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Businesses Role Playing (Games)

How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D 183 183

An anonymous reader writes "Sunday was the birthday of the late great Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and Futurama guest star. With the fifth edition of D&D soon to come out at Gen Con this year, Jon Peterson, author of Playing at the World, has released a new piece to answer a historical question: how was it, back in 1985, that Gary was ousted from TSR and control of D&D was taken away from him? Drawn from board meeting minutes, stock certificates, letters, and other first-hand sources, it's not a quick read or a very cheery one, but it shows how the greatest success of hobby games of the 1980s fell apart and marginalized its most famous designer."
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How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D

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  • Arneson (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @08:20AM (#47556239)

    After Gygax's treatment of Arneson and the way he attempted to attack other games in the roleplaying hobby, I find it hard to feel much sympathy for him.

  • by Danathar (267989) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @08:22AM (#47556249) Journal

    This should serve as a cautionary tail of what can happen when you go into business with friends and or relatives. As soon as big money starts being made...unfortunately the greedy side of human nature tends to rear it's ugly head.

  • Lemme guess... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ryanrule (1657199) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @08:38AM (#47556327)

    The reason is spelled MBA.

  • 5thed is irrelevant. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @08:39AM (#47556333) Homepage

    Everyone has moved away from it to either Pathfinder or 13Th age. DnD is on it's way to becoming another savage worlds for lovers of crunchy dice rolling only.

  • by pla (258480) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @09:39AM (#47556705) Journal
    This should serve as a cautionary tail of what can happen when you go into business with friends and or relatives. As soon as big money starts being made...unfortunately the greedy side of human nature tends to rear it's ugly head.

    The arrangement made sense right up until TSR actually started making real money. When you and your friends bust your asses to build a business, and have no substantial income or assets to fight over, running it as a labor-of-love makes perfect sense. But once they started bulk-hiring new staff and pulled off 5000% growth over five years - Why the hell didn't they hire a competent CFO???

    No one in the inner circle had a clue about how to run a business, because they all wanted control to remain in the hands of gamers - Hey, cool, most of us can appreciate that concept. But they could have avoided all the acrimony and eventually selling out to Wizards-of-the-CCG simply by bringing in someone with a clue in a non-shareholding executive capacity.

    Sad, really.
  • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @10:31AM (#47557261)

    Why the hell didn't they hire a competent CFO???

    It's a good question and more common than you might think. Part of the problem is that bringing in competent outsiders can be uncomfortable for company founders. Gygax clearly had a problem with involving anyone who was not a wargamer but the people who are competent at finance don't overlap heavily with people who are gamers. Plus when things are going well it is easy to think that you can handle it. After all, it's gone well this far right?

    One of the big challenges in growing a company is that the skill sets for founding a company and the skill sets for running it when it gets larger overlap far less than most people think. For every Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos there are thousands of people who simply cannot make the transition from small company founder to big company manager. The founders of Google were actually smart enough to bring in some outside management relatively early because they knew they didn't really have the skillset at the time to manage a company with a stratospheric growth rate. It would be like hiring a guy who has never managed a network larger than 10 computers to suddenly take charge of Amazon's data warehouses. The skills needed are just on a completely different level.

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.

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