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Dungeons & Dreamers: A Story of how Computer Games Created a Global Community

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Please note: The 2014 edition is a major revision with a new focus and a substantial amount of new reporting. Before the multibillion computer game industry, there was Dungeons & Dragons, a tabletop game created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974. D&D captured the attention of a small but influential group of players, many of whom also gravitated to the computer network Please note: The 2014 edition is a major revision with a new focus and a substantial amount of new reporting. Before the multibillion computer game industry, there was Dungeons & Dragons, a tabletop game created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974. D&D captured the attention of a small but influential group of players, many of whom also gravitated to the computer networks that were then appearing on college campuses around the globe. With the subsequent emergence of the personal computer, a generation of geeky storytellers arose that translated communal D&D playing experiences into the virtual world of computer games. The result of that 40-year journey is today's massive global community of players who, through games, have forged very real friendships and built thriving lives in virtual worlds. Dungeons & Dreamers follows the designers, developers, and players who built the virtual games and communities that define today's digital entertainment landscape and explores the nature of what it means to live and thrive in virtual communities.


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Please note: The 2014 edition is a major revision with a new focus and a substantial amount of new reporting. Before the multibillion computer game industry, there was Dungeons & Dragons, a tabletop game created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974. D&D captured the attention of a small but influential group of players, many of whom also gravitated to the computer network Please note: The 2014 edition is a major revision with a new focus and a substantial amount of new reporting. Before the multibillion computer game industry, there was Dungeons & Dragons, a tabletop game created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974. D&D captured the attention of a small but influential group of players, many of whom also gravitated to the computer networks that were then appearing on college campuses around the globe. With the subsequent emergence of the personal computer, a generation of geeky storytellers arose that translated communal D&D playing experiences into the virtual world of computer games. The result of that 40-year journey is today's massive global community of players who, through games, have forged very real friendships and built thriving lives in virtual worlds. Dungeons & Dreamers follows the designers, developers, and players who built the virtual games and communities that define today's digital entertainment landscape and explores the nature of what it means to live and thrive in virtual communities.

30 review for Dungeons & Dreamers: A Story of how Computer Games Created a Global Community

  1. 4 out of 5

    Douglas

    My review is written from the perspective of an outsider. I grew up in the 50s and 60s, before the rise of role-play gaming (RPG), and entered the emerging computing world of the 70s and 80s as a scientist and professor, eager to use new digital tools for my research and teaching. By the time online gaming developed, matured, and propagated, I was off in a different realm of data acquisition and analysis. Why would I read King and Borland's Dungeons & Dreamers: A Story of How Computer Games Creat My review is written from the perspective of an outsider. I grew up in the 50s and 60s, before the rise of role-play gaming (RPG), and entered the emerging computing world of the 70s and 80s as a scientist and professor, eager to use new digital tools for my research and teaching. By the time online gaming developed, matured, and propagated, I was off in a different realm of data acquisition and analysis. Why would I read King and Borland's Dungeons & Dreamers: A Story of How Computer Games Created a Global Community, let alone dare to comment on it? The answer is in an eye-opening experience I had recently. I had the opportunity to finally visit a bookstore that I had passed by for months. For reasons that I don't need to elaborate here, I had assumed that the bookstore would be a sleepy place, with few customers, and much quiet. One evening, I decided to stop in. To my amazement, the place was packed, and alive with excitement. Over half of the store was occupied with tables, each of which was filled with teenagers and young adults, male and female in almost equal proportion. I asked the proprietor what has going on, and he replied, "Oh, it's game night." There were no gaming rigs, no monitors, just table after table with maps spread out, and players with notebooks and tokens in hand. For me, this was a revelation. After all, this was happening now, in 2014, not in the 70s or 80s. "Paper gaming" was still alive and well. The absence of modern technology was a surprise, but what astonished me was the level social engagement. The enjoyment of the participants was palpable. People were laughing, talking, sharing, and occasionally commiserating. The whole place had a party atmosphere in the best sense of the term. These people clearly were not socially maladroit propeller-heads compensating for their unsatisfying lives. A phenomenon which I had ignored for 40 years suddenly got my attention. Thus, when I got my hands on King and Borland's book, I was prepared to have my eyes opened even more. I was not disappointed. As history, the book explores the interplay of creative genius, technology, and business in the creation of RPG, its transition to the digital world, and its evolution into virtual gaming communities. As social commentary, the book delves into the social dynamics of role-playing, leadership, and community-building. It is written an a relaxed narrative style that makes it a page-turner. Although the intended audience is clearly of those experienced with computer gaming, the authors cast a broad enough cloth to effectively inform the most uninformed outsiders such as myself. This, from my personal perspective, was what I loved most about this book. I would recommend this book to anyone who, like me, somehow missed the boat.

  2. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    An informative but unstylish look at the visionaries behind games like EverQuest, Doom and Ultima Online, with particular focus on Richard Garriot, a designer who dubs himself Lord British and likes to buy castles. His story is the most entertaining and shows a truly eccentric character at work, a D&D geek and Lord of the Rings fan determined to bring co-operative fantastia to the mainstream. And he did. The book loses focus, drifting into other stories and personalities sometimes at random, so An informative but unstylish look at the visionaries behind games like EverQuest, Doom and Ultima Online, with particular focus on Richard Garriot, a designer who dubs himself Lord British and likes to buy castles. His story is the most entertaining and shows a truly eccentric character at work, a D&D geek and Lord of the Rings fan determined to bring co-operative fantastia to the mainstream. And he did. The book loses focus, drifting into other stories and personalities sometimes at random, so keeping this about Garriot would have made more sense, esp. when you include family photos in the text, otherwise it ends up looking a bit weird. And that's the plight of most gamers, it seems, looking a bit weird. Bless 'em.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stile Teckel

    The book is absolutely fantastic! While one of the main characters is Richard Garriott it certainly is not limited to him. Dr. Cat, Starr Long, Steve Jackson, and many many more are referenced. People whose paths did not cross with Richard and even some famous game players. Yet there is a core feel that uses Richard to tell a story and by doing so it makes the book fun and interesting. I have a hard time passing up a good Fantasy or Sci-Fi novel in favor of non-fiction as I really like to get lo The book is absolutely fantastic! While one of the main characters is Richard Garriott it certainly is not limited to him. Dr. Cat, Starr Long, Steve Jackson, and many many more are referenced. People whose paths did not cross with Richard and even some famous game players. Yet there is a core feel that uses Richard to tell a story and by doing so it makes the book fun and interesting. I have a hard time passing up a good Fantasy or Sci-Fi novel in favor of non-fiction as I really like to get lost in other worlds when reading. That has not been an issue for me with this book. I have been sucked in and loving every moment of it. I think anyone of any age or past experiences would enjoy it and find it useful but there is definitely and added connection for me in reading it. Having started playing D&D around 1982 or so and Computer games shortly after that I can really connect with a lot of the information in the book. I was one of those kids that had access to a professors account to use the internet before it was public and experience the early day’s of muds. I remember playing Zork! As the gaming industry grew reading this book helped me relive the feelings of remembering the first time I played games like Doom and following companies like Apogee as they started out. Even from a pen and paper gaming standpoint It made me think back to the first Steve Jackson games being published. The of of growing up with fellow and having rooms full of people rolling dice in my house so that I could really to the of people such as Garriott, Dr. Cat, and others whose child-hoods where. Although I think one difference is I started out playing with my mom and her friends rather the kids of my own age, which came much later for me :). Even if you can’t make those connections though from personal experiences, the book makes you feel the era and the time. What it was like to be a computer game, programmer, or designer in an era that didn’t yet really understand it. For the younger generation its packed full of a rich history that will help them see how what they are playing now started out and the ideas behind it. I hope to someday convince my daughter to read this (but it will be hard to get her to put down the fiction book to do so, I’m sure!).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andy Connell

    Over all pretty good, looses focus at times. Could have spent more time on DnD itself and less on FPS like DOOM even though I understand their significance in terms of network gaming. More time on Ultima Online would have helped as it seemed the realization of Garrets idea of a virtual DnD game with lasting consiquences.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jared

    "Dungeons and Dreamers" details the genesis, evolution, mechanics, psychology, and roots of multiplayer computer games. On the whole, the book covers a lot of interesting history and provoked both nostalgia and introspection, although I found some sections (especially the section on violence in video games) to feel rather "duh." The first parts of the book follow Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson (co-creators of Dungeons and Dragons), Richard Garriott (creator of Ultima), and id Software (creators of D "Dungeons and Dreamers" details the genesis, evolution, mechanics, psychology, and roots of multiplayer computer games. On the whole, the book covers a lot of interesting history and provoked both nostalgia and introspection, although I found some sections (especially the section on violence in video games) to feel rather "duh." The first parts of the book follow Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson (co-creators of Dungeons and Dragons), Richard Garriott (creator of Ultima), and id Software (creators of Doom and Quake) as they blaze a trail that leads to widespread multiplayer gaming in virtual worlds. These sections were probably my favorites because you get to peek behind the curtain of game development and witness the chaos and occasional absurdity of small companies operating in an emerging market. Compared to the id Software-focused "Masters of Doom," this book isn't as entertaining of a read, but the underlying real-life stories were enough to keep my interest. The middle part of the book discusses violence in video games and various reactions in the media. Honestly, I would skip this section. The book then moves on to discuss multiplayer gaming as it explodes into the public consciousness, compliments of Ultima Online, EverQuest, Counter-Strike, and, of course, World of Warcraft. The stories begin to wear thin in this portion of the book, likely due to the amount of content that deserves attention, but there's just enough to keep the pages turning. If you grew up around role playing or first-person computer games in the 1980s - 2000s and would like to travel back and briefly study the origins of some of your favorite games, this book condenses numerous Wikipedia entries down into a single coherent narrative. Just feel free to skip the boring parts.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Although this was an old book that I purchased at a deep discount and didn't cover anything after 2003, I thought it was a good introductory book to the history of PC gaming, how it evolved from its early roots in paper Dungeons & Dragons to text-based PC games, to the gaming consoles of PlayStation 2 and XBox. I could easily extrapolate the theme and emphasis of this book to the photorealistic video games of today. The premise was that social gaming is what drove the state of the art forward. I Although this was an old book that I purchased at a deep discount and didn't cover anything after 2003, I thought it was a good introductory book to the history of PC gaming, how it evolved from its early roots in paper Dungeons & Dragons to text-based PC games, to the gaming consoles of PlayStation 2 and XBox. I could easily extrapolate the theme and emphasis of this book to the photorealistic video games of today. The premise was that social gaming is what drove the state of the art forward. I learned more about Doom, EverQuest, Ultima Online, and other online games that were the precursors to World of Warcraft and Call of Duty: Black Ops, and yes, FarmVille, CityVille and Mafia Wars. At the very heart, people love to game either because they like to experience the stories, practice their skills, see blood and gore show up on screen, or socialize with other people. From Doom, when people would play on networked LAN, to Black Ops when people are playing Wi-Fi, sitting in front of the TV and using your game controllers or keyboards and mouse have become mainstreamed. From a time when they were considered the province of awkward nerds, now game players include people of all stripes and we are intended to pay homage to the nerds that charted the course.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Ch.

    Una narrativa muy amena que busca hacer un trazado de la evolución de los juegos de RPG. Me parece que el mejor acierto de este libro es hacer de tomar que de entrada es medio aburrido y narrarlo de una manera interesante. En este libro se gesta una especie de lucha entre el antecedente histórico del RPG y una novela con sus héroes y villanos. Me hubiera gustado que el estudio que aquí se hace fuera menos íntimo, en realidad. Todo el contexto está sumado a uno o dos jóvenes que lograron sorprender Una narrativa muy amena que busca hacer un trazado de la evolución de los juegos de RPG. Me parece que el mejor acierto de este libro es hacer de tomar que de entrada es medio aburrido y narrarlo de una manera interesante. En este libro se gesta una especie de lucha entre el antecedente histórico del RPG y una novela con sus héroes y villanos. Me hubiera gustado que el estudio que aquí se hace fuera menos íntimo, en realidad. Todo el contexto está sumado a uno o dos jóvenes que lograron sorprender al mundo con innovación y enjundia, pero es poco lo que se habla de la comunidad actual. Cierto que se describe su evolución y expansión como un virus que iba convenciendo a más personas de jugar D&D, pero, aunque agradable, la lectura se queda un poco corta respecto a lo que esta comunidad ofrece. Es decir, su relato construye todos los antecedentes de manera ordenada y entretenida, pero ése parece ser su único objetivo. Seguro lo estaré retomando para varios estudios respecto al videojuego, pero me parece que su utilidad real está muy especificado a casos y situaciones que ejemplifiquen la magnitud de la comunidad geek, aunque pasando por alto su naturaleza a futuro.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rob Tesselaar

    I grew up in the period covered in this book, playing many of the games referred to. But as one often does, while I was familiar with the names, I didn't really know the backstory. The authors do a great job of covering the evolution of computer games with a specific focus on the roleplaying games that grew out of Dungeons and Dragons into the such well known names as Everquest and World of Warcraft. The book is written in a clear and logical manner making the information accessible to those new I grew up in the period covered in this book, playing many of the games referred to. But as one often does, while I was familiar with the names, I didn't really know the backstory. The authors do a great job of covering the evolution of computer games with a specific focus on the roleplaying games that grew out of Dungeons and Dragons into the such well known names as Everquest and World of Warcraft. The book is written in a clear and logical manner making the information accessible to those new to the topic as well as providing interesting facts and backstory to those more familiar with the computer games of the eighties and early nineties. I would recommend this book to any fan of role playing games, on-line or paper based, who is interested in their impact upon modern culture. And also to those trying to understand what it is gamers are trying to get out of their games that makes some games so successful (and addictive?) while others seem to inexplicably fail. For full transparency, I did win my copy of the book through a Goodreads giveaway.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I received Dungeons & Dreamers as part of a Goodreads giveaway. I am not a gamer. However, I'm fascinated by niche interest communities, and that's why this title grabbed my attention. It highlights the rise of multiplayer computer games, from the advent of the idea in the 1970s to its realization in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. King does a good job of keeping the reader straight on the book's many personalities and games. Even as a non-gamer, I could keep track of who was who and what was what. I I received Dungeons & Dreamers as part of a Goodreads giveaway. I am not a gamer. However, I'm fascinated by niche interest communities, and that's why this title grabbed my attention. It highlights the rise of multiplayer computer games, from the advent of the idea in the 1970s to its realization in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. King does a good job of keeping the reader straight on the book's many personalities and games. Even as a non-gamer, I could keep track of who was who and what was what. It's a fascinating look at how a group of college dropouts created a social and gaming movement that has repercussions not just in the "gaming" world, but for anyone who uses modern technology and social media. I feel like I would have gotten more out of it had I been a gamer. Not knowing the finer points of Doom, Quake, Ultima, etc., I felt like I was missing a lot of what made these gaming communities so unique. Still, as a novice, it was an entertaining read. 3.5/5.

  10. 5 out of 5

    John

    As a fan of video game History/Biography it was an interesting dichotomy between two of the industries juggernauts: Richard Garriot and the two John's from id. However Masters of Doom is much more in depth when concerned about John and John. I felt that shoe-horning in the 1993 hearings on violence which led up to the ESRB was exactly that shoe-horned. I felt that it would be a stronger book if it concentrated on Garriot's history or possibly the many other people influenced by Dungeons and Drag As a fan of video game History/Biography it was an interesting dichotomy between two of the industries juggernauts: Richard Garriot and the two John's from id. However Masters of Doom is much more in depth when concerned about John and John. I felt that shoe-horning in the 1993 hearings on violence which led up to the ESRB was exactly that shoe-horned. I felt that it would be a stronger book if it concentrated on Garriot's history or possibly the many other people influenced by Dungeons and Dragons in the 70's which led to development of video games.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rodney Haydon

    I enjoyed this book on the history of early computer gaming. I now see there is a 2nd edition of this book that came out last year, so I am interested in the updates the authors have regarding the 11 year span between the two.

  12. 5 out of 5

    David

    My four stars is only because I've a gamer and the history interests me; don't expect great writing, just great information. My four stars is only because I've a gamer and the history interests me; don't expect great writing, just great information.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Thom

    Read the first edition in 2004. A second edition was released recently, with substantive updates. I may give it a read and an actual review...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Generally good content. I just wish it went deeper into detail.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Grant Laird

    I found out that the 2nd edition of Dungeons and Dreamers: The Rise of Computer Game Culture from Geek to Chic will be released at the end of 2013. http://www.dungeonsanddreamers.com/ I found out that the 2nd edition of Dungeons and Dreamers: The Rise of Computer Game Culture from Geek to Chic will be released at the end of 2013. http://www.dungeonsanddreamers.com/

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shane

    I was there. I was sitting in my friend's basement playing Ultima on a Commodore 64 with a tape drive. I was "inserting cassette 4" to get to the next section/part of the story. I was the one playing Dragon Warrior on the first Nintendo when I realized the sun was coming up. I was the one who was totally happy to be playing as a little square in "Adventure" on my Atari 2600. And yes I was one of those leaning in my seat to peer around corners in Doom. After Doom I kind of backed off video games I was there. I was sitting in my friend's basement playing Ultima on a Commodore 64 with a tape drive. I was "inserting cassette 4" to get to the next section/part of the story. I was the one playing Dragon Warrior on the first Nintendo when I realized the sun was coming up. I was the one who was totally happy to be playing as a little square in "Adventure" on my Atari 2600. And yes I was one of those leaning in my seat to peer around corners in Doom. After Doom I kind of backed off video games until City of Heroes and then WOW, both of which I played for about 6 months. Then I went back to WOW a couple times and then I played Skyrim. So my first 15 years of life had a lot more to do with video games than the next 35, but they were fun. I got this book as part of an online secret Santa thing and I originally thought it was about D&D. I love this kind of stuff though and, as mentioned, video games had a lot to do with my life growing up (then D&D took over). I was actually never part of the LAN parties or any of the "community" outside of me and my friends playing the same games or playing them together. Even guilds in WOW didn't really appeal to me because I never seemed to connect with people who had the same ideas about video games that I did, they always seemed to take it too seriously. Reading books like this about "movements" or events/inventions that changed the world is just really cool to me and I'm always wondering what the next one will be and hoping to be part of it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Isis

    This readable, engaging book traces the development of multi-user computer games and non-game shared social spaces (such as Second Life) from their roots in tabletop gaming and D&D, through text adventure and then graphic action/adventure games, to current (as of writing, which is not current at all) massively networked games. I found the early chapters particularly interesting because I, too, was a D&D geek and gamer in the late 70s/early 80s (though I drifted away after early graphical games s This readable, engaging book traces the development of multi-user computer games and non-game shared social spaces (such as Second Life) from their roots in tabletop gaming and D&D, through text adventure and then graphic action/adventure games, to current (as of writing, which is not current at all) massively networked games. I found the early chapters particularly interesting because I, too, was a D&D geek and gamer in the late 70s/early 80s (though I drifted away after early graphical games such as Spacewar, and text games Zork and Advent and their progeny); it was like reading the book equivalent of the TV series Halt and Catch Fire, the underlying stories of things which I experienced as a casual user at the time. There is certainly more focus on certain people and game companies than others, but this doesn't purport to be a complete history of games and gaming. Instead this focus (which wavers at times, admittedly) serves to build the thesis that (most) people like narrative and social interactions, even while killing monsters. I think it's a reasonable view, though perhaps it leaves out the meta aspect of people who like to play single-player games (which I imagine are the majority of games available) but who then congregate on Reddit and other forums to share their experiences and screenshots.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris Aylott

    When it's not giving Richard Garriott a tongue-bath, this is a reasonably interesting history of how computer game communities evolved from the mid-seventies through early-2000s. However, at least one of the authors comes off as more of a fan than a serious journalist, and the hagiography pretty thick. It's particularly amusing hearing about Garriott's exciting plans for Tabula Rasa (one of the biggest flops among MMORPGs to date) and not a hint of the development of World of Warcraft, which lau When it's not giving Richard Garriott a tongue-bath, this is a reasonably interesting history of how computer game communities evolved from the mid-seventies through early-2000s. However, at least one of the authors comes off as more of a fan than a serious journalist, and the hagiography pretty thick. It's particularly amusing hearing about Garriott's exciting plans for Tabula Rasa (one of the biggest flops among MMORPGs to date) and not a hint of the development of World of Warcraft, which launched the year after this book was first published. (There's also a revised 2014 edition, which hopefully benefits from a few more years of perspective on the industry.)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jon Ray

    I absolutely loved this book, which aside from early computer lore, dives into the creation of D&D and the early to mid days of TSR, the company that brought us the world of Dungeons & Dragons. I highly recommend this for anyone wishing to know the story behind the role-playing game that started it all. You may just gain a new appreciation of the game after knowing of it's beginnings and struggles. I absolutely loved this book, which aside from early computer lore, dives into the creation of D&D and the early to mid days of TSR, the company that brought us the world of Dungeons & Dragons. I highly recommend this for anyone wishing to know the story behind the role-playing game that started it all. You may just gain a new appreciation of the game after knowing of it's beginnings and struggles.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Codepoetz

    This book covers much of the early history of computer games with a focus on role playing games, particularly Richard Garriott's Ultima. The book emphasizes how the cultural focus of gaming has evolved from isolated players to connected teams of players, group competitions, and in-person conventions and meetups. See? It's cool to be a computer geek now! This book covers much of the early history of computer games with a focus on role playing games, particularly Richard Garriott's Ultima. The book emphasizes how the cultural focus of gaming has evolved from isolated players to connected teams of players, group competitions, and in-person conventions and meetups. See? It's cool to be a computer geek now!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ramon Polidura

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Really good insight into the state of the gaming industry was in 2003, unfortunately they didn't forsee how much it would change in the next 2 years and predicts wrong outcomes, the chapter of the columbine shootings is very interesting but the final ones drag a lot. Really good insight into the state of the gaming industry was in 2003, unfortunately they didn't forsee how much it would change in the next 2 years and predicts wrong outcomes, the chapter of the columbine shootings is very interesting but the final ones drag a lot.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    A good book, an important topic. But mislabeled. It's a history if FPS and MMOs. Which it fine. But it take till page 202 for Myst to even be mentioned. A good book, an important topic. But mislabeled. It's a history if FPS and MMOs. Which it fine. But it take till page 202 for Myst to even be mentioned.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mjhancock

    Brad King and John Borland write a historical overview of gaming fandom and the player in general. The first four chapters focus mainly on the individual the authors choose to symbolize early gamers: Richard Garriott and the Ultima series. The second section is a little more varied, with a chapter on John Carmack and John Romero of Doom & Quake, another on the communities the games created and the rise of the gamer; and a return to Garriott with a focus on Ultima Online. The third section looks a Brad King and John Borland write a historical overview of gaming fandom and the player in general. The first four chapters focus mainly on the individual the authors choose to symbolize early gamers: Richard Garriott and the Ultima series. The second section is a little more varied, with a chapter on John Carmack and John Romero of Doom & Quake, another on the communities the games created and the rise of the gamer; and a return to Garriott with a focus on Ultima Online. The third section looks at online gaming in general. There's a chapter on game violence in the wake of Columbine (with Henry Jenkins and David Walsh providing rational representation for both sides), another on modding and shooter-style multiplayer games, and a final chapter on other forms of online gaming, including Everquest and the Sims. The book ends on a prediction that the next big game that will turn gaming mainstream is just on the horizon; given that it stops just before Second Life and World of Warcraft were released, I'd say they were fairly accurate. The book itself reminds me of David Kushner's "Master of Doom," (particularly in the biographical focus), and it covers a lot of the same ground. The study's generally a lot less critical of the figures it examines, and seems a bit too jubilant and not critical enough regarding the possibilities of gaming to draw people together. On the other hand, its treatment of videogame violence is very well-balanced. The book is interesting enough that I'd recommend it to people interested in the subject, though its publication date means that it ended before game fandom reached its current height.

  24. 4 out of 5

    James

    A very readable and often entertaining history of, as the title says, computer game culture up through about 2002 (it was published in 2003.) I liked the mini-biographies of some of the key people that created influential games or organized competitions. I'd have given this book five stars, but the index is sparse, omitting a number of names and other entries that should have been included (and having written indexes, I know it's tedious but not hard to be comprehensive.) Also, some people, games A very readable and often entertaining history of, as the title says, computer game culture up through about 2002 (it was published in 2003.) I liked the mini-biographies of some of the key people that created influential games or organized competitions. I'd have given this book five stars, but the index is sparse, omitting a number of names and other entries that should have been included (and having written indexes, I know it's tedious but not hard to be comprehensive.) Also, some people, games, and events that definitely belonged in prominent places in the narrative were left out or briefly brushed over: the role of the Marine Corps version of Doom as both a milestone in the use of immersive games as real-world training tools and one of the most prominent early modifications of the Doom game; the Army's much greater use of its purpose-written game, America's Army, for training, PR, recruitment, and pre-recruitment testing of varied skills in potential recruits; and the major role that massively multiplayer online combat flight simulator games played in the development of the online gaming industry. Shoulda done a bit more research!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark Freeman

    This book had its flaws - repetitive in places and a focus on some personal stories that at times were really not that fascinating! But overall it was fun to have a perspective put on a story that I feel part of. This was a recognizable history. Book conclusions: that people play games for social interaction. Not sure I fully agree but its an interesting counter-point to the games make you violent camp.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

    Excellent as a history of gaming, particularly as a limited biography of certain key game developers. This was not particularly my interest when I picked this book up, however. I was hoping for more exploration of the cultural, sociological, and narratological aspects of computer gaming. For my interests, two chapters of this book blew me away with their commentary and insight, but the rest of the book, while well-written was not particularly engaging.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sandi

    Told in a very journalistic, almost predestined, style. A very entertaining read but with definate biases towards Western gaming, and networked play.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Corey

    Meh

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Decent book on the rise and influence of video games on our culture, but waaaay too much of the book is devoted to Richard Garriott.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steve Kosloske

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