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Created by WJWalton4660 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Wed 23 of July, 2014 08:08 PDT
(364 Posts | 1072607 Visits | Activity=2.25)

LARPing in SLC, and an Awful Library Book

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Thu 10 of Dec., 2009 16:31 PST
Two things that landed on the Escapist news desk today:

- First, from our good buddy Nate, comes LARPing: Real Life Adventures, a positive piece on the LARP hobby in the Salt Lake City Community College's paper The Globe, that focuses on the Mythic Realms LARP organization. Read it here: [article | archive]

- Second, today's post on the Awful Library Books blog (which I've discovered recently and have been enjoying a lot) features a book from 1998 titled Coping with Satanism: Rumor, Reality, and Controversy. According to the bloggers, the book features a "section regarding the satanic influences of Dungeons and Dragons."

Has anyone ever seen this book before? It seems that I can get a used copy for mere pocket change on Amazon (though I'm tempted to purchase the one being sold for $6.66...)

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Fourteen years of The Escapist

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Fri 04 of Dec., 2009 08:35 PST

Sometime this month, The Escapist will turn the ripe old age of fourteen. I've never been exactly sure what day I first put up "The Gaming Advocacy Website" (as it was called for the first few months of its existence), but I know it was sometime during early December of 1995.

For those who haven't heard the story a dozen times over already, I'll sum it up quickly - in 1995 I took a Technical Writing course that culminated with a paper and presentation on a specific problem and potential solution to it. I chose the stigmas attached to role-playing and collectible card games, and part of my research included conducting an online survey of RPG and CCG players. While collecting answers, I had a lot of requests to read the paper when it was finished, and decided that the easiest way to make it accessible to everyone would be to put it up on a website.

I became somewhat hooked on webmastering after that, and began to make updates to the page every now and then - the early form of what we now call "blogging." Four months later, in April of 1996, I renamed the site "The Escapist." Over the course of the next fourteen years, it gradually expanded into what you see today.

Fourteen is kind of a special number - it also happens to be how old I was when I first played Dungeons & Dragons. So the site is now as old as I was when I became a gamer.

While digging through some old relics earlier this year, I found the set of index cards that I made for my presentation, which included a hands-on look at some RPG books and Magic cards, a brief demonstration of how game combat can teach lessons in strategy and probability, and even a brief clip from Mazes and Monsters, the made-for-TV movie that misinformed a lot of people about RPGs.

I thought it would be fun to scan a few and put them up. (Yeah, it's probably fun for no one else but me, I realize that. But you could humor me a little, couldn't you?)

I particularly like the second-to-last card, where I propose creating a "Parent's and Teacher's Guide to Games." That was an idea that was somewhat forgotten once the website was up and began to receive some positive feedback, but I think I can look at it now as the seed for what grew in its place.

But I like the last card the most, and I'd like to think that for the last fourteen years, I have maintained the proper attitude, and maybe even done my part to help RPGs become "a more accepted and beneficial element of our society." And if not, then I'll certainly keep trying, maybe for another fourteen years at least!

To all of my readers and participants - thanks so much for your assistance, encouragement, and for helping to make The Escapist what it is today! It certainly would never have gotten off of the ground, or lasted as long as it has, without the great feedback and input I get from you, and I thank you for it.

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Afterschool D&D club - for the teachers!

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Wed 02 of Dec., 2009 20:20 PST
The Monitor from South Texas brings us this great little story about a group of professors, a lab technician, and a school bus driver who meet after school for an ongoing game of D&D:
UTPA philosophy professor Jeffrey Zents did not get into the game until 2005, though he had been reading fantasy and sci-fi books since his youth. He said that discovering D and D has brought him back to a childhood filled with supernatural characters and magic.

“Who hasn’t wanted, at some point, to really believe that there was magic, and you could do it?” Zents asked. “Even if they’re realists and know that it’s never going to happen.”

Read the full story here: [article | archive]

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A Witch's Invitation

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Mon 30 of Nov., 2009 20:13 PST
The one and only Jason L Blair sent me a link to this video today. It's a little difficult to sit through - mostly because it's so hard to make out the "lyrics."

For those with less patience than myself, I'll supply a brief synopsis: A Christian fellow receives an invitation from a male witch to come over to his spooky Munster-esque house and discuss the merits of the dark side over the light side. While there, our protagonist spots many "occultic symbol(s)" in his host's home, including a crystal ball, Ouija board, and - you guessed it - a "Dungeons & Dragons game set"!

Looks like the prop department was lacking some good RPG props, however - all they could drum up were some dice and old copies of Manual of the Planes and The Arcanum (which isn't even really a D&D book!)

(If you're straining to hear the words, you can find the complete "lyrics" in the info box on the YouTube page.)

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LHC scientists = D&D geeks

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Fri 27 of Nov., 2009 07:11 PST
Check out one of the questions in this interview with Dr. Paul Jackson, a particle physicist who is working on an experiment with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. It looks like when the scientists there aren't accelerating particles and making miniature black holes, they're chucking d20s and hoping for crits:
Are the people who work there into games?
"There is definitely a big gaming contingent, with a lot of talk of Dungeons and Dragons. There's a lot of roleplaying, World of Warcraft and console games, and there are those that balk against that because they don't want to appear to be so geeky."

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Thu 26 of Nov., 2009 09:53 PST
Here in the U.S., it's Thanksgiving Day, when lots of people take the time to appreciate what they have. In our family, we always make a point of saying how we are thankful TO people, just to make sure that they know they are appreciated. So, in that tradition:

- I'm thankful to all of the readers of the site, the people who write in with suggestions and comments, the gamers who submit interviews for Tell Me About Your Character and participate in the forums and comments.

- I'm thankful to the Big Two, Gygax and Arneson, who began a hobby that has given us all so much pleasure - as well as the many game designers who have carried on the tradition, and brought us a myriad of new rules to play and worlds to have adventures in.

- And I'm thankful to my family - my three gaming geeks, and my three favorite people to adventure with!

Thanks go to all of you. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, have a great one - and if you don't, have a wonderful day!

(P.S. Did anyone besides me happen to see the giant 20-sided die balloons in the Macy's parade today? Sure, they didn't have numbers on them, but I knew what they were supposed to be...)

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Geek's Dream Girl plays D&D at the library

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Mon 16 of Nov., 2009 14:53 PST
Over at Geeks Dream Girl, there's a brief chronicle of a library D&D game: D&D at the Library: The Adventure of Little Rogue.

When the first room was cleared, Little Rogue had a bright idea. He wanted to roll a big rock down into the pit and squish some of the creatures in the room below. He did so, and TheMainEvent described what happened. Little Rogue piped up, “I get experience for that, right?“

It's great to see some RPGs represented at National Gaming Day @ Your Library. Did you run or play in an RPG at a library on Saturday? Let me know about it!

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D&D as a warning sign for computer crime

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Mon 16 of Nov., 2009 06:30 PST
The Thurston County Sheriff's Office website would like you to be aware of some possible warning signs that your child could be a victim of computer crime - or even worse, the culprit!

Some of those signs include a sudden interest in hard rock music, satanic posters, words replacing "f" with "ph," files ending in GIF, JPG, and BMP, and "(a)n obsession with fantasy adventure games such as Dungeons and Dragons and Trade Wars."

It appears to be an older document that's been dusted off and (very barely) updated before being posted to the site The page doesn't appear on an search, though the Thurston County site's archive goes back to 1998. There are a ton of references to outdated or completely extinct online terms and concepts (Compuserve, Prodigy, SYSOPs and BBSes), and these are contrasted with a single mention of MySpace.

To be fair, it does state rather plainly that these are warning signs, and not evidence of a problem. But it still makes you wonder - how is (or WAS) D&D a warning sign of computer crime, anyway? And why no mention of GURPS Cyberpunk? That's the REAL how-to manual for hacking and phreaking and all others sorts of things that replace the "f" with a "ph"...

(via FARK)

UPDATE: It looks like the page is gone completely. Maybe someone took notice of all of the Fark traffic.

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RPGs, in libraries, in Brazil

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Fri 13 of Nov., 2009 19:35 PST
Today, I posted an update on the Escapist Twitter account about National Gaming Day @ Your Library. This prompted a gentleman named Marcelo to contact me, asking for advice about promoting the RPGs in libraries concept in Brazil.

Since that's a subject that requires much more than 140 characters to discuss, I asked if he would take it to email. Here's the message that he sent:

As a roleplayer, RPG author and Psychologist (who defended a paper regarding the similarities between RPG characters and their player), I've been intrigued about the seemingly success of your endeavor of playing RPGs at libraries.

Here in Brazil the public libraries are not that accessible. I don't know if it's a matter of public policy, or if it's the bad ideas the media ensures about roleplaying games in general (one state forbid selling RPGs for a while based on the premisse "RPG leads to murder)...

But I'll have the chance of taking part in a librarian conference in the next weeks, and I may even talk face to face with my city's Secretary of Education. How should I adress the "RPG in libraries" matter? Any tips regarding that?

Warmest regards,

I've responded already with a few simple ideas - brush up on your RPG defense and myth debunking, grab some resources and positive studies from the RPG Studies site, and make a list of the benefits of playing RPGs.

I'd really like to give him some more input. What else should he consider? How else should he prepare himself? What sort of approach should he take?

We're interested in hearing from everyone, but I also know that I have more than a few readers from Brazil out there - do any of you have any experience with the library system in Brazil, and know the best way to approach this? Have you run RPGs in libraries before, and if so, could Marcelo use you as a possible reference?

This is an exciting opportunity to make a difference in a part of the world that has long appreciated the roleplaying hobby. Please post your ideas in comments, or email them to me, and I'll pass them along.

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National Gaming Day @ Your Library

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Tue 10 of Nov., 2009 13:12 PST
Don't forget - this Saturday, November 14th, is National Gaming Day @ Your Library! Hundreds of libraries across the country will be participating. Check with your local library to see if they are one of them. If not, ask about volunteering!

This is a great opportunity to meet other gamers in your area, and maybe even gauge interest in playing RPGs at the library the rest of the year. Don't miss it!

Find out more about Natioanl Gaming Day at!

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Character Sheet Résumé

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Mon 09 of Nov., 2009 19:35 PST
Artist Sean McNally has posted his résumé on DeviantArt, and from the looks of it, he got his style pointers from the Player's Handbook.

(via Laughing Squid)

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Gamers (with PhDs!) respond to the Orangeville Citizen article

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Mon 09 of Nov., 2009 09:13 PST
You may recall a previous post in which I mentioned an article from the Orangeville Citizen titled Family still feels pain of children's murder 25 years ago: [article | archive] In it, the author drew a connection between Dungeons & Dragons and military combat training, and claimed that "the debate continues" on whether RPGs can cause some to kill others and destroy themselves.

Well, Greg Gillespie from Discourse & Dragons submitted a letter to the editor as a response to the article, as did Tim Brannan of the Other Side blog. Both are excellent, well-written rebuttals (though Brannan earns bonus points for providing a list of resources AND including The Escapist among them).

It's always good to see others defending RPGs from careless attacks like these, and even nicer when the defenders have PhDs after their names!

Read the responses here: [article | archive]

(I do have my doubts about Brannan's claim that Al Gore has played D&D - I know his daughter played, but I don't know that Al himself has ever done so, other than in that episode of Futurama...)

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Tell Me About Your Character: Ryan Shelton

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Fri 06 of Nov., 2009 05:48 PST
The latest interview at Tell Me About Your Character is with Ryan Shelton - a.k.a. The Olfactory Kid!

Read the interview here. By the way, this is the 80th interview since the feature began back in 2005. Who will be the 100th? Could it be YOU?

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A role-playing simulation to reduce poverty

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Wed 04 of Nov., 2009 21:31 PST
Role-playing has been used in business, government, and the military to accomplish a wide variety of tasks - and now it's being used to raise awareness of poverty (and hopefully reduce poverty levels in the process).
The poverty simulation has 80 different roles for people to play, representing 22 families and individuals. "It's an interactive, role-playing adventure where people become a typical poor person," Plant said. "People will be grouped as couples, individuals and families. So you might be a child, mother, father, senior citizen or a homeless person."

The task of each "poor" person will be figuring out a way to provide food, shelter and other basic necessities of life.

Read more here: [article | archive]

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Dungeon Master at Work

Posted by WJWalton4660 points  on Tue 03 of Nov., 2009 04:43 PST
The Arizona Daily Star has a daily feature called the Tucson Time Capsule, which features a photo and caption from their archive. Today's Time Capsule is from 1979, and is titled "Dungeon Master at Work."

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