RPG Stigma Hawke anecdotes

by Victoria Jesswein published 2022/11/12 09:28:35 GMT-7, last modified 2022-11-12T09:28:35-07:00

[QUOTE=Wil;15508005]I'd argue that there's no social stigma at all, and only stigma originating from individuals. To whit, society doesn't give a crap whether anyone plays rpgs or not and admitting to doing so does not negatively impact someone's ability to function in society, nor are rpg detractors capable of swaying public opinion. I'd be much more concerned about other actions taken by various groups related to the televangelist/Dominionist movement than them screaming about rpgs being Satanic.[/QUOTE]

Alas that it were true that no one cared about folks' hobbies. I've done plenty of research to see that at least across much of the USA, and a few other countries such as Israel, ignorance and utter misconceptions about role-playing gaming, especially D&D, have had significant impact on people trying to enjoy this activity. I cover much of it on the site and in the papers, and of course the car-pga folks cover it in even more detail.

Personally I am proud to be a gamer, but that has not stopped others from being able to have an impact on my life, or others, due to their ignorance.

From about 1979 to about 1982 I did not run into anyone who had any issues with role-playing gaming. Those that knew anything about it generally enjoyed it, and there weren't any assumptions about it being for "geeks", "nerds", or the later even more negative "anti-social", "outcasts", "misfits", etc.
Then around '83 to '85 or so, I started to see TV shows and news reports and newspaper articles going on about the dangers of gaming. This was before the occult accusations, and more about claims that it promoted antisocial behavior, suicide, etc. The occultism came later in the 80's.
Many of the girls, and a few of the guys in the school i was at (about 8th-10th grade time period) started mocking us during gaming sessions we had during lunch or other break periods. I thought they were ridiculous and just misinformed, and didn't really care what they thought and offered to show them the game (they of course refused). Later though, as the media became worse, the initially light mockery became more serious. Accusations began being made about "Spells", and "demon worship", etc. I became disgusted with their ignorance and wrote an 8 page essay on the topic for my AP English course. The teacher then had me read this to the whole school (because the issue was getting especially heated in various communities). After that some of the girls and guys that had been mocking before, took me up on the offer to let them try the games, and some became gamers, other did not, but no longer harassed us.

Later, as I was in a small private school I was in Realms of Inquiry "for gifted & talented children", we temporarily were without a theater class instructor, so the school made it a study period until they could find a replacement instructor. I had the "crazy" idea to make that a gaming period, especially since I saw a reasonable relationship to the theater period and role-playing gaming. I wrote up a proposal and met with the Headmaster, proposing I run a course on role-playing gaming during that period for anyone that wished to attend, until they had a new teacher. He tentatively agreed.
I was allowed to use the biology classroom (since it had the most large tables instead of just student desks, or floor space as the theater room was), and setup several tables with different genres of games and systems. If I remember correctly they were:
Boot Hill
AD&D 1st Edition
Twilight 2000 (had just come out)
FASA Star Trek

We only had about 44 students from 9th through 12th grade, and during that month almost all of them joined in the "class". Everyone took turns as players and GM's, while I went around giving pointers and guidance and demos. It was such a blast. It was a shame when they hired the new instructor and I had to end it after only a month. No one in the school after that had anything negative to say about role-playing gaming.

Meanwhile, in all through the neighborhoods, at various churches and community meetings, efforts were underway to attempt to ban role-playing gaming.

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