Book Review: Playing at the World by Jon Peterson

At 720 pages in length and weighing enough to use in case of zombie apocalypse as a bludgeoning tool, Playing at the World is an immense book. it is filled with the history that examines how Dungeons and Dragons came to be, the strategy games that came before, and the utter lasting effect that all of these play experiences have on our media today. The author goes into every facet in incredible depth with the most minute of details being brought to light. This is both the books greatest asset and it’s weakest. To those seeking the origins of their favorite role playing game and want to know every little detail than this combination of knowledge will be an utter godsend. However, to those approaching from the outside in with an interest in the topic and the need to read a good book will be intimidated and put off by the sheer amount of content and it’s delivery.

When Playing at the World grabs your interest it truly does with intriguing and little known facts that give us glimpses into the foundation of some of our favorite works. There are answers in this book to questions you didn’t even know you wanted the answer to: until you read the question that is. Intriguing things like the naming of various classes, the idea of hit points and twenty sided dice, where the dungeon master steps in, what truly came before Dungeons and Dragons and who created it and why? All of these are answered in detail leaving no stone unturned. The amount of research alone that went into this book alone is impressive, but collecting it and combining it into a decently written book is downright awesome.

However, as I stated before the entry fee into such a glimpse into the history of our gaming culture is a high one indeed. The intro alone goes into such minutia that it becomes redundant, stating out in pages of information what you will read at a later time, detailing every chapter. There are times within the book that the writing become incredibly dry and is more attuned to reading the phone book than an interesting history written by an engaging author.

That being said there are also times where the book absolutely soars and the passion shown by Mr. Peterson absolutely shines through. These moments within the book, the ones that are interesting to read and provide incredible insight into a wonderful pasttime, make the read absolutely worth it. By the time you reach the end you’ll be glad you stuck it out and all the more rich because of it.

Also, this book will come in super handy as a improvised bludgeoning tool if need be. Something for everyone!

Score: 3.5 out of 5

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

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