Thursday, August 02, 2007

I just finished Dungeons and Dreamers by Brad King and John Borland, an interesting take on the what happened in the computer game culture over the last ~20 years. The book really focuses on a just a few parts of that culture and uses those to try to make larger points. The first half of the book uses Richard Garriott, creater of Ultima and sequels, as its central character to highlight the connection between paper based games (like Dungeons and Dragons) and early computer games but he disappears for most of the second half of the book since he was a much less central figure once PC games took over from the Apple II as the dominant game platform.

The second half of the book jumps around a lot, starting out with chapters about the rise of id software and their "first person shooters": Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake, but eventually returning to Garriott's story to talk about the early MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) like Ultima Online and Everquest.

One odd point is that even though they start out with the connection between paper wargames/RPGs, they don't really discuss the part of the industry that is most closely related - real time strategy games. A section chronicling the rise of Blizzard, the most successful RTS game company, would have been a good addition, particularly since they only missed by a year the release of the most successful of all of the MMORPGs, Blizzard's World of Warcraft.

Amazon Link: Dungeons and Dreamers: The Rise of Computer Game Culture from Geek to Chic

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