Reads: Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons

Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons
Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons by David Kushner is an account of the history of the creation and evolution of the popular role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons from its early days as miniature wargame, to its long convoluted road to the “The world’s greatest roleplaying game”. Even though I lived through a good portion of the rise, fall, rise again and “the secret war” that was waged between its creators and contributors, Game Wizards is amazingly illuminating for anyone with an interest in gaming history or the business that it has become. I suspect that even some of the folks in this story probably learned a few things.

Kushner reconstructs a deep narrative from sources and ephemera that are hard to believe survived. His work is meticulous, and he truly has a gift for creating a compelling narrative from the evidence. Central to the tale is clash between the game’s creators, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, for recognition (and compensation) for their parts in the story of D&D.

Kushner does a great job of bringing to life the characters and events that shaped the game and the industry. He delves into the personal and professional relationships of the key players and the challenges they faced in creating and growing the game. The book is well-researched and provides a lot of interesting information and anecdotes about the history of D&D and the people who made it happen.

And the chef’s kiss is an inside view of the cloak and dagger final days that led to the ousting of Gygax from the company he helped create, in a plot that would be worthy of any of the fictional adventures the hobby created.

When I started reading Game Wizards, could I have known just how relevant it would become with the wild ride the current “shepherds” of Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast, had in store for the gaming community in their catastrophic attempt to disenfranchise the creator community? Not a chance! But I feel I was extremely fortunate in my timing and the parallels were spellbinding.

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