A Crowdsourced Book about Computer RPGs: The First 100 Pages

Many months ago, back in May, I contacted Brad King about a crazy project I had: a free, crowd-sourced book on the history of Computer Role-Playing Games. The goal was to collect the knowledge spread throughout countless websites, forums, magazines and brains and compile them into something accessible and interesting for newcomers and veterans alike.It would feature articles, reviews, history, mod recommendations, trivia, interviews: everything a CRPG fan could wish for.

Of course, a a project this size never goes as we expect. In my ingenuity, I had hoped for a September release. Ha, it’s now December and the book is still about 60% done. I also had a lot more difficulty than I imagined in getting people to believe this would ever be done. I waited too long to create a website for the book, many forum threads about the project never got a single reply, and very, very few news posts by the media were made. And this is a free project, I can only imagine how hard it must be for those trying to promote a retail product.

But there were also many exciting surprises. Right from the start famous developers like Chris Avellone and Tim Cain jumped aboard and helped to add some weight to the project. It became easier to find volunteers, and 70% of the 300 reviews were assigned in just a couple of months. Later on, I even managed to contact Scorpia and Johnny L. Wilson from the extinct Computer Gaming World magazine and they both agreed to help. My 12-years-old self would be in awe, I’m sure. Hell, I’m still in awe.

Not to mention what an experience it has been to contact CRPG fans all over the world, of all ages. To hear their stories, edit their texts, research & learn about gaming history, play hundreds of classic games and see everything coming together nicely.

Overall, it has been a great ride, and one that’s still far from over.

This week we’ve reached a milestone that I’m very proud of: the public release of a 100-page preview. Although it has many typos, spelling mistakes and thing that wl be changed, I think it also has a lot of passion and dedication, and provides a hint of what we intend with the full book.

You can grab it here (PDF) and here’s a single-page version, for those using tablets (PDF).

In just two days we had more than 5,000 downloads worldwide, and I invite you to also give it a try, read a couple of pages and share what you think. Every feedback is welcome – and if you would like to help, we could always use another volunteer.

Thanks for reading, merry Christmas and a great 2015 to us all!

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This newsletter is the outgrowth of The Downtown Writers Jam podcast. What that means is I will collect information about the authors I interview, book happenings around the Web, and other literary events that I find interesting. Without you, I'm just a crazy guy sitting in his office furiously screaming on the page for no reason.
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