Book Report
Garwulf’s Corner:
An Odyssey into Diablo and the World Beyond the Video Game

By Jorge Figueiredo - November 1st, 2014

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For the longest time, Blizzard’s Diablo and its sequel, Diablo II, were quite popular (and still are). So popular, in fact, that it is highly probable that passing alien life forms would have thought that the videogames were part of some religion or cult. At that time (and even for some time afterwards), forums based around the game were ablaze with activity (I know this because i would visit them from time to time, looking for information about in-game secrets and such). There was also an online column called Garwulf’s Corner (written by Robert Marks), which was something of a unique phenomenon. You see, back in those days, it was actually unique to have a column that dealt with videogames outside of printed gaming magazines and very large gaming websites1.

Recently, Legacy Books Press sent us Garwulf’s Corner: An Odyssey into Diablo and the World Beyond the Video Game, a compilation of all of the posts from Garwulf’s Corner (along with some other bonus content). While not my cup of tea, necessarily, it’s not a bad read – and it holds potential for those of us that grew up with (and were affected by) videogames.

I actually visited Garwulf’s Corner once during that time period. I honestly can’t remember which post that I read, specifically – suffice to say that I found the author had a very strong sense of self-importance (which isn’t necessarily always a bad thing, mind you), and the piece didn’t really resonate with me. As I read the first few entries in this printed compilation, I was reminded of why I probably visited the online publication only once. However, once I made it past the first few articles in the book, I found that it was a nice case study of the growth of an author, who has the distinction of writing one of the first eBooks based on a videogame.

I am not sure that my younger self would have been able to appreciate the journey that the author was going through at the time – but the modern me certainly found the collected works enlightening. That’s not to say that there are not passages that grate during the reading process – there is a lot of name dropping and self-back-patting within the pages. That being said, I would attribute those bits to the folly of youth; the overall experience of the book is a positive one, especially thanks to the format, which makes consuming the pages an easy task. Since each article is usually two to three pages long, it can be devoured in large chunks of entries or individually over a longer period of time.

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Gratuitous screenshot of Diablo II.

Overall, the book feels like something of a time capsule, and contains some poignant observations about a number of different interesting online and offline issues. It’s a balanced book, equal parts rant and insight – making for a fairly enjoyable read. One of the most interesting articles was written during the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, and feels like a haunting recap of what people were going through at that time. That piece, which was my favourite, stirred up within me the memories of my own experience of that chaotic time (during which I was actually overseas, in Portugal).

There are a few extras included in the mix, like a nice introduction, an article written after the announcement of Diablo III, and several pieces written for Blurred Edge magazine that were never published. However, the main articles are where the good stuff lies – especially towards the end of the collection (and the 9/11 article, of course).

In fairness, I’m not sure if this book is for the everyday consumer. While there are some interesting insights into the human condition contained within the pages of Garwulf’s Corner, the launch platform is somewhat specific (Diablo II). At the same time, I don’t think that you would have had to have experienced Diablo II to enjoy this book. In my opinion, anyone who understands the allure of community gaming would get a kick out of this title. It’s a decent purchase for readers interested in a snapshot of gaming history, and can be had for a little more than $20 (Amazon is a good bet).

1 – Sometimes, given content and form in general (in regards to many “gaming” web pages), I sometimes find myself longing for those glory days…

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