The story of how computer games became a global virtual community
Dungeons & Dreamers: The story of how computer games became a global virtual community, just like the title suggests, chronicles the rise of the computer gaming culture from the early seventies through the present.
But the story is more than a chronology of game development. This is the story of the game developers and game players who turned computer worlds into a virtual, global community.
Computer gaming reaches back to Dungeons & Dragons, the popular paper game that let storytellers lead their charges through mystical worlds where the only limitation was imagination. Millions would play the game, but it would particularly resonate with a group of kids who were in the midst of discovering the birth of home computers.
The story follows Richard Garriott, the developer of the first commercially successful online role-playing game Ultima Online. Garriott, then an awkward teenager in 1978, lived a fantastic life. His father Owen was an astronaut who was always bring home strange sci-fi toys from NASA. His mother Helen was an artist, who was creating larger-than-life art projects.A newbie to computer programming, Richard began trying to re-create the D&D games on his computer, creating worlds and adventures that would capture the spirit of the groups playing in his house.It was a task that thousands around the world were also starting.
The next twenty-five years would see an explosion of online gaming through college networks and online services. People from around the world would find each other online, oftentimes meeting nightly to play, chat, and pass time.
Very quickly, online gaming became less about killing dragons and more about finding a community where you fit in. The types of games were, for the most part, still grounded in fantasy and science-fiction.
By the late 90s, sports, war simulations, and relatiohship games found their place. Millions of people were logging onto their computers, making friends, and playing. But, always at the heart of computer gaming, there has been the Richard Garriott types. The people who wanted to create worlds — any kind of world — where people could gather and play.
This is the story of those gamers.