Of Dice and Men – Book Review

“Of Dice and Men” by David Ewalt.

This book is about dnd, dice and the people who play it.  It’s written by a guy who played a lot of dnd, then pursued journalism, and then returned years later to his role playing games.

The journalism and authentic digging and researching the origin of Dnd, the legal battles, and the emergence of a new game is quite impressive.  Just based on that, any person who has played dnd would find it interesting.

However, I did have some issues with how the traditional gender balance was portrayed in the book.  Today’s dnd player is very well likely to not the stereotype in the 80’s.  White, Male, or well actually geeky.  There are whole stretches of the book where he is surprised to learn that girls do play role playing games.  He talks about it at some length, so I feel at ease disagreeing with him.

For instance, when he attends a LARP, he’s surprised to learn that half of attendees are women.  For his group, only one was ‘comfortably familiar’ (ie, white, nerdy, and a guy.)

For someone who is an award winning journalist, I would expect him to know that not only white, nerdy guys might read his book.  And it’s not just that section, it’s all over the book.

I’m not even sure if the author would consider me geeky, even though I run a Con List website, probably read over 3,000 syfy and fantasy books, and I’m planning to go to a Dr. Horrible showing next month with my guy.

What is geeky?  Who determines if you are a nerd?  Do you have to watch the Big Bang Theory enough that you memorize the dialogue?  Do you need to buy the shirts?  Is cosplay of your favorite superhero enough?  Memorize which superheroes are in the DC or Marvel Universe?  Play role playing games for 36 hours straight?  Chug down Mountain Dew at the Library using the free computers there to argue online with other geeks for hours?

Is there an admission committee?  Should I pop out my contacts and wear glasses instead?  Would it help if I patched them up with tape?

Maybe it’s buying all the celebrity signatures at the cons?  That’s it.  I have to spend money to be a geek.  Buy the comics, watch the movie, buy everything Dr Who off of thinkgeek, complain that the jane hat controversy on thinkgeek was so unfair, buy all the miniatures, and wear the jane hat.

In short, if you buy enough geek stuff, that makes you a geek.

I guess my rant is ended.

What really makes you geeky, in my humble opinion, isn’t the color of your skin, the gender, the elaborate cosplay, the buying, it’s the appreciation of story telling.  And that’s the thread that runs through most role playing games and even point and shoot games.  Story Telling.  It’s the stream that runs through most books and movies.  It’s the thread that has inspired so many online forums, facebook groups, con groups, Larps, and twitter accounts.  Story Telling, that’s what makes you geeky.

It’s what makes you go to your game night, pick up that new comic, and plot out what weapons you need to bust that castle wide open.  You need to know what happens next.  That’s a universal human desire, everyone needs to know what happens next.

I just wish there discussion about that instead of who or what gender you need to be a geek.  I’m sure there must be a story in it someplace.

(okay maybe I was a bit teed off at a facebook group leader who decided to make a tall woman who was cosplaying the butt of jokes.  inclusive group, my ass.)



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