“You’re joined by a giant named Kayne”

The holidays are upon us, and I’ll be on the road a bit for the next few days so I thought it might be fun to post some fun stuff while we’re collecting your storytelling entries for our contest. (You can see Entry 1 and Entry 2 here, along with my example entries and explanation here and here.)

And now: Ya done messed up, Kanye. Ya done messed up.

Dungeons & Dragons & Bitches from Peter Atencio on Vimeo.

When a dungeon master (Keegan-Michael Key) invites his cousin Tyrell (Jordan Peele) to partake in a game of Dungeons & Dragons, he has no idea how his two friends (Eugene Cordero & Alex Fernie) will react to the unpredictable influence. From the Comedy Central series “Key & Peele.”

The Time We Played Axis & Allies on Spring Break

As part of a contest leading up to our book launch in March, I asked you all to submit your favorite stories about playing D&D, MMORPG, computer game, or really any community game. If you’re too concerned about the rules, you’re missing the point. It’s really pretty simple:

  1. Tell us the story you tell people when you tell them a story about “that one time when I was playing…”
  2. Write it or record it
  3. Send the link through the Contact Us page or post it on the blog
  4. I’ll grab it, create a blog post, and send it out

On Jan 1, we’ll announce the best 5 stories (who each get a pre-order version of the book). Everyone in the top 5 gets an eBook, and the best 3 get a signed copy of the print book as well.

And now the story of The Time We Played Axis & Allies on Spring Break:

Me, Richard Garriott, My Commodore PET, and the Wonder of 1985

Brad programming in 1985I received a Christmas card in the mail today from my middle school math teacher and his wife, although to classify them as simply that doesn’t do justice to our long relationship.

Steve was the man who taught me how to program computers (back when I knew how to program computers). I would go to his house every Saturday around 7 or 8 am, and we’d work in his small pantry closet that sat just off the kitchen while his wife and two small children puttered about.

While I’ve traveled far and wide since then, my relationship with their family has remained one of the more foundational ones in my life.

I tell you that because out of the card dropped that picture of me.It’s one of four pictures taken sometime in 1985 when I was in the 8th grade.

This picture was an important piece of evidence because for years I’ve told stories about learning to program on the Commodore PET, the computer that introduced me to games such as ASCII-styled spaced games where your “]–@” shot “*” at “@–{“.

Those were important times for me. As I look at the picture, I remember the pure joy I felt as I learned how to write BASIC, as I used Telnet to tunnel through libraries and out into cybserspace, and as I entered into the weird world of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS).

NCSoft2 009When my parents finally purchased me the Commodore 128, I’d graduated to games such as Zork, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Ultima.

Richard Garriott, the guy who created Ultima, would eventually be one of the main characters in Dungeons & Dreamers. And although Richard was a little bit older than me at the time and living in a different part of the country, he didn’t look all that different from me (or really most of the people who were building and playing these games).

Entry #2: The Tarnished Paladin

Two days ago, I announced that we’d give away 5 copies of Dungeons & Dreamers (coming in March 2014) for the best stories about playing Dungeons & Dragons, or MMORPGS, or computer games in general. The only criteria: the stories had to be about playing with friends.

You can see my story here and you can read about the contest here (although I’ve basically given  you the rules already).

Here is Chuck Hagerman’s entry. Follow his at @WispHollow

Entry #1: The Lost Battle

Two days ago, I announced that we’d give away 5 copies of Dungeons & Dreamers (coming in March 2014) for the best stories about playing Dungeons & Dragons, or MMORPGS, or computer games in general. The only criteria: the stories had to be about playing with friends.

You can see my story here and you can read about the contest here (although I’ve basically given  you the rules already).

This entry comes from Michael Feir. You can find him at @mfeir.

The Totally Tragic and True Tale of How My Paladin Died (In 1988)

As part of a contest leading up to our book launch in March, I asked you all to submit your favorite D&D, MMORPG, or computer game stories. Several folks have asked: How long should they be? How should I do that? What?

I thought I’d answer your question with my own story. You don’t need to record a video. You can send me a link to a blog post about a game, you can write something in the comment section here, or submit it through our contact form. Mostly, I’m interested to hear a good story from you.

Such as The Totally Tragic and True Tale of How My Paladin Died (In 1988). Please enjoy my pain:

A Modest Proposal: Share Your D&D Story & Win a Free Book

The first time I played Dungeons & Dragons with a group was transformative.

Since I lived in the country, I played mostly small solo adventures because there weren’t lots of other folks around who were interested in the game. But in 1988, I met  met a group of D&D players who’d come to Putt-n-Fun, where I worked in the summers. Up until that point, I’d largely been a casual D&D player.

Then those guys showed up, and I found myself drawn the game. Their passion for the game gave me the space I needed to bring my passion to the game as well.

I bring this up because those summer D&D games helped start me on the path to write Dungeons & Dreamers. John and I have spent hundreds of hours talking with gamers and developers, asking them to share their stories about D&D and computer gaming. Along the way, we’ve seen our own lives reflected back upon us (and we hope you will see yours reflected back to you…even if you’ve never played D&D or a computer game.)

Which brings me to this. We’ve partnered with a publisher, Carnegie Mellon’s ETC Press, that has given us a great deal of flexibility with the book’s rollout. This means we can begin pre-sales before the book is published, and get a copy into your hands before it hits the bookstores.

It also means we can run book giveaways without asking anyone, which is what I’m about to do.

The Contest

The rules are simple: tell me your favorite story about playing Dungeons & Dragons, or your favorite story about playing a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). What is the story that geeks you out the most? What’s the story you find yourself telling over and over?

Share that story, and the best stories win.


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Framed: A Game of Interactive Storytelling

Any talk of community and computer games always leads back to one idea: storytelling.

The games I’ve found most engaging haven’t been the ones that use mechanics to get me from place to place. Instead, they’ve been games like Myst, which laid out its narrative environments and allowed me to construct a story using clues set about by the designer.

When I think back upon the stories that resonated with me, it’s not hard to trace a line through the Choose Your Own Adventure series, through Dungeons & Dragons, and on to computer games such as Zork.

This doesn’t mean I don’t love F. Scott Fitzgerald and Nathaniel Hawthorne (because I do). It just means interactive stories also allow me to get lost in the story.

All of that is a long lead up to Framed, the game. I could explain it to you, but what fun would that be. Enjoy.

Update: Not sure why I didn’t track these guys down on Twitter first, but you can follow LoveShack, Joshua Boggs, and Adrian Moore for updates and fun-ness.

From Whence The Kickstarter Backers Came

I’m a little behind on my So Far Appalachia writing, but I’m happy to report that full writing operations on So Far Appalachia are about to commence.

The reason for the initial delay was that my writing partner John Borland and I have just put the last touches on Dungeons & Dreamers: A story of how computer games created a global culture, a book we hoped to have finished in September. Now that we’ve moved from writing into production, I can finally turn my eyes completely towards Appalachia.

The first step in that process is sending out the first rewards: Thank You notes for all who responded to the Kickstarter survey. (If you haven’t responded, log in, and fill out that survey. If you’re not a backer, don’t worry about this.)

While writing those notes, I decided to create a little visual aid to help show what it takes to get one of these projects off the ground.

On the 40th Anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons

Our book comes out in mid-March (get your pre-order copies here), which is coincidentally the 40th anniversary of the release of Dungeons & Dragons. When I found out yesterday about the upcoming anniversary, I started reminiscing about the first time I played the game.

I purchased the infamous Dungeons & Dragons red box Starter Set in 1985. When I got home, I tore off its plastic wrapper, and dumped the contents on the floor: a simple single-player adventure, a thin rule book, some character sheets, and the odd-shaped dice. I can’t remember must about the solo adventure, but two events stand out in my mind.

Creating my Paladin

I’d always dreamed of playing a Paladin, one of the shining heroes who swooped into dire situations because it was the right thing to do. I was always drawn to that idea of play, although looking back upon it I suspect I felt that way because the hero is never supposed to die.

When I finally had the chance to create my heroic character, it didn’t take me long to plan his arc (although if I recall, the closest I could get to a Paladin in the Starter Set was a Fighter.) Eventually I switched my character’s class (I know, I know!) when I started playing with friends so that I could fulfill my dream.

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