BN.com Gift Guide

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms

Overview

“This is a delightful book—more fun than being a Dungeon Master to a group of high-level mages and thieves.”—A. J. Jacobs, New York Times best-selling author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically “Witty, downright funny, poignant, honest and . . . well, wistful. Anyone who has ever embraced ‘escapism’ will understand, and those who haven’t taken that leap of imagination will want to after reading Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks.…Reading Ethan Gilsdorf’s tale conjured my own Dungeons & Dragons and fantasyexperiences, vividly.”

... See more details below
Paperback
$11.76
BN.com price
(Save 21%)$14.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (24) from $1.99   
  • New (10) from $3.75   
  • Used (14) from $1.99   
Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price
(Save 16%)$11.99 List Price

Overview

“This is a delightful book—more fun than being a Dungeon Master to a group of high-level mages and thieves.”—A. J. Jacobs, New York Times best-selling author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically “Witty, downright funny, poignant, honest and . . . well, wistful. Anyone who has ever embraced ‘escapism’ will understand, and those who haven’t taken that leap of imagination will want to after reading Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks.…Reading Ethan Gilsdorf’s tale conjured my own Dungeons & Dragons and fantasyexperiences, vividly.” —R.A. Salvatore, New York Times best-selling author of The Dark Elf Trilogy, and lead storyteller of 38 Studios game company “A fun, quirky, and fresh perspective for those wanting to know more about the amazing world of gaming.” —David Brin, winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Awards, and author of The Postman, Kiln People, and The Transparent Society“Ethan Gilsdorf’s quest for himself leads through the fantasy world of millions of gamers in a breathless adventure/quest/memoir that is uniquely contemporary. This is at once a primer on the world of gaming, a self-help manual, and a wistful meditation on the passing of real time in a (nearly) virtual world.” —Andrei Codrescu, NPR commentator and author of The Posthuman Dada Guide “An orcs-and-all journey through geekdom, told with affection for every elf, wizard, and Dungeon Master it meets along the way. Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks is for anyone who’s ever been lured by the enchantment and secrets of faraway fantasy worlds; it gives a personal face to the cloak-swishing, wand-wielding, lightsaber-rattling gamer in us all.” —Melissa Anelli, author of Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
from Kirkus Reviews, “Big Book Fall Preview”:“In the late ’70s, playing fantasy role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons put [Ethan Gilsdorf] on equal social footing as the AV club. Thirty years later, though, fantasy films rule the box office, J.R.R. Tolkien is considered essential reading and games like World of Warcraft are pop-culture phenomena…. But there are still pockets of fantasy culture—Lord of the Rings conventions, Society for Creative Anachronism battles, LARP (Live Action Role Playing) camps—that the casual fantasy nerd wouldn’t even dare to tread…. ‘I wanted to know why a 40-year-old man is still so interested in this stuff that he’d dress up in armor on the weekends,’ [Gilsdorf] says. The author traveled from the woods of South Carolina to libraries in Wisconsin, from battlefields in Pennsylvania to the mountains of New Zealand—all in the quest to find some answers. His conclusion? They get to the heart of why any of us, geeks or not, become involved with any group. ‘It’s all about a sense of belonging,’ says Gilsdorf. And maybe a bit about killing stuff.” “This is a delightful book—more fun than being a Dungeon Master to a group of high-level mages and thieves.” —A.J. Jacobs, New York Times best-selling author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically “Witty, downright funny, poignant, honest and ... well, wistful. Anyone who has ever embraced ‘escapism’ will understand, and those who haven’t taken that leap of imagination will want to after reading Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks…. Reading Ethan Gilsdorf’s tale conjured my own D&D and fantasy experiences, vividly, right down to finding some of my old character sheets in a 3-ring binder a decade and more after I had stopped using them.” –R.A. Salvatore, New York Times best-selling author of The Dark Elf Trilogy, and lead storyteller of 38 Studios game company “A fun, quirky and fresh perspective for those wanting to know more about the amazing world of gaming.” –David Brin, futurist and Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Award-winning author of The Postman and Startide Rising “Ethan Gilsdorf’s quest for himself leads through the fantasy world of millions of gamers in a breathless adventure/quest/memoir that is uniquely contemporary. This is at once a primer on the world of gaming, a self-help manual, and a wistful meditation on the passing of real time in a (nearly) virtual world.”–Andrei Codrescu, NPR commentator and author of The Posthuman Dada Guide “An Orcs-and-all journey through geekdom, told with affection for every elf, wizard and dungeon master it meets along the way. Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks is for anyone who’s ever been lured by the enchantment and secrets of faraway fantasy worlds; meticulously researched and lovingly told, the book gives a personal face to the cloak-swishing, wand-wielding, lightsaber-rattling gamer in us all.” —Melissa Anelli, author of Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon “Vivid, moving, evocative, intriguing, engaging.” –Chris Castellani, author of A Kiss from Maddalena and The Saint of Lost Things “Gilsdorf . . . returns to the fantasy games that he used to navigate a difficult childhood as a jumping-off point for a full-scale investigation of geekdom.” —Huffington Post “A detailed, funny, and loving account of all things dorky.” —The Wire “Like many who will pick up his book, [Ethan Gilsdorf has] got one foot squarely in the real world, the other in the fantasy one. This is a journey well worth taking.” —Booklist
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599219943
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 775,020
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ethan Gilsdorf is a Boston-based freelance journalist, poet, critic, editor, and teacher. He is a regular contributor to: The New York Times (Travel, Arts sections); The Boston Globe (Travel, Movies, Living/Arts, Ideas, Sunday Magazine, Books, Op-ed pages); The San Francisco Chronicle (book critic); The Improper Bostonian (travel, lifestyle, dining); National Geographic Traveler (Travel); The Common Review (books, culture; also as their East Coast correspondent); and The Christian Science Monitor (arts/Weekend, op-ed, culture, Backstory analysis).Other publishing credits include The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Fodor’s travel guides (as former Paris hotel correspondent). He has appeared on talk radio programs in Boston, and has earned a reputation as a fantasy and escapism expert. Most recently, he has been instructing classes in freelance journalism (feature, travel, oped, review writing) for Media Bistro and Grub Street, and hosting regular networking events for these organizations. A more detailed CV, published articles, and additional information is available at www.ethangilsdorf.com.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Momster ix

Chapter 1 I Was a Teenage Magic-User 1

Chapter 2 The Quest Begins 17

Chapter 3 On the Tolkien Trail 27

Chapter 4 Into the Dungeon Again 47

Chapter 5 The Fount Whence Fantasy Games Flowed 63

Chapter 6 The Monk Went Down to Georgia 85

Chapter 7 Geeks in Love 109

Chapter 8 To Work Here, You Have to Forget 125

Chapter 9 The Weapon We Have Is Love 137

Chapter 10 In the Beer Line with the King 155

Chapter 11 I'll Only Go to Level 10 179

Chapter 12 An Outlet for Souls Who Could Not Rest 201

Chapter 13 You Have to become the Con 217

Chapter 14 There, or Nowhere, and Back Again 241

Chapter 15 Get Off the Road 263

Chapter 16 Being a Hero Ain't What It Used to Be 269

Afterword: Saving Throws 285

Acknowledgments 296

Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations 300

Photo Credits 308

Permissions 310

Index 312

About the Author 320

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 12, 2010

    This book rolls natural 20s.

    I loved this book. Part of it's a generational thing, I'm sure. Ethan's got a few (not many) years on me, but the cultural backdrop of his childhood - the last years of the Cold War, worries of nuclear war and the Evil Empire, the mind-blowing release of Star Wars - is a familiar one. Even though the book as a whole isn't a coming-of-age recollection, making that connection at the beginning put me in the right frame of mind for the quest which follows.

    What you get in Fantasy Freaks & Gaming Geeks is a great story about, well, just what the subtitle says: "An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms." And it's not a dry sort of academic journey: Ethan's in full-on geek mode (albeit sometimes reluctantly) as he revisits the books and games and culture that shaped his teenage years and gets back into their modern counterparts. Then he checks out previously-unexplored aspects like Live Action Role-Playing, convention attendance, World of Warcraft and the real-life tourist draws of New Zealand in the wake of "The Lord of the Rings."

    Ethan tells the story well, both as a geek and as a journalist, letting his fandom drive the journey without dominating it, and connecting with the real-world characters he meets along the way while never fearing to ask tough questions of himself, too.

    There's a lot of cultural crossover in geekdom anymore, with comics and science fiction and fantasy and gaming all appealing to a pretty broad group of people, and I think maybe that's why someone like me, who's never even played a true game of D&D, can still get so much enjoyment out of a book like this.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 12, 2010

    Must-Read for Gamers - Current and Former

    Gilsdorf's treatment of his subject - gamer culture - is as unique as it is informative and interesting. As an avid gamer (Dungeons and Dragons mostly) of the early 80s who hadn't played in decades before researching the book, he simultaneously provides both insider and outsider perspectives. Gilsdorf is clearly passionate about gaming and the theme of recapturing the magic from his childhood drives the narrative. Nevertheless, much of the new gaming culture (particularly of the online video variety) is new territory for Gilsdorf and he candidly admits his prejudices and preconceived notions. In the end, his book is a quest of personal discovery of which gamers of all stripes will readily identify. It is also a great read for those who know and love gamers and goes a long way toward explaining the attraction of gaming.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    For all fantasy freaks and gaming geeks (and their friends and relatives who don't understand them)!

    Since I have been a fantasy freak since the time when all you could do was read books and it was passing itself off as science fiction (take a spaceship to a planet where magic works), I was interested in what he had to say. I was glad he rediscovered why he loved immersing himself in fantasy, and the good it can do. When I was LARPing I saw many geeky kids try out many characters, learning how to relate to others, trying out leadership skills, and if they got into a mess, killing off that character and starting over again with a different one. Something you can't do in high school, where one dumb stunt can brand you for years.
    Plus you get used to saving the world, not somethig available to other kids, ad thatcan give them the feeling they can have a real impact on the world around them and look for ways to do that.
    If you are a freak or a geek, read this to find out who else is out there. If not, read it to enter into a new world.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Non-gamer's Glimpse into a Fantasy World of Role Playing

    Fantasy Freaks is more than one man's discovery of the wide variety of gaming and role-playing options. Gilsdorf's journey across the great geek divide becomes a search of society's need for escapism, and his own need to reconcile the geek war within himself. It is a collection of individual's stories of coping, of celebrating, of living-it is a story of acceptism and growing up.
    This book deals with the fantasy-based board games like Dungeons & Dragons, building an authentic thirteenth-century castle, weekend role playing, reenactments, and the most current computer based games like WoW. Gilsdorf touches briefly on Dragon*Con, a convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film. Although his journey and experiences rest firmly in the gaming and role-playing genre, geekdom is widespread. All fanatics (whether, Disney, Anime, gaming, movie, comic or even social networking like Facebook or Twittering) can relate to the subject matter of escapism and social snubbing.
    Like LARPing, Disney freaks dress in their character garb as they stroll through the parks in California, and Florida playing out some fantasy life among the Main Streets of Magic Kingdom. During those magical hours the "real" world disappears.
    Like Tolkien fans (and gamers), Potter and Twilight fan too plaster their walls, shelves, and floors with paraphernalia, dress as their favorite characters, and line up hours before book releases. Fans fantasize about living the lives of these characters, escaping into another world if only for a chapter or two.
    Ethan Gilsdorf has a unique chapter style. Each main chapter has numerous sub-chapters (mini-chapters with chapters) which allows him to go off on several adventures within the same forest.
    Gilsdorf's often funny and candid, journalistic-style of writing is full of easy to understand information for even the non-geeks. The vivid details, capturing all the senses, of his experiences have the reader racing down dark dungeon halls and jumping on the backs of scorpion right along with him. His book is a valuable tool for understanding the "whys" of the gaming/role-playing world to those "gaming widows" and oblivious moms and dads. To further explain terms, his book has footnotes and at the end of the book he includes a glossary to sum up the meaning of terms and abbreviations just in case you missed it the first time.
    Geekdom comes in many forms in today's society. If one searches deep enough the discovery of escapism can be found in most of us from young to old, rich to poor, educated to drop-out. It is within all of us, it is just a matter of recognizing what particular "geek button" triggers our rockets to launch us into another world. Whether it's for a half-hour a week watching our favorite sitcom, three hours on Sunday wishing we too were on the football field making touchdowns, or a lifetime of weekends building a castle we find comfort in our escape.

    I highly recommend Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geek: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, who knows you might discover deep down that a geek or a freak lurks within.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 13, 2010

    Great Look into the World of Geeks

    I really loved this book and the way it was so well written. There are so many people out there that look negatively at people who like to roleplay, whether it is dressing up or simply playing a video game online. This brought a lot of humor with it too. I would recommend this for anyone to read, even if they're not interested in the world of fantasy and sci-fi.
    I really loved all the information that this book contained. I am a geek so I could totally relate to everything in this book. I found that all the information in this book is true. I could understand the struggles that the author found during his time writing and researching this book.
    Overall, I love this book. It is an excellent look into this thriving community of fantasy and sci-fi fans as well as those who are into the constantly evolving gaming lifestyle.
    Pick it up! You won't regret it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2010

    Fantastic tale of growing up Geek

    I felt that I had made the journey with him. I was surpised how fast I finished his book. I would recommend the book to everyone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)