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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Playing at the World - maybe the deepest history of rolegaming yet

Playing at the World, a history by Jon Peterson, is available at for $17.99 (ebook) or at most bookstores for around $35 in paperback.

Jon seems to be angry with Ken St Andre, for he bad-mouths him frequently in this volume. Otherwise, the research seems pretty objective - a nearly impossible task considering the meager documentation and vague memories of the principles involved.

It seems so long ago, and yet I was around and occasionally involved with some of the principles and innocent bystanders. (No big feat. If you live long enough and travel enough, you eventually meet everybody.) I doubt any would remember me, but I do remember much of what they said - but only because I journaled it at the time.

Jon captures the freewheeling feelings of anything being possible, of the "can do" attitudes of so many of the principles, and almost - but not quite - captures some of the feuds which inevitably occur in creative endeavors. Business sense and creative sense do not usually reside in the same brain (and when it does, we see self-made zillionaires who stepped on no one - these are historically rare) so there are a lot of stories of creative people who got cheated or fell along the way or just couldn't explain what they could do instinctively.

It probably raises as many questions as it answers, and this is what makes it a good history. People are complex, contradictory, and fascinating. Creative people are doubly so. Gamers and game creators are more off the wall. Combine all these, and you have Jon's very satisfying, very fascinating history book -- which is screaming for a sequel as soon as possible!