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
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
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
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
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