Sunday, 16 September 2012

Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons


The height of the anti-D&D movement of the eighties was a painful time for me; it put several of my friendships on hiatus, and effectively end my close relationship with my best friend of the time.

At the time, I never heard of BADD - this anti D&D sentiment was a vague thing, seemingly fueled by parents' worries and a story about a young D&D fan who killed two young girls in nearby Orangeville. It was on the horizon - mixed up with religious ignorance south of the border.

After a dry spell of a few months, in the company of other friends, I found my way back into gaming - through the Fighting Fantasy RPG (of all things) and back into AD&D with a new group of enthusiasts and new friendships. An unpleasant chapter ended.

15 years later I stumble on this Wikipedia article about Patricia Pulling, the founder of BADD, and the whole thing acquires a much more human face; it's a tragic story, really. Fervently believing that the suicide death of her son was a result of D&D, she sued his school's principal and started her one-woman crusade.

The article goes on to say that although she and BADD gained a fair bit of media coverage through conservative and christian media, all of the lawsuits she initiated or later consulted for failed. Her own book discredited her through factual and mathematical errors, and eventually no less than the CDC concluded there was no link between fantasy gaming and suicide.

I find it very moving to look at this as the story of a mother who can't accept the loss of her son, and what a load of wasted effort and pain she stirred up for others in the process.

"BADD effectively ceased to exist", it concludes, "when Pulling died of cancer in 1997. By this time, BADD had been reduced to Pulling as its sole member." Sad stuff.