Fundamentalist Christians and Negative Conceptions of Dungeons & Dragons

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Fundamentalist Christians and Negative Conceptions of Dungeons & Dragons

This paper is an attempt to explain the negative conceptions about role-playing games, especially claims that the games are Satanic. I will be using many primary sources from the Internet, most of which are from Christian websites, to determine precisely what is being claimed about the games. I will be using more academic sources in order to try to explain where the claims are coming from. As the websites primarily focus on Dungeons & Dragons (henceforth noted as D&D), I too will focus on this game. First I will examine the most common conceptions one by one and try to determine the source of each, and then I will examine the claims as a whole to give an overall theory about them.

The first claim that I’ll discuss is that D&D causes players to commit suicide. According to, Dr. Radedki, “chairman of the National Coalition on Television Violence”, said “[t]here is no doubt in my mind that the game Dungeons and Dragons is causing young men to kill themselves and others.” A character in the Chick Tract “Dark Dungeons” commits suicide after her character dies in the game. The conception seems to be that players get so obsessed by the game, so enthralled, that when something goes wrong (like their character dying) they have difficulty dealing with the consequences. They have so much difficulty, it is claimed, that they sometimes kill themselves because of it.

This claim appears to stem from a few different events. This brief history is agreed upon by a number of authors, but I am specifically using Brian Webber’s account, from, and Paul Cardwell, Jr.’s article in the Skeptical Enquirer. The first event was in 1979, when a student named James Dallas Egbert III disappeared from Michigan State University’s campus. It was theorized by an investigator named William Dear that Egbert was lost in the steam tunnels under the campus, acting as a character in D&D. He was found about a month later, but his disappearance had already been highly publicized, starting a new public perception of the game. A year later Egbert committed suicide.

In 1982, a boy named Irving Pulling II committed suicide.

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