Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away on March 4, 2008. So the organizers of GenCon, the gaming convention founded by Gygax in the '60s, decided to donate the proceeds of its annual charity function to his favourite charity, in memorial. They raised nearly $17,000 for Christian Children's Fund.
And CCF refused every penny.
The org said it couldn't accept money that came, in part, from D&D sales. Well, actually they said they couldn't "endorse" a gaming convention or any other event with which they were not directly involved, but I think we all know what they really meant. If the money had come from a creationism convention or something, I'm sure the ink wouldn't have dried on the check before CCF cashed it. (1)
I wonder how CCF staffers explained to the starving children that they wouldn't be eating for another week because of a game.
This is so '87. Literally. Throughout the '80s, idiots like "former Illuminati witch"/child rapist John Todd, "former Satanist"/"vampire" Bill Schnoebelen, and Jack "It Must Be True If You Find It in a Comic Book" Chick were warning all and sundry that D&D was designed specifically to indoctrine kids into the occult. Schnoebelen even claimed the creators of D&D consulted his Satanic coven in the late '70s because they wanted to make their game "authentic" (Dungeons and Dragons was created in the early '70s, and it's about as authentically Satanic as Taco Bell food is authentically Tex-Mex).
Meanwhile, a Virginia mother named Patricia Pulling decided that her son Bink's 1982 suicide was not the result of his obvious mental instability, nor his delusional lycanthropy (2), nor the fact that his name was "Irving", but the result of a fracking game. She started an org called BADD (Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons) to spread the message that role-playing fantasy games are bad, m'kay?
According to Ms. Pulling, D&D is a thinly veiled form of Satanism, incorporating demonology, witchcraft, voodoo, murder, rape, blasphemy, suicide, sexual perversion, and cannibalism (among other things). She also believed that about 8% of Richmond, Virginia, residents were practicing Satanists. (3)
She insisted Bink killed himself because he had become so immersed in D&D that when a curse was placed on him in the game, he thought he was really cursed. She also attributed the suicide of Sean Hughes in 1988 and the murder of Mary Towey in 1984 to D&D. (4)
Unfortunately, a few people actually listened to Pulling and accepted her lunacy as something other than the grief and denial of losing a son to suicide. She was a guest on 60 Minutes in 1985 (along with Gygax), as well as on several TV talk shows. She was allowed to testify in criminal trials in three states as a "gaming expert". (2)
Ms. Pulling passed away in 1997, but the legacy lives on. Dr. Thomas E. Radecki, also a D&D "expert", has testifed in 9 trials involving crimes allegedly connected to fantasy role-playing games. (5)
Admittedly, I've never played D&D. I did sit in on a game of Magic: The Gathering once, and witnessed nothing more sinister than a long, heated debate over whether or not you can give yourself Pestilence. But I don't need to be familiar with the game to know that it does not cause violent outbursts, homicides, or mental illness. No game can do that. However, adopting the POV of Pulling et. al. for a moment, let's look at some timeless, popular games that really can pose a threat to the mental and spiritual wellbeing of your children...
Operation: Makes malpractice look fun and easy. Oops, don't touch the sides! But if you do, it doesn't matter! We'll just put the dude back in the box and pretend it never happened...
Life: Teaching kids that their lifestyle and career choices are dependent wholly upon chance, rather than on dedication and skill? Is that a good idea?
Candyland: Can you say "gingivitis", kids?
Battleship: All the fun and frivolity of maritime disasters in a handy carrying case.
Scruples: Designed by a batshit insane man who thinks The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are authentic, and sees Sapphic overtones in candy bar commercials.
Risk: Global imperialism for ages 8 and up.
1. "Children's Charity Turns its Back on Gygax Memorial Donation" by GamePolitics.com correspondent Andrew Eisen. Nov. 4/08
2. "Satan's Fantasies" (part I) by Kerr Cuhulain, Witchvox.com
3. Wikipedia entry for Patricia Pulling. Retrieved Jan. 29/08.
4. "The Pulling Report" by Michael A. Stackpole (1990)
5. Radecki's website, Modern Psychiatry.com.
Radecki, the founder of the National Coalition on Television Violence, had his license suspended in 1992 for inappropriate sexual behaviour with a female patient (Entertainment Weekly, Dec. 25/92).