MILWAUKEE - Gary Gygax, who co-created the game Dungeons & Dragons and helped start the role-playing phenomenon, died Tuesday morning at his home in Lake Geneva. He was 69.
He had been suffering from health problems for several years, including an abdominal aneurysm, said his wife, Gail Gygax.
Gygax and co-creator Dave Arneson developed the fantasy role-playing game in 1974. It became one of the best-selling games ever and influenced video games, books and movies.
Gygax' wife said he always enjoyed hearing from the game's legion of devoted fans about how Dungeons & Dragons influenced their lives. Many would stop by the family's home in Lake Geneva, which is about 55 miles southwest of Milwaukee, she said.
"It really meant a lot to him to hear from people from over the years about how he helped them become a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, what he gave them," Gail Gygax said. "He really enjoyed that."
Dungeons & Dragons players create fictional characters for themselves and describe their adventures with the help of complicated rules and unusually shaped dice.
The quintessential geek pastime, it spawned a wealth of copycat games and later inspired a whole genre of computer games that are still growing in popularity.
Gygax had been in declining health for several years but as recently as January he hosted weekly games of Dungeons & Dragons at their home, Gail Gygax said.
Funeral arrangements are pending. In addition to his wife, Gygax is survived by six children.