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NEWS AND UPDATES - 2005 Archive

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December 12th, 2005

also - other stuff...

This week marks the tenth anniversary of "The Gaming Advocacy Website," a rickety old page set up on an AOL account that would get renamed as The Escapist a few months later. In the last ten years, I've gotten hundreds of emails from around the world, I've jumped off the roof of a garage and swallowed a live spider to prove a point (and make a lot of people laugh), and I've had the opportunity to get the word out at conventions, in newspapers and even on film that role-playing games are safe, fun, and good for you.

To everyone who reads, writes in, spreads the word, and makes all of the above possible: Thank you. I've got some new things planned for the site to commemorate the occasion, and the first one I'm unveiling is a regular column called Tell Me About Your Character. Head on over and check it out. There's a lot more to come, so stick with me!


Barnes & Noble is offering a liberal arts course titled "Discovering Dungeons & Dragons" on their Barnes & Noble University site. From the site:

As a beginning player, this course will guide you in understanding how D&D works, explaining the various worlds and characters types that it is based on, creating a D&D role for yourself, and understanding how your player role interacts in the world and with other characters. You will learn the extent of your abilities and the possibilities that lie ahead for your player, including magical spells, mythic quests, and epic battles with incredible monsters.

The next session begins January 9th.

NPR's Weekend America featured a great story on roleplaying in their November 12th broadcast, titled D&D Bonding, in which a father sits down with his son and tries to learn how to play D&D. In the end, he doesn't really understand the game, but appreciates the creativity that goes into playing. The show can be heard through streaming audio here (story is about two-thirds of thte way down the page).

Greg Costikyan reports in his Paranoia blog about a writer for the Paranoia RPG who works at a Catholic school, and was recently "found out" by his boss, who was not happy with her discovery. As a result, this citizen-who-shall-not-be-named is now doing his best to seperate his name from his work for the RPG.

It's very disturbing to see this sort of thing still going on - and painfully ironic to see it attached to a game like Paranoia. Not only is it offensive that this school has a percieved problem with an RPG author working there, but there's also the issue of separating work activity from home activity. What he does at home is his own business, and RPG authorship isn't something that he should have to keep in the closet.

The 80s are over, and while I miss a lot of the music, I think we should all be happy about it.

November 2nd, 2005


Don't forget - this Saturday is WORLDWIDE D&D GAME DAY! Find a participating location near you, sign up to play in The Fane of Lolth or other adventures, defeat the bad guys, bag up the treasure, and have a blast!

WWDDGD is a great opportunity to get new gamers involved in the hobby. If you have friends or family who have ever expressed interest in RPGs, or seem like they would make a good gamer, bring them along so they can find out what it's all about. Likewise, it's a great way to show someone who has misconceptions or doubts about gaming what really goes on at the gaming table.

I'd love to hear about any positive experiences you have at WWDDGD - if you've got a great story to share, email it to me at and let me know if can put it up on the site!


That's the title of a great gaming-positive article that appeared in the Detroit Metro Times. What makes it even better is that it features a comment or two by your kind and humble host! Read all about it right here!


New features are coming! Excitement! Thrills! Chills! I can barely contain myself!

July 13, 2005 - NEW PAGE FORMAT & DEXCON

I've finally got the new page format in place - this is the new look for The Escapist! I'm sure I haven't gotten all of the bugs out yet, and most of the rest of the site is still using the old format, but I'm hoping to have everything updated by December when the site turns 10! Take a look around, let me know what you think -

My Origins report will be posted when we get back from Dexcon this weekend. If you happen to be going, be sure to look for me!


I have been invited to be a guest at Dexcon 8 in East Brunswick, NJ, July 13-17, 2005. If you're in the New Jersey area and looking for a great con this July, stop on in and look me up! The folks at Dexcon are even giving a $10 discount on memberships for Escapist readers. To get your discount, go to their registration page, fill out your info, then enter Escapist-Reader in the Special Discount Code, and $10.00 in the Amount. Now how does it feel to be one of the elite? Hope to see you there!

I'll also be attending Origins 2005 in Columbus, Ohio this year - and I'll be bringing the whole family again! If you'd like to get together for some games or just to meet up, be sure to drop me a note at

Steve Weese has put together a site for Christians who enjoy the varied elements of fandom, including RPGs. Check out the articles, links, and forums of Fans For Christ at, and read his own "What is D&D" article here: Christians Playing D&D.


Advocates & Architects, the Escapist discussion forum, is now open! Stop on by to discuss & debate issues such as media coverage of RPGs, kids in gaming, using RPGs to teach, bringing new players into the hobby, and more!

Visit Advocates & Architects at See you there!


Those are the words of Pennsylvania district attorney Bruce Castor in reference to a triple murder case that happened in King of Prussia. John Eichinger is being charged with the murder of Lisa Greaves, her sister Heather, and Heather's three year old daughter. The New Jersey resident has also confessed to killing Jennifer Still in 1999. Still, Greaves, and Eichinger were all part of a wide circle of friends.

All murders appear to have the same motive - jealously. Eichinger wanted a relationship with both women, but was rejected. Police have not ruled out the possibility that the crime could be connected to role-playing games.

"We are looking into whether that's part of it," DA Bruce Castor said. "They have many, many stab wounds. Those Dungeons & Dragons fantasy games involve swords, and knives and daggers. There may be a connection but I can't say for sure"

Links to the stories are here, and I will add them to the archives when time permits:

NJ Man to Face Triple-Murder Charges in Montco
N.J. store clerk confesses to 4th killing, in 1999

(Thanks to the gang of people who forwarded these to me - Lee Williams from the excellent horror RPG zine Demonground, Jon Liming, daDiceGuy, and many more.)

Now for my two cents - It's another sound bite, another earworm that will remain once the story is long gone. People hear "D&D IS A POSSIBLE CONNECTION," and it stands out as the focus of the story, even if it wasn't written that way. As the story unfolds and the truth is revealed, the papers and news programs move on to other hot topics and never really follow up on the real reasons behind the terrible actions of a desperate person. And all anyone can remember about the murder, even above the names and dates and places, is "D&D IS A POSSIBLE CONNECTION."

It's a sad situation. Not only because it propagates the myth - it's more far-reaching than that. It's sad because it's a statement of how lazy we are to seek out the real truth, no matter what the topic is. We're happy to have our 'facts' handed to us in bite-sized pieces, so we don't have to warm the old skullmeat up for too long to process them.

On the subject of soundbites - I've caught a lot of comments recently about how this sort of thing doesn't happen anymore - give up the martyr complex - stop living in the 80s - no one discriminates against gamers - and a host of other soundbites along those lines. And I'd really like to think that I, the site, and the work that I do here do not fall into that stereotype. I'd like to think that there are positive things happening here that are helping to educate people, to show them the facts - not to make gamers feel like martyrs, or non-gamers to feel like we think we're superior. Sharing these news reports and setting the record straight doesn't make martyrs, but it should demonstrate how much we desire the truth.

I'd like to think that I'm not a soundbite. 'Cause if so, then maybe it's time to pack it in.

Okay, that's enough sermon for now. Please open your hymnals to Hymn 142...

- wjw

March 11, 2005 - IDF FROWNS ON D&D PLAYERS, MEDIA RESPONDS BY POSTING STOCK PICS OF LARPERS: I got whiff of this one on the 7th, courtesy of our good buddy Nate, but my schedule has been busy this week and I haven't been able to post an update regarding it. In that time, it has hit most of the gaming forums and generated some heated discussion.

If you have missed the story somehow, I'll recap: It has been revealed that the Israeli Defense Force has been screening recruits for gamers, whom they consider "detatched from reality," "susceptible to influence," and possessing "weak personalit(ies)." If a recruit admits to having an interest in RPGs, they are sent to a psychologist for evaluation - over half of them are considered a security risk and given a low security clearance, which prevents them from serving in certain positions.

Full story is here, and I'll add it to the Escapist archives once I get a little more free time. (ED: here it is!)

When I checked this story out earlier this week, it included several pictures of guys dressed in medieval garb, threatening each other with boffer swords. Now it appears that most of those pictures have been removed, and only one fantasy art picture remains in place. A good portion of the comments beneath the article gripe about the pictures of LARPers meant to represent D&D players. Some commenters mention that the original Hebrew article mentions RD&D and not D&D, and that the translation to English made this change. I'm still trying to find out what RD&D is exactly, but from what I can guess, it is something closer to what those pictures depict - a live-action fantasy game with costumes and boffer weapons.

Discussions on this story have gotten rather heated in the last week. I've been sorting through them on several sources, and I feel the general points that need to be made are these:

- The story does not mention the names of military officials, but readily mentions those of concerned gamers. Some have pointed out that this could be a sign that this is a bogus story. On the other hand, it wouldn't be hard to believe that this came from anonymous sources, or any military people who did not want to go on the record as making an official statement.

- Assuming this story is true, the IDF is not "banning" gamers, only checking some that they feel are a risk group. Recruits are still admitted into the military regardless of their gaming interests.

- Despite that, any program that targets any group as a risk is a bad idea. Evaluating any one group, and then basing your future decisions on that evaluation, will result in an invariably flawed outlook. The statement "over half of the gamers we evaluate are security risks" is the the product of this - but the same results could come from chess players, or hockey players, or people who prefer chunky peanut butter over creamy.

- As with any other story where RPGs meet the real world, if the IDF knew about Call of Cthulhu or Unknown Armies, their heads would explode.

- If all of the branches of the US military did this, they'd be reviewing almost a third of their forces (and I joked to one person that if just the Navy did it, it would be TWO thirds).

So here we have a story of discrimination and stereotyping against gamers - one that could possibly be a farce - and as usual, I'm about to put my positive spin on it:

True or not, it's good to see people care about this issue. It's good to see gamers and former gamers speak out against this sort of thought. It's kind of like that scene in Airheads where the guy in the crowd stands up and says "Hey! I played D&D too!" It's just good to know that, for the most part, people still won't stand for it.

John Kovalic, writer/creator of Dork Tower and all-around great guy, brought the story to his strip:

Used with permission - visit John's site for more great comics at

Aaron Williams, writer/creator of Nodwick, PS 238, and Full Frontal Nerdity, and all-around great guy, brought the story to his strip too:

Used with permission. (Aaron even said he was "honored" to have me post it here!) Check out more great comics at

You are currently reading archived Escapist updates.
To see the latest news items, go to the Escapist blog.
Previous updates by year: 
2009 - 2008 - 2007 - 2006 - 2005 - 2003 - 2002 - 2001 - 2000 
1999 - 1998 - 1997 - 1996

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