I’m reading Playing at the World, by Jon Peterson, a history of fantastic gaming, currently pointed pretty hard at D&D, the force that animated (and still animates) the industry, and could easily be said to have created the industry to begin with. 

I’m on page 96 right now, and this thing is 632 pages of, like, 5-point font.
Going to be a while to finish it, I think. 
I’m finding some of it fascinating and very (ahem) interesting. I had no idea that D&D took root here in the Twin Cities in the form of Arneson, though of course I was aware of the Wisconsin origins of Gygax.
It does read like a history book, which of course it is. The exhaustive footnotes can be quite informative. I find it fascinating, for reasons that will start to be obvious on April 5, at the strong influence and mark military wargaming left on our hobby, a genealogy that will only be pried from cold, dead hands, as it were.
But if my posting velocity is a bit sparse (though I will have a bit of something starting up next week), you know why.
Note: Jon Peterson has a blog, unsurprisingly titled Playing at the World. Plenty to read there.
Hmm. I wonder if he’d be interested in an interview on The Firing Squad . . .

8 thoughts on “Playing at the World

  1. Arneson used to always go to Twin Con and run a naval game, Don't Give Up the Ship. I assume he also went to Minicon back in the day when it was still relevant. I'm a little surprised you didn't run into him.

    1. I've been to precisely one RPG convention in my life: GenCon, one time, while I was in Grad School, which would put it in 1996 or 1997. Since then, visited ConVergence once last year, and ComiCon here, also once.

      Nothing against conventions, and you'll find no snootiness from me on that score. Just never had or made time for them.

  2. It is a hefty tome. I've been reading it on and off as time allows for a while now. I'm about 43% done by my kindle's count. I've found it a good book so far, and if you could get the author for a Firing Squad interview, that'd be awesome.

  3. Man, Doug, I didn't know the book font size was that small. I read it on my Kindle so I got to pick what size to read it at. Also footnotes are way better on a Kindle. Just tap the link, read it, and tap the go back button.

    1. Even though I'm less than 100 pages into the book, I can see that your synopsis is basically on point. Long, weighty, scholarly work that has surprising depth on what really should be an academically interesting subject.

  4. I got a copy last fall for my birthday and was quoting bits of it to my brother and another friend constantly for 2 weeks as I came on this or that fascinating item. The book does not stop with the release of the initial set, but also explores the earlier evolution in the first three supplement /strategic review era, when there was strong input from fans and fanzines on the evolution of play.

    I was also particularly interested in the insight it provided into some of the early developments in Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign that did not make it into D&D (cf. the copy of the character record from that pre-D&D era).

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