Of Dice and Men, by David M. Ewalt

Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It - David M. Ewalt

I haven't played Dungeons & Dragons since...who knows. Childhood. And even then I wasn't able to play much because that was dependent on my brother and how bored he was. Still, this book really, really made me want to play again. I also had no idea about the game's history or its present status as game, and I'm glad it's made a comeback.

 

The writing is (mostly) easy, fun, and I liked the way the writer used various gaming scenarios to explain gameplay, though by the end of the book it got a smidge tiresome. I do wish we saw more of the game's impact on popular culture (I can think of two TV episodes that use the game significantly--Freaks and Geeks and Community, for instance) and some more developed ruminations on roleplaying culture online.

 

My biggest issue was the weak attempts to deflect charges of sexism. It's assumed the audience is men, and explanations why more men play are faulty and man-splainy. Later in the book, when Ewalt notes more women among the groups of roleplayers he interacts with, it's as if he's seen a shiny unicorn, and I don't remember much of an explanation.

 

There's also a strange relationship or tension going on between owning geek or nerd status and regularly trying to show that the author and his friends (D&D players in general) are NOT the losers you think they are--they're married to hot chicks, ya'll!

 

Despite these caveats, I enjoyed the book on the whole, fell into a nostalgia well, and learned a lot.