Role Playing Games Are Evil?

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
- C.S. Lewis

Okay, let's face speak frankly here. I've spent enought time with roleplaying games to realize that there is a segment of the population which chooses to believe that these games are 'evil'.

Some do this out of simple ignorance, having been informed to that effect by 'a friend of a friend' (very reliable of course) and some do this because of their religious beliefs. From personal experience in dealing with this issue, the former group can usually be convinced by reasoned discussion and demonstration. The latter, I consider a lost cause as neither logic or common sense can sway their impression of rolegaming once the idea has taken root.

Human nature being what is is, people typically choose to believe the worst about anything they are unfamiliar with (remember the early days of Rock-and-Roll?). Since controversy and shock sells tabloids and magazines, the rolegaming community has often had to weather unfair attacks from the media. At one time or another roleplaying has been smeared with emotional allegations and often poorly-researched 'studies' of devil-worship, suicides, and juvenile crime. So far, nobody has blamed roleplaying games for the increase in global warming or whale extinction but don't be surprised.

If you as a teacher, parent, or gamer are concerned about the truth to this issue, then do what I advise people in the same situation to do:

  1. Talk to the people in the industry about what is it they produce. Almost all game companies have channels (including email) to receive feedback from the public.

  2. Talk to seasoned gamers and ask about what they get out of gaming. I am confident that the vast majority of roleplayers view gaming as a fun social activity - the chance to laugh, joke, and talk to others with similar interests.

  3. Watch a game session run by real players. Most opponents of rolegaming are shocked to find that nothing seems to be happening except harmless dice-rolling and friendly ribbing.

  4. Attend one of the many gaming conventions and do all of the above.

Then, think it out and make up your own opinion. The links below will bring you to the views of two other intelligent, articulate people who love these games and belief in the positive effect they have on young people. One is a seasoned gamer and the other a veteran of the gaming industry.

Geoff's Rant about Games and the Media

The Pulling Report by Mike Stackpole (135Kb)


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