A NERDY HISTORY
Posted on April 16, 2018
Of Dice And Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It
By David M. Ewalt
288 pp. Scribner, $26.00
When one normally thinks of the often-derided role playing game Dungeons & Dragons, images of slack-jawed, hunchbacked nerds and obsessed geeks come to the forefront of the imagination. This is due largely in part to society and how it originally envisioned those who played (or play) the game in years past. However, with celebrities like Vin Diesel and others coming forward and saying they enjoyed the game, and with D&D being featured in popular television shows like Stranger Things – the image of the unpopular “nerd” is no longer reality. In a series of carefully-constructed vignettes wrapped around a larger personal narrative, author and senior Forbes editor David M. Ewalt takes us on a tour of everything Dungeons & Dragons and largely dismantles those preconceived notions many of us have had and possibly still have about the game.
From excerpts of Ewalt’s own game sessions in the form of dramatic narrative chapters to give a feel for the game’s possibilities, and snippets of his own experience playing, to a thorough examination of the many ups-and-downs that Dungeons & Dragons has experienced over the years, to a history of tabletop gaming in general – Of Dice And Men is more than just a one-note affair. Even those who have no real interest in playing the game should find something worthwhile in its pages, while those who already play the game will find in Ewalt’s words a kindred love for their own passion. And for those wishing to maybe get back into playing, like I was, you will find a compelling argument by Ewalt as to why you should hop on the newest incarnation; 5th Edition.
While the book’s pacing and narrative make sense for what Ewalt is trying to achieve, the different sort of “segments” and focus points will read almost like a documentary, which may or may not alienate some readers who aren’t exactly into the entirety of D&D culture. Still, Ewalt is a talented writer and knows his stuff. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Dungeons & Dragons or gaming, but if you’re even remotely interested at all in quirky books, this has something in it for you, too.