My brother-in-law, David Swisher, recommended a documentary about the Satanic Panic to me. It features a gentleman known as the GeekPreacher investigating the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. He talks to several TSR gaming legends (including Tim Kask, Skip Williams, Larry Elmore, Luke Gygax, and more!) about the era and its effects.
For me, I started playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition around 1991 when I was in college. I knew there was some controversy, so at the time, I didn’t really talk about it to people outside of my friend group. I didn’t talk about it to my wife’s family (including David) because I knew them to be people of great faith. All these years later, I discover that David and his girlfriend are starting to play D&D and my father-in-law doesn’t mind at all.
I remember back in the early 2000s playing Heroes of Rokugan (Legend of the Five Rings organized play) in Butler. It was at a church. Imagine my shock that a role-playing game was being played in a church.
When I was a kid, I was in a church congregation that included a group of people who lived in what my dad called a commune. They were ultra-conservative in a bad way. They didn’t like having puppets for youth events and they got rid of the Christmas tree in church due to its pagan origins (see Saturnalia). They had their own school where the kids could recite Bible versus from memory, but they could barely read. They were judgmental as hell. At one youth event, they had a guest speaker who went into backmasking, amongst other things. John Galler was there. I remember that I left there scared. Church should never make you scared. It should be loving and comforting. Luckily, that group split into its own thing.
I got a friend request on Facebook several years ago from a girl slightly younger than me from that group. I accepted the friend request with some trepidation. The second I mentioned magic, she started quoting Bible versus at me. Nothing had changed. She could not go beyond the programming of that group, which I consider to be a cult. She would keep passing that programming down to the next generation and the cycle would continue. I unfriended her faster than a person could blink.
So let me tell you what D&D means to me. It’s a way for friends and family to get together and bond over a game. It’s fellowship and community. It’s a chance to make friends and exercise one’s creativity. It’s a safe and fun hobby. D&D led the way to me getting into web design and game design. It taught me that I was a creative soul.
I identify as a Christian, a gamer, a lover of music (including heavy metal), someone who hates bullies, and so much more. I am proud of who I am, and I make no apologies about it.