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Roleplaying advocacy news and website updates for The Escapist.

Created by WJWalton4753 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Mon 15 of Dec., 2014 04:09 PST
(372 Posts | 1404572 Visits | Activity=2.00)
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Vin Diesel on D&D

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Wed 01 of Dec., 2010 19:32 PST
Here's a great video clip from Shootout featuring Vin Diesel discussing Dungeons & Dragons and creativity:



(Hat tip to Wired GeekDad for the link.)

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Kindergarten "actively discourage(s) all role play"

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Sun 28 of Nov., 2010 05:00 PST
It's another example of how Satanic Panic is still alive and well in some places: the principal of a kindergarten in Melbourne, Australia has not only banned role play among its students, he is encouraging parents of their students to back them up by doing the same at home.

A MELBOURNE kinder has banned children from Harry Potter, Pokemon and Power Rangers paraphernalia for "spiritual reasons" and told parents not to let their boys and girls play with toys associated with their fantasy heroes at home.

In a letter to parents, Waverley Christian College principal Peter Sheahan labelled the kinder a "war-free zone" and banned all items associated with the popular children's programs as well as toy guns, swords and weapons.

"For this reason we actively discourage all role play such as Power Rangers," he wrote to parents.

"For spiritual reasons, all Pokemon and Harry Potter items are not considered appropriate, including toys, clothing, drink bottles etc.

"Please help us by backing this up at home."

Victorian Parents Council spokeswoman Christine Delamore said the directive "went too far".

"Schools have a right to have policies that apply in the school yard, but don't try and tell parents what to do in their own home," she said."It's interfering, it's over-stepping the mark.

Mr Sheahan did not return phone calls from the Sunday Herald Sun.

Forest Hill Liberal candidate Neil Angus, chairman of the independent inter-denominational school in Wantirna South, said he did not have a view on the issue.


Role-play - including "war games" with swords and guns - is an important part of child development. It helps us build our personality, cope with our fears and other trials of life, and learn who we truly are. There are certainly some children who should not role play unsupervised due to personal mental or emotional issues, but banning the activity outright will not create or exacerbate these issues - it will only delay their detection.

On top of that, this ban could encourage the mistaken notion that any kind of role play is always wrong. The school is certainly within its rights to ban any activity they choose, but this is lazy, irresponsible, and superstitious, and the children attending this school deserve much more.

See the original article here.

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Press release for the Escapist's fifteenth anniversary

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Mon 15 of Nov., 2010 19:21 PST
The Escapist will be hitting the big one-five in just a few weeks, and I've whipped up a press release to help get the word out. Feel free to post it to your favorite roleplaying blogs, magazines, websites, forums, podcasts, YouTube channels, billboards, bus shelter signs, and those planes that pull those little banners around.

But that's not all! If you happen to be a roleplaying blogger, podcaster, or what have you, and would like an interview with the proprietor of the internet's premier roleplaying advocacy website, drop me an email at to arrange one, absolutely free of charge!



IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Roleplaying advocacy website celebrates fifteen years of operation

November 15, 2010, Felton Delaware

The Escapist, a roleplaying advocacy website based in Felton, Delaware, celebrates fifteen years of operation in December of 2010.

For fifteen years, the site has worked to improve the public image of the roleplaying hobby, and outline the social and cognitive benefits it can provide.

"Tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and others are the modern equivalent of the ancient tradition of storytelling" said William J. Walton, author of The Escapist. "Likewise, live action roleplaying games are an entertaining form of improvisational theatre. Both forms of roleplaying encourage creativity, problem solving, spatial reasoning, teamwork, and social interaction. Not only that, but roleplaying games can help develop math and language skills and foster interest in history, science, art, world cultures, and more.

The roleplaying hobby has not always recieved positive coverage in the media. During the early 1980s, two isolated events led many to connect D&D with suicide. The same happened in the 1990s when a handful of events, including the Columbine school shooting, were believed to be connected to the Vampire: The Masquerade roleplaying game.

"The Escapist began as an online resource to combat the myths and misconceptions about the hobby," said Walton."Many negative and false claims were made that didn't stand up to scrutiny - claims that the game could lead players to suicide, crime, insanity, demonic possession, and devil worship."

Over time, more people became aware of the roleplaying hobby and what really happens during a game, and the myths began to fade, Walton said. More help came from celebrities who professed their interest in roleplaying games, including Stephen Colbert, Vin Diesel, James Franco, Matthew Lillard, Wil Wheaton, and the members of Weezer and My Chemical Romance, to name a few.

As the negative press began to decline, the site expanded to cover other facets of roleplaying advocacy - bringing new players to the hobby, encouraging gamers and game companies to get involved in philanthropy, and promoting roleplaying with kids, and in library programs and schools.

In early 2010, the site announced a new project, "Read an RPG Book in Public Week," a thrice-yearly event that encourages roleplaying enthusiasts to take their rulebooks with them when they leave the house and "get caught" reading them in public. The goal of the event is to make the hobby more visible, inspire questions and conversation, and possibly even attract new players or bring back lapsed ones.

Over the years, Walton and the site have been featured in numerous news stories and interviews, two documentaries on roleplaying, and in two books - Steve Racer's "God Loves the Freaks" and Ethan Gilsdorf's "Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks."

For the fifteenth anniversary, Walton plans to feature a retrospective of the site's many changes over the years.

For more information, visit www.theescapist.com (external link), and contact WJ Walton at

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Video: Why RPGs Are Good For You

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Thu 28 of Oct., 2010 07:26 PDT
Here's another video I have created for the Escapist's YouTube channel: "Why RPGs Are Good For You":



Feel free to link, repost, and mirror to your heart's content - just please leave the website information intact so viewers know where to go for more information. Thanks!

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Arcana Wiki needs your help!

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Sat 09 of Oct., 2010 06:43 PDT
The Arcana Wiki is an incredible resource for gamers looking for background and inspiration for their RPGs:
Legends, mythology, UFO lore, Conspiracy theories, Fiction, and even (seemingly) mundane cultural traditions from other countries. These can and have been used to inspire role-playing game adventures and even entire campaign settings. This wiki aims to collect information about all those, ready for gamers - and then adds suggestions by other gamers - for actually using them in your game.

...and the wiki could really use your help. At present there are over 3,000 pages, but almost all of that content comes from four people. With a few more helping hands, Arcana could become one of the best online resources for roleplaying inspiration.

So if you happen to have the wiki bug and would like to help out, join up and start contributing!

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Gamer saves girl from fire

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Sat 09 of Oct., 2010 04:54 PDT
Here's a story to balance out that previous ugliness from a couple of days ago - a gamer leaving a D&D game made a terrible discovery, and did the right thing. I think it stands pretty well without any further comment from myself:
Peering into the remains of a house that had just exploded, Dan Lemon could see a child's bare foot. He passed into the building and began pulling debris off the girl's body. Smoke was filling the house. Flames were pressing in.

Moments before, the Roseville resident had been at a friend's house on the 5600 block of 32nd Avenue S. in Minneapolis playing Dungeons and Dragons, a fantasy role-playing game. Now the stakes were real.

What happened next was one of several heroic moments that Minneapolis Fire Chief Alex Jackson put in the spotlight on Friday at an awards ceremony.

Read the full story here.

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Robbery suspect arrested at a D&D event

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Wed 06 of Oct., 2010 16:00 PDT
Police in Boulder, Colorado took their own attack of opportunity when some internet research revealed that a suspected bank robber would be attending a Dungeons & Dragons event.

Aaron Klug was being investigated for a bank robbery and a string of vehicle break-ins when his profile on a registry site for Dungeons & Dragons Encounters events was discovered. Police set up surveillance at the event and arrested him without incident. Two other gamers at the event told reporters that Klug was about to be banned from the game for disruptive behavior,

Klug's opinions about 4th edition D&D were apparently important to this story, as Deb Stanley at 7NEWS included the following from Klug's profile: "I like (Dungeons & Dragons) 4.0 because of the PRO combat style and it really gives me a chance to Kill (sic) everything." She also points out that Klug joined the group the same day that the robbery occurred.

Sources:
Longmont robbery suspect arrested at Dungeons and Dragons event - http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16267273

Fantasy Game Player Arrested In Real-Life Robbery - http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/25299636/detail.html

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D&D makes Wikipedia's front page, and gets nominated for the Toy Hall of Fame

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Tue 05 of Oct., 2010 12:48 PDT
Two quick stories about D&D in pop culture:

First, the Wikipedia page for the classic Dungeons & Dragons module Ravenloft will be featured on the front page of Wikipedia tomorrow, October 6th, 2010. This is due to the efforts of wiki editors like Kevin Baase and others who have worked to make the Ravenloft entry worthy of such an honor. In July, the page for The Expedition to the Barrier Peaks was featured on the front page for the same reason.

Next, it looks like D&D has earned another honor - a nomination into the Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. The Rochester Business Journal explains that twelve finalists will be considered for the two nominations for 2010. The other finalists are: Cabbage Patch Kids, chess, the dollhouse, dominoes, the Game of Life, Hot Wheels, Lite Brite, the Magic 8 Ball, playing cards, the pogo stick, and Rubik's Cube.

With that sort of competition, it may not seem likely that D&D will get one of the two spots, but I wouldn't rule it out; the Toy Hall of Fame seems to have an appreciation for toys that encourage imagination. According to the article, one of the criteria for induction is how the toy fosters learning or discovery through play. And if that's not enough for you, one of the previous 44 nominees into the Hall was the cardboard box.

The final inductees will be announced on November 4th.

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D&D and the eight intelligences, or, "We're gonna need a bigger character sheet"

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Thu 30 of Sept., 2010 08:51 PDT
Lucas at edurealms.com uses Dungeons & Dragons as a metaphor to explain Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, which claims that human beings have several different types of intelligence, rather than one all-encompassing INT score:
So, the analogy here lies in the similarities in an RPG character’s abilities or statistics and our own multiple intelligences. To take the analogy to the next level, an RPG character who is a fighter might experience a situation where they are required to fight a band of marauding goblins. The fighter’s approach to this situation would be to whip out his sword, charge into battle, and start swinging, achieving victory through brute strength. A character who is a wizard will approach the same encounter quite differently. The wizard would assess the field, and using his keen intellect, begin casting damaging spells at the goblin force while trying very hard to avoid physical contact with the invading force.

In a similar fashion, we as learners with varying intelligences will approach learning differently. When presented with a new concept to be learned, a logical-mathematical person may try to understand the material in a step-by-step approach, whereas a person with a great deal of spatial intelligence might try to visualize the concept in a three-dimensional way.

Lucas then goes on to pose another metaphor, comparing the varying abilities of D&D characters working together to people using the strengths of their different intelligences as a team.

The funny thing is, many RPGs model this sort of thing in character creation - sure, there's usually one lone Intelligence score, but many rule systems contain advantages that characters can take that include most, if not all, of the eight - linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalist, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. So the metaphor applies on a few different levels.

Here's the full article - http://edurealms.com/?tag=multiple-intelligences, and here is more on the theory of multiple intelligences, for those who would like to explore the subject further: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr054.shtml


(Special thanks to Jason Paul McCartan for the links.)

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Two more educational RPG blogs, and a gaming-with-kids wiki

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Wed 29 of Sept., 2010 20:35 PDT
Posting about David Millians' Games and Education blog reminded me that I had some other blogs and a wiki that I have been meaning to write a post about:

- Ruthless Diastema is an exploration of games in the classroom. Mad Mister Pete Figtree explains his methods in using roleplaying games to teach. I particularly like the syllabus and character sheet that he passes out to each student. (Oh, and the old-school punk in me really likes his Black Flag spoof icon.)

- Homeschool RPG: Scott Duncan blogs about contributing to the education of his three homeschooled daughters through RPGs. His posts are well written and very enjoyable to read.

- Instant Roleplay is a little wiki devoted to simple plots that you can use with any RPG system to run adventures for kids. This is a great idea that needs to really take off - there are a handful of plots posted now. but there haven't been any updates for a while. I'm planning to submit a couple when I have a bit of time, and so should you!

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David Millians has a blog!

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Tue 28 of Sept., 2010 20:17 PDT
And here it is: Games and Education.

David Millians teaches history in an elementary school in Georgia, and has been known to use RPG and LARP elements in his lessons. To read or hear about them is to wish you'd had the opportunity to roll up a character and join in. (You can hear an interview with David, including some accounts of his classroom adventures, on Sam Chupp's Dragonkin podcast right here.)

His blog also covers other types of games as educational tools - but of course, the RPG posts will be my favorites. If you are even the slightest bit interested in teaching through RPGs and other games, be sure to subscribe to David's blog.

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Read an RPG Book in Public Week is here, again!

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Sun 26 of Sept., 2010 06:59 PDT

Today begins the third and final Read an RPG Book in Public Week of 2010. Time to dig out some of your favorite RPG books, take them with you when you go out this week, and read them in public!

This week was chosen to coincide with two other events - the birthday of Dave Arneson (October 1st) and the American Library Association's Banned Book Week (since RPGs have been banned in schools and libraries in the past). So this week, we're doing it for Dave and all of those gamers who weren't allowed to play D&D in their schools back in the 1980s.

For more about this thrice-yearly event, visit the official page at www.theescapist.com/readrpgsinpublic. If you're on Facebook, you can join the official FB group and RSVP for the event here.

There is also a Flickr group to post pictures of yourself and others reading RPG books in public - flickr.com/groups/readrpgs, and if you use Twitter to make tweets about the books you're reading in public, remember to use the #readrpgs tag, and follow the official Escapist account: @RPGadvocate

If that's not enough, there's even a YouTube video to help spread the word. Feel free to post it, mirror it, remix it, autotune it, and whatever else it is you crazy kids do these days - as long as you leave the links at the end intact:



Now get out there, spread the word. and read some RPG books in public!

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Just like old times...

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Tue 31 of Aug., 2010 10:23 PDT
This is not a repeat from the mid-1980s: A young man committed a heinous crime, and detectives are investigating the connection between his acts and a popular game.

Tyler Savage raped and killed a 16-year-old mentally disabled girl, then went to a friend's house to play some Dungeons & Dragons Online to help "cope" with what he had done. Now detectives are considering the possibility that Savage may have been inspired by the game to commit the crime.
Detectives investigating the strangulation death of 16-year-old Kimmie Daily are trying to determine whether her accused killer might have been acting out a violent fantasy from Dungeons and Dragons.

The video game theory comes from something Tyler Savage himself said to investigators. He talked about playing a video game to cope with what he'd just done. Detectives now want to know if that game somehow became his point of reference on reality.

If Savage had mentioned playing basketball, golf, chess, or poker to "cope" with what he had done, there would be no similar investigation. This is total speculation on my part, but I think the name "Dungeons & Dragons" may have something to do with this.

Then we see a classic example of an article that doesn't agree with its headline:
Detectives are working with an expert in sexually violent fantasies to explore the video game motive, but the true cause for this crime is still unknown. They aren't blaming a game for this violence, but they are trying to understand what triggered this murder and why.

"(Detectives) aren't blaming a game for this violence" doesn't exactly match the title: "Detectives: Murder motive may have been video game fantasy." This happens a lot with stories like these, when the journalist writes the story, and the editor decides what the title will be.

The odds are that when this comes to trial, Savage's lawyer will attempt a game defense, which has never worked. When it doesn't, they'll switch to something else, like an insanity plea. History will likely repeat itself due to those who refuse to learn from it.

Read the full article here.

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Reading RPGs = free coffee!

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Fri 27 of Aug., 2010 08:20 PDT

How is this for a great Read an RPG Book in Public Week promotion? (from Twitter):
The café my brother works at now has #readrpgs Sunday: everyone who reads an RPG book in public gets the first drink for free!

After I replied, I found out more about how and where it's happening:
The name of the café is "Coq d'Or" (the golden cock). I want to rename it "The golden Cockatrice"! My brother who started the idea and got the "go" from his boss is called Michael. It's in Olten, Switzerland.

I love it! It promotes public RPG reading and coffee consumption all at once! I couldn't approve more!

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Gamers for Humanity's 28k Project

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Fri 20 of Aug., 2010 10:13 PDT
Gamers for Humanity has recently revamped their website, and revealed the 28k Project, to encourage gamers to log 28,000 hours of volunteer work over the course of the next year.

Here's the full story in their own words, taken from their monthly newsletter:
With the new website comes our newest program, a project that is all about celebrating you and your contributions to your community. The 28k Project is our latest attempt to encourage community involvement, and to encourage people to share their stories about the volunteer work they do.

There are two ways to get involved:
1. Logging your hours
2. Telling your story

The easiest way to participate is to volunteer in your community, and then log your hours at our website. We are trying to reach the challenging goal of 28,000 hours of volunteer work between now and next August... so we need to log as many of your hours as we can get.

If you want to go one step farther, you can volunteer, then come tell us your story. Posting a story about your volunteer work—who you worked with, what you did, who you met — will enable visitors to vote for your story. The best stories each month win prize packages donated to us by some great companies.

The rules and necessary forms are all on the new website, whether you want to tell your story or just log your hours. Everyone is welcome.

I know for certain that there are many of you out there who already volunteer your time and energy to helping your community, so this would only be a matter of logging the work that you already do, and maybe even sharing a story that can inspire others. For the rest of you - get involved! It's not difficult to find some way that you can help - I have a lot of suggestions on the BeQuest ideas page. Pick something, dive in, log your hours, and share your story!

You can find out more at 28k Project page, and be sure to let them know that The Escapist sent you!

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