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Title: Vampire -- Not Just A Game

Source: www.the700club.org, 2/12/96, and broadcast on The 700 Club's television show on the same date.

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Vampire -- Not Just A Game

February 12, 1996

MEEUWSEN: It sounds farfetched, like something out of a horror movie. A self-proclaimed vampire seducing young girls into deviant sexual acts. But it's not a joke nor the product of someone's runaway imagination. In fact, a few weeks ago the arrest of just such a vampire shocked the Virginia Beach community. CBN News reporter Tod Freeman has the story. And we do want to strongly warn the parents in our audience that this report is by its very nature not suitable for children.

TOD FREEMAN reporting:

January 17 this year, John Christopher Bush is arrested in Virginia Beach, Virginia for sexually assaulting teen-age girls. Using a fantasy game as a lure, the 26-year old Bush tells police that he's a vampire. Don Rimer is the detective on the case.

Detective DON RIMER (Virginia Beach Police Department): Mr. Bush, without hesitation, explained to us that he created a vampire family here. That he was given permission to create his own family and that there was nothing wrong with what he did. That he doesn't understand what our concern is to begin with.

FREEMAN: One of the tools Bush used was fantasy game called Vampire: The Eternal Struggle. While games like these may stress a hands-off approach in the rules, many teenagers sadly found out too late Bush didn't play by the rules. If teenagers wanted to be part of Bush's family, they had to play by his rules. According to police, female members, most between 13 and 16, had to submit to deviant sexual contact with Bush, including breast biting, oral sex and intercourse. Members of Bush's clan would cruise area malls looking for new recruits. Before his arrest last month, Bush's vampire family had as many as 40 members. Police say they were also recruited from area schools.

The link between role-playing and fantasy games, such as The Eternal Struggle, with crime is well-established. In March, 1991, 17-year old Shawn Novak murdered a nine and seven year old in cold blood. Novak was said to be fascinated with Dungeons and Dragons. And his attorneys said their client was possessed when he slit the boys' throats. Detectives say The Eternal Struggle has the potential of being even more dangerous than Dungeons and Dragons.

Det. RIMER: I do think it is more dangerous because they talk constantly about killing. Whereas in Dungeons and Dragons while there is the element there, it's not always that. But here it seems to be constantly the quest for power and position.

FREEMAN: Richard Marks is a counselor who studies the occult. He says America's fascination with fangs is growing.

Mr. RICHARD MARKS (Counselor): They're not really the evil people that we used to think of them as. Compassion comes out of the one who views the movies. So we now see them as somehow erotic because of the strong sexual connotation to vampires. We see them as lonely sometimes. So we're now evoking human compassion out of humans towards someone who is dead.

FREEMAN: Consider the last few years. Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire was a blockbuster, all the while embracing the erotic side of vampires.

Bram Stoker's Dracula also immersed America in the gothic. And the new film From Dusk Till Dawn which was number one at the box office during its opening week, two gun-crazed criminals stumble unknowingly into a vampire bar where they end up spending a bloody night blasting, bludgeoning and stabbing their way through dozens of the undead.

In bookstores, Anne Rice's best-selling vampire novels have captivated millions of readers. Vampires have even made it into the Internet. Everything from Vampire Chat Rooms to frequently asked questions can be just a few mouse clicks away. Manufacturers of many of these games stress clearly that players take a hands-off approach to game playing. In this vampire game, The Masquerade, the instructions warn clearly that, "You must not use anything that can harm you or another cast member." At the same time the instructions go on to say, "Make-up and fangs are strongly encouraged and other players appreciate the effort involved in creating a very vampiric appearance."

Rob Anderson is one gamemaker that knows the power of fantasy in role-playing games. He created the Christian card game Redemption to have a positive influence on players.

Mr. ROB ANDERSON (Creator, Redemption): If someone wants to become a Christian or dedicate their life to Jesus Christ, as partially in part to playing my game, I think that's a wonderful event. If people are doing that for a Christian game, I wonder if they're doing it the other way for darker games.

FREEMAN: What is the common thread, if any, that tie all of the teenagers together who played Bush's game? Detective Rimer thinks he knows.

Det. RIMER: One of the common things we did see, however, is that there was a high percentage of children from fragmented homes, single-parent homes and there was also a high percentage of the children who did not truly belong to anything or any other what we call positive influence in their life.

FREEMAN: For many of the players of fantasy games, like The Eternal Struggle, the adventure ends when the game is over. But as Detective Rimer knows, that's not always the case.

Det. RIMER: We have to look at the fact that we've identified somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 children just in this one incident and that causes us to take a real strong look at this kind of activity all across the nation. What we constantly caution the children about is, you're getting into a game here that you may not safely get out of.

FREEMAN: Tod Freeman, CBN News.

ROBERTSON: It's an incredible aberration in our society but Dungeons and Dragons, which sent some people over the edge, some kids committed suicide,  was a very dangerous thing. We warned about it a long time ago and were criticized roundly and then all of a sudden it began to come out, the danger.

MEEUWSEN: You see it multiplying so incredibly. We got a family computer for Christmas and so we spent some time before the holiday in electronic stores looking at games that were available. I was so amazed at the number of "dark games." There were occult-type things. It really is incredible.

Copyright  1996 by The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc. of this page and all contents.  All Rights Reserved.

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