In 1974, Gary Gygax of TSR, Inc. gave birth to a new hysteria. It was called Dungeons and Dragons, and it would spawn a thousand games and books of its type, but none would come close to comparing to Dungeons and Dragons. It wasn't until 1979 that the explosion of role playing games struck hard. It was exhaustingly popular and spread like wildfire all across North America and Europe. It is estimated that more than ten million copies are in print today. Dungeons and Dragons quickly became a culture, a way of life for some people. Since it's release in 1974, there have been over one thousand other similar games that have followed in the tracks of D&D, not to mention the seemingly endless quantity of novels the game has created in it's wake.
Today, Dungeons and Dragons is subject to supposed accounts of Satanism, and is accused of counting 'occult' content. Many blame the game for suicidal and criminal activity among youth.
Dungeons and Dragons is played by a group of people, possibly ranging from 3-6, where one person is the Dungeon Master (DM) and the others Player Characters (PC's). The players create imaginary characters using the rules in the D&D Players Hand Book. The characters created can differ greatly, from the mighty warrior to the quiet and secluded wizard or even the charismatic elf. The possibilities are limitless. The group will usually meet at a designated playing area, (usually one of the player's houses) and the DM will have pre prepared a 'quest'. The DM decides what monsters, obstacles, traps and people the characters meet, and the players guide their characters through the DM's dangerous and mystical world using their unique and reserved skills. Polyhedral dice are used to decide the outcome of most encounters.
The DM's imaginary world is usually a medieval one, only with dragons, magic, hideous creatures, gnomes etc. Typical quests involve rescuing people, seeking artifacts, destroying evil wizards, slaying wicked dragons and searching for knowledge, power or treasure. Many DM's are skilled writers and create highly intricate adventures with well thought out plot lines, equally good as the plots of some of Hollywood's best films. There is no 'winner' to the game, you simply go on as long as you desire, until your character becomes so powerful it is no longer a challenge, or until your character dies.
Most dungeons and dragons players are in their teens to early thirties. They are more than often highly creative, intelligent, analytical and tireless.
For the past fifteen years, Dungeons and Dragons has been set upon by many Christians and other religious groups for causing 'harmful' effects to those who play it. Patricia Pulling, the leader of BADD (Bothered about Dungeons and Dragons) seems to have started this war and continues to lead it ever since the suicide of her son, Bink Pulling in the late 1970's. She began a campaign to restrict availability to the game by collecting numerous newspaper articles and reports of accounts where RPG players committed suicide or performed criminal activities. Groups such as BADD, concerning the satanic content of Dungeons and Dragons have written many books.
Dungeons and Dragons has been accused of being the cause many things such as rape, murder, suicide, assassination, insanity and prostitution. It has also been accused of teaching necromantics, witchcraft, demonology and voodoo.
All these groups and individuals seem to become so obsessed with proving Dungeons and Dragons to be satanic, that they loose sight of the facts at hand. There is absolutely no evidence that role-playing games contain harmful content at all, and they have been studied immensely.
BADD estimated four million gamers world wide, and this number has most certainly increased since then. With the approximate teen suicide rates, five hundred of those four million gamers would commit suicide in a year. It was actually found that only four gamers committed suicide in the documented year... four. This means that gamer's suicide rate is substantially lower than normal teens, four hundred and ninety-six lower.
James Forest and Suzanne Abyeta conducted extensive studies of criminal activities committed by gamers and found that gamers committed fewer crimes than the same number of non-gamers.
Dr. S. Kenneth Schonbert analysed over seven hundred adolescent suicides and discovered D&D was not a factor in any of them. FBI Special Agent Kenneth Lanning states in his book that there is no connection between role playing games and crime.
With facts like these right in front of them, it's a wonder organisations such as BADD have not halted their constant assaults on role playing games. It seems that anti role-playing organisations judge what they see by word of mouth. The main problem with these people, it seems, is that they have not witnessed a gaming session or read the manuals. They accuse the book of containing descriptive procedures for casting spells. Gary Gygax, creator of the game stated: "I made all those spells up out of my head, how can they take it seriously?"
Patricia Pulling also believes the game to be blasphemous because it contains words like spellcraft, resurrection, deity and demon. The bible too, contains these words, yet is it any less holy? Terms such as these are commonly found in current media, and they are not criticised.
At no point in the D&D Players Handbook does it even hint at devil worship, animal sacrifice or occults. It does not encourage random killings, murder or rape. It allows you to choose your character alignment, and it suggests your character being lawful and good. Most DM's don't even like evil characters to play in their quests.
Those who blame D&D for their child's suicide don't take into consideration drug abuse or previous criminal activities. They are frantically searching for something to blame it on and D&D seems a logical enough decision, since their child was interested in it. What about the child's other interests, like reading? Of course reading is educational, so no one blames it for their child's suicide or criminal purges. Well, if it were to be looked at a little more closely by some people, D&D contains just as much educational value as reading, if not more. It teaches much about medieval society and culture, for the game revolves in a flourishing medieval society. It teaches new vocabulary and acting skills, since the players often change their voice and speak in medieval terms, taking on the role of their character. Basic math skills are constantly used. Adding up dice totals quickly and calculating whether or not they 'hit' their opponent can greatly benefit younger players.
While parents have the reserved right to censor what their children read and do, they should not censor on groundless fears. I recommend Dungeons and Dragons to anyone for it's highly educational content, and for it's fun, seamless game play. It's a good opportunity to get together with your friends, eat snacks and have some fun. I also find it keeps kids out of trouble, for when Friday nights come along, parents know their kids are safely downstairs, playing D&D and drinking coke, instead of out partying, getting high or comitting crimes.
By: Calvin Cockell