• Game Wizards

  • The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons
  • By: Jon Peterson
  • Narrated by: Chris Andrew Ciulla
  • Length: 13 hrs and 38 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (38 ratings)

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Game Wizards

By: Jon Peterson
Narrated by: Chris Andrew Ciulla
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Publisher's Summary

When Dungeons & Dragons was first released to a small hobby community, it hardly seemed destined for mainstream success—and yet this arcane tabletop role-playing game became an unlikely pop culture phenomenon. In Game Wizards, Jon Peterson chronicles the rise of Dungeons & Dragons from hobbyist pastime to mass market sensation, from the initial collaboration to the later feud of its creators, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. As the game's fiftieth anniversary approaches, Peterson—a noted authority on role-playing games—explains how D&D and its creators navigated their successes, setbacks, and controversies.

Peterson describes Gygax and Arneson's first meeting and their work toward the 1974 release of the game; the founding of TSR and its growth as a company; and Arneson's acrimonious departure and subsequent challenges to TSR. He recounts the "Satanic Panic" accusations that D&D was sacrilegious and dangerous, and how they made the game famous.

With Game Wizards, Peterson restores historical particulars long obscured by competing narratives spun by the one-time partners. That record amply demonstrates how the turbulent experience of creating something as momentous as Dungeons & Dragons can make people remember things a bit differently from the way they actually happened.

©2021 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (P)2022 Tantor

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Nice and grounded

if you are like me and you have read several books on TSR and the development of D&D this serves as good look on the financial aspect of the TSR story and for once doesn't strive to heap excessive praise on Gygax, like he was just a guy and he had success and failures

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  • Mr. Edmund A. Bloxam
  • 06-09-22

Insanely interesting corporate growth and intrigue

This is a book about the birth and growth of a company (which it sets out clearly in its introduction). It is not a history of 'D&D' as such.

I found in insanely interesting nevertheless. Whoever thought corporate intrigue could be so fascinating.

My only ding is that it didn't carry on, that, by the end, it became 'The Story of Gary and Dave' rather than 'The Story of TSR'. What happened after Gygax's departure (was 2nd edition written purely to clean Gygax off the royalty agreement? 3rd edition to do the same for Wizards? 4th edition to sell minis? 5th to court new players...

Doubtless, Gygax is a good 'main character', and overt references to him and Arnesen as actual created people (Cro Magnon and the Wistful Tales of the History of Gary) was still interesting however.

The Satanic panic and the deep dive into the Egbert suicide fascinating (and, of course, relevant to the company, since, arguably, the press coverage of that case was what made D&D so popular so quickly).

There is a missing anecdote about Gary finishing his Gord the Rogue trilogy with actual armageddon and (in-universe, of course) complete destruction of Greyhawk, which perhaps unwittingly foreshadowed the almost complete takeover of Forbidden Realms as the chosen D&D setting, and thus an apt 'farewell' to Gary's contribution to the game's creative elements.

Oh man, this was interesting. I'm in on this publisher with a Critical of 20!


I have a performance ding. Although the narrator did a good job of making what could be quite dry corporate stuff energetic and humorous (helped in no small part by the prose), at times the intonation does not fit natural flow of the prose. Certain incorrect syllables are over-pronounced or others not pronounced strongly enough. It does not happen all the time, but it is enough to be distracting and to consider the performance choppy.