Original Dungeons and Dragons Basic Rule Book - 1981 - Plus 2 Dugeon ModulesDungeons & Dreamers: A story of how computer games created a global community (ETC Press, 2014) chronicles the rise of the computer gaming culture from the early seventies through the present.

But the story is more than a chronology of game development.

In 1974, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson published the tabletop game Dungeons & Dragons, a fantasy role-playing game that put players at the center of an interactive story. Unbeknownst to the two developers, their game would particularly resonate with a group of kids who were in the midst of discovering the birth of home computers.

The first time Richard Garriott played Dungeons & Dragons, he was hooked. The game was a mix of imagination, storytelling, and social interactions played in small groups. The intimate setting and the interactive nature of the game meant that no two adventures were ever the same. That game, and Garriott’s fascination with it, inspired him.

Our story follows Garriott, then an awkward teenager in 1978, who was then a newbie to computer programming, as he tried creating the D&D games on his computer. It was a task that thousands around the world were also starting. Through the next 25 years, developers create a plethora of games played on college computer networks and through online services. People from across the globe were finding each other to play, chat, and pass the time in virtual game worlds.

By the late 90s, the game landscape had grown beyond fantasy role playing. Gamers could enter virtual spaces to play sports, engage in war simulations, or explore vast lands. Millions of people were logging onto their computers to play. But, always at the heart of computer gaming, were people who wanted to create worlds where friends could gather to have fun.

For years, people dismissed those worlds and those players. In doing so, they missed the compelling stories of not only the people like Garriott who wanted to develop these large story worlds, but also the players who have increasingly exerted their own control on these spaces and created rich friendships and group collectives.

Today’s modern computer games have become a central part of American culture, and they are far more than just virtual spaces where people hack-and-slash each other with swords or mow each down with guns. These games are as varied as the books in a library, and Dungeons & Dreamers chronicles the stories of the developers and players who have created some of the largest virtual communities on the Web.