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Books Role Playing (Games) Games

Playing At the World: a Huge New History of Gaming 18

New submitter disconj writes "Over at Wired, Ethan Gilsdorf interviews Jon Peterson, author of the new book Playing at the World. Gilsdorf calls it 'a must read,' though he cautions it 'is not intended for a general audience. It's a book for geeks, about geeks.' It is apparently an insanely-detailed history of role-playing games and wargames, including everything from Prussian kriegsspiel up to Dungeons & Dragons and the beginning of computer RPGs (but none of that heathen stuff after 1980). Peterson says in the interview that he wanted to write a history of these games 'worthy of the future they are creating.' He apparently spent five years on the project, including unearthing a huge trove of previously-unknown historical documents."
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Playing At the World: a Huge New History of Gaming

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Needed something like this for a long time. From the interview it sounds like he doesn't take Arneson or Gygax's side. Also sounds like he pays a lot more attention to the early influences than to the myth that Gygax or Arneson invented everything. Ordered.

  • Or what?
  • by PPalmgren ( 1009823 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @09:08AM (#41311573)

    I think calling post 80's stuff heathen is disingenious. The evolution of RPGs on the PC and consoles has been phenomenal to watch, and there's a lot of history potential in documenting MMO politics. All of the open world PVP games have had a very interesting development post-launch controlled entirely by the players, and I think its a lot of thought-provoking material at its core. Region control maps over months for games like UO, AC, EVE, SB, Darkfall, etc, are all like watching a condensed version of medieval history play out in a real time simulation. I would be very interested in reading up on those histories and the insights gleamed by an author studying them.

    • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @10:36AM (#41312289)
      Well, it seems to me that a lot happened since 1980, including at least a couple of orders of magnitude increase of people who play this sort of game. The author can always publish sequels.

      It's worth noting the effects of past games on the present. A game like WoW didn't magically spring up out of the void. It has a past in other computer games (Everquest and other graphics-intensive games, a number of text-based MUDs, and the various old pen and paper or board games that inspired all of these predecessors).
    • I dunno about curmudgeon, but he definitely sounds like an elitist. Oh the irony.
  • The subject is interesting but I'm a little worried the book will be too complex. I might have some interest in light reading on the history of RPGs and wargaming, but I'm not sure I want to plow through an extensively reasearched tome on the subject. Also, I'm a little worried about the decision to self-publish. A good editor is probably worth his/her weight. All the same, this looks very intereting, and I'm impressed by someone who is crazy enough to dedicate this much time to the subject.
  • by derinax ( 93566 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @11:47AM (#41313081) []

    Take the two of them together for an unbroken history of RPGs up to about a few years ago. I'm nearly finished with Dungeons and Desktops, and despite a slight bias against Amigas (or ports in general) and an unfamiliarity with certain D&D rules, it's a great tour of CRPGs from the past. Use the author's Gamasutra articles for the full-color screenshots, though.

  • If the author is intending to have a comprehensive history of RPG (which is ambitious) I'd argue play-by-mail games should be included in the history.

    Difficult to imagine, but there was a time (before BBSs) where players actually played fantasy/strategic/etc games through the mail. Steve Jackson [] is one example, and there are others.

    I used to work in that business, and it sadly seems to have been completely ignored -- Wikipedia has no entries for the games I worked on.
  • i think so too.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson