Spurred, I suppose, by my middling opinion of Of Dice and Men, I've picked up a pair of books about gaming: Gary Alan Fine's Shared Fantasy and Ian Livingstone's Dicing with Dragons. Although both have the same broad topic - an introduction into tabletop RPGs and the people that play them - the two books are, unsurprisingly, very different.
Mr. Livingstone's book is about the games themselves. Dicing with Dragons (1982) is more of an overtly commercial volume: an introduction to the ways and means of games for a reader that is presumably interested in having a go themselves.
Dicing with Dragons is a exhaustive survey of the 1982 gaming scene, and includes all the options available for the interested gamer (there are hundreds! It takes a whole chapter!). For the 'big' games of the era - D&D, Runequest, Tunnels and Trolls and Traveller - he even provides more in-depth comparisons. Dungeons and Dragons, he finds slightly unrealistic, but grants that as the first of them all, is prone to the most criticism. Tunnels and Trolls is interesting primarily for its accessibility to the solo gamer. And Traveller, he concludes, requires a good grounding in scientific topics (which, Livingstone believes, all science fiction readers will have). It is essentially a catalogue... but one written by a great of the genre. And Livingstone's criticism is genuinely interesting - above all, this is one of the most influential game designers ever, busily reviewing contemporary (and now arguably 'primordial') games.
That said, collectors are mostly interested in Dicing with Dragons because of the solo adventure it contains (apparently a must for Fighting Fantasy completists!), which is also nice (I got squished to death).
Charmingly, there's also a long section about how computers (oooooh!) and their impact on the RPG world, although, at the time of writing, their immediate benefit was in rapidly calculating 'play by mail' results. Independent play is actually a theme throughout the book. RPGs weren't quite as ubiquitous in 1982 and, presumably, the reader buying this book didn't have friends to explain the games to them. As someone that grew up and played D&D during its era of wildest popularity, solo play was very rarely mentioned in game materials, magazines or references. And now any chapter on one-person RPGs would presumably be two words: "Buy X-Box".