Dungeons and Dreamers cover

Dungeon and Dreamers, by Brad King and John Borland, is a history of the rise of computer gaming and its basis in the tabletop game Dungeons and Dragons. The book narratively recounts the life of Richard Garriott, a pioneer programmer of early computer games who is still making games today. Garriott created the Ultima series of computer role-playing games, which eventually led to Ultima Online, one of the first massively multiplayer online games. The book shows how Dungeons and Dragons was a major influence on Garriott and his games. Woven within the stories of Garriott’s life are stories of other computer game programmers, like John Carmack, Wil Wright, Willie Crowther, and Don Woods. Throughout the stories, the influence of Dungeons and Dragons is shown. The book chronicles the rise of the second wave of computer gamers who were not experienced with Dungeons and Dragons, but still influenced by the game’s pervasive hold on the first wave of game programmers.

The book also covers the controversy over violence in video games spurred by the Columbine shootings. In this section, it follows the story of Henry Jenkins, a media critic, who was called upon to defend violent video games before a Senate subcommittee. The book does a good job of covering the arguments that both sides were making, but it is obvious the author sympathizes with the side that feels the games are not what caused the shooters to do what they did.

The authors have put out a second edition of the book which I just got. In it they follow Richard Garriot through the failure of Tabula Rasa, analyze the success of World of Warcraft, and chronicle the rise and fall of Second Life. So if you are going to get the book I would be sure you are getting the second edition.