This blog is all about reviews: subjecting places, events, products, entertainment, and myself to a rigorous inspection with an eye toward discovering the truth.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
DnD History: A Review of Playing at the World
Jon Peterson. Playing at the World: A History of Simulating Wars, People and Fantastic Adventures, from Chess to Role-Playing Games. (San Diego: Unreason Press, 2012.)
Chronicling DnD History The definitive text for the cultural and historical context surrounding the 1974 publication of Dungeons & Dragons is Jon Peterson’s Playing at the World: A History of Simulating Wars, People and Fantastic Adventures, from Chess to Role-Playing Games, although one likely will not find it in most university libraries. Coming in at over 700 pages, Peterson’s self-published gem tells the story of how DnD was constructed from components of wargaming, fantasy literature, and role-playing and how the pencil-and-paper phenomenon revolutionized our lives. The book attempts to parse out not just what DnD drew from those elements that preceded it, but more importantly what it developed that helped to shape the genre of the role-playing game.
From the beginning, Peterson’s main goal was to write a history of DnD relying exclusively on primary sources such as fanzines. To lend the information even more credence, he only draws information from sources that were printed within the year following the event(s) being discussed. The more sensational stories are disregarded since his aim is to compose a solid history without rumors passed off as fact. The information in the book is extensively footnoted and the bibliography is nonpareil.