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The Letters Archive

December, 1997:

David Brown's Beware of Magic: The Gathering page is certainly a hot topic among Escapist readers. If you missed my review of his site, check out the Advocacy 1996 page.

Subj: CAR-PGa and that David Brown thing
Date: 97-06-25 04:46:21 EDT
From: (Liz S)

Dear William -
I just caught your page after having sent the message below to his
Christianness, David Brown.  Unfortunately, I hit his page first.  What can
you say?  He needs to be ripped into, I vote early and often.  Especially
since he called - well, if your looking for another mistake in his article,
he called Taoism "occult".  Does this guy know anything???
Enjoy, Liz S

From: Liz S (
Subject: A Mistaken Notion
Date: Tuesday, June 24, 1997 8:57 PM

Dear Mr. Brown -

I was very disturbed to find your web page concerning the "dangers" of
Magic and other games such as Dungeons and Dragons.  First of all, and
most importantly, your message implies that people are so weak minded that
they can become "lured toward evil" through a bunch of cards.  Your message
frightens me, because instead of assuming the best about people and
encouraging them to think for themselves, it implies that people are not much
more than infants, who have to be hand fed every idea that they have.

You say that children's minds are influenced by games; well, I've played
these games and I do not wish to go out and cast spells and kill everyone; I've
played Monopoly, but I don't wish to get rich by dealing in property; I've played
Mousetrap before but I don't want to be an exterminator.  You should really
check the implications your thesis has for other unrelated topics before you
make such a dumb statement.

Secondly, your message disturbs me because it assumes that such a game
will lead to violence and the occult.  When you were at the convention you speak of, were you mugged? Shot? Forced into some satanic ritual?  Was everybody there rioting?  Since you never mentioned that, I will assume that no such thing happened.  My guess is that this was a gathering of people, while crowded, enjoying themselves.  I notice you never quoted anyone firsthand, so my guess is you never spoke to any of these people about their feelings on the game.  You merely assumed and used quotes from media sources to back up your thesis. 

Thirdly, and what bothers me the most, you have the arrogance to assume that
Christianity is the only way.  If this were true, then approximately 80% of the world would automatically be going to hell.  If 80% of the world was the tool of Satan, I sincerely doubt that the world would be as wonderful as it is. I feel sorry for you if you have closed yourself off from so much of the world.  You know, back in Germany there was this man who hated the Jews...  It seems to me that your theory is slightly backwards.  Cards do not promote violence, but hatred definitely does.

You said two things in your message: 1., that GOD HATES THOSE WHO
PROMOTE VIOLENCE, and state Acts 19:19-20 and imply that people's
cards should be burned.  As for 2., I believe that would involve literally stealing the cards (Thou shalt not steal!) and burning them.  Not just cards you yourself bought - if you want to buy up all the cards and burn them, that's your business - Acts 19:19-20 specifically says "their books", indicating that someone owned them.   Furthermore, it has been easily proven that once someone develops a hatred of someone or something, it is easier to do them harm.  So by saying that GOD HATES THOSE... and identifying these game players as promoting violence, you have made a target, and you have made it one (if not several) steps easier for your listeners/followers to commit violence against them.  I'm sorry to say, its very easy to see why a witch would spit curses at you, seeing as you have made them a lesser being in your eyes and in fact pretty much promote violence towards them.

I do not hate you, as this letter may appear, but I do stand by my beliefs and will try my best to dispose of people's angry views towards another group.  This world has enough problems without crying out over petty differences.  I sincerely hope that you will reconsider your argument, and keep in mind that religion should be a part of your life, but once you try to make it someone else's, they will surely rebel against it. The best thing you could do is to accept people, help them, and be as POSITIVE an influence on your fellow neighbors as you can without cutting down what they do or believe. Once they feel like you don't respect them, then they have no desire to follow your advice.  Why try to please someone who doesn't respect you?  The power of suggestion, but the weakness of brute force.

p.s. don't try writing back to convert me, I have already chosen to follow Taoism and do not wish to change.  If I were to ever look towards a new faith again, I would look towards those who respected my first decision.

Whew! Let's all try to stay on Liz's good side, shall we? Seriously, good work, Liz!

Next is a letter from Cameron McGivray, with some very positive gaming news:

Subj:  How about some good news?
Date:  97-08-08 22:47:13 EDT
From:  Dennis.Mcgilvray@Colorado.EDU (Cameron)
Reply-to: Dennis.Mcgilvray@Colorado.EDU (Cameron)
To: (Committee for the Advancement of Role-playing Games)

I read over your site and was frankly depressed. It seems like our
eternal struggle against ignorance and media bias is an uphill battle.
Here's some good news from my neck of the woods.
My employers (Mark Hoge and Ed Kann of Rennaisance Adventures)
recently graced the front page of the local Boulder CO newspaper with a
full-color photograph of their Live-Action roleplaying adventure camp for
kids. The article that followed put the work that Rennaisance Adventures
does in an extremely good light. If you are interested, I can see about
typing up the article or perhaps just mailing you a copy. In lieu of that,
here's a short synopsis of the work that Mark and Ed do.

Rennaisance Adventures has run a day camp for kids ages 6-15 for
several years now. Each game master spends the entire day enacting a
live-action "quest" using simple rules. Kids learn problem-solving and
social skills (as well as how to defeat grown-ups in hand to hand combat
with padded swords) and the entire exercise serves to indoctrinate a whole
new generation of gamers and fantasy enthusiasts. Renn Adventures also
does private birthday parties and things like that.

The article in which the camp was written up described Ed, Mark
and Renn Adventures in glowing terms and response has been good. Ed (a
former police officer) is now assembling an alternate saturday live action
event for teenagers using his soon-to-be-published generic live action
system and hopes to run after-school fencing, kendo and stage combat
classes at local elementary schools. Renn Adventures hopes to branch out
into a franchise and perhaps include horse back riding for their summer
camp next year.

I recently became employed as a third game master for the summer
camp (at least for the duration of the summer), and my involvement with
the company was largely due to the article in the newspaper (which I read
and replied to). Response from parents has been excellent, business is
booming and there has been no protests of any sort by anti-gaming
factions. The only reason I write this is that your gaming advocacy site
reminded me of the excellent work ethic of my employers, who understand
that gaming is an art form and needs to be nurtured and encouraged as
I hope that my reports of good press for live-action gamers here
in Boulder Colorado will offset at least some of the dark mood that
reports of negative press bring.

Cameron McGilvray
1315 5th street
Boulder CO, 80302
(303) 415-0417

Wow! I think I'm getting misty! (grin) If I lived in Boulder, Cameron, you would have one overzealous volunteer (and a potential camper in five or six years) on your hands!

Next, Daniel Pryor checks in:

Subj: hi
Date: 97-08-23 07:02:21 EDT
From: (Pryor Illustrations)

It's nice to someone advancing rolke-playing. I've been a fantasy gamer
for 15 years since I was 13. I hate it especially when christian groups
go off on RPGs. It's like a darn Salem with hunt thing! I myself am a
christian, but a little more open-minded than most. RPGs are just like
anything: You can use it for good clean fun or warp it and it can become
awful. So far the only problems with RPGs that I can see is I don't like
the WHITEWOLF series of games, which I consider to be quite satanic. I
believe RPGs should be like high fantasy, midieval europe chivalry type
stuff. But hey, each to his/her own. Anyway, just though I say "hi" and
let you know I read your stuf...
-Daniel "TROLL" Pryor.
-Pryor Illustrations:

Well, Dan, I agree with you on most points, especially to your Salem simile. However, I make exception to your remarks about White Wolf games.

I'm assuming you're referring to the World Of Darkness series, and not White Wolf's other, less popular, games (such as Street Fighter). As someone who owns all five in the series (Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Wraith, and Changeling, as well as Vampire: The Dark Ages and Werewolf: The Wild West), I don't honestly see them as being very different from most other RPGs. The main difference, and the main secret behind their success, is that they allow the gamer to play a type of character that most other games will only allow them to play against.

Now, I'm not the best judge of what is satanic and what isn't, but I really don't find anything more sinister in a WoD book than I do in my collection of AD&D, GURPS, or Call of Cthulhu books. Maybe you should give the series a second chance.

Thanks for reading, keep in touch, and Play Nice!

Here's a little note from my favorite superhero, Pickleman:

Subj: (rare is the time when i find something to put here)
Date: 97-10-15 00:57:37 EDT
From: (Homer Simpson)

Hey there,

A little background:
  I play RPG's, including Magic and GURPS and MUD and others...
  Actually, i own a MUD, but that's beside the fact.

What i wanted you to know:
  Your page kicks @$$. -=and=-
  CAR-PGa should 'Rock On'.


P.S.=- Yes I am insane, and damn proud of it, too!!

Thanks, Homer! (Suddenly, I feel like a classic rock radio DJ). Say "Hi" to Marge for me! (Remind me someday to relate the story about the flamewar I triggered in with a simple Homer Simpson quote).

Subj: Thank-you
Date: 97-10-28 23:25:55 EST
From: Serrendib
To: Walton W J

Dear William,
As a fellow aol member, I'd like to thankyou for your page on RPGs, etc.  I've been playing magic for almost 3 years now, and I've just gotten into a little role playing.   My mother never had a problem with it.  Now that I've played a few games, I can't see what some people's problems are.  Oh, well.  Anyway, I'm working on a research paper where I can only use 2 web sites.  Thanks to your page, I could cheat a little and get a lot of info of one page.  Congrats on a great page.
Michelle, serrendib

Thanks, Michelle! Let me know what grade we get! (grin)

O.k., this one is a little hard to read, but there's a good idea in here...

Subj: Your RPGing page
Date: 97-11-01 07:35:40 EST

Must say your doing a good job on a page. How about doing a page on
showing how a basic turn goes in magic or an RPG to show theres no
cultism sorta like.

O.k I tap one forset and lay a lanuawar elf. (Tapping meing turing the
card sideways to show that someone is tapping mana form the land)

O.k I cast lighting bolt on it its dead

Darn oh well I guess it goes to the graveyard.

Yea.. My turn now?

Sure go ahead.

See anything santic in that :)

Good luck.

No, I find nothing santic OR satanic in that! (grin... sorry!) It's a very good idea, however. A sample of play for both RPGs and CCGs would do well to illustrate how games are really played to non-gamers. I would have to be careful to use generic systems, however (I don't know how WoTC would react to me using extended descriptions of Magic cards on this page). I'll keep this in mind, and of course, give you credit for the idea. Thanks!

Gerlof checks in with us from the Netherlands:

Subj: Good cause
Date: 97-11-12 09:46:25 EST
From: Gerlof Woudstra
To: waltonwj@AOL.Com ('')

Dear Sir,

It is nice to see that there are people actually trying to defend our
hobby. Even in the netherlands I have found some persons thinking that I
was involved in some satanic inspired game. It would have been much more
logical to assume I was a sexist, since the magazine she commented upon
had a rather undressed lady on the frontpage (with an axe and some fur).
But that is another story.

About your site, I would suggest you to lighten your background a bit.
The black letters are sometimes a bit difficult to read. Other than
that, keep up the good work.


Ps. don't put my email adres on the list, I am not to fond about

Isn't it amazing how things are the same all over? I mean, here is Gerlof, from way over in the Netherlands... where you would think things were very different than here in the States... and despite all of that, he joins everybody else in thinking that my backgrounds are too busy!

Thanks for the tip, Gerlof... I'm working on it, I promise!

John wrote with a request, but his return e-mail bounced... so, here's your info, John:

Subj: Looking for an article...
Date: 97-11-20 15:55:59 EST
From: (John Karakash - LUCENT ASCC)

First off, I want to say your RPG pages are awesome!
Now that the obligatory fawning is out of the way...

Another page mentioned that you had mention of
a NASA spokesperson recommending RPGs as a way to combat
boredom in space.  Can you give me the link to this?
(I looked high and low but couldn't find it...)

Here ya go, John: NASA Recommends Role-Playing to Cooped-Up Cosmonauts. Hope this helps!

Elton Ammons shares with us a letter he sent to NBC concerning the recent Dateline story:

Subj: Dateline
Date: 97-11-27 23:38:12 EST
From: Pinmillion
To: Walton W J

Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that there are some people fireing back at these hack journalists.
Below is a copy of the letter I sent Dateline NBC... let me know what you think.

Subj: Vampire
Date: 97-11-25 23:48:22 EST
From: Pinmillion

I must say that I'm very disapointed in your blasting of "Vampire the Masquerade" on a recent Dateline episode. While I realize that the tragedy of a family's loss is nothing to sneer at, attempting to connect a horrific deed like this with a game is sheer lunacy and highly unprofessional journalism. This harkens back to the Dungeons and Dragons pogroms of the early 80's in which the news was splattered with wild accounts of teenage suicide and murder all because of the "demonic" influence of a roleplaying game. I would think that the increased sex and violence shown on TV and the desensitization resulting would be a much bigger factor in this kind of incident.

Regardless of the cause however, your selective quoting from the rule books is a completely one sided attack on the industry. If any actuall research was done into the game, you would have seen that one of the main foci is the examination of the battle between "dark" and "light"... the retention of humanity against the odds and the punishment of those who give in to the evil within.

I don't expect an answer or a retraction, but an examination of the game and perhaps an interview with it's creator or people like myself who have played these games for years, are married with a wonderfull relationship and have a steady job (in the Navy no less) would give people another view on things.
Thank you for your time,
Elton Ammons

Good work, Elton! Keep it up!

Here's a little something from "Fluke" (if that is his real name... chuckle), who tells a story to which many of us can relate:

Subj: From an appreciative Gamer
Date: 97-11-28 00:15:16 EST
From: (Fluke)

Dear sir,
The visage of your website was a brightening to my day. I'm near to
overjoyed that someone out there is smart enough to see that RPGs aren't
evil, satanism, etc. I am an avid fan of the Palladium system, and am
proud to be GM for a rather successful (four players, who seem to really
like it) campaign. My recent interest (not to mention ire) in the Pro/
Anti-RPG debates comes from an unpleasant run-in about a week ago with
the Catholic church.

All my years while attending Catholic schools (not Catholic myself, but
I do consider myself Christian, no denomination), I've heard the hype,
the defacements, the bloody near propaganda against role-playing. But
I've never actually faced its ignorant narrowmindedness until now. I've
been running the campaign at my high school, after dismissal, out of the
way. I can say full well that my group and I were not disruptive in any
way, nor were we rude. And, most importantly, we were not practicing any
form of demonic worship, occultism... you know the usual. All we were,
as usual, doing, was playing a game. We had been doing so for over three
months, and had not recieved a single complaint.

Final period of last Thursday, I and all my friends (as well as some
"innocent bystanders" who must've just looked like "those RPGing kind")
were brought into the guidance counselor's office. Informed that we were
engaging in practices that were possibly demonic, or at least
occult-related, the counselor told us to stop playing. Or, if nothing
else,"since your parents seem to tolerate this sort of thing, take it
off school grounds". Care to guess as to how my religion teacher now
acts toward me? Or any of my group's members teachers do?
They don't try to shut down smoking at my school, they don't try to
shut down drugs. They don't even try to make the people having sex in
the bathrooms at least wear condoms, no matter how much they preach
about abstinence. But what DO they take action against? Role-playing!
This whole thing would never have happened, had it not been for some
misinformed adult, who saw our game and, going off on biased
information, complained to the guidance counsel. I cannot express enough
my frustration, since trying to argue this with any of "them" is about
as productive as bashing one's head against a wall...
Anyway, enough on that. Let me re-iterate as I close that your webpage
is a credit to your name, and does you and your associates honor.
God bless.

(PS: One final question: is that "Game of Satan" webpage a joke or what?
Is he REALLY serious? If so, I'm not sure whether to laugh or vomit....)

Well, Fluke, I've said it before: I honestly think that the Game of Satan page is a joke. An elaborate joke, but a joke nonetheless. Thanks, and Play Nice.

May, 1997:

Here's a little treasure I found in my mailbox in late April:

Subj: CAR-PGa
Date: 97-04-21 15:56:35 EDT
From: (Enter Whatever Name you want here)

RPG's are completely safe , you idiot. They do not lead to suicide or
drugs or satanism. They lead to imagination and fun. They also do not
remove the world from antidisestablishmentarianism.

Well, what can I say... I'm speechless!

Nah, just kidding. I can't imagine how hard this person must have worked in order to mistake my page as an anti-game page. Which, combined with the fact that this e-mail is from a generic account (no doubt in a cyber cafe somewhere) makes me think that this was just a prank message. As a prank, however, it really isn't funny. Posing as an outraged parent threatening to sue me for daring to defend something that is allegedly responsible for so much death and destruction... now that would have been funny!

To the author of this message, if you're out there: Please view my page again, and read it carefully. Don't skim it the way that so many opponents of RPGs skim game books, cards, and magazines. Thank you.

April, 1997:

Well, you won't find any serious rebuttals from me with this installment; I've gotten nothing but supportive mail for the last few months. Here are a few items that have been sitting around in the Escapist's mailbag for a little while:

The first is from Jeff Freeman, a fellow advocate and CAR-PGa member, whose work in gaming advocacy should be an example to us all:

Subj: CARPGA web site
Date: 97-04-08 14:03:26 EDT
From: (Jeff Freeman)

Good job, the site looks great and has a wealth of material, too.

For the record, I do not intend on replacing the anti-game refutation
material on my web site.  'Doesn't look like I need to.  ;-)

Again, kudos to you.

...yeah, alright, so I just posted this letter here to gloat. You've figured me out. But if you spent as much time on this page as I do, you'd gloat too! :^)

Next are a couple of letters from people who have discovered flaws in David Brown's "Beware of Magic: The Gathering" page, above and beyond those that I listed on the Advocacy page. (For a link, as well as my statement on Brown's page, check the Advocacy entry for November, 1996).

Subj: CARPGA Pages
Date: 97-03-24 01:45:45 EST
From: (Carmen Clemons)

Hello, liked your pages.  In the Advocacy page, you mention David
Brown's "Beware of M:TG" page and several mistakes he made.  I'd like to
add one more.  He claims Everway is a CCG, when, in fact, it's an RPG.
He also claims to have researched these games - I guess that's two
mistakes, but you already seemed to know about that one. *grin*

--Carmen Clemons

Actually, I did notice this, but I didn't mention it. Why, you ask? Well, WOTC did market some of Everway's cards in a collectible fashion, possibly in an attempt to make the first true RPG/CCG crossover. So, technically, Brown was not 100% wrong when he called Everway a CCG. However, in light of his hands-off methods of research, I'd have to say that Brown's verdict of Everway as a CCG was an uneducated mistake. If he had even witnessed it being played, he may have even figured it out for himself.

Subj: just wanted to say hey...
Date: 97-03-12 05:02:42 EST
From: (Paul)

I just wanted to write you and tell you that Im glad you take the time
and effort to publish this page...
As far as a name, I really didnt think about the subject until I saw the
main page for the Escapist, I dont really know... the AD&Dvocate
I dont really like AD&D too much, but I do like RPG's and card games,
and pretty much any game I can get my hands on...
Actually, I wrote to joke about the one little nitpick you missed in
David L. Brown's: Beware of Magic:the Gathering article, he didnt even
know what TSR stands for... its Tactical Studies Rules not Research...
Oh well...
Let me know if their is anything I can do to help you spread the word on
the net...

Thanks for the support, Paul, and for the nitpick. I don't think I'm going to burn him too much on that one, though... it could have just as easily been a slip of the keyboard. But, you did catch it, which shows that you were paying more attention than I was.. so you get the gold star for today! :^) Thanks again for writing.

April, 1996:

An article entitled "The Postal Worker Syndrome" that appeared in a previous installment of The Escapist drew a bit of fire from some of those who read it. Here's a little bit of that fire:

Subj: (no subject)
Date: 96-04-09 08:00:25 EDT
From: (Brett Evill)
As a manic depressive, I kind of disliked being lumped in together with "Satanists, occultists, sexual deviants, murderers, molestors..." in your essay "The Postal Worker Syndrome".
I think that this is quite possibly the harshest and worst-justified abuse of a minority of disabled people I have ever encountered.
Brett Evill


...and here is my reply...



As a manic depressive, I kind of disliked being lumped in together with "Satanists, occultists, sexual deviants, murderers, molestors..." in your essay "The Postal Worker Syndrome".

Funny, I got the same response from an occultist... :^) Truth be told, it is not myself who does this "lumping;" you only need to look at the media coverage of any game-related incident to see that this is the impression that has been built of gamers everywhere. I mention manic-depressives only because that is one of the many titles I have been given from some ignorant person who has just discovered that I play "one of those games." I mention it because it is a part of the stigma; it is not my intention to equate any of those groups with each other.

I myself struggle with depression every day of my life, but I sure as hell wouldn't let the media know about it... knowing that, along with the fact that I'm a "gamer," they'd probably start waiting at my front door for my killing spree to start.

I think that this is quite possibly the harshest and worst-justified abuse of a minority of disabled people I have ever encountered.

With all due respect, you probably don't get around much, then. Watch television for a little while, or listen to the radio. Pick up the newspaper. Go for a little walk at the mall, or drive downtown. Even better: put yourself in a wheelchair first. You'll find much harsher treatment of disabled minorities through any of these than you have found in my little-read rant. The only difference is that this treatment will be deliberate. (My apologies to you if you are already wheelchair-bound; I only mentioned it to stress the point.)

I once heard a teenager tell me that disabled people should be put to death, because they contribute so little to society, and are usually just "in the way." This was all because he was angry about not being able to get a good parking spot at the mall! I shudder to think how widespread this type of attitude is.

On a lighter note, thanks for reading my 'zine, and thank you for speaking out!

Play nice,

In our usual monthly exchange, Paul Cardwell, chairman for CAR-PGa, had this to say about the same piece:


"...I do have a couple of quibbles with The Postal Worker Syndrome, but in keeping with my firm-except-when-time-is-relevant policy, I won't comment until the following issue in hopes someone else will make the correction. First, there is considerable work by anarchist political groups to abolish the post office and turn it over to their own greedy operations... Second,... I would not be so careless as to assume the growth rates of a new game concept would continue at that rate forever... The best industry guess is almost seven million active (defined as playing at least once a month) gamers, growing at about a quarter million net per year."

Paul makes two valid points, both dealing with my choice of words in that piece. First, I said "...there have been no groups intent on eradicating the postal service." The period was premature, however, as I should have continued with "...due to the stigma assigned to postal workers." Perhaps it would have made the point better if I had replaced the entire statement with the following: "It is not often that you will hear a parent tell a child to stop playing post office out of fear that the child will become a gun-toting maniac."

As for the statement concerning twelve million D&D players, it was much more a matter of misinterpretation than anything else. In fact, the number that Paul cited was for role-players as a whole, not just D&D players, something that he did not touch upon in that letter. For this, I apologize. But, I do have to add that it does not change the issue; seven million players is still a large group, and one that would make the papers daily if they consisted of nothing but murderers and rapists.

Oh, and before any Second Amendment zealots decide to flame me to oblivion: I'm pro-gun, okay? Really, I'm not kidding. I just don't think that maniacs should be allowed to tote them, that's all. I think we can all agree on that.

I'm going to go now, before I get into any more trouble.

Play nice,

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