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Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons (Game Histories)

Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons (Game Histories)

Current price: $24.95
Publication Date: October 12th, 2021
The MIT Press
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The story of the arcane table-top game that became a pop culture phenomenon and the long-running legal battle waged by its cocreators.

When Dungeons & Dragons was first released to a small hobby community, it hardly seemed destined for mainstream success--and yet this arcane tabletop role-playing game became an unlikely pop culture phenomenon. In Game Wizards, Jon Peterson chronicles the rise of Dungeons & Dragons from hobbyist pastime to mass market sensation, from the initial collaboration to the later feud of its creators, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. As the game's fiftieth anniversary approaches, Peterson--a noted authority on role-playing games--explains how D&D and its creators navigated their successes, setbacks, and controversies.

Peterson describes Gygax and Arneson's first meeting and their work toward the 1974 release of the game; the founding of TSR and its growth as a company; and Arneson's acrimonious departure and subsequent challenges to TSR. He recounts the "Satanic Panic" accusations that D&D was sacrilegious and dangerous, and how they made the game famous. And he chronicles TSR's reckless expansion and near-fatal corporate infighting, which culminated with the company in debt and overextended and the end of Gygax's losing battle to retain control over TSR and D&D.

With Game Wizards, Peterson restores historical particulars long obscured by competing narratives spun by the one-time partners. That record amply demonstrates how the turbulent experience of creating something as momentous as Dungeons & Dragons can make people remember things a bit differently from the way they actually happened.

About the Author

Jon Peterson, a leading expert on Dungeons & Dragons and role-playing games, is the author of Playing at the World, Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana (a Hugo Award finalist), the New York Times bestseller Heroes' Feast, and The Elusive Shift: How Role-Playing Games Forged Their Identity (MIT Press).

Praise for Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons (Game Histories)

"The battle Over Dungeons & Dragons was the ultimate geek war."

"In Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons, historian Jon Peterson hopes to lay to rest the rumors and speculation that have plagued the early history of D&D. At the center of this new book is the feud between co-creators Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax. His work relies on a treasure trove of firsthand interviews and primary documentation, as well as remnants from the lost archives of D&D’s original publisher, TSR."

"A deep dive into a significant controversy in the gaming world: who deserves credit for the meteoric rise of Dungeons & Dragons and blame for the subsequent avalanche of public spats, lawsuits, and business bungling...A good dungeon crawl... treasures abound for experienced adventurers."
Kirkus Reviews

'Jon Peterson’s “Game Wizards” is an in-depth history – and I really do mean in-depth – of the creation of Dungeons and Dragons and in particular the ugly struggle for control of TSR. It’s vivid and incredibly well-researched, although this particular niche is… well, it’s very niche.'
Tim Harford

"A lively and readable history of the game, its first owners, and their fumbling attempts to run a business."

"Game Wizards makes a fascinating reading. We have never, ever seen such a level of detail and documentation regarding the inner workings of TSR down to board meetings and executives' plans and ideas. The book shines a really strong light on the 'secret history' of the company"
Dungeon Master Magazine