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Satanic Panic of the late 80's

MGibster

Legend
Oddly enough, my parents' fears weren't targeted at the cartoon (no more than any other cartoon we watched) or even really at the game. Their fear was that Satanists were using the game to meet children, and my my friends and I might somehow accidentally run into some and get kidnapped and ritually sacrificed.

I don't think that's all that odd. Role playing games were rather new and wasn't something your parents were likely to have experienced when they were teenagers. Whereas people had been watching cartoons for the last 50-60 years and most parents weren't concerned it'd turn their kids into raving lunatics. And, yeah, it's hard to believe so many people took the the whole kidnapping and Satanic ritual belief of children seriously.
 

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I started gaming in '79, and the only place I encountered the concept was in the media. I never met anyone in RL who took it seriously.
I started wargaming in 79, RPGing in 81... and I had many friends in Anchorage whose parents bought in on the panic, even into the early 1990s.
More than one friend was psychologically abused by parents who believed all games (even board and card games) were the work of the devil.

I remember Tim Kask saying they almost welcomed the Satanic panic, because it dramatically increased sales.
John Wiznewski, owner of Bosco's Comics and Games, said of the book burning being organized by Jerry Prevo, when D&D 3.5's Book of Vile Darkness came out, "Almost all of them were bough from me, and many of the affected players will buy them again."
Until I read some of your horror stories here, I thought the Panic was a joke. Because everyone and their parents didn't care if we played D&D or x,y,z.
You're lucky.

Now, my daughter's Superintendent of their School District is a former gamer... and several of her teachers as well.

But I've heard a few diatribes have happened. My daughters friends, the only reason parents have been anti-game is that the homework hasn't been getting done.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I remember Tim Kask saying they almost welcomed the Satanic panic, because it dramatically increased sales.
I similarly remember reading Gary Gygax saying that after a local DJ in Minnesota burned a bunch of D&D books that sales increased in that area.
 


John Dallman

Explorer
The satanic panic had zero impact on myself or on anyone I knew, but I was in the UK. I am dimly aware of the panic in the US at the time, for us it was just another example of how deranged we thought Americans were.
Likewise. We had satanic ritual abuse panics, but D&D was just too insignificant to be a target.
 

Ulfgeir

Adventurer
We had some (religious) nutcases going on a crusade against rpg's in general here in Sweden, and Kult in particular in the 90's... But then we also had a diocese publishing, I think 4 different rpg's, and using 3 of them in their confirmation-studies (Quo Vadis? Ansgar, Vägen). where the students would enact various moral situations.
 
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Bohandas

Adventurer
More than one friend was psychologically abused by parents who believed all games (even board and card games) were the work of the devil.

Cards being the work of the devil actually seems to be an consistent trope in some of the more extreme belief systems. I'm not sure that was part of the panic specifically
 

Ulfgeir

Adventurer
Cards being the work of the devil actually seems to be an consistent trope in some of the more extreme belief systems. I'm not sure that was part of the panic specifically
Maybe they saw a connection to Tarot's minor arcana?

or a remnant from the puritan times..
 



prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
I think that's true, though I do recall some family friends who claimed that D&D was the first rung of the ladder leading to Tarot and eventually up (down?) to the Devil himself.
I recall reading a ... pamphlet or booklet (don't remember which) that made similar claims about D&D--and IIRC cast a net wide enough to capture other TRPGs, as well. Fortunately my parents never bought into that, though they might have wished I devoted my energy to other pursuits.
 

True story, the voice of Arby's commercials is none other than Ving Rhames.

Rookie mistake.
Sacrifices should always be done at an Arby’s.
After all...
They have the meats.

I feel like I spent most of my high school years getting called a Satanist for one reason or another. Again, I'm glad my parents didn't care about all that nonsense. I had plenty of friends that weren't so lucky.
 

Bilharzia

Fish Priest
Check out the Satanic Panic psyops the British army was running in Belfast during The Troubles. Also Sabine McNeill's all too recent accusations that a London primary school was ritually murdering children and cooking their bodies in a McDonalds in an attempt to summon demons.

This isn't just an America problem. List of satanic ritual abuse allegations - Wikipedia

Absolutely nothing to do with RPGs, it was an American problem.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Growing up in the 80s, my religious conservative mom had no problems with D&D, but boy did she get upset about music (like Quiet Riot, Iron Maiden, and Scorpions tapes I had got). I recall many news stories about "that kid shot himself in the face after listening to Judas Priest"
 

the Jester

Legend
FYI there's a podcast called "Behind the Bastards" that has a two-episode series on the Satanic Panic, though it's a much broader look at it than just the D&D elements- those are barely touched on (if at all) in the first episode.

(Behind the Bastards generally takes an in depth look at really rotten people.)
 


Bilharzia

Fish Priest
(the satanic panic is an offshoot of the world's recurring obsession with imagined sexual predation by otherworldly and often demonic forces, it's not just about role playing games)
It has nothing to do with the moral panic of the 80s and beyond about RPGs. Did I miss a meeting? Because that's what I thought this place was about.
 

MGibster

Legend
It has nothing to do with the moral panic of the 80s and beyond about RPGs. Did I miss a meeting? Because that's what I thought this place was about.
The controversies surrounding RPGs in the 1980s really can't be separated from the moral panic going on at the same time.
 

Bohandas

Adventurer
It has nothing to do with the moral panic of the 80s and beyond about RPGs. Did I miss a meeting? Because that's what I thought this place was about.
The condemnation of D&D was merely a tiny aspect of it, and certainly not its root

(the satanic panic is an offshoot of the world's recurring obsession with imagined sexual predation by otherworldly and often demonic forces, it's not just about role playing games)

And its obsession with implausibly extensive conspiracies.

The case could be made that any conspiracy as large as some of these people were imagining wouldn't even be a conspiracy anymore, it would just be part of society, in the same way that telling little kids that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real generally isn't considered to be a disinformation conspiracy (although I must admit that Yes Virginia... is one of the best blustering doubletalk non-answer answers ever)
 
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