Another (Anecdotal) Example Why The Popular Negative Stereotypes About Role-playing Gamers is Important to Address

by Hawke Robinson published 2014/06/13 05:50:00 GMT-7, last modified 2022-11-12T09:26:52-07:00
Here is another example of how pervasive the inculcation of misinformation, myths, and negative stereotypes about role-playing gamers has become in the united states. This person believed D&D caused her relative to commit a double homicide (mother and unborn child) in Idaho, "she thought his (in her view) 'addiction to D&D led to his killing them'".

This is not an isolated view. I have run into many people, in many states, with diverse backgrounds, that make the same assumptions as she did. I believe this to be due in part to the popular media continuing to revile  role-playing gamers, albeit it now often cushioned in humor.

This has an impact on millions of people. Many I have spoken with feel like they have to remain "in the closet" about their favorite recreational activity. And this is not limited to just the United States, there are indicators that varying degrees this impacts people world-wide...

This posting was just a rough draft. A more organized version can be found here:


Below are basically rough notes and "Brain dump" of topics to cover, but I leave the rough notes here for posterity, please keep that in context if you read the rest of this rough outline...

Also add the Isreal links and information about military against D&Ders. (Update: Over the years, the referenced article has since been called into question regarding validity).
Respond to those claiming that this issue isn't important, there are more important things, always used as a cop out to do nothing, an excuse for apathy in action, rather than tackling difficult but achievable goals with a longitudinal view.
To Edit.
Regarding Big Bang Theory's (and other pop culture) depiction of D&D, I had the following disturbing discussion related to D&D come up...

Unfortunately pop culture media, though often a reflection of current views, can also perpetuate and shape views. As some of you may, or may not, be aware, I am slowly working on attempting to establish causal relationships of variables between role-playing gaming and participants with the RPG Research project. At the office facilities I have one preliminary observation group, and just had out 12th weekly session. Prior to this week's session beginning Tuesday evening, I had a disturbing conversation with the senior secretary/administrative assistant there.

This office has a lot of lawyers, and other businesses, with a shared receptionist service in the building.

While the younger receptionist has just been curious, the elder one has been a bit skeptical about my work. It appears she just realized this week, that the group was playing D&D, and she asked to speak with me about that.

It was a long 20-30 minute conversation that I want to try to blog about as soon as I get a chance, but the short version is she was a parent during the 80's. She kept seeing and hearing things about D&D and RPG's then, and she felt she "didn't have the time" to "look into it more", so she just went with the general "public opinion" that D&D was "weird", and "dangerous", so she forbade her children from participating in it when they tried to.

She apparently is aware of Big Bang Theory, and other shows that have depicted D&D, and she indicated that she thought those were accurate representations of gamers as completely dysfunctional.

Also, she, like many others, apparently had a nephew-in-law, a relation through one of her niece's marriages, that apparently killed the niece and (unborn) daughter in December. Though neither he, nor the press picked it up, she initially stated she thought his (in her view) "addiction to D&D led to his killing them".
It took a few minutes to get her to clarify, and it became clear this was actually DDO (D&D Online) she was referring to, but she didn't understand the distinction between that and tabletop D&D or live-action role-playing, to her they were all one and the same.
According to her, apparently he had become extremely obsessive about the game before the murder.
I am trying to find news articles and information on this murder (apparently still pending trial this July, 2014).

I gave her the information about all the correlative and meta-data studies that indicate RPGers do not have higher levels of suicidal, homicidal, or anti-social personality traits (all available on the site and elsewhere over the decades), in the 70+ studies since the 80's.

By the end of the (3 week) conversation, she seemed at least open to the possibility that D&D wasn't causal, and that his obsession was more likely a symptom of greater psychological issues, rather than causes the issues.

I also clarified for her the differences between tabletop, live-action, and computer-based, of which she had thought dressing up (live-action), tabletop, and computer-based were all part of just one activity known as role-playing gaming.

These are common misconceptions I run into all the time.

She thought the popular culture depiction of dysfunctional young men, was caused by playing D&D.

This too seems to be a common popular belief. I am hoping, in addition to many other aspects, to begin performing a "man in the streets" survey to see how pervasive this is.
She indicated she had banned her kids from RPG in the 80s and 90s, and at the end of this process, stated she now regretted having done so, realizing that her kids may have missed out on some great benefits, that she now felt in hindsight may have helped them.

This discussion is exactly why "this matters" as a topic that needs to be addressed, and addressed in a very activist way. And fortunately there is some effort under way to do so (more on that later).
I still have to confirm with her (Monday?) that this is the correct homicide, but I believe it is, so pasting links to the news articles here (didn't find any news articles about his RPGing, appears to just be her opinion so far).
UPDATE: I did confirm this is the correct case.
She also stated (check recording), that now she understood all the negative hype was wrong. She made it clear she was a devout Christian,  that her pastor and peers had often spoke about the "dangers of RPG", but now she now, after our conversations over 3 weeks, no longer felt the stigma towards role-playing gamers and the game D&D.

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