Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Politics of Hell

So, I made mention of devil worship in my last post.

For those of you haven't heard (and if you're involved in this game, it'd be a shock to me if you haven't), there has been a long-standing tradition for the religious right to attack roleplaying games as being the works of Satan. My mother was one of the followers that fell for their fear-mongering.

Truly, there have been some disturbed people who have played this game (I've met some of them), and really, and truly, they should NOT be playing... or, from a different perspective, maybe they should, so that they can take out their rather deranged fantasies in a completely unreal setting, rather than expressing them in real life... those type I have NOT met, thankfully. Needless to say, though, if anyone who has played this game has gone wacko and killed anyone, they were truly disturbed long before they laid hands on the rulebooks of Dungeons & Dragons.

However, the fearmongering persisted. It was rather ironic, too. Here I am, playing my ranger or paladin, or even lowly fighter, battling the forces of evil and corruption in the world, trying to take my character to the heights of heroism, and I'm told even though I'm portraying only the most goodly of characters, that I'm following Satan because of it. Baffling.

I wonder if the author of Argonautica was accused of doing Hades work at the time? Was Clash of the Titans denounced as satanic when it came out in theaters? I saw that in the theater, and I recall no picket lines to cross. I know for a fact that Gary Gygax, the man who made D&D what it is, was a very pious man. Every email I received from him had a biblical quote in the signature. I'm sure it stopped bothering him years ago, but at the time, I can imagine it burned his britches to listen to these blowhards slam him and his game like that.

Of course, it was all based on parental fears. They didn't understand what D&D was, and it scared them. Learning that there were demons and devil in these books, many bearing the various names that have been used for the Big Bad Guy throughout history, as well as pictures like this, probably didn't help much.

It would certainly have been nice if my mom actually, you know... ASKED me what it was about. I'd have gladly sat down to explain it to her. But no, she took the information from Pat Robertson and his ilk. She even tried to sit me down one day to listen to one of them about how evil the game is. The guy talking, I don't remember which one it was, tried to quote something out of the rulebook... a book he probably didn't even pick up, I might add... about how the goal of the game is to backstab your party members and steal all their stuff, and so I went and got my rulebook, and opened it up to the part he was talking about (he quoted page and paragraph), and showed my mom.

"Do you see the part he's talking about?" I asked.

My mom looked at the place I pointed to, and frowning, replied "No."

I snapped the book closed, satisfied, but I doubt it made much of an impression on her, regardless of the fact that the man was lying.

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