'No evidence links D&D to societal violence'
On 29 October, an article by Wes Keller dealing with a local homicide from the 1980s suggested a link to the Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) role-playing game. I want to acknowledge the heinous nature of that crime and communicate my heartfelt sympathy. However, I am compelled to take specific issue with Mr. Keller's characterization of D&D gamers.
During the 1980s many D&D gamers became the subject of suspicion due to a media-created and mediafueled moral panic surrounding the game. In the complete absence of empirical evidence, television and newspapers along with more fundamental sectors of the Christian Right, promoted a culture of fear and ignorance over D&D. Simply for sitting at a table rolling dice with their friends, the media inexplicably labeled gamers as social deviants and Satanists. Although Mr. Keller carefully steers clear of such explicit labels, his article draws implicitly on stereotypes taken from dated and unsubstantiated sources from the 1980s. I'm curious, does Mr. Keller have any new research or insight on this matter, or is he satisfied recycling tired, old, longdebunked arguments?
Mr. Keller shamefully crosses a line when he analogizes D&D gamers to the military. D&D gamers are not trained to kill and do not advocate war or violence of any kind. Suggesting that a game disposes an individual or group to a particular set of behaviors is outright wrong and totally offensive. That is the type of blinkered, kneejerk, ignorant, journalistic rubbish that started the moral panic over D&D in the first place. If anything, the game highlights the importance of social interaction, co-operative play, and provides an opportunity for personal expression much like art, literature, or music.
Millions of people — university professors, medical doctors, lawyers, technologists, and artists in countries like Canada, America, Britain, Spain, Germany, and Australia — play D&D every day without incident, without violence. If D&D promoted random acts of violence, as the article implies, an exhaustive public record should exist given the almost 40-year history of the game — no record exists because there is no correlation between the game and societal violence.
Again, I want to restate my sympathy for the atrocious act committed 25 years ago. My comments here are directed specifically at Mr. Keller's representation of D&D gamers. With regard to the issue of D&D promoting violence he concludes his article by stating, "The debate continues." The point that Mr. Keller fails to understand is that given the complete absence of empirical evidence the debate on this issue ended two decades ago.
Greg Gillespie PhD
St. Catharines, ON
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I cannot believe in this day and age we still get articles blaming violent crimes on an association with role-playing games. While what happened 25 years ago was a tragedy, this is not in dispute. But what is troubling is this constant association.
Let's begin with the experts, and no this does not include Dr. Thomas E. Radecki. His credibility was suspect from the moment he entered this fray. My own home state of Illinois even revoked his license. I dispute his claims on every case.
The experts, the real experts, all agree. Role-playing games are a creative outlet for intelligent minds. They actually help children become more social, learn math skills (I have used them in classrooms to demonstrate practical applications of probability) and increase reading comprehension. Even journals of the Christian Right have shown that there is zero links between D&D and crime or violence.
Your article would have been interesting if this were still 1984. But in 2009 we have had a Vice President that plays D&D (Al Gore), a Hollywood mega star (Vin Diesel), Matt Groening, Stephen Colbert, Wil Wheaton, and that is what I can recall from memory.
Again, I do feel deeply sorry for the family. To link the murder of children to a game is mind blowing. To continue to make the same error 25 years later and not put it into the proper context is just as bad and shows we really don't learn anything.
Timothy S. Brannan,
Ph.D., MS,Ed. Educator, Father and Avid
Role-Player of 30+ years.
http://www.newhorizons.o rg/strategies/literacy/kestrel. htm
http://www.usask.ca/relst/j rpc/art9-roleplaying- print.html
http://www.theescapist.co m/basic_gaming_faq.htm#re putation