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Dungeons and Dreamers: The Rise of Computer Game Culture from Geek to Chic Hardcover – August 19, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
King and Borland's crisp study of computer game specialists reads like a screenplay and would make ideal film material. The authors offer an intriguing protagonist in Richard Garriott, who overcame disapproval from his astronaut father and the lonely isolation of being a geek to produce the Ultima Online series. Vowing to create dungeon worlds as rich and frightening as Tolkien's, Garriott went into business with his brother and pursued his goal through lean years and unsatisfying corporate alliances. The authors, both journalists, also profile other colorful characters, such as Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, creators of the first MUD (multiple-user dungeon), a place where gamers could meet online; John Carmack and John Romero, creators of Doom ("the ultimate visceral experience of kill-or-be-killed"); and Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, Dungeons & Dragons' masterminds. King and Borland cover dramatic events, including attacks by conservative Christians, who felt Dungeons & Dragons was satanic and encouraged worship of the occult, violent behavior and suicide. Equally involving is the gaming world's exclusion and harassment of women until such rebels as college student Vangie Beal formed a women's gaming network called PMS (the Psycho Men Slayers). Garriott comes across as an inspiring figure when he introduces a system of ethics and morals into the games, stressing honesty, compassion, values, justice, sacrifice, honor, spirituality and humility. Even non-tech-inclined readers will be intrigued by the sense of community King and Borland describe, and their epilogue image of Garriott living in a castle, complete with moat, will delight fantasy lovers.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
... documents manically creative lives of gamers by tracing the career of eccentric "Lord British," as Garriott is known... -- Wired News, July 8, 2003
A great beach read, Dungeons & Dreamers will leave you feeling proud to be a game geek. -- Philadelphia Inquirer, July 3, 2003
Anecdotal and close-up it's a highly readable peek into a whole 'nother social realm. -- TexasMonthly.com
King... Borland ...pulled off a neat trick managed to write a book as compelling as a really cool game -- ComputerUser, August 2003
Top customer reviews
I was there. I could clear up a couple of things that I saw.
It says that "Richard was not much of a dungeon master." I LOLed at that. Richard and Bob White were the two BEST dungeon masters in our group.
Also, it says that Richard had no interest in sports. LOL! He excelled on the track team. I went to many of his track meets!
In addition, it said that there were parents at our games. This thing that they say about the porch being relegated to the parents "smoking and drinking" ??? I never saw anyone's parents there. And I was there every weekend.
I wish that they had interviewed one of us that was there. This was a very magical time. We had a lot of fun playing D&D. We started playing the game when there was only the one box with some dice and one book. Later we bought all the additional supplemental books.
Then, of course, Richard got his Apple II and wrote Akalabeth. :) That all came later...after we had been playing D&D for a while.
Richard had a knack for the computer because of his science fair project. He did a project that studied the wave propagation from the sun (at the time his dad was one of the world experts on the Sun and because he had been studying it had the world EVA record - he had been changing film in the camera on the spacecraft) that had computer analysis. So we were always going up to NASA and using their computers to analyze his data. (But we were up there already because that was where our Explorers post met.)
good times :)
Where the narrative starts to get bogged down is when it gets to Richard Garriott (aka Lord British), the creator of the Ultima series of games. (For the record, I'm a huge Ultima fan - the original Ultima packaging, with a knight on a black warhorse facing off against a dragon emerging from hot lava, was the reason I bought my first computer.) Once the authors get to Garriott, the pace slows as we explore his life in extended detail from his early family life to the release of Ultima Online. In contrast, significantly less time is spent on the other pivotal computer games like Doom, Half-Life and EverQuest. While I'd be the first to point to Garriott's role in the development of this genre, all roads don't necessarily lead to Lord British.
Net/Net: Decent overview of a topic that has often been eclipsed by the more glamorous console videogames industry. Would have appreciated less detail on Garriott, and more on the other games.
Full Disclosure: Reviewer works as a marketer for Windows and Xbox games at Microsoft.