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RPGs are EEEEEVIL! Part 2

Earlier, I raged a bit against Jack Chick, his pal William Schnobelen, and their belief that roleplaying games such as D&D are dangerous and Satanic. For the record, I think this is stupid, stupid, stooopid. I won’t pick apart their articles and uber-cool comic “tract”—why bother when the brilliant minds at MST3K have already done so. Rather, I will concede some points.

Most rpgs condone killing. C’mon, we must admit that. D&D 4E is all about slaying the enemy, and killing is usually anathema to established religions. People often find (or outright make up) exceptions and loopholes to justify killing (e.g., the Crusades, jihads) but it remains a bad thing overall.

It’s an established trope in rpgs: kill things and loot the corpses. That’s not exactly good, is it?

Okay, I hear you. RPGs usually involve slaying evil creatures that would otherwise torch a village and rape/murder all the innocents therein. I agree. Jesus wouldn’t. He felt killing was wrong no matter what and advised to turn the other cheek rather than get revenge. Now, this is not the place for a religious debate on where the draw the line between pacifism and masochism, but I wanted to point out that idiots like Chick and Schnoebelen have a point.

Here’s where I think they err big time: Games don’t manipulate people. It is not a step on the road to Hell anymore than poker or Pokemon. Do people who play too much Monopoly grow up to be ruthless landlords, evicting families to build hotels on that lot? Does Axis & Allies make people want to invade Russia? If I spend half my life watching and playing football (as I have), do I want to tackle people at work? No, No, and No.

If a person with mental instabilities plays a rpg, he might get the wrong idea and build a dangerous fantasy world around himself. However, that is his fault, not the game’s. He could equally read the Bible and believe angels are telling him to murder sinners. Just like the Christian Inquisition and Islamic terrorism are the fault of seriously flawed people and not religions, any connection between rpgs and sin is the fault of people and not the game.

Lastly, Chick, Schnoebelen, and their ilk usually focus on the game’s corrupting influence on teenagers. They assume teenagers are moronic, malleable pseudo-sentients easily zombified by cultural influences such as books, games, music, and TV. Oh, please. Today’s teens are savvy enough to recognize manipulation and bias in the media, so they can survive playing a game with elfs and dragons. Reading Harry Potter has not created a generation of Satanists. Neither has rock ‘n’ roll, hip-hop, jazz, the 60s, or whatever cultural bugaboo gets used by manic fundamentalists who fear everything. And that includes roleplaying games.

RPGs are EEEEEVIL! Part 1

For the love of God.

Obsidian Portal, a fine site that offers free wiki pages for your rpg campaign, just sent out a tweet about Jack Chick. (Yes, that’s his real name.) He’s appears to be a fundamentalist Christian who cries out against the evils of Catholics, Mormons, Masons, and yes, roleplaying games. I must respond, not to OP, but to Mr. Chick and his buddy, William Schnoebelen, who wrote a pair of articles claiming D&D will lead to Satanism. The last article, Should a Christian Play Dungeons & Dragons, was written in 2001, so this stuff isn’t that old.

The basic argument, which I have heard many times in the 80s, goes something like this:

  1. D&D is based on real occult rituals and teaches you how to cast spells.
  2. D&D is a “gateway drug” to Satanism, perverting good folk into evil people.
  3. D&D is against Jesus and his teachings.
  4. D&D encourages people to act evil.

First, let me state this: I am a practicing Catholic and have been gaming since the early 80s. I know both sides of the story, so I feel qualified to comment. And my comment? What a load of bullshit.

No rpg teaches about spells because magic doesn’t exist! I’m not trying to offend any Wiccans out there, but c’mon! Magic in the style of D&D or Harry Potter is fake, has been fake, will always be fake. As for real occult practices in the game, I have never seen any, not even in a LARP. No one mutters arcane phrases beyond made-up gobbledygook that sounds weird, and even that would weird out most gamers. Having candy and Moutain Dew nearby is the closest thing to a ritual used by gamers, and while not doctor recommended, it’s not evil.

I cannot vouch for all gamers, but I have met plenty in my life. Some have been atheist, but most have been agnostic just like most Americans these days. They may not live exactly according to the Bible, but they are not carving pentagrams on floors and skulking about drinking blood and sacrificing puppies either. We are all sinners, so I won’t claim that gamers are 100% good. That said, gamers are the most loving and nonjudgemental group I have ever met. We don’t care about your race, ethnicity, or religion–we only care about having a good time, and if you can play nice, you’re welcome at the table. You cannot say the same about fundamental Christians.

The common themes of Jesus in the Gospels is love, forgiveness, and following God’s law. Try working the Love and Forgiveness angles for a while. (And don’t disguise hate as “tough love” or “love for the soul”. Hate is hate is hate.)

More to come ….