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Saturday, December 12, 2015

An Open Letter to Mrs. E. Gary Gygax (cc: the Gaming Community at Large)

Mrs. E. Gary Gygax

The questions posed regarding the Gygax Memorial Fund were submitted by the gaming community at large, which is why I'm posting this letter here and not sending it direct, as it is their questions that need to be answered, not mine. Nearly half of the questions submitted to me in relation to the Fund were actually about the Trust and were therefore not submitted for your attention.

I understand your frustration when members of the gaming community are unable or unwilling to distinguish between the Gygax Memorial Fund and the GAIL C. GYGAX REVOCABLE TRUST. Perhaps you need to understand WHY people in the gaming community have that issue.

Emotions.

When emotions are brought into an issue, simple facts become not so simple. When the only mention of the name "Gygax" in the gaming community these days is legal actions taken against those using the name "Gygax" - yes, I'm referring to the recent trademark dispute - the Trust muddies the waters of the Fund.

Is that fair?

Fair has little to do with the real world. Most of us know that. The Trust using all of its legal rights to enforce its trademark against a company using said trademark is certainly legal. Was it fair? Not for me to judge. The community at large will do so.

You say you did not force Ernie and Luke Gygax to leave the new TSR, which is technically true. I do have it on good account from a trusted third party that any that signed on to the trademark agreement had to also agree to refrain from saying, writing, etc disparaging remarks about yourself. Strange that would be a requirement to settle a trademark dispute.

You've communicated that you want the Gygax Memorial Fund to be supported by the gaming community, but the site itself is virtually dead. No updates in nearly a year, no stock in the store, no activity. The Fund's board itself is composed of non-gamers with little to no connection to the gaming community.

You are frustrated. The gaming community is frustrated. Gary was loved by many. His work influenced millions of gamers. We all want the man to be honored. Many of us do that in the games we still play. Sadly, time makes people forgetful, and the longer this goes on without being fulfilled will leave us with fewer people that will care in the end, assuming we get there. An ending like that would diminish us all.

Sincerely,
Erik Tenkar


11 comments:

  1. You left it wide open . . . but I'm not walking through that door.

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  2. I don't think anyone is expecting any further "answers" from Gail after her last bout of lawyer-speak. She's not answering any further questions because it would require her to have answered any really.

    At least there are a number of wonderful, and appropriate, memorials to Gary Gygax that have been put together by his friends and family that haven't been quarter of a million dollar boondoggles.

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  3. For some reason, whenever I read about this topic, the Wayback Machine sends me back to those dark days when EGG was ousted at TSR. Sure, maybe it was "legal," maybe it was "just business, nothing personal," but WTF.. Just answer the damn questions and get it over with. In the absence of any reliable information, plenty of unreliable rumors are going to start, and that, truly, is the worst possible thing you could do to the legacy of EGG. It is his legacy you want to preserve, right?

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  4. "I do have it on good account from a trusted third party that any that signed on to the trademark agreement had to also agree to refrain from saying, writing, etc disparaging remarks about yourself. Strange that would be a requirement to settle a trademark dispute."

    In my experience, that's pretty standard language in similar disputes.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed with Dyson; it's very common language in settlements. Finding it in a contract doesn't mean anything significant one way or another.

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    2. And that is the reason that I refused to sign the settlement; I resigned rather than do what I saw as a cover-up of sketchy behavior and a relinquishing of my journalistic freedom to comment or call out what I think is dubious.

      Delete
  5. Sounds like time to run a Gygaxian dungeoncrawl in his honor. Any more comment is probably for naught.

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  6. "I do have it on good account from a trusted third party that any that signed on to the trademark agreement had to also agree to refrain from saying, writing, etc disparaging remarks about yourself. Strange that would be a requirement to settle a trademark dispute."

    I encountered a similar "requirement" while negotiating a compromise with a guy who was messing with one of my projects. Par for the course it would seem.

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  7. How could Ernie or Luke sign a piece of paper that said, in effect, that they get to use their own name only through her (the second wife, who acquired the name through marriage) sufferance? If someone were to trademark my last name, I would tell them to go to Hell and seek out the Devil for a lesson in sexual healing.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly. Then they aren't even allowed to speak about it? Yeah, no way.

      Let's face it, I'm sure Gail loved Gary just as I'm sure that Gary loved Gail. But the fact is that Gail has almost taken pains to become the most reviled figure in gaming since Lorraine (possibly even supplanting her for that honor).

      I understand wanting to protect the legacy of her husband. However she has done nothing that really honors his memory, the fund has accomplished nothing (despite sitting on $200k+) and she has squandered all the good will she once received as Gary's widow.

      How about releasing a portion of Gary's ashes to his children to bury in the cemetery where his headstone rests over an empty plot?

      How about working to commercially release Gary's IP into the world and breathe new life into her late-husband's work.

      How about ACTUALLY supporting the commercial endeavors of her late husband's children rather than lip-service and legal threats?

      There are a number of things that Gail could do to begin to rebuild her standing in the gaming community. Frankly, EVERYONE wants her to be wonderful because, the alternative? Where we are now? It tarnishes Gary's memory through association.

      She is legally entitled to a number of things. I make no mistake about that. However it is quite telling the number of pieces of Gary's IP are out there for purchase, or even the number of products available on the Memorial Fund site, or even the sorry state of the site itself.

      So yes, Gail *COULD* turn this all around. She could actually reach out to the community with sincerity.

      Smart money says that she isn't going to though...

      Delete
  8. In fairness, the Memorial Fund has now posted COMPLETE tax returns for 2013-14 (the earlier returns are missing Sch O which is fairly important).

    It is interesting to note that while donations dropped by $93,748 from 2013 to 2014, that "office expenses" tripled. While the office expense numbers are still very reasonable overall, good management would mean that the fund shouldn't be dipping into its funds like that. If the fundraising period has run its course, look at what you have and build something...

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