(Witch Trials in 16th Century Europe)
Recently, the BBC had a good article on the moral panic in the 1980’s caused by the classic game Dungeons and Dragons. The fear was that children who played Dungeons and Dragons were getting into drugs, Satan worship and other such things. No one could prove it, since it was based on anecdotes only, but the media exaggerated the issue and made people panic even more.
I was a teenager at that time, and I first played D&D (D&D Advanced, version 2 to be specific) with some friends in my neighborhood and at school. We modeled our campaigns after stories from the Final Fantasy series, especially Final Fantasy 4 which was the most popular at the time. It was a lot of fun. I still keep in touch with some friends I had back then.
But at the same time, I got into a lot of trouble at home. My mom was caught up in the moral panic at the time, and forbade me to play D&D. I said “ok”, but secretly I kept doing it anyway. I saved up money from work to buy D&D books, dice, and such. Back then, I often hung out at a certain comic store in downtown Bellevue (my hometown) where I would buy D&D stuff, or copies of the Japanese comic Akira. For me, D&D and Akira were nerd hobbies, not satan worship. My grades were good in school, I didn’t do drugs, I went to college, got married and have 2 nice little kids. This is hardly the kind of image that the 1980’s moral-panic conveyed. 😉
But “moral panics” happen in all societies from time to time.
It’s interesting that when people encounter something they don’t understand, they react in 2 possible ways:
- They become more curious and want to learn more about it.
- They become paranoid and reject it, sometimes violently.
I don’t know why some people react one way or the other. It’s a mystery I guess.
Anyhow, as someone who was curious about D&D, I wanted to learn more about it. I haven’t played in years, but it was a fun social activity for a teenager. Back then, the Internet didn’t really exist, so it was a good way for young, nerdy guys (and girls) to meet and do something social. D&D is still around, I even played in Ireland a few times with friends (version 4, not 2), but I don’t think it’s as popular as it used to be because online gaming. But it is a classic, not Satan worship.
People who are close-minded, paranoid, or just ignorant will never understand or appreciate such things.