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Title: Untitled - Personal E-Mail to Andy Rose, With Response

Source: Personal E-mail, 04/01/01

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Mr. Rose, 

My name is Bill Walton, and I maintain a web site called "The Escapist."  It's a site that has, for the last five years, worked to educate people on the reality of fantasy games; not only to debunk the myths and urban legends, but to show the benefits of the hobby.  I'm also a member of the CAR-PGa, which has the same agenda - in fact, my membership with that group inspired me to form the site. 

I'm very aware that you have gotten a sizeable share of mail regarding your recent article on Blad and Carson, and I'm pretty sure that most of it was not very friendly.  Regardless, I'm hoping you'll take a few moments to read mine, and possibly even send a response.  I'll at least settle for the latter. 

In your recent column of comments (based on the letters you've received), you mentioned in your final words that if games turn out to not be the cause in this case, then you'll print it.   You even promised as such.  I'd like to challenge you to keep that promise, if I may be so bold. 

One of the reasons that role-playing gets such a bad reputation in the media is because there is hardly any closure on an alleged "game-related" case.  There were no bold headlines when it was discovered a little later that Heather Wendorf and her clique of Rod Ferrell groupies didn't actually play Vampire, or when Jon Bush's victims mentioned that they never played any real games with him - he was really only interested in sex. 

As a result, we have a nation filled with many people who know "all too well what those types of games have led to" (to quote one of your interviewees).  I suppose it doesn't make for the best news story, but when such an impression is left on someone, it sticks.  You have the proof of that right there in your article. 

So I'm asking you to please keep that promise.  I'm not asking for a retraction or an apology; simply make it known that games were not a factor in the crime.  You could even beef it up with an interview or two with some local gamers, or turn it into a history of the attacks on games (I'd be more than happy to help you there).  But please, keep your word. 

As an aside, I would be very interested in reading the two articles you mentioned that portray gaming in a positive light.  Is there any way I could get copies of them?  I'd like to turn this negative into a positive, and articles that praise rather than condemn gaming are few and very far between. 

Thank you for your time, and for reading this far.  If there's any way I can be of help to you in the future, don't hesitate to drop me a line.  And visit my site, while you're at it - you may find the inspiration for a story in there somewhere! 

Play nice, 

Dear Mr. Walton, 

Due to the volume of e-mails, I have not been replying to them all, and I cannot take much time to answer yours. Also, I really don't have time to go through our library and make copies of the friendly feature articles we wrote about the games. Let me assure you, they were exactly that. 

In addition, I wrote about the games because the parents of a murder victim here in Pacific Grove have been urging the police to look into that aspect. In that article, as in this one, I stressed that games are done in fun, that organizers watch carefully for anyone acting in a bizarre manner and ban them from the games, and that those involved have been taking unfair abuse from the Christian right and others. 

But I will say that I already promised in print to write about it if the court actions show that these two were in no way involved with games and that they didn't carry their involvement to some criminal extreme. The promise is in print; I assure you that it wasn't even necessary because we would write that story anyway. 

Finally, let me say once again that the article in NO WAY said the games themselves were responsible. The article quoted THE INVESTIGATORS saying they were looking into that aspect of it, especially as a possible factor in the defense. 

Also, there is a gag order in the case, so all evidence is now sealed. Therefore, we must wait until it all comes out in court. 

Yours sincerely, 

Andy Rose 


For the record:

- It did turn out that the Blad & Carson case had nothing to do with roleplaying, but had more to do with the Marines - see this story for more.

- Neither Andy Rose nor the Monterey Herald retracted their headline of "Stabbing may be linked to role play" (which is supposed to NOT be a slam on RPGs, remember).

So much for promises, I guess...

- wjw, 12/21/08

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