Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Dungeons & Windbags & Wingnuts:

Instapundit links to an interview by Dungeons & Dragons’ creator Gary Gygax to score some points against Walter Cronkite, whom I, like Glenn, regard as a pompous windbag. I played D&D when I was younger, but gave it up around 13 when I got into comic books (my comic book store hosts D&D and other game tournaments; you’d be surprised at how old some of the players are. Or maybe you wouldn’t). I actually owned this version of the Dungeons Masters Guide. The interview is interesting. They talk about the smear of the D&D in the media. 60 Minutes did a horrific hatchet job on it.

Here is Gygax:

In many ways I still resent the wretched yellow journalism that was clearly evident in (the media's) treatment of the game -- 60 Minutes in particular. I've never watched that show after Ed Bradley's interview with me because they rearranged my answers. When I sent some copies of letters from mothers of those two children who had committed suicide who said the game had nothing to do with it, they refused to do a retraction or even mention it on air. What bothered me is that I was getting death threats, telephone calls, and letters. I was a little nervous. I had a bodyguard for a while.

Of course, D&D—with its Witchcraft & Demons—is a favorite whipping boy of the Christian Right. About a decade ago, I actually debated Bob Larson (as a caller to his show), who, back when he had his talk show, epitomized the "religious nut” (among other things, he liked to perform on-air exorcisms—today he takes his traveling exorcism show from city to city. Whoops…I just checked his website—he’s back on the radio. Check out this list of topics.).

I explained to Larson that I played D&D and I was fine; it didn’t adversely affect me at all (he told me that I really didn’t know if I were fine). And that many of these characters are “good” and actually fight evil demons like Asmodeus and Demagorgon. Larson told me that only “Jesus” had power over demons and thus, the game would only be legitimate if the characters invoked his name to defeat the demons. He asked me if that’s how I played the game to defeat Asmodeus (this demon, Bob had just featured in his new fiction book; but he was also featured in D&D’s first Monster Manual). I said, no, I preferred to use a vorpal blade to chop his head off. He replied that the only thing that got “chopped off” was my soul. Then I’d play the tapes of my phone calls to my friends in the dorm and we’d all have a laugh. Ah, the good old days.

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