Thursday, August 13, 2009

Anti-Dungeons & Dragons

Along with the huge following of Dungeons & Dragons, Tunnels & Trolls, Chivalry & Sorcery, and other fantasy role-playing games, came a huge anti-roleplaying movement.

Roleplaying is satanic, it will lead you to the occult, and it will drive you so insane that you won't know what reality is anymore. It sounds crazy, but people can be lead to believe in almost anything. My parents were concerned about what they were hearing in the media, and they bought a book for me because I was showing interest in D&D.
The book was called Playing With Fire: Dungeons and Dragons, Tunnels and Trolls, Chivalry and Sorcery, and other Fantasy Games by John Weldon and James Bjornstad. I read through it, and even to my 12 year old mind, I thought it was crap! It covered every cliche' in the book, and was nothing but a polemic against fantasy role playing games. And for some reason it increased my interest in FRPGs. I even started playing them in secret, with my friends.

For some reason I held on to this book, and I found it in the basement a few weeks ago. For some reason I have affection for this book, it's got kitsch appeal for a bygone era. You don't really hear all the anti-rpg things anymore, mainly it's anti-video games or whatever is super popular with young people today.

Mazes & Monsters starring Tom Hanks is also another media attack on FRPGs. But for some reason, I love this movie! I even bought a copy and I watch it fairly often.

Then there's the infamous 60 Minutes expose' on D&D, where they actually interview Gary Gygax. What's even more funny is that the Psychiatrist , Dr. Thomas Radecki, who said that D&D was dangerous got himself into some trouble with female patients of his! Hillarious!

I just get a kick out of this today, but in the 80s it was serious business. Whatever the real reasons the nay sayers had for their attacks against these games, nobody really remembers them for their crusade. But the legacy of Gary Gygax left us lives on!


Josh said...

I sadly remember this stuff and it let me to several conflicts with various churches as I tried to explain the authors were either ignorant of the subject or out and out lying.

Luckily only a few churches still even touch this subject and it is pretty easy to disregard.

Funny the word verification is "dissent"

Atom Kid said...

Dissent, funny how that works out.

I don't really remember it coming up in church, but I remember being told it was wrong. I'm a preacher's kid, so I heard it a lot. But I think they finally came around.

Eli Arndt said...

I own a copy of "Mazes and Monsters" on D&D. I remember watching it when it came out.

I remember most of my friend's parents and my own being cool with it. They saw it for what it was - creative outlet. I recall my mother defending my hobby against religious friends and how she laid it all in terms of educational and social benefits.

"He's using math and reading. He's studying subjects that he learns about from his games. He's spending time with friends on a regular basis. They are learning to work as a group and engaging in creative problem solving. He's not out getting into trouble. He does extra chores to earn money for his gaming stuff and is learning to appreciate that work gets rewards. My son isn't getting drunk, stoned, or getting girls pregnant and ruining his life. He's playing a game."

Got to love my mother for that. The only issues she ever had was if I spent too much time playing D&D and the other games.

I also recall running into some religious kids who played it and who's parent thought the hype was silly. They just kept their characters moral and played within the limits of their beliefs. Fighting evil and saving people was as good at the table as it was in church and out in the world.

It was all a bunch of scapegoating to avoid having to look at the real problems that caused the incidents that fueled the hype. If my friend and I had driven into a ditch they likely would have tried to blame it on the games somehow because we ALWAYS had dice and books with us.

Glad most of that has passed.


Atom Kid said...

Exactly, Eli! Glad your Mom was supportive!