RIP Gary Gygax D&D inventor and Word of Mouth Marketing pioneer
By Ted Wright March 5, 2008
The legendary D&D inventor Gary Gygax has passed. Nerds, Dorks and Orcs will each morn his passing in their own way but today we wanted to salute him for something dear to my heart – his pioneering vision of Word of Mouth Marketing in the gaming world. Prior to the founding of Gygax’s company TSR, games were marketed in the US with splashy trade show booth at toy fairs, the occasional print campaign and tons of Saturday morning TV spots. Through necessity as well as a desire to be true to their vision of the game, Gygax/TSR marketing D&D differently. They focused on the story of the game and spent their resources on publishing beautifully illustrated and highly detailed guide books. Gygax often talked about being the game’s “producer” and that the players were the game’s “organic marketing force”.
Today’s successful most games (Bioshock, Civilization, Sims, Grand Theft Auto) all follow the Gygax/TSR model – build great games, get them to early Influencers, then support broad adoption by focusing on constant game play improvements and extensions.
We wish you well on your journey, Gary Gygax. This is Nuriger the Wise, 16th level Ranger, signing off