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Playing At the World: a Huge New History of Gaming

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the get-off-my-lawn dept.

Books 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 He apparently spent five years on the project, including unearthing a huge trove of previously-unknown historical documents."

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sounds awesome (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41310087)

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.

Re:sounds awesome (0)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 2 years ago | (#41310145)

Ordered as well - kindle price is only $17.99 a little more than half the paperback price.

Re:sounds awesome (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#41310301)

looks like fun... ordered as well.

Re:sounds awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41310469)

I dunno, from the title I thought Playing At the World would be like trying to get the best mileage from your car, giving yourself XP whenever you succeed; seeing how fast you can make a sandwich; etc.

Problem with the world is the respawn lag appears to be very high.

Re:sounds awesome (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | more than 2 years ago | (#41313265)

You're looking for gamification, then. There's stuff out there about that, too.

a computer engineer, you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41310215)

Would he perchance be the one by that name with all the RFCs [] on SIP and other stuff?

Re:a computer engineer, you say? (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 2 years ago | (#41310261)

Could be...

The author of this book: []

The author of the RFCs: []

There's certainly a similarity there.

Bad topic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41310249)

Shouldn't this be a book review?

A must read? (1, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#41311019)

Or what?

Summary implies curmudgeon alert (4, Interesting)

PPalmgren (1009823) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Summary implies curmudgeon alert (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#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).

Re:Summary implies curmudgeon alert (1)

Iniamyen (2440798) | more than 2 years ago | (#41312431)

I dunno about curmudgeon, but he definitely sounds like an elitist. Oh the irony.

Anyone want to kickstart a documentary series?... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41311707)

I'll pitch in. :)


Interesting but maybe too much (1)

puddingebola (2036796) | more than 2 years ago | (#41312737)

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.

Sounds like a good companion book to this one: (2)

derinax (93566) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Play-by-mail games (1)

cpm99352 (939350) | more than 2 years ago | (#41316777)

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.

Re:Play-by-mail games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41318889)

The book extensively covers PBM games in Chapter 4, including PBM Diplomacy, early Flying Buffalo games and lots of other stuff.

think so (1)

yangli520 (2708951) | more than 2 years ago | (#41383117)

i think so too.
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