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Monday, May 23, 2016

The Gygax Memorial Fund has 5 Stated Objectives - 3 Are Not Related to the Memorial - Why Have NONE Been Implemented?

Over three weeks ago a third party who supposedly had Gail Gygax's ear told me that the audit of the Fund would be posted in the "next week or so". It's been over 3 weeks. I don't expect it anytime soon, but that's not the point of this post. It did, however, get me thinking about the stated objectives of the Gygax Memorial Fund, as they are related to it's tax exempt status.

Edit: Maybe I should have used "accomplished" instead of "implemented" - but whatever, the haven't been done

The first two objectives are related to the memorial itself. Many, if not most people following the GMF forget that there are three other objectives for the Fund to fulfill it's tax exempt purpose:

- To sponsor informational events open to the public which focus on his work - In the years of the Fund's existance, can someone point me to any of the above informational events sponsored by the Fund? Isn't this something that could be accomplished while the Memorial Itself is being finalized?

- To engage in other activities related to educating the public about his achievement - First, what does this actually mean? Second, can anyone identify actual examples?

- To establish a scholarship program in his name for students with a demonstrated need for assistance to study at an accredited college or university - Now, I know there is no scholarship program established by the Fund in Gary's name. It's been discussed prior that investing the Fund's monies at a return as little as 1% would have allowed for the establishment of a scholarship of $2,000 a year without effecting the Funds monies. It would also have shown the Fund accomplishing one of it's five stated objectives.

All of the Fund news is either about the Memorial process, donations coming in or requests for donations. I fail to see a listing of any accomplishments by the Fund. It would seem to me that objectives 3 thru 5 would be easy enough (and cheap enough) to implement throughout the years and show accomplishments by the Fund in place of the stagnation that has been the lingering impression.

Maybe the GMF has accomplished goals 3 and 4. If so, that is truly newsworthy and should be highlighted.

Again, if you can point me in the direction of ANY of these missing bits of potential news, I'll be in you debt.


20 comments:

  1. Big surprise; the Wicked Witch of the North has done NOTHING to achieve those goals.

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  2. I'll get you my little pretties...and your little dice too!

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  3. If "informational events" don't include Dungeons & Dragons in some shape or form (and they don't appear to, the one press release I saw concerned "learning games") then I'm glad this hasn't happened yet.

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  4. My entire problem with the Gygax Memorial is that we have yet to see anything come out of it. I might be a bit of a cynic here, but seems to me that a particular person involved is not using the money for the goals it was intended. Given many of the things I have heard and read about the entire Gygaxian soap opera there seems to be a common link to the belief of one individual that gamers are simply a cash cow to be bilked by any means possible and that individual being mired in various forms of legal and ethical controversy.

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    1. The problem is that it a lot of this is perception. If Gail saw gamers as a "cash cow to be bilked", a memorial is the worst way to do it, as there is a lot more scrutiny for a 503(c) corporation. Nor is there any indication the money is being spent on frivolous things or being used to get rich or pay a large salary to people doing nothing.

      There's a hint hint nudge nudge implications akin to "when have you stopped beating your wife", mostly by the overzealous fans, but outside of things not progressing much, there's been absolutely no proof of wrongdoing...legally the GMF has done nothing wrong, nor could you really say there's anything unethical going on here. The very worst you could possibly say is that the fund is not being very transparent, but that's a far cry from either of the above.

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    2. 3 of it's stated 5 goals could have been addressed but the total focus, by both Gail and those that follow the Fund, has been on the Memorial.

      The Fund mission is more than just the Memorial.

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    3. Considering that in the 8 years since Gary's death nothing has been done with a fund that had been around 7 of those years, it's more than just perception. As for not being transparent, isn't that exactly what would be a hint of something unusual going on?

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    4. Tenkar--that's assuming that all 5 elements are of equal importance to the fund. Which I don't think is the case. For instance, since a memorial might cost in the low six figures, it might be prudent for her to not commit money to scholarships until there's enough in the kitty for the long term plans.

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  5. I think #3 could be covered by some panel discussions at Gencon NTRPGC or Garycon, not much investment there except maybe travel expenses for speakers? Unfortunately #4--for educating the public--is a little more diffuse. Maybe funding an ongoing display at a local library or museum?

    As for #5, as you say a safe investment could have been affording $2K scholarships; this could probably be discussed with a particular school that would help them set it up. While not huge, it would be a big honor to an RPG fan. I received a name grant funded by a local family during school and it still has a place of honor on my CV.

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  6. While it may be somewhat constructive to try to come up with ways that the GMF could implement these goals, it will have little effect without the involvement, or at least interest, of the GMF. If, over the course of several years, there has been no such involvement or interest by the GMF, we are just beating our heads against the dungeon door, so to speak. As an entity, "the GMF" could have, and perhaps should have, had a presence at various Cons, certainly Garycon if nothing else. Has the GMF ever attended Garycon in any "official" way, with a display, or meet-and-greet, or anything? They could use their website as an interactive learning tool, thereby "educating the public." But, these things take effort, and also some degree of interest in achieving the stated goals. Sometimes I find myself fearing all we are going to end up with is a bronze plaque on a stone block in downtown Lake Geneva, and a dargon's hoard of questions...

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    1. I recall that Gail did attend one of the early Garycons and was allowed a table where she collected money for the GMF, but I would assume she is no longer welcome at that venue, due to her own actions. The problem seems to be at this point anyone who is more than just a casual fan wants nothing to do with her, so she's limited to larger general interest cons like Gen Con (where he casual fan doesn't know about her treatment of the Gygax family or Gary's legacy)

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    2. Wait till she sues them for using the name Gary.

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    3. The key thing is that the Gygax brothers are not "innocent victims" here. Gail has never tried to suppress either Luke or Ernie from using their own names in products, otherwise that Kickstarter Ernie did would have been shut down.

      The big problem was attempting to trademark the surname Gygax. Most of the times surnames aren't something you can trademark, indeed, Gary did not want to ever trademark his own name while he was alive since that can be used against you in case of bankruptcy or business deals. But they wanted to get involved with a magazine. If it was really about promoting their work, why not use the term "Gygax Brothers", or not use the family name but something like "Luke and Ernie presents Drake magazine". But the surname Gygax implies their dad's endorsement, and implies they are carrying on the wishes of their dad.

      The problem is, the reality is different. Gary gave everything to Gail, and he was of sound mind and body when he did so--in fact, the crux of it dates back to around 1986, when Trigee was formed in Gail's name. And Gail earned it--meantime neither Luke or Ernie contributed much to Gary's works post-TSR...outside of one project Ernie did for Mythus, they didn't really co-write or collaborate on anything else. I can definitely see Gail's defense of that--trademarking the name could give the sons leverage for any type of commercial exploitation of the name, perhaps forcing her to get a license from them if she wanted to publish in the future.

      (Not to mention the fact why did Gygax magazine go through all the planning but not register the name first, letting Gail get it first? And why did the brothers agree to a partnership that would only give them a minority stake in the magazine--if there was a future conflict, the "new" TSR would have control, not the kids--which is why TSR eventually made the agreement with Gail in the end).

      This is what gets me--people assume the guy who is publishing and doing what the fans want is the "good guy", and the person who either uses a lawyer or doesn't automatically do what the fans want is the "bad guy". The truth is much murkier. I see fans assuming the worst from Gail, but assuming the best from the other family members--but what if it's not? The kids could have the best intentions, but they could also be pissed Gary didn't leave them anything and might be trying to get the fans on their side.

      And if you think that's an unfair accusation--that's exactly what some fans are doing to Gail.

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    4. As far as Gary's "Legacy" goes--people seem so worried that Gary's going to get forgotten by people in a few years. But that's not the case.

      Gary co-created and was the chief architect of D&D. He has books written about him, an appearance on Futurama, a huge Wikipedia page, etc. If people forget about him, it's because D&D might become irrelevant in the future, but that's something you can't control.

      Gary's legacy is not even in the control of anybody named Gygax. The legacy is his past work, not so much anything unpublished. The biggest creations of Mr. Gygax are owned by Hasbro and are reprinted at their will.

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  7. They could have done all that fairly quickly with the funds already raised...had they wanted to.

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  8. I'm glad to read some balanced comments. I don't understand with or perhaps agree with the way some things were handled and do understand the frustration. But I think more highly of our community than thinking it characterized by rancor directed at a widow whose husband was a founder of a game that gives ample homage to chivalry. It's a tough world, and I see nothing wrong with a woman trying to use her husband's IP legacy to stabilize her existence; they are called "wills" for a reason. Do not think I agree with her actions as they appear to an outside observer,but surely we do not show honor to Gary by casting public insults at his widow, we can do better than that.

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    1. Right, because if a man is respected for a writing a game, it follows that his widow is above criticism. That's Logic 101.

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  10. My comment wasn't about the GMF questioning or criticism of her dealings with Gary's sons. Gail was Gary's life partner at his passing and it was will that she benefit from whatever he could leave her in a pretty messed up world. There is nothing vulture like or witchy about that on Gail's part, it's actually a pretty serious thing.

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