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Review of ‘Fantasy Freaks And Gaming Geeks’

March 27, 2013

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks is a book by Ethan Gilsdorf, who is attempting to reconnect to his youth as a roleplayer by immersing himself in various aspects of the gaming and related hobbies. He reads The Lord of the Rings and watches the movies before visiting New Zealand to see where they were filmed. He slings a few dice and, eventually, rediscovers his own D&D gear, adding to the nostalgia. Later, he tries his hand at LARPing and the Society For Creative Anachronism, as well as online gaming.

Throughout the book, he ponders the appeal of gaming and other pursuits he perceives as geeky, and wonders how they ended up becoming so mainstream compared to his youth. As much as it is an examination of gaming and related cultures, this is a book of self-discovery, as he comes to better understand himself.

In the end, as interesting as some parts were and as much as there were ‘that’s true’ moments, I largely felt as if I were reading an account of these hobbies by somebody who didn’t really ‘get’ them. By that, I don’t mean he misunderstood them as badly as some people do, who just cannot get their heads around them, after all, Gilsdorf had gamed in his youth; but, his observations and musings frequently come across as surface and unsure. Nothing is particularly inaccurate, but its all just ever-so-slightly, annoyingly off, and that meant I couldn’t really enjoy reading the book nor pay much heed to his assessments. In addition, the brevity of each overview meant that the book is seldom as interesting as it might have been. Perhaps, if he had concentrated on just one specific area, such as D&D, he might have been able to properly grasp it and write something insightful.

Sadly, I can’t recommend the book, as it fails to live up to its potential. Which is a shame, as it has a lot of potential and Gilsdorf isn’t a bad writer as such. I am sure that with more focus (or with a different subject) he could write something truly entertaining. Sadly, this isn’t it. If you have the opportunity to borrow a copy, you might enjoy a quick flick through, but I really wouldn’t bother buying it.

From → Reviews

One Comment
  1. I got my copy from a poundshop, so at least it wasn’t that bad!
    Still, I get where your coming from, it could have been better as it trailed off towards the end and ended up being lacking to sum up the entire thing.

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