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"Satan's Game"
A sociological investigation of roleplaying games

An excerpt:
It is this experience of escapism, community and a psycho-social moratorium in which identity, issues and cultural forms can be freely explored, that lies at the heart of gaming and the gaming sub-culture. It is also the source of many attacks against gamers and RPGs on the grounds that they blur the boundaries between reality and fantasy, leading people to engage in immoral or anti-social activities, or in the case of fundamentalist Christian attacks, leading young people to Paganism or Satanism and thus away from the Church.

And on a related tangent, Jack T. Chick has updated his old article, "Should Christians Play Dungeons & Dragons" to reflect the changes in the hobby today.

One particularly outrageous excerpt, as a response to suggestion that Mr. Chick write about something more important than "just a game":
It needs to be emphasized that a spiritual deception which draws people away from Jesus Christ is much more dangerous than automotive chicken or people dying of starvation.

This is just after he compared D&D to Islam as a sure route to hell. His thesis is only that roleplaying is evil because it's anti-Biblical, that is to say that it is built upon premises which are not Biblical.

Despite the tirades that a select few engage in, roleplaying games in general are accepted today, and the hysteria of the 80's and early 90's has died away for the lack of evidence and the presence of counterexamples that roleplaying is harmful in any way. And, it might be noted, ol' Jack and the rest of the lingering zealots won't be with us forever.

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More's the pity -- Jack Chick is a wealth of incredibly funny material. My sweety bought me the whole collection for my birthday one year. I still find new outrageousness in there. And the artwork!

I'm not done his revised article yet, but he keeps bringing up fascinating turns of logic.

Paraphrasing, he asserts that "occult" themes in books and movies encourages cults of Satanism and witch-craft, then turns around and states that the profusion of those very same materials is proof of growing cult activity.

He asserts that believing in magic is incompatible with being a Christian because it refutes God's dominion over all Creation, and then he turns around and says that denying that imaginary magic is dangerous is naïve because magic is real!

He appears to be that most sad of Christians: having more belief in the devil than any of the people he is hoping to "save".

Story from high school...

"You role-play? isn't that, like, Satanic???"

Me: "No, actually, Satanism is a religion based on rebelling against Christianity. This is playing pretend."

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Reading that article has given me much more respect for Mr. Chick. Despite a few bits of circular logic (which he can be excused for, since all but the most rigorously-proofed philosophy papers often contain flaws in the logic of trivial points), his arguments are lucid and considered. You're right--he is right given his own premises.

That I disagree with his fundamental* premises is a debate-ender, and the end is inconclusive. Further debate between he and his like, and the roleplaying community won't be conclusive, so we just have to ignore him. Fortunately, the exact details of his worldview that condemn roleplaying seem to be rare even among fundamentalist Christians. Most that object do so from dogma spread by people like Chick, not their own considered ideas.

Though I have more respect for his ability to reason, now, I still don't understand how he can claim that magic is real and then assert that believing in magic condemns the believer to hell. Isn't he relegating himself to hell, then?

* Where I mean his basic premises, not his premises which are fundamentalist. ;-)

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