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Created by WJWalton4708 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Sat 23 of Aug., 2014 19:50 PDT
(370 Posts | 1180744 Visits | Activity=2.00)
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More on Amy Bishop

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Fri 19 of Feb., 2010 08:45 PST
Two more pieces on Amy Bishop hit my inbox recently:

- E.D. Kain at True/Slant picks apart the Boston Herald's handling of the story:
Remember the whole fear-craze over Dungeons & Dragons back in the 1980’s (and still a little in the 1990’s until violent video games began taking the spotlight)? Well it appears the Boston Herald missed the bit where people stopped thinking that role-playing games make you into crazed satanic killers...


- The Patriot Ledger goes back into the Bishop family's past with an article on Amy's brother Seth and his untimely death in 1986: Friends Recall Brilliant Young Man.

Seth, it turns out, played Dungeons & Dragons as well, and was accidentally shot to death by Amy with a shotgun their father had recently purchased to protect their home. Somehow, the Patriot Ledger manages to avoid connecting the game with his death, however (due to lack of evidence, perhaps?). Instead, it mentions it as one of the positive things he enjoyed with his friends.

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Another positive gaming article from a college paper

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Wed 17 of Feb., 2010 12:38 PST
Here's another positive column on roleplaying games by Andrew Massey at Rhode Island College's The Anchor: I’m here to roll die and eat Cheetos... and I’m all out of Cheetos:
The game isn’t just a bunch of nerds gathering in someone’s basement and pretending to be elves or space commandos (though it certainly is that), it is also a great social experience. In fact, for people like me who do not like parties or dealing with drunken people, Dungeons and Dragons is their primary social outing. I run my game once a week and it is almost always a good time.

I'm not sure if it's coincidence or a deliberate effort to counteract the recent negative gaming press generated by the Wisconsin prison case and Amy Bishop - but either way, it's good to see it.

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Scrutinizing the 'evidence' against D&D

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Wed 17 of Feb., 2010 08:23 PST
One thing is consistent about the majority of the claims against roleplaying games - they never stand up well to close scrutiny.

During the recent court case that established that "for some individuals, games like D&D can impede rehabilitation, lead to escapist tendencies, or result in more dire consequences," several other court cases were cited as evidence to back up this claim.

Michael Tresca at The Examiner has taken it upon himself to examine each case, one by one, and see if they really do prove this claim.

The first case? No dice, if you'll pardon the pun.
At no point does this case actually reinforce the validity that Dungeons & Dragons is somehow harmful. In fact, it makes an excellent argument that the feeble mental defense that Dungeons & Dragons somehow made Meyer commit the crime was entirely unreasonable – so much so that his own legal team abandoned that tactic.

Tresca plans to pick apart the rest in future installments, and I'm really looking forward to reading them.

(Thanks to Paul W. King from the CAR-PGa for the link.)

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Positive gaming article in the Indiana Statesman

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Wed 17 of Feb., 2010 06:55 PST
Once more, a college campus newspaper brings us a story on the positive elements of the roleplaying hobby, without resorting to sensationalism:
“It’s a good way to spend time with some friends and joke around and create a story together,” she said. “As a writer, it’s great to share my own creativity with others and get to interact with their creative output. If you find the right group, the experience really is something very special.”


There's even a mention of gaming controversy that is handled with more tact and maturity than most major news sources can muster:
“My dad and my sisters still can’t get past the stereotype about gamers that was fed to us all by Hollywood,” she said. “However, with the exception of my mom, they really don’t have a problem with it, but they’re not really involved in any way. To them, my gaming is about as separate from them as what kind of shampoo I use and how I like my tea.”


Perhaps Kaiulani Anderson-Ligget and the Indiana Statesman could teach the Boston Herald a thing or two about...

...ah, nevermind. Who am I kidding, anyway?

Read the full article here: [article | archive].

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NEWS FLASH: Killer played D&D once!

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Tue 16 of Feb., 2010 19:32 PST
The Boston Herald brings us the shocking news - an unnamed source has revealed that the accused Alabama college killer Amy Bishop used to play Dungeons & Dragons while she was a biology student during the early 80s, and even met her husband at their D&D club.

According to the source, which remains nameless, “They even acted this crap out.”

James Anderson, Bishop's husband, denied that the game was anything more than a social activity.

In other news, the Boston Herald denied that they were having an extremely slow news day, and were resorting to publishing pointless old rumors from anonymous sources.

Read the full story here: [article | archive]

(Thanks to Jason McCartan, Monica Valentinelli, and the Quilt City OGREs for the link.)

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Back from the internet blackout

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Tue 16 of Feb., 2010 16:52 PST
I'm back from a month-long internet blackout at home, and over the next few days, I'll be working through answering your emails and posting updates to the website.

Thanks to all for your patience!

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DriveThruRPG Raises over $175,000 for Haiti relief

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Tue 02 of Feb., 2010 12:21 PST
The title says it all, and it also answers ol' Bill Schnoebelen's comment from "Should a Christian Play Dungeons & Dragons?":

I would just ask them where are the rescue missions ... started by D&D gamers?


I think you're looking at one, Bill.

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$147,000 and counting...

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Thu 28 of Jan., 2010 13:45 PST
As of this writing, DriveThruRPG has raised over $147,000 for Haiti relief - and there are still a couple days left to do your part! If you would like to help a good cause, and get a ton of gaming PDFs as a thank you, follow that link!

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More thoughts on prisons, gangs, and D&D

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Thu 28 of Jan., 2010 12:41 PST
(My internet connection is temporarily down at home, so my posts may be somewhat sparse for the next week. Please bear with me.)

I've been thinking more about the recent Wisconsin case, in which a prisoner was denied the right to play Dungeons & Dragons because the dynamics of the game (a Dungeon Master and a group of players) too closely resembled gang members taking orders from a gang leader.

Of course, those of us who have played or even witnessed a game of D&D know that this isn't how the game works at all, and if the people involved in this decision had done any amount of research, they would have learned the same thing. This isn't the first case of a prison banning RPGs for flimsy reasons - the CAR-PGa previously exposed a prison that refused the game because the hard covers could be ripped off and used as shivs, and the artwork in the books could inspire prisioners to get fantasy-themed tattoos. (It would be interesting to see if there was a sudden drop in tattooing after the game was denied, but I doubt anyone bothered to do THAT study...)

I haven't been able to read a lot of commentary on the issue, but I can imagine that a lot of people hold the attitude that prisoners shouldn't have the rights to play any games while incarcerated, let alone D&D. There was probably a time when I would agree, but I've changed my mind since then.

Years ago - right before I started this website, to be a little more exact - I attempted to start my own business, buying and selling used and out-of-print RPG books through the mail. This was shortly before eBay came along, and squished my little business model, so it didn't last for very long. But in the few months that I was in operation, I couldn't help but notice that most of my customers were prisoners - easily 80% of them, if not more. Somehow, word of my business had gotten out among the prison gamer community.

They were always polite and grateful for the service I was providing, and sent me their wish lists on prison stationary. Most of them would buy most any modules or sourcebooks I had available, they were so desperate for material. I also recall a story in an early issue of the Knights of the Dinner Table comic in which a prisoner shared how they made polyhedral dice out of paper and adhesive tape.

It's all too easy to discard people who have done wrong, but keep in mind that this decision affects all prisoners, even those with lesser charges than homicide, and even some who have been wrongly incarcerated. It's not just a case of one accused murderer wanting to play an RPG. Giving prisoners small comforts like these can aid in their rehabilitation and desire to stay out of prison after release. If they have the right to play chess, read books, play sports, watch television, go to church, and exercise, they should be allowed to play Dungeons & Dragons if they choose to.

In a more rational world, we would see an investigation into the benefits of RPGs on prisoners and their rehabilitation rates, instead of flimsy excuses like this one.

This was actually a topic I had been meaning to bring up some time ago, when I discovered the Destination Unknown blog, and Christian's efforts to get RPG material into the hands of prisoners. If you're interested in more on the subject, be sure to check out his blog.

In the meantime, here are a handful of more news stories on the prison D&D ban that have popped up in my inbox lately. Thanks to all who have forwarded info on this case to me.

Chicago Tribune
Minneapolis City Pages blog
Examiner.com
WKBT
USA Today
TMJ4
New York Daily News
MyFoxDC
CorrectionsOne
National Post
Chicago Now
Newser
Chicago Reader blog

My good friend Bob Mueller recommends this post at the Volokh Conspiracy, and the comments that accompany it. Looks like a LOT of legal geeks are also gaming geeks, which should surprise no one around here.

EDIT: And as usual, Penny Arcade knocks it out of the park...

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Prison Bans D&D For Mimicking Gang Structure

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Tue 26 of Jan., 2010 12:06 PST
My good friend Jason McCartan forward this Slashdot story to me today: Prison Bans D&D For Mimicking Gang Structure

"In a case that has been winding its way through the courts for a while now, a Wisconsin prison banned inmates from playing Dungeons & Dragons, using the justification that 'one player is denoted the Dungeon Master... (who) is tasked with giving directions to other players... which mimics the organization of a gang.' The prison also cited some sparse evidence that a handful of non-inmate D&D players once committed some crimes that allegedly were related to their D&D playing.


I guess they don't allow basketball coaches in prisons, either...

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MORE Gamers Help Haiti at DriveThruRPG!

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Tue 19 of Jan., 2010 22:29 PST
DriveThruRPG has another great way to help the relief effort in Haiti - they're offering a huge bundle of RPG PDFs (over a $1400 value) for a $20 donation! As with their last collection effort, the proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders.

There are a LOT of great products in this bundle, including a few full RPGs, as well as a bunch of supplemental material. And the money goes to an excellent charity, so be sure to check it out!

(Thanks to Shanya for the link!)

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All I really need to know about life, I learned from Dungeons & Dragons

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Mon 18 of Jan., 2010 19:59 PST
Chad Henderson, a computer programmer from Oklahoma, gave this little presentation on the life lessons that D&D teaches us.

It's way too short, in my opinion - he could have gone for a lot longer without exhausting the topic. He must have had some time constraints, I figure.

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Gamers Help Haiti at DriveThruRPG

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Thu 14 of Jan., 2010 21:31 PST
DriveThruRPG is accepting donations to help with Haiti earthquake relief.

Best of all, for every $5 donation made, DriveThruRPG will match it!

Visit the Gamers Help Haiti page to make a donation!

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RPG 'Claimer' - HoL

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Tue 12 of Jan., 2010 09:08 PST
In some cases, no disclaimer will do, and you have to go with the only other option.

HoL (Human Occupied Landfill), published in 1994 and re-released by White Wolf on 1995, was an amazing piece of work - a sci-fi RPG rulebook that may have been a parody of RPG rulebooks, or may have been an actual, playable RPG. (Rumors tell of gamers who have actually played it, but no one ever seems to know any of them personally.)

The entire book was handwritten - only the trademark page of the White Wolf edition was typeset - and filled with all manner of insane and violent illustrations (and no page numbers). Rather than publishing a disclaimer on the opening page, the authors did the reverse - they published a 'claimer' of just some of the terrible things that their game would cause you to do if you played it.

Due to language and themes, I'm putting this one behind a link. Please, if you're under 18 years of age (physically OR emotionally) and easily offended by certain configurations of letters, don't click this link. For the rest of you, I still don't recommend it:

HoL Claimer


And that does it for the more interesting disclaimers in my RPG collection (until I find some that I'd forgotten about, of course). As always, if you know of any good ones that you'd like to share, scan them and send them to me!

(See all of the other RPG disclaimer posts.)

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RPG Disclaimers - Central Casting: Heroes Now!

Posted by WJWalton4708 points  on Mon 11 of Jan., 2010 06:50 PST
The next disclaimer doesn't come from a RPG rulebook, but a supplement for character creation. Central Casting was a series of three books that were designed to help players flesh out the backstory of their character by rolling dice and consulting a complex set of tables.

Of the three, I own one: Central Casting: Heroes Now!, which covers characters from the twentieth century, and I used it to color many of the Call of Cthulhu characters that I made in the mid-90s. (The other two were made for creating past and future characters, if I remember correctly).

The front of the book had a disclaimer written by Paul Jaquays that laid plain the author's stance on political correctness. It's something that a lot of the conservative opponents of D&D and other roleplaying games would be pretty surprised to see, I would imagine:




Up next: the last of my series, Hol!

(See all of the other RPG disclaimer posts.)

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