Dungeon Masters in Cyberspace

Three decades ago, when Mr. Gygax helped create the world’s first role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, advanced game technology meant the exotic 20-sided dice players roll to determine if their imaginary sword has skewered the orc or manticore they are confronting.

“My youngest son — he’s 19 — even he stays up until 4 or 5 in the morning many times at the computer playing games like World of Warcraft,” Mr. Gygax said recently, referring to one of the world’s most successful online games, which could take in $1 billion in revenue this year. “The analogy I make is that pen-and-paper role-playing is live theater and computer games are television. People want the convenience and instant gratification of turning on the TV rather than getting dressed up and going out to see a live play. In the same way, the computer is a more immediately accessible way to play games.”