- Paperback: 298 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 0002- edition (August 14, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226249441
- ISBN-13: 978-0226249445
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Shared Fantasy: Role Playing Games as Social Worlds 0002- Edition
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"Fine's analysis of the intricacies of role-playing in context carries an authority and acuteness denied to mere observers.... His inside knowledge enables him to make fine distinctions in the strategies and functions of these games that are lost to most outside analysts." - Bill Ellis, Journal of American Folklore "As an ethnography of fantasy role-playing games and gamers, Fine's book respects his subjects and honors the complexity of their enterprise. And as an analysis of the overlap between that world and other more familiar worlds, Fine's book both honors and clarifies the still incredible skills we nevertheless take so much for granted." - Prue Rains, Sociology and Social Research
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There are therefore three groups of people who will probably find this book useful:
1. role-playing game fans who want to know more about the beginnings of their subculture (Fine writes to a non-RPG audience but this should not be a problem here; also, most of what he says should be accessible to the general intelligent reader);
2. role-playing game scholars;
3. qualitative sociologists (although the book could be a touch less descriptive and a little more analytical).
If you belong to any of these groups, do consider buying "Shared Fantasy". If not, chances are that you will not find the book to be very appealing.
What's revealed by Fine's studies is that issues many gamers face today have remained largely unchanged over the course of thirty years. "Roll-" vs. "role-" playing figures prominently. Game masters who are unprepared or capricious, players who are petty and competitive, groups that exclude other groups...they're all here in vivid detail. What sets Fine's work apart is that he provides sociological constructs to discuss the gaming hobby, a hobby he treats with respect.
On the other hand, there are several issues that are clearly tied to the nascent gaming culture. Rampant sexism and violence towards women disturbs Fine; things have definitely changed for the better. The other major concern of most of Fine's subjects is the invasion of youngsters to the hobby who are too immature to fully grasp its rules. Nowadays we have the opposite problem - there aren't enough young players attracted to the game.
Throughout, Fine interviews his subjects and quotes their experiences as well as his own. These quotes are illustrative of the little challenges gaming groups regularly encounter, from intergroup rivalry to players having their characters to commit mass suicide as a form of protest against a particularly unfair game master. Any gamer will recognize himself and his players in Fine's work.
Chivalry & Sorcery and Empire of the Petal Throne (Tekumel) are not as well known today, but at the time they were a game designer's response to the flaws in Dungeons & Dragons. In the case of Chivalry & Sorcery, it was a more feudal feel to fantasy. In the case of Tekumel, it was the distinct European emphasis that colored all of Dungeons & Dragons. Barker's direct involvement in the Tekumel game universe as a game master provides an immersive contrast to the typical hack-and-slash dungeon games that were popular at the time.
Fine's work isn't flashy, but it's a critical piece of gaming history and a must-read for gaming scholars everywhere.