Dungeons & Dragons in E.T. (movie)

Bullgrit

Adventurer
This week, multiple times in at least three different threads, someone has mentioned that D&D was shown in the movie E.T. This mention has been given as an example that D&D was in the mainstream during the 80s.

I think that thought is rather stretching the situation. For those who haven't seen E.T. in a long time, or have never seen it, here is the "D&D in E.T." bit:

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XH7pABfm1HQ]YouTube - Dungeons & Dragons in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial[/ame]

Bullgrit
 

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TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
The game was tunnels and trolls. I think they couldn't get the rights to D&D.

But, how is that a stretch? Thats a huge amount of film time.

Is the portrayal of the kids playing realistic, basically.

Is the treatment of technical details of the game realistic...if you expect it to be more so, you may not see a lot of big hollywood movies.
 

DaveyJones

First Post
it was tunnels and trolls in the movie.

although, if you get the 20th anniversary dvd you will learn that the child actors actually did play D&D.

they mentioned D&D in the movie Taps starring timothy hutton, tom cruise, sean penn, george c scott, etc...in 1981
 

Askaval30

Explorer
How would you classify the OD&D Gary Gygax tribute in the recent Futurama movie (Bender's something or other, can't remember title). that was relatively mainstream and quite recent at that...
 

Hmmm. Cant view the video here at work. I remember the Erol Otis Basic set cover from a theatrical viewing.

Is it possible that the D&D was replaced by T&T on the video version due to legal issues?

Does anyone have an early videotape copy to check?

OK. finally saw the clip. That was not how I remembered it. The part where the kid says "game master" looks dubbed.
Looks like a CGI re-write.
 
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This week, multiple times in at least three different threads, someone has mentioned that D&D was shown in the movie E.T. This mention has been given as an example that D&D was in the mainstream during the 80s.

I think that thought is rather stretching the situation. For those who haven't seen E.T. in a long time, or have never seen it, here is the "D&D in E.T." bit:

I don't see the stretching. Maybe people are remembering it as being more common place than it was, but there was also a D&D cartoon, TV commercials for D&D, and a number of D&D like products available at toy stores.
 


jaerdaph

#UkraineStrong
Hmmm. Cant view the video here at work. I remember the Erol Otis Basic set cover from a theatrical viewing.

Is it possible that the D&D was replaced by T&T on the video version due to legal issues?

Does anyone have an early videotape copy to check?

I could have sworn it was D&D originally in theaters too. I seem to recall him saying 'Dungeon Master' (not 'Game Master') in the movie as well, but I could be remembering wrong after all these years. It wouldn't surprise me if it was pulled for the video, considering how TSR was back in those days.

They couldn't get the rights to use M&Ms in the movie either, and so Reese's Pieces candy was born. B-)
 

Bullgrit

Adventurer
But, how is that a stretch?
First, there’s no mention or showing of D&D. Second, only D&D players would recognize the table talk as vaguely D&D-like; to 99% of the U.S. population, it was gibberish. (And as has been said above, it wasn’t even actually D&D, anyway.)

Reeses Pieces, Speak and Spell, and Coors beer had better representation in the movie.

I just think speaking of that scene in E.T. as an example of D&D in the mainstream in the 80s is stretching the evidence further than it can be reasonably stretched. I think it is more wishful memory (and accepting of a myth) than actual truth.

(By the way, notice all the smoke in the scene. It looks like middle-age men playing poker.)

Bullgrit
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
On a related note, don't forget the movie Cloak & Dagger in which one of the lead roles (played by Dabney Coleman) was the RPG character of the film's primary protagonist (played by Henry Thomas). I think the early scenes in the movie that show the tabletop version of the Cloak & Dagger game being played were a pretty obvious nod to Top Secret.
 

Bullgrit

Adventurer
Maybe people are remembering it as being more common place than it was, but there was also a D&D cartoon, TV commercials for D&D, and a number of D&D like products available at toy stores.
In case I'm being misunderstood, I'm not saying that D&D was not in the mainstream in the 80s. I'm only saying that the "D&D was in E.T." claim shouldn't be used as evidence for it.

Bullgrit
 

jaerdaph

#UkraineStrong
I can easily see myself just assuming it was D&D back then, because I hadn't seen or heard of T&T when that movie came out. The only RPGs I'd heard of in my little world were D&D, Traveller and this new one called Call of Cthulhu, but I only played AD&D at the time. B-)
 

In case I'm being misunderstood, I'm not saying that D&D was not in the mainstream in the 80s. I'm only saying that the "D&D was in E.T." claim shouldn't be used as evidence for it.

Bullgrit

Didn't mean to misinterpet your position. Sorry about that.

I still think it is a valid piece of evidence, provided you are placing it within the context of D&D (or gaming in general) being more widely known and accepted at the time. I think most people understood what they were doing, or at least most people who were the target audience for the film. I know I did, and I didn't even game becuase I was 8 years old when it came out. But like most of the kids my age I knew, D&D was something we say around us, and I understood what it involved. No one is arguing that D&D was central to E.T. just that there was a passing reference to it. Which is significant I think.
 


Ourph

First Post
First, there’s no mention or showing of D&D. Second, only D&D players would recognize the table talk as vaguely D&D-like; to 99% of the U.S. population, it was gibberish. (And as has been said above, it wasn’t even actually D&D, anyway.)
You're technically correct. However, the producers originally wanted D&D books in the movie. They wanted to use the term Dungeon Master, they wanted to show the AD&D rulebook covers. The only reason that didn't happen is that TSR turned them down when they asked permission.

So while it may not have made it into the final cut of the movie, D&D was definitely in the script and enough in the collective consciousness of the Hollywood community that the people making the movie actively wanted it to appear onscreen. So I don't think it's inappropriate to point to E.T. as evidence that D&D was pretty mainstream at the time, even if it didn't get any actual screentime.
 

jaerdaph

#UkraineStrong
So, people should be argueing that T&T was more mainstream in the 1980's? :D

The irony is that I learned more about T&T that I ever knew before in the last couple of weeks from this thread on RPGNet about how Jason Shipman of Outlaw Games was caught using artwork in his T&T products that he didn't have the rights to use. B-)
 


kolikeos

First Post
When I first watched E.T. I was sure they were gambling in that scene, only now that you pointed it out did I get the game refernces.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
In case I'm being misunderstood, I'm not saying that D&D was not in the mainstream in the 80s. I'm only saying that the "D&D was in E.T." claim shouldn't be used as evidence for it.

A bunch of kids sitting around a table with dice and papers and books, talking about resurrection and magic spells and ordering pizza, and Mom has no real problem with it.

Are you going to argue that this isn't RPGs in general in the mainstream? Will you then argue that D&D was not the face of RPGs in the time the movie was made?

The fact that they aren't using actual spell names for the PHB, and don't show the actual DMG artwork, doesn't really matter. Anyone who was playing the games recognized the reference anyway. Those who didn't know the games wouldn't know the details were wrong, and would either be confused, or would assume it was the one big game in the market. And Spielberg may have his flaws, but intentionally putting things in his movies that he knows will confuse his audience isn't really one of them. That's more George Lucas :p

Hollywood never gets technical details right. If you were to go by the details, you'd have to argue that the TV show Knight Rider is not evidence that the Pontiac Trans Am was a mainstream car, because KITT didn't behave or perform like a real Trans Am.

if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is at least a metaphor for a duck.
 

JohnRTroy

Adventurer
Gary was the one who refused. I remember this because Monte Cook once posted a journal entry wondering how dumb it was for TSR to refuse publicity. I posted his answer long ago on Monte's forum.

The Scoop on why ET didn't have D&D - Line of Sight and Monte's Blog - Montecook.com - Okay -- Your Turn - Message Board - Yuku

I saw Monte's comments about D&D in the ET movie. I asked Gary Gygax on his list about this, and he had responded with the following:

It was in my hands, and I was sent partial information, that part of the script where the kids were playing the game--only that part of the script. There was money on the table, and thus the scene might suggest gambling was involved in D&D play. When I queried the studio for more information about the film they refused to give any. Thus, as did the people at M&Ms, I declined to have the game named in the movie. Of course it was not the proper call as things turned out, but it was the only one to make considering the information given to me. D&D had suffered too many attacks in the past, and having gambling associated with its play would have been
like adding gasoline on those fires.
 

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