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Ethan Gilsdorf Follows ‘Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks’

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Oct. 5, 2009
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Long before hobbits and “The Boy Who Lived” made the fantasy genre so astoundingly popular, and eons before the Internet heralded in addictive online games like “Warhammer” and “World of Warcraft,” role-playing games entertained millions of whimsical individuals who wanted to travel to unique realms and embark on amazing adventures. In the book Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, author Ethan Gilsdorf, an admitted “gamer” and retired Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) player, sets out on a journey to discover the allure of these mediums and to uncover the stories of game-players and fantasy fans. Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks is a combination of Gilsdorf’s personal recollections and confessions of his own gaming history, intriguing facts on the hidden realms of gaming and its players, and a collection of interviews with the individuals who inhabit these faraway lands.

Gilsdorf conducted on-the-job research for this book as he traveled across the country and to locations around the globe in search of what makes fantasy games so essential to tens of millions of people. Throughout the book, readers join fantastical quests as they follow Gilsdorf to Tolkien pilgrimage sites, hang out with members of Harry Potter tribute bands, and visit fan conventions and gaming tournaments.

The world of fantasy role-playing is a genre often characterized by geeks and freaks, but Gilsdorf’s travels and interviews show us the diversity of people who find these escapist adventures such a fundamental part of their lives. Whether people embrace fantasy purely for entertainment or because it gives them a real sense of empowerment in their lives, one thing is clear: Comic book conventions, Renaissance fairs and online role-playing games, enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, have been and continue to be extremely popular. As author Gilsdorf asks game-players how they find balance between their fantastical creations and their actual realities, readers will uncover the many (and often entertaining) reasons that all of us—young, old, male, female, rich, poor—need a little fantasy in our lives.

Ethan Gilsdorf, author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks,will be speaking at Boswell Book Co. at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13.


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