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READ PDF Â Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms Î An amazing journey through the thriving worlds of fantasy and gaming In this enthralling blend of travelogue, pop culture analysis, and memoir, forty year old former Dungeons Dragons addict Ethan Gilsdorf embarks on a quest that begins in his own geeky teenage past and ends in our online gaming future He asks, Who are these gamers and fantasy fans What explains the irresistible appeal of such escapist adventures And what could one man find if he embarked on a journey through one fantasy world after another In Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, Gilsdorf crisscrosses America, the world, and other worlds from Boston to Wisconsin, France to New Zealand, and Planet Earth to Middle earth to the realm of Aggramar He asks DD players, LARPers, medieval re eanctors, World of Warcraft players, Harry Potter fans and convention goers old, young, male, female, able bodied and disabled what attracts them to fantasy worlds, and for what reasons What he discovers is funny, poignant, and enlightening Okay, I ll admit it, I m a geek A total, Magic D D Pathfinder playing, Doctor Who Star Trek anime watching, fantasy scifi manga reading, geek I ve never been to a convention, but I go to the Renaissance Festival every year, and the bookcases in my den office are covered in dragon statues So nothing in this book was much of a surprise to me Except some woman at Dragon Con telling the author that Daleks are a Doctor Who Stargate crossover creation whaaaat And I think he believed her Hone Okay, I ll admit it, I m a geek A total, Magic DD Pathfinder playing, Doctor Who Star Trek anime watching, fantasy scifi manga reading, geek I ve never been to a convention, but I go to the Renaissance Festival every year, and the bookcases in my den office are covered in dragon statues So nothing in this book was much of a surprise to me Except some woman at Dragon Con telling the author that Daleks are a Doctor Who Stargate crossover creation whaaaat And I think he believed her Honestly, for most of the book Ethan seemed just really uncomfortable He was somebody who is totally not comfortable in his own skin and just sort of stands around and gawks at people, somebody who doesn t want to do something he enjoys because of how other people might view him When he does participate, such as in LARPing, he seems to unconsciously limit himself like with the silly shirt he did a bad job on as his costume so that he can remain separate from the actual geeky stuff going on.Although Ethan is supposedly exploring various facets of geekdom DD, LARPing, SCA, WoW, etc , this book isof a look at his personal journey from a messed up child teenagerhood to his unfocused, disjointed single life as a forty something man who wants to reconnect with how he felt when he was playing DD with his friends Either book could be interesting on its own, but I thought this book was too unfocused to really be good reading Ethan would jump from a scholarly look at the history of roleplaying games to a personal recollection of how his girlfriend wouldn t let him play with his Lord of the Rings figures and back again.I think it s silly I don t think geeky stuff needs analyzing any differently than various other forms of entertainment or hobbies do I think if you enjoy something, you should do it, whether it is dressing up for Rocky Horror Picture Show nights or dressing up to run around in the woods and bonk people with foam swords Everybody has their own personal reasons for choosing their own hobbies and I don t think you can make blanket statements about the escapism that roleplaying affords because it doesn t work the same way for everybody.Even then, when he is trying to make blanket statements, Ethan is really wishy washy, and doesn t really come to a conclusion It made me wonder why he wrote a whole book on it if he wasn t going to actually conclude something about his journey This is not as geeky as it sounds In my town they still manage to imbue a certain white trash sensibility on even the Renaissance Festival It mixes well with the hemp and dreadlocks of the employees But not the bookcases in the hallway Those are currently covered in the small collection of bears reading books statues that I didn t even know I had till I unpacked a box from my childhood bedroom Ethan Gilsdorf carried angst about his gaming habits for various reasons for years This book could have been a healing for him, but he doesn t seem to take that leap.It made me sad Yes, perhaps the start of his DnD experience coincided with his mother s illness, but I think that was not the only reason why he entered the world of fantasy.Some people are born wanting to see worlds beyond this one Why that is, I don t know I just know that it is so Ethan suggests, in Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Ethan Gilsdorf carried angst about his gaming habits for various reasons for years This book could have been a healing for him, but he doesn t seem to take that leap.It made me sad Yes, perhaps the start of his DnD experience coincided with his mother s illness, but I think that was not the only reason why he entered the world of fantasy.Some people are born wanting to see worlds beyond this one Why that is, I don t know I just know that it is so Ethan suggests, in Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, that it takes trauma to send a person in that direction, I disagree I think some of us were born that way The content of the book is excellent He travels from the UK to New Zealand and everywhere inbetween to find people who are engaging in LARPS, SCA, Tolkien, gamer conventions, WoW, EverQuest, and.I loved his interviews with the man woman on the street He d ask why they were doing whatever it was they were doing and they d answer with conviction There s something very satisfying in reading personal statements by passionate people.The enthusiasm nearly drips from the pages I loved that.I was hoping that Ethan would learn from all of these people who absolutely loved what they were doing with no regrets But, he seemed to go to his default mode of judging and self pity rather than expansion.Ethan made some steps towards self realization at the end of the book, but I wish he had gone further.If you enjoy this book or topic, may I suggest Of Dice and Men The Story of Dungeons Dragons and the People Who Play It It s a non fiction read about Dungeons and Dragons It lacks the comprehensive nature of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, but David Ewalt carries none of the emotional baggage of Ethan Gilsdorf so it feelslight hearted Where should I begin At 4 or 5, finding that little door in my bedroom that I couldn t get open, and wondering what was behind it Picturing lakes, dragons, probably characters from Rainbow Brite and He Man, all hanging around together in a world of magic and peace At 9, too impatient to write actual stories, but drawing and coloring character after character, analyzing their personal attributes and naming each, and keeping them in a big binder I had enough in there to make a comic book univ Where should I begin At 4 or 5, finding that little door in my bedroom that I couldn t get open, and wondering what was behind it Picturing lakes, dragons, probably characters from Rainbow Brite and He Man, all hanging around together in a world of magic and peace At 9, too impatient to write actual stories, but drawing and coloring character after character, analyzing their personal attributes and naming each, and keeping them in a big binder I had enough in there to make a comic book universe of my own, although it would be a derivative and lame universe But, hey I was 9 Or maybe at 11, when I first played a roleplaying game Or 13, when I first designed one and blackmailed friends into playing It took me years to realize it pisses characters off when you kill them completely at random I started off a cruel and Old Testament sort of GM Playing Magic the Gathering for the first time at 12 My first attempt at a fantasy novel at 14 My first pseudo finished gaming system at 16 I don t know where to start, but I know what might be the most poignant moment at 23 or 24, after the roof of the cafeteria I worked at literally blew away in a tornado, and I was suddenly on unemployment, was still in school full time and couldn t find a job It was not a happy time, and a couple of my friends were going through similar situations Anyway, we were in the unemployment line, which took hours to get through And the whole time, we were talking animatedly about the RPG I was GMing at the time My friends were asking about aspects of the world, discussing their characters, remembering moments from earlier games it was a time in my life full of stress and uncertainty, and that game was my only complete escape from the rough reality I was living through I would qualify as both a fantasy freak and a gaming geek, and I m not exactly in the closet about it So, Gilsdorf was preaching to the choir with me but he wasn t doing anything as firm as preaching This book is less a thorough analysis of the gamer medieval geek mindset, and MORE an analysis of Gilsdorf and his struggle to move forward in his life That is, his struggle to decide if the form of escapism he was involved in was healthy or unhealthy In this search, he goes to conventions, games with gamers, interviews and plays with Warcraft players, attends reenactments, helps build a castle with only the tools of the middle ages, and gives at least a dozen handjobs to Tolkien Seriously Motherfucker goes to New Zealand so he can see the locations they filmed parts of the movie on, and in what was probably the uber geek moment of the entire book, sets up his LoTR toys in the same spot the actors had been for one of the scenes and then took some pictures Not that there s anything wrong with that.The book was quite entertaining, honestly, until the final couple chapters Then, I got a headache from all the eye rolling I was doing Why was I eye rolling I m glad you asked Each chapter tracks a certain geeky trend, and each chapter is interesting, other than they don t develop into a complex analysis of geekery, unless this counts Fantasizing like geeks do is fun, and it s not that much different from an obsession with professional sports or making model airplanes So, if you want some weak ass attempt to evade geek related guilt, this is the book for you Since I m pretty comfortable in my own geeky skin, I didn t find this insight to be very, um, insightful.Anyone who has taught an English course, and probably anyone who has taken one, has read one of those papers where the author wrote the whole thing and then realized it wasn t focused enough to write a conclusion that really wrapped things up Oftentimes, the author just farts out some bullshit that they think sounds passable and turns it in, hoping the teacher doesn t notice The teacher DOES notice, every time Apparently, the publisher didn t Then, he fails in what he seemed to be REALLY trying to do show his personal evolution through this GeekQuest Why does he fail in this Because he doesn t become comfortable with his geekdom, nor does he decide to become a muggle Hewell, he doesn t really decide ANYTHING The book just kind of whimpers out with a bunch of lame geek metaphors, and then dies and flops over on its back, twitching on your carpet I get the feeling a deadline came up faster than Gilsdorf expected it to, and instead of getting an extension, he shat some inanities onto the page and shipped it out That said, I realized after finishing the book that it ends with a glossary of geek terminology I was simultaneously proud and concerned that I hadn t needed to reference the glossary at any point before then, and that I knew every term except for one Hmm, perhaps I HAVEN T reached a totally guilt free state of geekiness I m wondering if I came to this book with the wrong expectations my first instinct is to write a pithy snarky blurb along the lines of Watch THE GUILD, read some classic KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE and you ll getenjoyment than you would reading this book Why the negative reaction to what is, admittedly, a well written series of glimpses into some seldom seen corners of the fantasy gaming universe The author encounters some interesting people and does a good job of talking about th I m wondering if I came to this book with the wrong expectations my first instinct is to write a pithy snarky blurb along the lines of Watch THE GUILD, read some classic KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE and you ll getenjoyment than you would reading this book Why the negative reaction to what is, admittedly, a well written series of glimpses into some seldom seen corners of the fantasy gaming universe The author encounters some interesting people and does a good job of talking about their lives without appearing to condescend or worship their involvement or over involvement I thnk the combination of his quest loosely defined as should I claim my enjoyment of things geeky, which I have mistakenly defined as a Peter Pan ish existence of never really taking adult responsibility with these portraits of the fantasy community feel like two different books jammed together and not always successfully What he writes about LARPing, the DragonCon costume parade, Tolkien fanatics, DD with some of the original players, going to New Zealand for Middle Earth tourism, WoW, etc is mixed with a kind of whiny mid life can I commit to my girlfriend do I even want to thread that grates on my nerves.How he got into DD his mother s illness is heartwrenching I feel callous complaining about the personal nature of the book based on the early chapters Yet by the time it was finished, I was tired of him but not tired of the subject