Richard Garriott can't speak with you today, the publicist's e-mail read. The man who created Ultima Online, the first commercially successful online role-playing game, was on the way to the hospital -- having just bashed himself in the head with a two-by-four while working on his medieval castle.Link to WN story, Read the first chapter online for free, Discuss
The message didn't seem strange, because I'd just finished reading Dungeons and Dreamers: The Rise of Computer Game Culture From Geek to Chic, a forthcoming book on the evolution of gaming culture by CNET's John Borland and Wired News contributor Brad King. Due for release Aug. 19 from Osborne McGraw-Hill, it documents the manically creative lives of gamers by tracing the career of eccentric "Lord British," as Garriott is known to millions of fans, and panning out to explore the social anthropology of computer game culture.
The book profiles people who evolved gaming from paper to pixel, through 1970s Dungeons & Dragons roots, to MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) like EverQuest, to bloodstained shooter mods like Counter-Strike. But along the way, it weaves those character sketches into a living record of community, exploring the industry's impact on the broader evolution of computer hardware, software and networking technologies.