It is no surprise to me that when I mention that I play D&D, most of my Christian friends are slightly shocked to say the least. To them and many others, Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is Satan’s Game, evil and vile, or a tool of the occult. It is unwritten rule that Christians simply do not play this game on the basis of the very least that we should “obstain from the appearance of evil.” The appearance of evil is another post entirely, but I certainly understand where their misunderstanding comes from.
My first understanding comes from my parent’s generation in the 70’s when D&D was first created. During this time, many controversial adventures were published and as a result of bad PR, D&D was labeled as an ‘adult’ game that was nothing short of violent fantasy, encouraging murder, rape, stealing and other violent behaviors. It is the ugly truth that many of these early adventures, some 20 or 30 years ago, had themes and graphical imagery that portrayed signs of the occult, including sacrificial virgins being raped and killed. These ‘bad apples’ the bunch and in the eyes of the media, this game was sure to rot the very soul of anyone who dared to play the game.
To further complicate the issue, a woman by the name of Pat Pulling began a heavy campaign to abolish D&D and other related games after the suicide of her son, which she fully blamed on his participation in the game. Rumor has it that his character in the game was killed and he took it a step further, by ending his own life. Clearly the game’s fault…
This and other news stories branded the game as completely evil, especially from the late 70’s to the early 90’s. As a result, many Christians simply stayed away from the game.
Given such evil overtones, why in the world would I as a Christian play this game? Well there are several reasons really. The first being that my friends and I do not participate in such wretched adventures. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find any official adventures with such overtly sexually violent themes as sacrificial virgins being raped or orgie parties. Most of our adventures are slaying dragons in epic quests for hidden keys or discovering plots that will save a city’s destruction. Our role playing has nothing to do with the satanic or occultic practices of the first generation of D&D material. I guess you can say that it has been redeemed from its awfully dirty past.
D&D has come a long way from its inception and their are benefits that even Christians benefit from playing the game.
- Fellowship: In most games you find 4 or more people whose share interest in the game has guarenteed them to have some fun. There are some nights when playing, that I have laughed so hard my stomach hurt. It is simply deep, rich fellowship the way it is intended to be.
- Critical Thinking: If you are playing a well thought out adventure, you will most likely have to use your brain before you get to the end. There are often puzzles to be solved put into place by the adventure’s designer. Furthermore, as the players take the role playing seriously, you may have to find unique solutions to problems you wouldn’t usually think about (i.e. You might have someone who is roleplaying that they are afraid of water and refuse to get on the boat with you. How will the adventure progress?).
- Team Dynamics: This is more of a combonation of the first two. As you progress through the adventure, you have to learn to work with characters of all types. The game itself allows players to be lawful, neutral, or chaotic as well as good, neutral, or evil. As you think and act out how your character responds to others, you learn how to deal with them effectively in order to achieve a common goal.