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D&D 5E New York Times remembers early days of D&D

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
An article in the NYT today remembers the "moral panic" of the early days of D&D, downplaying (obviously) the game's negative associations.

It's nice for the hobby to get mainstream coverage, but it still seems unable (and we gamers seem unable) to get past where things were 30+ years ago.

Why do you think that is? What can we do?
 

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Radaceus

Explorer
I remember this happening, and the 60 minutes coverage. I recall Tipper Gore bashing on it.

One thing I disagree with is the spike in sales being attributed to the Dallas Egbert story. The spike was due to the mass production of 1st edition in 1979/1980, mainly the release of the DMG, and the 'red box' version of basic, which saw prominent shelf space at the local book stores at the end of the decade.

Now as for why we are not able to get past that high water mark of the 80s. Twofold answer. Magic the Gathering 1994, and the combine assault of Ultima Online & Everquest 1998 & 1999 respectively. And actually precursor to that, the shake-up at TSR which saw EGG benched and led to the WOTC take over, which undermined Ral Partha (no offense Wizkids, but your plastic just isn't as good as the molds you obtained), set the table for that perfect storm when CCGs dominated the table tops.

Bottom line~ I like to refer to it as The Point and Click generation, the 90s and the Ots saw an incline in instant gratification through console and computer games. Short attention span theater which ( edition wars aside) led to streamlining D&D to suit power-gaming munchkins.
 

fjw70

Explorer
I barely remember the outrage over D&D. I started playing in 1982 and the only sign I saw of the outrage was when I stumbled upon an episode of the 700 Club after school one day, but I assumed it was limited to those few people. I was unaware of the 60 Minutes coverage or the Chick Tracks (or whatever they were called).
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
An article in the NYT today remembers the "moral panic" of the early days of D&D, downplaying (obviously) the game's negative associations.

It's nice for the hobby to get mainstream coverage, but it still seems unable (and we gamers seem unable) to get past where things were 30+ years ago.

Why do you think that is? What can we do?

It's because it's the only interesting controversy D&D has had. So unless the premise of the article is "Hey, people are still playing D&D and it's as popular as ever!" (which plenty of articles do)... the only thing left is to talk about the one "big deal" of the game at the time, which allows us to point out just how stupid we all were back then. It's the same reason why Weird Al's "Behind The Music" episode made a much bigger deal about the Coolio thing than what really happened... because it was the only "drama" he had in his career and they had to build the episode around something.

And there's nothing we can do about it, except for us coming up with some NEW big, horrendous drama-filled issue about the game such that any article in the future would go to that as their de facto "D&D trouble" subject. So if any group of D&D players wants to go out on a murdering spree... spray painting "D&D 4 LIFE!" on the crime scenes and spreading character sheets over the victims... that'll certainly help stop the "satanic D&D" articles from being written in the future. ;)
 

Sezarious

First Post
One of my gamer friends who I was dming for until life got busy this year is a high school teacher. He was approached by the Principal who asked him about a couple of kids who were reading through d&d books. His question to him was a cautious "Is it safe?" I could not believe that such a question could exist now. My friend said "The most dangerous thing you could get from it is a papercut..." Heheh. He's a good bloke.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
An article in the NYT today remembers the "moral panic" of the early days of D&D, downplaying (obviously) the game's negative associations.

It's nice for the hobby to get mainstream coverage, but it still seems unable (and we gamers seem unable) to get past where things were 30+ years ago.

Why do you think that is? What can we do?

We have to do a better job of keeping our supplication to the Dark Lord under wraps until the Reckoning is at hand.
 

BMaC

Explorer
The year: 1982.
The scene: Shared bedroom with my brother.

Mom and dad enter. "Gather up all your D&D books. You're going flunk out of school if you don't stop spending all your time playing this game. Mrs. Graham said you used all your graph paper to draw castles and maps!"
We reluctantly surrender a PH, DM guide, a monster manual, and a stack of random notebooks and modules. "We get a report back in four weeks and if you've improved then you can have your books back."
They leave. My brother goes to the closet, takes out his PH, his DM guide, his MM and ..."dumbass," he says, "you gave them our only Fiend Folio!"
 

Radaceus

Explorer
One of my gamer friends who I was dming for until life got busy this year is a high school teacher. He was approached by the Principal who asked him about a couple of kids who were reading through d&d books. His question to him was a cautious "Is it safe?" I could not believe that such a question could exist now. My friend said "The most dangerous thing you could get from it is a papercut..." Heheh. He's a good bloke.

Interesting,

I think I mentioned it around here before but...1979, 7th grade,back of the classroom in Reading class. A few of us kids were finished with Reading, that is we had finished the final textbook in 6th grade ( I believe it was titled Accents or Encore...they were the last two books)... They didnt have any other curriculum for us, originally they had creative writing in mind, so some of the kids managed to talk the teacher into letting us play in the back of class, explaining how the game itself was akin to creative writing. After the first day, the teacher said it was too disruptive, the next Monday their was a partitioned area, and we played D&D for 1 hour a day for that semester.

Nobody complained.

the kicker,
by 9th grade, kids who came to junior high having finished Reading, often ended up in the library or the commons, oddly enough they were often playing D&D, or Car wars, or Heroes and Villains. and this transcended into highschool.

Still nobody complained.

Oh I am sure some congregation forbade their attendees and warned against it, but nobody said a word about it to us :)



regarding what I say to people when they worry about their children playing RPG's~

I have travelled around the globe, mastered a few professions, I cant give all the credit to D&D (the city fire department will attest to that five year old often on a walk about), but I liek to think it helped me hone my skills through theater of the mind
 

I think one of the reasons it still comes up is that we've gone from the Satanic Panic to stuff like Harry Potter and D&D being cool. It's such a crazy cultural shift.

Also, that sort of fearmongering leaves a scar. Heck, people out there probably still believe that stuff like McMartin goes on.

Thankfully, my parents never bought into any of it. But the D&D club I started got shut down by the school, alas.
 

When I was a kid, probably 7 or 8, so this would have been early 80s, I had a CCD teacher who talked about going to book burnings where they burned anything that was considered "dangerous" or pertaining to black magic or some nonsense. The teacher told me how they heard the screams of the demons coming out of the D&D books that they burned.

I remember getting in big trouble for disagreeing with the teacher. I said he must be lying about what he heard. I was sent to the office of whatever the equivalent of the principal was for CCD, and they called my parents to pick me up early.

My father was mad at me at first for arguing with a teacher, but once I explained the details, he told me I wasn't in trouble, and that I did the right thing. So glad to have had parents who supported my imagination as a kid, and whose faith wasn't so easily threatened by a game. We had a neighbor whose parents would not let him play D&D with us, which always seemed so odd to me.

I think the reason that this kind of stuff always comes up is because of how ridiculous it all is in retrospect. And I kind of expect it to always come up in general discussions about the hobby and its past, and I think it should. It's easily the most interesting thing about the hobby to a general audience.
 



Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
It's because it's the only interesting controversy D&D has had. So unless the premise of the article is "Hey, people are still playing D&D and it's as popular as ever!" (which plenty of articles do)...
I've seen those articles too -- I'm not sure it's "plenty" and it still feels like it's marginalizing. Which may be fine -- we can claim to be counter-cultural or retro or whatever.

But given the cultural shift that geek/nerd culture has experienced in those 30 years (with where people can participate by watching the top-rated sitcom or attending the top-grossing film) it seems to me to be a genuine failure that we haven't moved on.

I think one of the reasons it still comes up is that we've gone from the Satanic Panic to stuff like Harry Potter and D&D being cool. It's such a crazy cultural shift.
Next, cultural influence. It is odd, to me, that while the nerd-culture represented by D&D has gone mainstream, D&D itself is more of a niche that it was in the early 1980s.

That's what I see in these comments. I too was part of D&D clubs in the 80s (one I started at school, and one I attended on Saturdays above a bowling alley), and I had supportive parents who saw the hype but fundamentally trusted me, and were pleased when my gaming (as they saw it) helped get me into university a year early.

If we're marginalized now it's for different reasons, but I don't want to say tt-rpgs have simply lost out to video games.

The NYT piece shouldn't be the best coverage the games get. It's in the "retro file", and it's a non-news story about something from the last century.

I guess if they're doing a non-news story on the hobby, I want it to be about something current. And I assume that there's something we could do to make that happen.
 


Artifact

Explorer
The 'panic' over D&D never impacted me too much. I learned early on who I could share my hobby with and who I couldn't.

Even today, I only reveal that I'm a DnDer to someone who asks. I only go into detail if the person seems genuinely interested and isn't just looking for a hot-button debate (it happened more often back in they day, not so much now --but I'm still careful).

So 'D&D is evil' has had some impact on me but I manage :).
 

I remember I was on a family holiday and I heard that Mazes and Monsters was due to be on TV so I badgered my parents to let me watch it...and was promptly horrified at what I saw.

Luckily, both mum and dad fell asleep and my brother thought I was a weirdo anyway, but even he could see it was garbage.
 

shieldbearer

First Post
80s I wasn't allowed to play DnD because of my parent's fear. 90s magic the gathering got popular and I'd tell them I was going to my friend's house to play magic, but we'd also play DnD.

The NYT probably went to DnD for a shakedown and said 'pay us x dollars to run a fun story about dnd or we'll run the old story of how it used to be evil'. DnD executives thought 'hey, even bad press is free advertising' 'we're not paying you anything'. Anyway...

The mainstream popularity of fantasy movies and video games should speak for how benign gaming is. Smartphones and the internet are waaay bigger problems for kids.

Show people a few minutes of Critical Role stream and how much fun they're having or the DnD episode of Freaks and Geeks when James Franco becomes friends with the DnD players through Carlos the Dwarf and everything will be fine.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
The 'panic' over D&D never impacted me too much. I learned early on who I could share my hobby with and who I couldn't.

Even today, I only reveal that I'm a DnDer to someone who asks. I only go into detail if the person seems genuinely interested and isn't just looking for a hot-button debate (it happened more often back in they day, not so much now --but I'm still careful).

So 'D&D is evil' has had some impact on me but I manage :).
I've always gone the other way with it; D&D is the first hobby I mention, because it is my favorite, and I bring it up with anyone whenever it isn't a non sequitur. Such as when a fellow student back in school said "What are you doing after school?" or more recently when a co-worker said "Got any plans for your weekend?", and definitely at any time when someone asks "So, what are you in to?"

When I was younger, this openness about D&D meant that when hanging out with friends with particularly minded parents I would wind up in discussion with their parents explaining the stories we were actually telling with the game (and their their child happened to be playing a character devout in their faith, seeking to protect all from the evils of hell, in most of those cases oddly enough) and helping them to realize their fears about D&D were completely unfounded (with only a single case of a person being so unreasonable as to insist that I was trying to seduce their child to devil worship, despite having seen the text clear on the page labeling devils just as they would; Evil).

Throughout my life as a gamer this openness, rather than silence until directly questioned, has been a large part of why my table has always been full at session time, despite living in numerous different cities and states during that time. And if anyone ever thought less of me for being a D&D player, I'm glad not to have know it or to have had them exit my life before truly becoming a part of it so that their idiotic judgement of me did not cause me any hurt feelings.
 

Springheel

First Post
It's nice for the hobby to get mainstream coverage, but it still seems unable (and we gamers seem unable) to get past where things were 30+ years ago.


I'm not sure it makes sense to criticize an article in the "retro files" for talking about things that are...retro.

It's not like D&D isn't in mainstream media anymore...there's a new D&D movie being made right now.
 

Sezarious

First Post
Even today, I only reveal that I'm a DnDer to someone who asks.

I'm the same, but only with people who are 'worthy'. Then I allow them to join my secret club.... Then we have an initiation involving a blood sacrifice and a casual demon summoning, followed by snacks, then some d&d, another blood sacrifice, lunch, then we play some more d&d and send the demon home after feeding it and getting it drunk on a bottle of spirits (see! Blood and SPIRIT sacrifices! Get it? It's a pun!).

D&D will always be around as long as videogames have limits I think. Like how I think books will never be truly replaced by their movie equivalents.
 

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