Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons

Author(s): Michael Witwer

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Here, for the first time, is a comprehensive biography of the mythic icon among geek and gaming culture, Gary Gygax--and the complete story behind the invention of Dungeons & Dragons.


The godfather of all fantasy adventure games, Gary Gygax, has a life story that has been told only in bits and pieces. Michael Witwer has written a dynamic, dramatized biography of Gygax from his childhood in Lake Geneva to his untimely death in 2008. Gygax's magnum opus, Dungeons & Dragons, would explode in popularity throughout the 1970s and '80s and irreversibly alter the world of gaming. D&D is the best-known, best-selling role-playing game of all time, and it boasts an elite class of alumni--Stephen Colbert, Robin Williams, and Junot Diaz all have spoken openly about their experience with the game as teenagers, and some credit it as the workshop where their nascent imaginations were fostered.


Gygax's involvement in the industry lasted long after his dramatic and involuntary departure from D&D's parent company, TSR, and his footprint can be seen in the genre he is largely responsible for creating. But as Witwer shows, perhaps the most compelling facet of his life and work was his unwavering commitment to the power of creativity in the face of myriad sources of adversity--cultural, economic, and personal. Through his creation of the role-playing genre, Gygax gave generations of gamers the tools to invent characters and entire worlds in their minds. Told in narrative-driven and dramatic fashion, Witwer has written an engaging chronicle of the life and legacy of this emperor of the imagination.

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Here, for the first time, is a comprehensive biography of the mythic icon among geek and gaming culture, Gary Gygax--and the complete story behind the invention of Dungeons & Dragons.

Michael Witwer is a lifelong gamer and gaming enthusiast. He holds a Master of Liberal Arts from the University of Chicago, where this book first emerged as the subject of his thesis. He is also a film and theater actor and marketing professional, and is the brother of Emmy-nominated actor Sam Witwer. He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his wife and two children.

General Fields

  • : 9781632863812
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing USA
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing USA
  • : December 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 320
  • : Michael Witwer
  • : Paperback