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.