By JACOB CHRISTIAN- Back in the 80’s, television news was at its opus. The newspaper industry was dying and the internet was yet to be accessible to the general consumer. During this time, a tabletop roleplaying game by the name of Dungeons and Dragons was gaining popularity among middle class American households.
Some hard-line religious organizations, however, were strongly opposed to the game because it’s open-endedness, giving the players the ability to “cast magic” within the confines of the game. The organizations misconstrued this as actual practice of magic in real life, and condemned the practice of playing the game, calling it witchcraft.
The television news program, 60 Minutes, picked up the issue, and took the side of the religious groups. They asserted that a student killed himself because of the game, asserting that the game makes kids more prone to violence and suicide.
In today’s world of widespread information, it is now known that the student from the 60 Minutes episode actually dealt with clinical depression and had issues of drug abuse, and that people who played DND in the 80’s never grew up to become serial killers or immoral Satan-worshipers.
Brooke Beckwith, a student here at IHS, is a Game Master of 5 separate campaigns (groups playing the game). She personally believes that, “Back then (the 80’s) people thought games would turn our brains to mush. Nowadays, the nerdy taboo has eased up.”
She spoke about how gaming is more accepted in society today than it was in the 80’s and 90’s and nowadays it’s a common way that people relieve stress and pass the time.
Gaming is extremely widespread. Strong evidence for that can be found in a 2015 survey by the Entertainment Software Association concluded nearly 42% of Americans play video games.
Though gaming is very popular in the US, it’s important to note that only a portion of people who play video games participate in tabletop board games like Dungeons and Dragons. It has recently inflated in popularity.
Senior Benjamin Van Wieren says, “Recently I found an interest in the podcasts as a way pass time when I work. It reminds me of when I was a kid and my dad would read me stories like Lord of the Rings. The podcasts have brought DND more mainstream, and they have tens of thousands of views per stream. My favorite is Critical Role because it has a celebrity voice actor cast, and they really know how to play the game.”
Senior John Harper, someone who has been playing for years, says, “The player base is growing because of its appearance in Netflix’s Stranger Things.”
He said that he likes that new people are taking an interest in the game. When asked about whether the taboo of playing the game is gone, Harper said, “Mostly, I feel that only some older folks still believe that with some graph paper and dice, kids can summon Satan in their basement.”
DND is growing. The antiquated and misguided ideas about the game are falling to the wayside, and more people are becoming interested. It has managed to permeate our popular culture and is a beloved pastime of millions across the world.
[Photo by Jacob Christian]
Photo Caption: “John Harper (far right) paints a vivid world for his friends to explore, using only a dry erase marker and a board.”
Jacob is a senior and a first year reporter for the High Arrow. He joined journalism to use as a creative outlet and as a way to challenge himself and improve his writing.