Geek to Chic. New Book on Rise of the Gamer

Even if you’ve been a participant in the phenomenon, you might want to check out (or buy) a new legerdemainic book on the history of the video game from two of the industry’s long-time observers.

Recognizing the cultural impact that computer and video games have had on popular culture, Brad King and John Borland have researched the roots, the icons and the growth of computer gaming from the early 1970s to the present day in their book Dungeons and Dreamers: The Rise of Computer Game Culture from Geek to Chic. The book examines the history, culture, and heroes of the $10 billion dollar-plus computer and video game industry.

King and Borland explore the phenomenon of gamers, and more specifically, the communities of computer game players that have sprung up and matured over the past 30 years. The book is about the people who comprise these communities, and how early computer game creators helped form them. The authors trace computer gaming back to Dungeons and Dragons, the still-popular paper role-playing game that lets storytellers lead their charges through mystical worlds.

From the dreamers who created the platform to the players who made it a worldwide phenomenon, the book chronicles the rise of the computer game from blips on university computer science program screens to their presence in our everyday lives. Among other game pioneers interviewed by the duo: Richard Garriott, developer of the first commercially successful online role-playing game Ultima Online; Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, masterminds behind Dungeons and Dragons; Willie Crowther and Don Woods, creators of the early text-based computer role-playing game Adventure (which eventually became Zork!); and John Carmack and John Romero, the programming geniuses who created DOOM, the ultimate visceral experience of kill-or-be-killed.

Dungeons and Dreamers: The Rise of Computer Game Culture from Geek to Chic is published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne. Brad King, a former reporter for Wired News is currently a freelancer writer in Austin, Texas. John Borland is a senior writer at CNET Networks News.com.