhere for the rest of the story.
Solid Information and Entertaining
So far I have enjoyed the episodes released. It brings a human aspect to the history of D and D.