John Kovalic posted this very in-depth article on his Facebook page today. It chronicles that manic phobia that swept the nation in the 1980s that asserted that roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) caused suicides and pushed teens into joining satanic cults indulging in sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, and ritual suicide. Most of my game nights were spent rolling dice and binging on chili-cheese popcorn–though some rock-n-roll was involved (Dio, Manowar, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Uriah Heep, etc.).
I remember when the 2nd edition came out sans any mention of demons; they changed the names to protect the people that weren’t buying the game anyway. Very frustrating.
I also remember my junior year in high school. My big “research paper” project was about how ridiculous this phenomenon was. I had been playing D&D pretty regularly for a few years by then and had zero suicidal or satanic tendencies…well, at least not any more than your average 14-16 year old. My Honors English teacher, who was generally quite cool, procured a copy of Dungeon magazine for me to use as a source but warned me that “this doesn’t mean you need to start playing.” I grinned kind of nervously and said, “Um…I kinda already do…”
Some concerned family members gave me a copy of Pat Pulling’s The Devil’s Web. I think I still have it. They wanted me to be aware of the dangers I was exposing myself to. Being as how the county I lived in was mentioned in college sociology textbooks for the high number of teenage pregnancies per capita, my going out on Friday nights to play games should have been the least of their worries…