Full disclosure…I was the kid who was evil and played Dungeons and Dragons. I was the one that corrupted my other friends, who were once good kids who attended church regularly. I left a trail of evil and fear in my wake. Don’t believe me? Well take a few minutes and watch the first half of this video:
Some of you may not be old enough to remember society’s campaign against the evils of Dungeons and Dragons. I lived through those interesting times. Lucky for me I had parents who had a firm grip on reality, and knew my hobby was harmless. In fact they liked that I had a creative outlet that I got so much joy out of.
But my parents had friends who knew just how evil the game was. These friends often told my mother and father they should watch for signs of Satanic worship and other evil things that I would surely start doing. I had friends in school who had to play D&D in secret. Often I was labeled as the evil one.
One memory from high school is where a buddy of mine wanted to play, but his parents didn’t want him to. They argued about it for a long time, until a compromise was reached. They had to observe one game and see what happened in a D&D game. My friend asked me to run this demonstration and I gladly accepted the challenge. I ran a game I had already created, I didn’t pull back on anything in the game. One hour into the dungeon crawl my friend’s father laughed and basically wondered what the big fuss was about.
It is easy to look back and laugh at how society jumped on the story of kids killing themselves and others over a game. But it is just as easy to draw the parallels to today’s society that blames videogames for the same thing. Those first person shooters are teaching children to kill! But common sense tells us this isn’t true.
In all cases of a child murdering someone or harming themselves, there is something going on. It isn’t a game, music, books, or dancing…it is depression, lackluster parenting, etc. As a society we don’t have the patience to take a long hard look at a problem. We want quick answers and solutions. I imagine that parents want something to blame for a child’s evils because it is too painful to examine what could have been done differently. We as a people want to make sure children are happy and safe, but we spend far too much energy on quick fixes. We blame words on a page before we point a finger at ourselves.
Looking back at the time that D&D was considered evil is both funny and sad. In all the times that people told me how evil the game was, I kept wondering how something so evil could introduce me to new friends and give us a collective experience we all enjoyed. Gaming helped the socially awkward version of myself make it through the tough years of my development. It gave me a creative outlet. D&D didn’t destroy my life, it saved it.