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Dungeons and Desktops: The History of Computer Role-Playing Games [Abridged, Audiobook, Box set, Illustrated, Large Print] [Hardcover]

Matt Barton
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: 29.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

22 Feb 2008
Computer role-playing games (CRPGs) are a special genre of computer games that bring the tabletop role-playing experience of games such as Dungeons & Dragons to the computer screen. This genre includes classics such as Ultima and The Bard’s Tale as well as more modern games such as World of Warcraft and Guild Wars. Written in an engaging style for both the computer game enthusiast and the more casual computer game player, this book explores the history of the genre by telling the stories of the developers, games, and gamers who created it.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 451 pages
  • Publisher: A K Peters/CRC Press (22 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568814119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568814117
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 636,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


" phenomenal, first-class job. Dungeons and Desktops is so insightful and thorough, it is a must-read for all RPG fans, and every RPG designer. Don’t miss it!” -February 2008
""Dungeons & Desktops: The History of Computer Role-Playing games is an incredible tour-de-force of a recreational industry."" -The Midwest Book Review, April 2008
""In a Gamasutra holiday bonus feature extracted from his new 'Dungeons & Desktops' book, author Matt Barton looks at 'The Silver Age' of role-playing games, from Richard Garriott's Ultima I through Sir-Tech's Wizardry and beyond."" -www.gamasutra.com, May 2008
""...this is not a casual book - it's a very serious treatment of the genre ... Barton writes very well, as his language is neither pretentious nor dim-witted. He clearly loves his subject and does an excellent job of sharing his enthusiasm and insights with his readers. A real pleasure to read. "" -www.amazon.com - by Michael E. Strupp, May 2008
role-playing games have moved the traditional board game to the desktop, and includes a cast of popular games: while many books cover rules and playing, few provide the essential overall history of the genre's development and evolutionary process. DUNGEONS AND DESKTOPS: THE HISTORY OF COMPUTER ROLE-PLAYING GAMES surveys not only game development and milestones, but issues affecting the industry and playing computer role-playing games. From how players create and interact with characters to the ethics of good and evil in gameplaying, DUNGEONS AND DESKTOPS is an outstanding choice for any high school to college-level collection catering to computer gaming fans."" -California Bookwatch, August 2008
""This . . . is not a programming manual, although the content is just as useful to the budding games programmer. . . . Dungeons & Desktops is a good reference and insight into the thoughts and implementations—both successful and not so successful—of some of the biggest and most resilient game designers, creators and publishers."" -The Game Creators Newsletter , September 2008
Dungeons and Desktops: The History of Computer Role-playing Games chronicles the rise and fall of the Computer RPG industry, from Akalabeth to Zelda and everything in between. While the bulk of the book is devoted to the genre's 'Golden Age' in the late '80s and early '90s, author Matt Barton explores the entire history of CRPGs, from their origins in the mid '70s to the very recent past. While not entirely comprehensive, the book covers not only the major players and award-winners, but also dozens of obscure 'also-ran' as well as notable games in related genres. ... [T]he book is well worth picking up if you're a fan of CRPGs or fantasy games in general. -Michael Fiegel, Slashdot, July 2008
Listen to an interview with Matt Barton on a Phoenix radio show about games. -ChatterBox Video Game Radio, September 2008
""Without doubt, gamers will appreciate the game comparisons and the enormous detail Barton offers (especially if they are familiar with the games in question), as well as the quotations from famous (worshipped?) game designers. 'Older' gamers—those in their thirties—will hugely enjoy the nostalgic trip on which Dungeons & Desktops takes them .... Scholars and gamers alike, who might be interested in reviewing/analysing/playing earlier games, especially for the first time, will find the book an absolutely invaluable resource for sorting through what would be most productive and/or enjoyable. Hardcore CRPGers, of course, will love the book through and through. ... [Barton's] love of games and gaming is made apparent throughout the text, a quality of his writing much appreciated, at least by this reader. His credibility as a gamer is, ultimately, unquestionable."" -Matthew S. S. Johnson, Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds , December 2008"

About the Author

Matt Barton is an assistant professor of English at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in writing and technology. He is the co-founder of Armchair Arcade, a website dedicated to classic videogames and computers, and a frequent contributor to Gamasutra.com and Adventure Classic Gaming.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Thorough, Great Read 8 Jan 2010
I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Obviously the author knows his stuff, and the research that went into it includes personal communication with some of the developers of the games mentioned in the book. I would right away want to point to the author's YouTube channel youtube/user/blacklily8 where he does his thing in full colour and audio. Naturally, the book goes to a level of depth that one can't reach in streaming media - that was my personal reason for getting it.

When Matt writes about gameplay, he manages to touch exactly those points of interest that make or break a game, which is definately recommendable for any game developer to closely look into. Also for game developers: there have been many great ideas in the past, which have not returned in modern games (yet). There's a lot of inspiration to be found, and not just for digital junkies - the book starts off with the very root of computer RPGs which lies in tabletop simulation games and ofcourse the pen & paper RPG's like Dungeons & Dragons (duh). It's very interesting to read how (and why) a genre went digital and how (and why) it branched off in different directions, and how it could become in the future.

Beside all that it's well written too. It certainly keeps the attention to the essence of RPGs - entertainment. All in all it was an entertaining and very informative read, it feels like I've played many more games than I actually did, in the past!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Deep Book 11 Jan 2010
Amazingly comprehensive book. Well researched and Matts love for the genre spills over on every page.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what you want 12 May 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you are interested in the history of CRPGs (primarily PC and western-style CRPGs - there is a section on JRPGS too but it's one one section out of quite a long book) then it is hard to imagine anyone ever writing a better book than this. It is fascinating to see how a style of entertainment has grown and even though most games don't get a LOT of attention, it is lovely to see that all of them have at least something interesting said about them.

Obviously not all CRPGs are covered which is only a shame if you (like me) get a lot of nostalgic pleasure from reading about many games you have played but then find one of your favourites (in my case "Albion") missing. But the range is as comprehensive as could be humanly expected - and you never know, there may be subsequent expanded editions.

Anyway, the above failing isn't worth docking this book a star for - in all respects it is a total pleasure to read (or just skim through to find titles you love) and deserves to be much better known.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Interesting 4 Jan 2012
This book covers the history of CRPGs from the 70's to the late 00s, while also managing to trace the links between each game and how each and every one have influenced the next. If you played through these eras of gaming, you'll find this book, as I did, a nostalgia trip as well as a gap-filler for those times when you weren't quite on the ball with respect to games. Additionally it is well-written and well-presented; it's only flaw being that a lot of the screenshots are hard to read.

All in all, an excellent book, even for those who think they know the CRPG scene from front to back.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book! 13 July 2011
Matt Barton also has an amazing youtube channel, but this book is very professionally written. AFAIK he is a doctor of english, so one would expect it I guess. :)

Very well researched and humorously presented account of crpg games history. With a few famous console games thrown in for good measure. Worth every penny if this is your area of interest!
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