I wrote this a long long time ago and received a 92% by Mr. DeRiggs, my former high school history teacher. I feel as if I deserved a 93%, which was an A- in my school.
Read on, or go to my personal page (lot's of fun).
The Real Truth About Dungeons & Dragons
By Charney Cale
Since the late 1970's Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games have been criticized for containing "occult" content, and influencing suicidal and criminal activity. This paper will discuss the assaults on these games and show how the game is not harmful but actually a healthy, intellectually stimulating form of recreation.
Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) was the original Role-Playing Game (RPG), and is still the most popular. It was created by Gary Gygax of TSR, Inc. in 1973 and has been the basis of hundreds of other games, books, magazines, etc. The game is played by a group of people, usually 3-7, where one person is the Game Master (GM), and the others are Player Characters (PC's). The PC's create imaginary characters, like wizards or gnomes, and the GM creates a make-believe world in which these characters have adventures in. The PC's characters have certain abilities and items they can use. The GM decides what obstacles, people, traps, monsters, etc. the PC's will meet, and the PC's decide what their character does in every situation. Dice are used to determine outcomes of actions and miniature figurines and models can be used, but most of the game comes out of the player's imagination (Sutton-Smith).
The GM's world is usually a medieval one, but with magic, dragons, wizards, elves, etc. Typical adventures could involve rescuing people, exploring dungeons, or searching for knowledge, treasure, and power. Game sessions usually last from two to ten hours and future sessions start where they last left off. Each game session usually has a goal but nobody actually "wins" the game, it goes on as long as you want it to, or if your character is killed.
The average players of RPG's are males in their teens to early thirties. Players are usually of an above average intelligence, and are creative, analytical and tireless.
For the past 15 or so years D&D has been attacked by many Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians and other groups and individuals for having harmful effects on those who play it. Patricia Pulling Started BADD (Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons) after her son, Bink Pulling, committed suicide. She started a campaign to restrict availability of the game, by collecting newspaper reports and anecdotal accounts of suicides/criminal activities by players of the game. Many groups like this have formed, like the CCIN (Cult Crime Impact Network), and many books, magazine articles, and television series have been made on the subject (5).
RPG's have been accused of many things, including the teachings of demonology, witchcraft, voodoo, murder, rape, blasphemy, suicide, assassination, insanity, sexual perversion, homosexuality, prostitution, Satan worship, and necromantics (Robie 22).
Many court cases that have accused D&D involve the players getting too involved in an alternate reality. They claim the person believed they were really the character they had created. Joan Hake Robie, an author of many anti-D&D books states: "Psychologists have claimed, time and again, that when someone lives in the realm of fantasy for an extended length of time, the lines dividing reality and fantasy become distorted, fuzzy." (Robie 5)
All the groups and individuals who are against D&D and other RPG's lose sight of the facts of the matter. The main fact is that absolutely no evidence of harmful effects from these games has ever been found. And RPG's have been studied immensely.
BADD estimated 4 million gamers worldwide (this number has increased since then), and with the average suicide rate, this means 500 gamers would commit suicide each year. As of 1987, BADD had documented an average of seven suicides of gamers a year, meaning D&D actually lowers the suicide rate (5).
James Forest and Suzanne Abyeta studied criminal tendencies of people who played RPG's and found that fewer crimes were committed by gamers than the average for each age group. The Association of Gifted-Creative Children of California endorses D&D for its educational content. After surveying psychological autopsies of adolescent suicides, they found no links to D&D (5).
No links between D&D and teen suicides were found after extensive studies by The American Association of Suicidology, The Center for Disease Control, and Health & Welfare (Canada).
Dr. S. Kenneth Schonbert studied over 700 adolescent suicides and found that D&D was not a factor in any of them. Luis H. Zayas found D&D can help treat disruptive eight and nine year olds. FBI Supervisory Special Agent Kenneth Lanning states in his book that there are no connections between RPG's and crime (6).
Today, many secondary schools even offer "gifted and talented" students the opportunity to play D&D for credit during school hours. Many state-supported colleges offer classes in D&D. A student at Oakland University says: "It (the game) allows you to work out the frustrations and the doldrums of classes. You can do anything your wildest imagination will permit. But it's not dangerous." (Robie 16)
These are cold hard facts. These are scientific and psychological tests that prove D&D is safe. Anti-D&D groups base their opinions on speculation and word of mouth. The main problem with these individuals is that they have never actually played the game or read the manuals. They read literature that exaggerates the contents of the rule books, or just blatantly lies about aspects of the game.
Many people believe D&D to be blasphemous because it mentions words like spellcraft, resurrection, deity, witchcraft, demon, and hell. These terms appear in the Bible, but do not make it any less holy (Koehler 11) These terms appear all the time in other media and are not criticized. The spells listed in the rule book don't describe hand gestures or verbal chanting. Gary Gygax, the actual creator of D&D says: "I made up all the spells out of my head. How can anyone take them seriously?" (Robie 21)
An un-named GM states: "Nobody in my game, 'sees me as a god.' Nobody in my game treats their so-called 'Deities' with reverence or performs some kind of ritual to it." (Robie 34)
The Player's Handbook is the main rule book of the game. It does not ask you to join a cult, worship the devil, or sacrifice animals. It doesn't encourage random killings or murder. In D&D you choose the general attitude and beliefs of your character, the Player's Handbook specifically suggests that characters be lawful and good. The game's rules are very flexible, and you can choose to do anything within the limits of your characters ability. If someone takes advantage of this, it is not the games fault but the persons own bad judgment.
Court cases involving D&D have always found other reasons for the crime. People who blame D&D for their child's suicide often don't take into consideration a drug abuse or previous record of criminal activity. They try to blame the problem on something so they use D&D (but not the interest in video games or biology). D&D is a harmless activity that continually is blamed for causing problems when so many overriding factors are also present.
Charney Cale, an avid D&D player, says: "I have had over six years of experience playing D&D, and own dozens of rule books and manuals. D&D has been a wonderful and educational experience. I have learned new vocabulary, and have better decision making skills. D&D has made me a quicker math student because of all the calculations I make when I am the GM. I have learned many things about European Medieval culture because the manuals are full of historical anecdotes. I have been exposed to beautifully painted fantasy art pieces that fill the manuals, and have increased my enjoyment of reading from many of the best-selling D&D based novels. I have become a better artist by drawing intricate maps, and a better writer by creating stories and adventures. For many people D&D is an alternative to crime and drug abuse, players get their highs from a great game."
The facts are clear. Scientists, psychologists and millions of gamers worldwide can't be wrong. D&D and other RPG's are harmless. They are just a fun pastime like computers or chess. But for some reason these games are wrongly accused of so many things. It's too bad when these people focus their attention on D&D, when the real problems like domestic violence and drug abuse are to blame.