Days of High Adventure: Satanic Panic

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Days of High Adventure: Satanic Panic

Allen Varney gives an in-depth look at the ridiculous moral panic surrounding the "Satanic" Dungeons & Dragons in the 1980s.

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You know, reading all this...

I do see a insainty driven demonic cult...

And it's not the DND players... Man, some people are just wack jobs when they get a fake cause. And you had to love the 80's no internet, and rumors of Mazes and Monsters become instant truth like poprocks and coke blowing up yer tummy.

Well off to play DDO. Glad they keep the freaks off this game...

Nice timeline.
I can't believe you remembered Mazes and monsters.

We're always going to have religious nuts but young video gamers should see some hope that eventually people will stop listening to the dopes who spout crap like GTA teaches kids how to kill.

Thanks for the well-written article!
Hopefully this will defuse some of the hysteria ;)

For one who never experienced the SRA-scare in the 80's,(born in 92, and in Norway,) this was an interesting, and chilling, read. The chilling part is that this is even more proof that the media, who we trust as "watchdogs of the government" and all that, are simply populistic headline-seekers with the ability of self-criticism, and source analysis, of the average oyster.

Let's make this clear guys. No entertainment product, no matter how shocking or subversive has ever created people as scary as fundamentalism has. All forms of theocratic suppression of free thinking must be fought head on and stopped. We live in an educated, connected and science-driven society, so why is it that nut-job fundamentalists can continue to drag us all into the mud?

And they do drag us into the mud. ALL of us. They drag christians down to the level of the simpering idiot, they drag those who enjoy these entertainment products into a surreal and ridiculous world where our every action must be constantly defended and justified and they bring the media down to the point where they treat every living person like a complete moron.

Claiming, entirely without fact, that DnD creates satanic worshippers is like vying for racial segregation or abdicating suicide bombing, it plays on the worst instincts of the dumbest people and can have results that scar our society forever.

" Even one or two solitary cranks can be dangerous. A "national organization" may well be one busybody with a letterhead."

Glad to see most of those quacks have faded into obscurity. The quicker some one goes to fight something, the less they know about it.

Wasn't the comic book industry almost single handedly dismantelled in the 50's by some raving Michael Atkinson like individual? I read about it in a cracked.com article, back then with the advancement of print media comic book companies started using the medium's unlimited creative freedom to print all sorts of stuff, sort of like how the Japanese manga evolved, most notable being the horror genre which showed plenty of violence and nudity. Then some psychatris kicked up a stink about it and brought it to media and political attention, and comic books were hammered down to the kid friendly fair seen for the next couple of decades.

RandV80:
Wasn't the comic book industry almost single handedly dismantelled in the 50's by some raving Michael Atkinson like individual?

You're thinking of Dr. Frederic Wertham's 1954 anti-comics tract Seduction of the Innocent.

The only real problem with the Satanic D&D messengers? They've started on computer games now.

One thing you didn't mention, Allen, was the follow up to Attacking The Darkness, where the DM/Players were revealed to be anti-social geeks with severe "issues".

Having loved the original, I thought the followup was incredibly harmful and actually really quite creepy.

Mazes and Monsters (Starring Tom Hanks) nearly put my mother off getting me D&D. Luckily my Uncle knew what was best for me ;)

When I read about people blaming a product for causing the death or murder of someone I think to myself:

"What about everyone that use the product and don't kill themselves?"

Seriously. If one guy loose his job due to playing WoW, its the games fault, not his own.

I bet we could make quite a list of products that has been deemed "evil" at one point or another, and guess what none of them panned out.

So my question is? When will we stop blaming the product, and start accepting the truth that people have problems they can't always handle? Because that is sadly the tragic truth.

PS: in the 50s or 60s Comics was considered a source that caused Delinquency. Mostly because kids in juvie read comics... when what else are you going to do when you are in kids jail?
I read comics, and I turned out okey.

Siiiiigh... Some people should not have mouths. All they use them for is spewing shit.

It seems that every time something fun comes out that a lot of youths like to do, people have to ruin it.
Hypothetical scenario: Some fool has to commit suicide, spurring his grief-stricken, uninformed mother to find something, anything to blame for his death. Well, he plays RPGs. THAT MUST BE THE REASON! So RPGs must be evil satanic ritualistic things that turn our children to devil worship and drugs, and prostitution, and homosexuality! GASP. It must be stopped!

Meanwhile, the real reason for poor sonny's death was because he was gay, but afraid of coming out of the closet to his mom because she was crazy and controlling, and finally couldn't take anymore.

It'd be nice if scenario's like this didn't happen... but as long as there is ignorant stupidity in the world, I guess fanaticism will never go away. Unfortunately.

Crunchy English:
Claiming, entirely without fact, that DnD creates satanic worshippers is like vying for racial segregation or abdicating suicide bombing, it plays on the worst instincts of the dumbest people and can have results that scar our society forever.

Abdicating? As in, "giving up"? I would think that abdicating suicide bombing would be a good thing... ;-P

Whoops. Ok, stupid mistake. But could we overlook it for the sake of my argument? After all, it seems weird to lose all that indignant rage over a spelling mistake.

Darkleaf no!

This was an interesting read. On one hand, it is shocking how the paranoia got out of hand. On the other, however, it is not really that suprising. People have shown fear towards new things throughout history. Radio, television, comics, tabletop RPG's, Internet, video games....you name it, chances are that at least some people though of them in the same negative manner some people thought of D&D.

It is in human nature to fear what we do not understand or is unfamiliar to us and history has a tendecy to repeat itself. So in spite of this experience, I expect specific games will continue to fall under scrunity. In those cases, let us just hope things will work out how they did with D&D....for the best.

Also, it's kind of ironic that this article comes out shortly after the news that Wizards of the Coast are making a kid-friendly tabletop RPG.....or was that intentional?

Fascinating and disturbing article. I have some more ammo for the fundies i run into time to time trying to dismiss DnD as "evil."

Nice article. I recently wrote the true story of Dark Dungeons, Whatever Happened to Elfstar?

I remember starting an AD&D group when I was about 14 years old. I'd been introduced to it at summer camp and it really caught my imagination. So, I went and bought all the requisite books and formed the group. This would have been about 1993 or so, and my biggest challenge was dealing with the parents of the guys playing with me. My solution was easy, I just invited the parents to listen in on what we were doing. It instantly dispelled any misgivings they had. We eventually grew out of it, and moved onto booze and girls, but I still get smiles thinking about about some of the goofy fun we had in the basement around that coffee table.

wtrmute:

Crunchy English:
Claiming, entirely without fact, that DnD creates satanic worshippers is like vying for racial segregation or abdicating suicide bombing, it plays on the worst instincts of the dumbest people and can have results that scar our society forever.

Abdicating? As in, "giving up"? I would think that abdicating suicide bombing would be a good thing... ;-P

I think he ment advocating

Crazy. Just insane. Everyone knows the satanic cultists play GURPS.

Great article. I'd heard about half of it before, nice to see it in a coherent whole with a bunch of stuff I didn't know.

Pat Pulling (in 1982):

a fantasy roleplaying game which uses demonology, witchcraft, voodoo, murder, rape, blasphemy, suicide, assassination, insanity, sex perversion, homosexuality, prostitution, satanic-type rituals, gambling, barbarism, cannibalism, sadism, desecration, demon summoning, necromantics, divination and other teachings.

And twenty years later, someone saw this and made FATAL....

Carlston:
You know, reading all this...

I do see a insainty driven demonic cult...

And it's not the DND players... Man, some people are just wack jobs when they get a fake cause. And you had to love the 80's no internet, and rumors of Mazes and Monsters become instant truth like poprocks and coke blowing up yer tummy.

Well off to play DDO. Glad they keep the freaks off this game...

Yeah, and notice how the anti-videogame campaigners are basically using the EXACT same arguments that the anti-DND brigades used?

Probably the same dumb-asses too.

Formica Archonis:

And twenty years later, someone saw this and made FATAL....

I was thinking that as well when I first read that line. I agree with everyone else who pointed out that a lot of people have a tendancy to blame things other then the people who are responsible for these things happening (eg: I know Columbine was linked to Doom at one point due to the press somehow ignoring the fact that playing a game like that is completely different to killing people in real life).

My fiance lived through the time of the craze, and both of his parents truly did believe that the movie Monsters and Mazes was real. Whenever he went out to play rpgs with his friends, he always told them he was going out to a hobby shop (think like, model airplanes. Cept the store was really, the local gaming shop), so they wouldn't get worried. Only near the end of his father life, did his father ask him what it was actually like, and he sat down and explained what dnd was actually like.

My life was completly different. Both of my parents plaed dnd in college, and were geeks. Growing up, I was actually taken as a treat to the local gaming store, and grew up being told dnd is awesome, and people that play it are nice.

Twenty years difference in growing up does make a difference, I gotta say...

Pfft, EVERYONE knows people who play RPGs are Satanists. Duh!

Oh and I Hit It With My Axe sucks not because it has porn stars in it (get it? "suck", "porn star"?), but because it's boring as shit.

I never understand why every second crime-related news article doesn't say "Sports fan murders five, escapes" or "DIY man turns skills learnt in shed to slaughter". Surely more criminals are fans of say football( Soccer on the otherside)...of NFL or whatever...

Fantastic article I did something similar myself for a presentation and hilarity ensued :D

It occurs to me theres a total lack of accusing video games of satanism :( We as gamers have been et down by these vidya games designers wheres our satanic conotations. I wanna be persecuted with neato cartoons.

Generic_Dave:
I never understand why every second crime-related news article doesn't say "Sports fan murders five, escapes" or "DIY man turns skills learnt in shed to slaughter". Surely more criminals are fans of say football( Soccer on the otherside)...of NFL or whatever...

/High five

That LRR video was hysterical BTW ;D 4.5 D&D for Me ;D

These fundamentalist crusader types are going about it totally the wrong way. Linking D&D to Satanism, black magic etc only makes kids more keen to buck authority and try them. The exact same thing has happened with prohibition of drugs, alcohol and sex.

I have never played D&D, even though (being quite a big RPG fan) I probably would have enjoyed it. You know why? Because D&D is for nerds. As a kid that was pretty much all I knew of it, learned from American high school shows; people who play D&D are total losers. As a result, nobody I knew ever played, and I was never exposed to it. All I had was a vague idea that it was the province of sad, spotty teenagers.

It seems to me that if these reactionary fearmongers would wise up a little and promote that image, they could do a lot more damage. After all, when the local brigade of boring, conservative-minded middle-aged people start condemning something it insantly gains a sort of dark glamour that teens find attractive. If those same people put the word around the D&D was only for sexless geeks hiding in a basement, you can bet it would have a different effect...

EDIT: Before anyone flames me, I'm not saying all D&D players are losers. Just that this is the impression I had of it as a child.

Pat Pulling (in 1982):

a fantasy roleplaying game which uses demonology, witchcraft, voodoo, murder, rape, blasphemy, suicide, assassination, insanity, sex perversion, homosexuality, prostitution, satanic-type rituals, gambling, barbarism, cannibalism, sadism, desecration, demon summoning, necromantics, divination and other teachings.

Does anyone aside from me think that would make a pretty damn interesting game? I'd play it.

Anyway, the real cult is the people following the media.

I am so happy that my parents didn't behave like idiotic lemmings when this happened - DnD was very good for me and the fact that my parents saw through this crap made me respect them a whole lot more. Of course, even the teachers at my Catholic school knew it was a crock and allowed us to form an after-school group so I think the source of this problem (like so many others in the United States) was specifically the conservative fundamentalist cultists.

Don't think this stupidity is done with or limited exclusively to video games, though - my son's friend who lives next door was banned from watching Mystic Force Power Rangers and Harry Potter/LOTR movies. I truly believe that some people never develop the mental acuity to understand the concept of fiction - and I believe that group overlaps quite a bit with those that endorse a literal interpretation of the bible.

Having started AD&D in the tail end of the article's 'bad ol' days' as well as being Utah, those perceptions of satanic, evil cult, black magic, backwards played heavy metal music of people were spot on. Double it with the fact that D&D is a nerd hobby. I felt kinda like I was in a secret society just to play it back then. Because if you were caught you either were picked on by bullies or had a long talk with a parent, religious figure, or psychiatrist. I think it has become slightly more accepted by the nerdifcation of society in general combined with the company that puts out D&D (Wizards of the Coast) is now a multimillion dollar business that has the money (and will) to fight back against such lies. Sure there are those crazies that still think D&D is satanically evil, but they don't command public sway like they used to. This combined with World of Worldcraft, most people know that my hobby is simply nerdy and not evil.

Wait....these D&D games are satanic? OH HELL! MY POOR SOUL!

So does that mean the more D&D books/manuals you have the more evil you are? Because I have almost every one in some form or another. Im going strait to hell.

See y'all there!

:)

Great article, well researched. I remember living through the "scare" in the mid 80s as a D&D player - it's nice to have a comprehensive look back.

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