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Chic geeks

As games become more popular, technology junkies have suddenly become stylish. In this new book on the rise of gaming, geeks are finally recognized for having their own kind of hipness.

There was a time when “gaming” was a word used only in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and “geeks” were technology junkies who spent too much time with motherboards and programming languages. Oh, how times have changed. In “Dungeons & Dreamers” (Osborne Media, $24.99), authors Brad King and John Borland chronicle the rise of the computer game culture and show how geeks got chic.

It all started with “Dungeons and Dragons,” the authors theorize. That paper-based game drew teenagers and young adults into basements around the world and sparked the purchase of multi-sided dice. It also introduced a story-driven game that was controlled by the players rather than the game manufacturer, and for kids just discovering computers, the feeling stuck. They took the experience and began digitizing it, creating a game-hungry culture and the means to feed it.

Rather than explore the topic in a general way, King and Borland have pulled off a neat trick–they’ve managed to write a book as compelling as a really cool game, and to have a storyline that’s vaguely game-like as well. The tale follows a single developer, Richard Garriott, as he tries to recreate “Dungeons and Dragons” on his computer. From there, it expands to encompass the striking rise of gaming communities. Garriott turns into an example of the kind of programmers who were keen to make gaming a part of everyday life, and who succeeded in doing it.

As games become even more wildly popular, it’s not hard to see that books like “Dungeons & Dreamers” will sprout up like all those books on Linux a few years ago. But King and Borland deserve to lead the pack, simply because they make the story as compelling as, well, a really good “D&D” game.

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