The legacy of Lake Geneva’s own Gary Gygax is steeped in imagination. While Gygax may not be a household name, the world’s first role-playing game — Dungeons & Dragons® (D&D) — was co-created by Gygax and Dave Arneson right here in Lake Geneva and is known the world over.

Based on creative storytelling, fantasy characters and player role-playing, the game was a radical departure from the traditional board game. Since its introduction in 1974, the game has been played by generations of loyal fans, and is enjoying a recent surge in popularity with gamers of all ages connecting to play in person and online.

In this 50th anniversary year of the pioneering game, Lake Geneva is celebrating the milestone with an array of new experiences and tributes to mark the occasion.



Picture of Gary Gygax display at the museum

E. Gary Gygax (1938-2008) was born in Chicago and moved to Lake Geneva with his family in 1946 at the age of 7. Throughout his childhood here, he developed a love of fantasy and science fiction literature. As he raised his own family here, he became a New York Times bestselling author and was the originator of Gen Con®, which is the largest fantasy tabletop game convention in North America today.

Gygax was a visionary whose ambition to share his love of games, science fiction and fantasy would lead him along a path to create a game that would change the world.

The celebrated Dungeons & Dragons® game was conceived in Gygax’s modest house on Center Street in downtown Lake Geneva. What began as a humble enterprise turned into a worldwide phenomenon with an estimated 50 million people having played the game since it was created. Gygax formed the first company to publish the game — it was called TSR, short for Tactical Studies Rules.

It’s fair to say that Gygax is Lake Geneva’s most famous son. In fact, the city declared his birthday, July 27, as Gary Gygax Day and dedicated the Gygax Park Bench in Elm Park to him. He was known to frequent the park for its inspiring lake views.



Image of items from the museum display of D&D

At the Geneva Lake Museum, a new permanent exhibit called The Wizard of Lake Geneva follows the life and legacy of Gygax, including his role in co-creating the renowned Dungeons & Dragons® game, his bestselling novels and many more notable achievements in the world of gaming.

The interactive exhibit features a fantasy-themed gaming table, a stained-glass sign that once hung in TSR’s original location, a set of 30 shields featuring original coats of arms designs, as well as an array of D&D artifacts and memorabilia from the past 50 years.



Dragon Days Festival booth

  • Visit the place where it all started: The Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum, 723 Williams Street, is located in the original home of TSR, the company Gygax founded in 1973 to publish Dungeons & Dragons®. 
  • Experience the magic of reading. Learn about Gygax’s inspiration for Dungeons & Dragons® at the Gary Gygax Appendix N Alcove at the Lake Geneva Public Library, featuring the “throne of reading” and more than 100 books from Gygax’s Appendix N list in the AD&D® Dungeon Masters Guide. 
  • Attend Gary Con® XVI, Lake Geneva’s very own annual gaming convention celebrating the life and work of Gygax. Join his family, friends and fellow game enthusiasts (including a few celebrities) from around the world March 21 through 24 at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. The special 50th anniversary event will feature an all-new tournament, along with the gaming and fantasy inspired fun for which the event is known.
  • Take a walking tour. Visit more than 40 landmark sites marking Gygax’s history with the Adventurer’s Map of Lake Geneva. See his boyhood home and the house where Dungeons & Dragons® was written. Visit the places around the lake where he found inspiration for the game and his many literary works.
  • Attend a festival. Mark your calendar for September 27 through 29, 2024 and be among the thousands of D&D fans to revel in the Dragon Days Fantasy Festival at Elm and Library parks. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons®, Dragon Days is the ultimate fantasy fair, complete with gaming activities, music, street performers, outdoor theater, walking tours and more.


“I want to be remembered as the guy who loved to game.” — E. Gary Gygax