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Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It

Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It

Написано David M. Ewalt

Озвучено David M. Ewalt и Mikael Naramore


Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It

Написано David M. Ewalt

Озвучено David M. Ewalt и Mikael Naramore

оценки:
4.5/5 (30 оценки)
Длина:
8 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Aug 20, 2013
ISBN:
9781480524606
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Описание

A fascinating and personal look at Dungeons & Dragons that "tracks D&D's turbulent rice, fall, and survival, from its heyday in the 1980s…to the twenty-first century" (The Wall Street Journal).

Even if you've never played Dungeons & Dragons, you probably know someone who has: the game has had a profound influence on our culture, and 2014 marks the intriguing role-playing phenomenon's 40th anniversary. Released decades before the Internet and social media, Dungeons & Dragons inspired one of the original nerd subcultures and is still revered by more than 30 million fans. Now, the authoritative history and magic of the game are revealed by an award-winning journalist and lifelong D&D player.

In Of Dice and Men, David Ewalt describes the development of Dungeons & Dragons from the game's origins on the battlefields of ancient Europe through the hysteria that linked it to satanic rituals and teen suicides to its apotheosis as father of the modern video-game industry. As he chronicles the surprising history of the game's origins (a history largely unknown even to hardcore players) and examines D&D's lasting impact, Ewalt weaves laser-sharp subculture analysis with his own present-day gaming experiences, "writing about the world of fantasy role-playing junkies with intelligence, dexterity, and even wisdom" (Ken Jennings). An enticing blend of history, journalism, narrative, and memoir, Of Dice and Men sheds light on America's most popular (and widely misunderstood) form of collaborative entertainment.

Издатель:
Издано:
Aug 20, 2013
ISBN:
9781480524606
Формат:
Аудиокнига


Об авторе

David M. Ewalt began playing Dungeons & Dragons when he was ten years old. Now an award-winning journalist, he writes about games for outlets like Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, talks about games on television and radio, and plays games in and around his Brooklyn, New York, home. Join him or find out more at DavidMEwalt.com.

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  • (5/5)
    Really great book. Total enjoyment.

    This isn't a totally comprehensive history of role playing games -- it is more of a personal journey with history of RPGs and D&D intertwined. Well written. Given the recent article about how Gary Gygax lost control of TSR, this book gives some additional information that seems more even-handed.
  • (4/5)
    Seems at times more of a personal journey than a chronology of the game. Still, it's an interesting read. I first became aware of D&D in the late 1970s when I heard of friends playing and one of them tried to clone the DM. I've never been big on it, but did try a run at DMing for my younger sons a few years ago. If I take one thing from this book, it's the fifth gen of D&D, which may be their best yet. Must needs looking into.
  • (3/5)
    It's wildly difficult to write a first-person account of a phenomenon. The reason: Authors-as-characters only work when they become surrogates for the reader. Too often writers inject themselves into the story, which breaks the narrative flow by separating the reader from the action of the book.

    When Of Dice and Men is at its best, David M. Ewalt paints an interesting tale that follows the birth, demise, and rebirth of both Dungeons & Dragons and tabletop role-playing. While the territory of the game's history isn't new, Ewalt nevertheless wrote a fan's history, which painted a tough by understandable picture of the original founders. I flew through those parts of the book, oftentimes finding myself up well after my wife had fallen asleep. I wanted more of that.

    Unfortunately, the book has two major narrative flaws that frustrated me. The first was the author's injection of himself into the story, which didn't give me a better understanding of the game, its psychology, or its community friendships. Instead, Ewalt assumed the reader understood those ideas (in contrast to his excellent descriptions of how these games are played).

    The second was that the author didn't trust the reader. Ewalt diverges repeatedly throughout the narrative to explain how much of a nerd he is (while simultaneously trying to tell us that it's not just nerds who play), as if that's imperative to appreciate and understand the phenomenon. He also peppers the narrative with overblown descriptors to artificially create drama.

    My headlong leap into the deep end of D&D gave the trip an almost religious significance: I started to think of it as my version of the hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. An expression of devotion; a chance to seek wisdom; a time to show unity with my brethren.

    It's this dichotomy that concerned me. The book is clearly written for people who don't understand D&D and role-playing games (RPGs) based upon the lengthy descriptions of the various games, and yet Ewalt never settles on exactly who the "people who play" are.

    Despite the narrative imbalance, people who enjoy D&D and RPGs will find this a satisfying, quick read and those who have never held a 20-sided dice won't be intimidated by lots of geek-speak.
  • (3/5)
    A nice little cultural history on Dungeons and Dragons. More geared towards the friends and significant others of DnD players. My wife read it and she really liked it. She thought it helped her understand our motivations more. I learned a great deal about the history of the game as a business, which I found pretty interesting. Not incredibly insightful or anything like that, but I don't think that was what Ewalt was going for nor is it particularly easy to write deeply about table top role playing games.
  • (4/5)
    This is a history of the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. The author played himself as a child, gave it up for about ten years, then went back to it, and got particularly involved again as he was researching for the book. I really enjoyed this. I haven't played much D&D myself, but I did play occasionally when I was a kid in the early 80s (only when cousins visited!). More recently, I played a different role playing game that is pretty much the same thing, but not officially D&D. We were a group of women playing, but the Game Master (GM... vs DM/Dungeon Master) was a man (one of the player's husbands). Reading this makes me want to play again! I enjoyed learning the history of the game and it was humourous at times, as well. The author interspersed the history with narratives from some of the games he has played with his friends, as well as the research he was doing (various gaming conventions, and even one weekend doing a LARP (Live Action Role Play).
  • (4/5)
    A good overview of the history of role-playing games in general, and Dungeons and Dragons in particular. It also provides some good insight into what attracts people to RPGs. As always with this type of thing, I'm sure some of the people involved might take issue with how events are portrayed, so take some of the history with a grain of salt. I personally would have preferred a bit more detail, but Ewalt acknowledges that he's aiming for the non-gamer audience more than the hardcore gamer.
  • (4/5)
    Title: Of Dice and MenAuthor: David M. EwaltRelease Date: August 20, 2013Publisher: ScribnerSource: Edelweiss DRCGenre(s): Non-Fiction, Pop Culture, Subculture, Board GamesReview Spoilers: LowDespite an impressive amount of geeky knowledge and a fairly nerdy childhood, I am new to the whole Dungeons & Dragons scene. Therese and I both started playing maybe a year and a half ago with some buddies of mine from law school who are all solid, grissled D&D veterans. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty bad at the game. But as long as someone tells me when to role and doesn't expect me to actually do any math, we're good! It's fun. I really enjoy it and I really enjoy just hanging out with friends. Our DM was pretty much consistently frustrated with us but hey. What's D&D without running your DM ragged?Because I'm new to the game and never knew anyone who played growing up I don't really know a lot about the game. So when I saw Of Dice and Men come up for review I knew I had to request it. NetGalley actually denied my request but Edelweiss came through for me and I was super happy about that because Of Dice and Men was basically everything I had hoped it would be and more. Not only does the book give you a pretty solid background on the game but it also gives you a very personal account from the author David Ewalt's point of view about being a gamer falling in and out of love with tabletop games. I think that what I had really wanted was that personal connection to the game that I really sort of lack at this point and David Ewalt does that well without getting too bogged down in his own personal memoirs.Of Dice and Men chronicles the development of the game and it's history including shedding light on the falling out of the creators. They also sort of follow the progression of the game through the various versions and even spend some time talking about the evolution of LARP games and other aspects of being a geek. Ewalt is clearly one of us and the way he handles talking about the ostracizing of nerds in school, dating, etc. really hits home. But what I appreciate is that he's never really bitter about it. He embraces it all in the same sort of way that I think I've accepted the nerdier aspects of my own life. He's not a fanatic to the core; he's just a fan. I see a lot of myself in David Ewalt and I think that if I had grown up the same way he had (and been a dude, of course) I think that I might have been able to write a very similar book myself.Final Thoughts: A quintessential book about nerd culture, I really cannot recommend this book enough. It was a great non-stereotypical look at what it means to be a nerd through the lens of someone who grew up playing one of the nerdiest games around. Of Dice and Men is a great book that every nerd should read if they get a chance.
  • (5/5)
    Of Dice and Men, by David M. Ewalt, is a fascinating look at the particular subculture of role playing games, specifically D&D (very specifically D&D. Ewalt mentions right at the beginning of the book with a very apropos touch of humour, that the edition he plays and will mostly reference throughout the book is D&D 3.5, and “Readers who wish to argue the superiority of their own favored edition are advised to write a letter detailing their position, put it in an envelope, and then stick it where the Sunburst spell don’t shine.” [pg.1] Touché, sir.) Ewalt, an unabashed gamer geek himself, intersperses personal narrative alongside strong research into the history and development of what many consider to be the epitome of geekiness. At its core, Of Dice and Men explores the factors involved in the tumultuous history of the game, and the effects of both the individuals involved and the game itself on modern society. Beginning with Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the book traces the ebb and flow of D&D and its successors, exploring first origins as a tactical wargaming simulation, the influences of D&D on the video game industry, and the public perception of role playing games throughout the short decades since D&D was first dreamt up among a myriad of other topics.It should be noted that the book is not presented as chaotically as the above may imply. Instead, the structure of the text very well from history to personal narrative and back again. Ewalt’s personal campaign and experiences as a player add great depth to the text, demonstrating the impact of the historical occurrences, and the evolution of the tropes of storytelling into game mechanics. Equally interesting is his analysis into the culture that has grown up around this game. One chapter in particular, entitled “Why We Play”, highlights very vividly the emotional connection that so many develop to their particular game (whatever it is they play), and to their characters. He comments at one point that he doesn’t “get obsessed with board games or video games. So why is D&D so uniquely powerful?” [pg.121] His point is not really the differentiation of these things, but the emphasis of the storytelling aspect. He draws oft-cited parallels between RPGs and Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, the Hero’s journey, and rightly so; RPGs in any medium speak to something in our core being, something that is made even more exciting by the opportunity to take part in it without having to truly put ourselves in harm’s way.Well written, engaging to both an already-invested audience and to those who have never even thought of playing a role playing game, and punctuated with trivia and insights into the human condition, Of Dice and Men is a pleasure to read.
  • (2/5)
    Prefatory note: I have never played Dungeons & Dragons. My knowledge of the game is theoretical rather than experiential.David M. Ewalt, in Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It, aims to tell the history of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and provide insight into gamer culture. Despite its subject matter, Of Dice and Men is intended less for gamers than it is for non-gamers, who are less informed about the game and, often, inclined to sneer at players. Ewalt, a talented writer and senior editor at Forbes, largely succeeds, though, as a result of his "high level" approach, tends towards breezy prose and a certain shallowness. Of Dice and Men is more a celebration of the game and an apologetic for its players than it is a true exploration of D&D and its role in American pop-culture.Ewalt approaches his subject matter in three ways: The history of D&D; stories about players; and his personal experiences and observations. Ewalt’s history of the game is simultaneously the most interesting and the most frustrating aspect of the book. After a perfunctory explanation of the game’s deep background in the war games of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Ewalt moves on to tell the story of Gary Gygax, (co)creator of D&D, and his failed company, TSR. Readers will find fascinating the early history of D&D as it emerged, unsurprisingly and appropriately, from peoples’ basements and living rooms. Ewalt studs his reporting with quotes from the men who participated in the early development of the game, as well as Gygax himself. Unfortunately, Ewalt glosses over the disputes that wracked TSR almost from its inception and which appear to have stemmed from personality conflicts as much as they did from managerial inexperience. There are inconsistencies in reporting: Dave Arneson, creator of the D&D predecessor Blackmoor, left TSR possibly due to his lack of interest in fantasy; in the next chapter, Arneson publishes fantasy games on his own because of his interest in fantasy roleplaying. Gygax, despite his indiscretions (living in high style in Hollywood on company funds, etc.), is presented sympathetically, but his personality is underdeveloped. One of Ewalt’s goals is the favorable presentation of D&D and its players. To that end, Ewalt cleverly intersperses chapters with bits of the game he plays with friends, telling the story from his character’s perspective, an approach that is the best approximation of game play, I imagine, that one can achieve on the written page. Ewalt introduces the reader to the friends with whom he plays the game, all of whom, he takes pains to point out, are successful and well adjusted. He accomplishes this by describing a stereotypical geek who they considered dropping from the game due to his uncouth behavior, an episode, to Ewalt’s credit, that provokes some soul searching, as nerds are supposed to be accepting of one another. (I use the terms "geek" and "nerd" interchangeably; I’m not concerned with their nuances.) The nerd tendency toward hierarchy remains, though: The point is made that D&D is collaborative storytelling and is an "active" pastime, as opposed to the "passive" consumption of television and videogames. (I’m not familiar with the psychology or neurology of RPGs v. TV or videogames and take no stance in regards to whether one is "better" than the other.) Likewise, Ewalt participates in and dismisses a LARP-ish game, Otherworld, because he already has all the fantasy he needs via D&D. (For more on LARPing, see Lizzie Stark’s Leaving Mundania.)Finally, Ewalt discusses the role of D&D in his own life. He knows it’s a passion and is able to direct some humor at himself for it. It’s genuinely refreshing for the reader to encounter someone who is so unabashedly sincere about something in which he’s interested; snark is kept to a minimum. Still, Ewalt’s story proceeds almost as if by rote, eventually resulting in his ascendancy to Dungeon Master, finally leading his own game (and life). In this respect, part memoir, part self-help book, part apologetic, Of Dice and Men resembles Shelly Mazzanoble’s Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons Dragons.Of Dice and Men is a readable and enjoyable introduction to Dungeons & Dragons and related tabletop roleplaying games, but is hampered by Ewalt’s efforts to cover so much ground in so few pages. Recommended for diehard fans and curious onlookers.
  • (5/5)
    Pairing his reporter's sensibility with a passionate, nerdy zeal, David M. Ewalt weaves the nappy threads of D&D's history, his own soul-baring journey of geek-enlightenment, and compelling in-game narratives into what must surely be the Bayeux Tapestry of Dungeons & Dragons.

    Ewalt masterfully retraces the frequent changes of fortune endured by E. Gary Gygax, David Arneson, and others involved with creating Dungeons & Dragons, it's progenitors, and it's progeny. Skillfully interwoven is the tale David's own discovery and re-discovery of the game and the changes thus wrought by his Tuesday night obsession. In a delightfully smooth change of perspective, detailed descriptions of gameplay are wont to transition to in-game narratives using the viewpoint of the character being played by Ewalt. The audiobook version enlists the talent of Mikael Naramore to perform these narratives while the rest of the book is read by the author.

    Clearly a labor of love, Of Dice and Men is enlightening, enheartening, and entertaining. Written to be accessible to both novice and initiate, the book performs admirably—a must-read for anyone with even a passing curiosity about role playing games, a moral imperative for role playing gamers.
  • (3/5)
    Pleasant enough, but it’s a story any D&D buff already knows. No one has ever cracked the nut of dramatically capturing the joys of playing. The intercapitulary chapters don’t crack it either and are quite superfluous. Ewalt acknowledges that D&D has historically been the domain of middle class white people. He offers no other insights regarding that challenge. There is a lot say about class here, and it touches on it (I’m thinking of chapter where Doctorow meets hard right wingers at his game store) but doesn’t go much deeper. An editor at Forbes, he goes soft on Lorraine Williams, and never acknowledges the sucker scheme that is at the heart of most game publishing. He seems to be selling D&D to nonplayers, but seriously, are any nonplayers even going to sniff this book.
  • (4/5)
    In 1974, there was no other game on the planet like Dungeons & Dragons. Conceived as an imaginative role-playing game by Tactical Studies Rules, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson’s D&D was rooted not in historical fact, but in the world of fantasy, the world of J.R.R. Tolkien, Jack Vance, and Michael Moorcock. There was no board, just a character sheet and a lot of dice. Players were free to explore the world of the game with gentle guidance from the Dungeon Master, facing adventures, monsters, and their own imagination. David M. Ewalt’s Of Dice and Men tells of tale of TSR’s creation and how it changed both the world of gaming and the lives of those who played it.Ewalt’s book ties together the parallel stories of the author’s adventures in gaming and the history of Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. He traces the origin of turn-based tactical games back to chess and the German game Kriegsspiel. As gamers got hungrier for a game that was markedly different from the traditional war stories, Dungeons & Dragons opened up a new world. Through each of its new editions, gamers have come and gone, but the game has essentially remained the same. Those who played in the early days never really lost their connection, and each year, new players are welcomed to go on new adventures.I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Even though I’ve never played D&D, I could instantly connect with the joy that games can bring to their players. Ewalt is a self-confessed avid D&D player, having played since he was 10 years old. His enthusiasm for the game is both unbridled and infectious. He does a very good job of explaining the mechanics, lingo, and rules of the game. He takes the readers through the main campaign he’s on as well as a few side games he joins in his travels. He even joins a live-action weekend to help the reader get past the stigma associated with LARPing (he names his character Dewey, so his adventure gets a big thumbs-up from me!). All in all, this book was a lot of fun and may even convert a few holdouts to the game.