Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday Truths: Gaming Advocacy

One of the goals of the Ogres, like many other tabletop gamers, is to educate and inform the general non-rpg-playing public about the games and to dispel long held myths about tabletop gaming. Some of these most infamous myths include the following: Dungeons & Dragons is a cult that leads to suicide, gamers can not tell the difference between the game and the world, Vampire: The Masquerade leads to murder, and so forth. Additionally, non-gamers are quick to point to the geek status of the game as a bad thing. Today, we'd like to take a moment to dispel or discuss this first myth of D&D as a cult and having a link to suicide.

Dungeons & Dragons: Cult? Leads to Suicide?

The allegations that D&D is a cult come most infamously from a Jack Chick "Christian tract" that has been spread for years. Chick Tracts have long been widely criticized for their outright lies, inaccuracies, ignorance of the subject at hand, and hate mongering. Additionally, a paper written by a Chick confidant- William Schnoebelen, has also spent years in circulation and led to a follow up years later. This paper is a misinformed rant written in a way to put fear into individuals who know nothing about Dungeons & Dragons, instead of informing them correctly. Schnoebelen has been widely criticized for his false claims and extreme lies just to make himself seem more informed to the reader. These writings are made for a specific, easily manipulated and gullible crowd, and for years the gaming community has used facts and proof to denounce them.

(Part of the infamous and fictitious tract)

The really tragic rumor and myth that comes up when people talk about D&D is the allegation that it has and does lead to Suicide. Before we continue, we'll state this first: There has never been a link between Dungeons & Dragons, nor any tabletop roleplaying game, and suicide. This happened originally when a mother named Patricia Pulling blamed the game for the suicide of her son Irving. Mrs. Pulling formed the one-person organization “Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons,” known as BADD, after her son Irving committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest on June 9, 1982. Irving was an active D&D player, and she believed his suicide was directly related to the game. The grieving mother first filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her son's high school principal, Robert A. Bracey III, holding him as responsible for what she claimed was a Dungeons & Dragons curse placed upon her son shortly before his death. She also filed suit against TSR, Inc., D&D's publishers. She appeared on an episode of 60 Minutes which also featured Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons & Dragons, and which aired in 1985.

When her lawsuits were dismissed, she founded BADD and began publishing information circulating her belief that D&D encouraged devil worship and suicide. BADD described D&D as "a fantasy role-playing game which uses demonology, witchcraft, voodoo, murder, rape, blasphemy, suicide, assassination, insanity, sex perversion, homosexuality, prostitution, satanic type rituals, gambling, barbarism, cannibalism, sadism, desecration, demon summoning, necromantics, divination and other teachings."

As the popularity of D&D and other role-playing games increased, Pulling's more extreme views and statements were increasingly called into question. For example, she once told a newspaper reporter that eight percent of the people living in Richmond, Virginia were Satanists. She had arrived at that figure, she explained, by estimating four percent of adults and four percent of teens to be involved with Satanism, and adding them together to get eight percent. When the reporter informed her that mathematically that was four percent, not eight percent, she claimed that it did not matter because even eight percent was a "conservative" figure.

The American Association of Suicidology, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and Health & Welfare (Canada) would all eventually conclude that there is no causal link between fantasy gaming and suicide. In 1990, the writer Michael Stackpole authored The Pulling Report, a review highly critical of BADD's methods of data collection, analysis and reporting. BADD effectively ceased to exist when Pulling died of cancer in 1997. By this time, BADD had been reduced to Pulling as its sole member.

In closing, it is easy to note that these allegations come from misinformed, gullible, zealous individuals - usually looking for something to blame as a scapegoat for much more serious issues. If you are a parent and worried about your child's involvement with tabletop gaming, why not sit down and play the game with them? We'd love to host the entire family at any Ogres session!

Tune in next Tuesday when we discuss the allegations that roleplaying games cause issues with players not being able to keep the game world separate from the real world. In the meantime, you can keep informed on many gaming advocacy news at the website The Escapist and by joining the Committee for the Advancement of Role-Playing Game.

Ogres Out

No comments:

Post a Comment