Your cyberpunk games are dangerous

Fascinating article from Jon Peterson goes over the history of government intervention in gaming, and how it relates to the internet we have today. Includes this on the Dungeons & Dragons scare of the 80s:

This misunderstanding arose only five months after TSR obtained widespread notoriety in a similar confusion surrounding the disappearance of college student James Dallas Egbert III in East Lansing, Michigan. A private detective hired to find Egbert had learned that the young man played TSR’s role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons–at the time virtually unknown to mainstream America–and hypothesized that Egbert had come to believe the game was real. Famously, this led to calls for a search of the college steam tunnels, where presumably Egbert would be found wandering in a deluded stupor, questing for monsters and treasure.

Actually, Egbert had run away to Louisiana for unrelated reasons, but a seed was then planted in the American popular imagination. Role-playing games were dangerous: they warped fragile young minds, breaking down the barriers between the real and the imaginary. The irony is that it was the authorities, not the players, who couldn’t tell a game from reality.

Author: Jack Slater

A Philadelphian exiled to Hawaii. You can follow or contact me on Twitter where I’m @TimeDoctor, via the contact page, or via e-mail to zjs AT zacharyjackslater dot com

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