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Main > Advocacy > Advocacy 2000 Archive

Advocacy 2000 Article Archive

December 11th, 2000:

The Escapist Takes A Vacation

An unplanned vacation, that is. If you tried to log on to The Escapist in the last couple months, you were probably greeted with a message that the page does not exist, or were redirected to the site of an Australian web design company. It was all due to a minor glitch, but it kept the site down for over a month and a half. Thankfully, that has all been cleared up, and the site is once again up for business.

Special thanks go out to Ed Healy and Aaron Powell of the Gaming Outpost (the Escapist's host site) for their help and patience during this time.

Two US Cities Enact Video Game Bans

Two United States cities have passed ordinances that forbid minors from playing - or even looking at - certain video games. Indianapolis, Indiana was the first, where arcade owners were told to clearly label games with objectionable material, quarantine them at least 10 feet away from other games, and obscure them from passing eyes with a curtain or wall. Arcades that do not comply can be fined, and eventually lose the right to display such machines. The ordinance was put on hold when the video game industry filed an appeal.

Then, a county in Missouri passed a public health ordinance that prevents children from buying, renting, or playing video games with violent or sexual content. The ordinance will take effect on November 10th.

Such governmental decisions are just a breath away from affecting adventure gaming as well. A simple rewording of either ordinance could easily include all games, which would then cover role-playing, board, and collectible card games. Imagine visiting your favorite game shop and having to step into the curtained section in the back of the store to pick up the latest Vampire supplement, feeling much more like you're there to buy an adult movie or pornographic magazine. It may sound extreme, but laws such as these bring us a step closer to this kind of reality. With the rash of recent protests over D&D and Magic in our schools, it would be foolish to think that there aren't people who would lobby for it.

In a way, these bans could affect the gaming scene as they stand. Indianapolis is the city that will begin hosting Gen Con, the nation's largest gaming convention, starting in 2003. If the ordinance is active then, it will definitely affect the way that Gen Con presents it's computer gaming exhibits. In a worst-case scenario, it could possibly affect the entire convention.

If you live in Indiana or Missouri, or you're concerned that such an action may be taken in your area, write to your senator or representative and tell them how you feel. 

Report Reveals: "Going Postal" Is A Myth

A report released in August has revealed that, despite popular claims, United States postal workers are no more likely to assault or abuse others than the members of any other workforce would. The study on which the 249-page report was based covered seven years and over 900,000 postal workers, and took two years to complete.

While the study goes into much further detail about particular incidents and individuals, it doesn't take a mathematician to realize that a handful of incidents among a group of 900,000 people falls well into the range of coincidence. Now, the question here is - since there are several million more gamers than postal workers, and only a few more incidents, can this same theory be used to disprove the claims against gaming? Or will we need to hire a research firm to do the work for us?

For more info, click here.

Inmate Asks For Gaming Help

In a letter published in a recent issue of Wizard, a prisoner in an Indiana correctional facility asked for assistance in bringing D&D and Magic back to the prison. According to the letter, inmate James Moore claims that the prison "does not allow these games because they are 'satanic' and 'evil.'"

While it is easy to dismiss such issues as unnecessary luxuries for prisoners, it is very dangerous for any level of government to cast a judgment of "satanic" on any type of activity. Even if games like Magic and D&D were tools of the Satanic church, it would be unconstitutional for them to be removed from a prison on that basis. Since these games are just games, and not products of the infernal, it makes this decision even less substantial. The issue here is not whether or not prisoners should be allowed to play role-playing games; it is whether or not we should permit state-owned facilities to call our hobby diabolical.

It remains to be seen whether there is any truth to the author's claim. It is very possible that this is a situation that has become terribly overblown; after all, prisoners and prison guards are hardly the best of friends. But this is not an unusual occurrence by any means. The CAR-PGa has encountered similar cases to this one, in which D&D was banned from prisons for many ridiculous reasons - including concerns that the artwork found in the books could inspire prisoners to get tattoos, and that the nature of the game could encourage the participants to plan a jailbreak.

It Came From Dave's Basement

David Arneson, co-creator of the original Dungeons & Dragons game, has just completed a documentary on the first ten years of the adventure gaming industry entitled "Dragons In The Basement." The film is expected to air on PBS and the Sci-Fi Channel.

When completed, the video will include a CD-ROM containing all of the unedited interviews that were gathered to create the film, and there is a book in the works that will cover the in-depth material even further.

Visit for some exclusive preview clips of "Dragons In The Basement," at

July 7th, 2000:

U.S. Government Plays Make Believe

The United States government staged a 10 day exercise in crisis and consequence management in May, with a series of mock terrorist attacks that began in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and eventually struck Boulder, Colorado and Washington, D.C.

The 3.5 million dollar exercise, nicknamed "Topoff," involved thousands, including mayors, local and state police, hospital personnel, and even Janet Reno and other Cabinet members.  Volunteer actors filled the roles of the injured and the dead.  "Topoff" was the largest exercise of it's kind ever conducted in the United States.

Participants were aware that the drill would be taking place, but not when or what would happen.  Likewise, great pains were taken to prevent the public from mistaking the exercise for anything but a simulation.

(Most of them could probably have figured it out on their own, though... once they saw a bunch of paramedics hunching over a wounded civilian and playing rock-paper-scissors.)

When asked about the lofty cost of the exercise, Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire crossed his arms over his chest and whispered "I'm invisible... you can't see me..."

For the full story, without my little sarcastic jibes, click here.

"I'm a 10th-Level Vice President!"

Those were the horribly ironic words of United States Vice President Al Gore in his guest appearance on the May 21st episode of the animated sitcom "Futurama."

In the episode, Gore is the leader of a special task force that maintains the integrity of the time-space continuum.  The other members of the force include Stephen Hawking, Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols, and our very own Gary Gygax.

Near the end of the episode, Gygax pulls out a DM screen and a classic first-edition copy of the Monster Manual, and asks who would like to play a game of D&D.  That's when Gore pipes in with the titular line.

Why so ironic, you may ask?  Well, it was Gore's wife, Tipper, who spoke out against D&D in her book Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society, using the infamous Patricia Pulling and B.A.D.D. as her source.  This makes Gore the first candidate to the White House to have been involved with an anti-game group.

Tipper, as many will recall, was one of the founding members of the Parent's Music Resource Center, or P.M.R.C., a group that lobbied heavily for the labeling of rock and rap records based on their lyrical content.  As well as helping to spread some paranoia about gaming, her book also helped to promote a punk and metal "detoxification" program called Back In Action, which would take "problem" children to a special camp to "deprogram" them of their punk or metal mindset.  One of B.I.C's warning signs of potential trouble in a child was the wearing of tennis shoes.

Tipper wrote Raising PG Kids... in the mid-eighties, while the controversy over D&D was still rather warm, and the book itself was much more of a promotional tool for the P.M.R.C.  In fact, it is very possible that the book was ghostwritten for her, and that the statements made against gaming were not her own. 

Still, all equal time aside, the connection is a little scary.  Remember it when you hit the polling booth this November.

April 28th, 2000:

Pope-a-chu, I Choose You!

The Vatican has made an amazing statement regarding the immensely popular Pokemon craze.  In a broadcast on Sat2000, their cable television station, the Pokemon video and card games were described as "full of inventive imagination," without "any harmful moral side effects." 

A comment was also made regarding the role-playing nature of the games, and how both allow children "to enter directly into the story."  The games were also commended for promoting creative thought processes and problem-solving without violence.

This is quite possibly the first statement in generations that the Vatican has ever made about a contemporary game, and it seems to be the closest that we may ever see to an actual Papal statement regarding role-playing.   Thankfully, they seem to see things our way.  I'd much rather have the Vatican on our side.

It should be interesting to see how this statement affects the ongoing legal battle over the presence of games such as Pokemon and Magic in our nation's schools, especially the White Plains case, which was started by a group of Catholic parents.

Check out the following stories for more: Pokemon and the Pope, Pokemon Earns Papal Praise.

Cosa Nostra, I Choose You!

This news bite comes from one of the stories listed above, but I felt it deserved it's own mention: Italian officials fear that the Mafia may start churning out counterfeit Pokemon cards to captalize on the craze, which has reached an all-time high in Italy and caused the cards to become extremely difficult to find there. 

Maybe it's just me, but this conjures a hilarious image in my mind...

"Hey kid... wanna buy a Charmander?   I've got five of 'em right here..." (opens coat to reveal rows and rows of bootleg cards...)

D&D Cartoon Returns

From the we-should-have-seen-this-coming department: Fox has announced that they will be bringing back the Dungeons & Dragons Saturday morning cartoon series, starting on April 29th.  The series originally ran during the mid eighties, and featured a group of teens who board an amusement park ride and become trapped in a fantasy world.  The show will air on Saturday mornings at 10:00 a.m.

Special thanks to Jay Thacker for this story

April 15th, 2000:

Paducah Judge Rules: Games Not To Blame

Citing a previous lawsuit against the manufacturer of Dungeons & Dragons, a Federal judge has ruled that the makers of video games, movies, and websites cannot be held liable for the actions of troubled teens.   The decision was made in a lawsuit filed against the entertainment industry by the parents of three of victims of Michael Carneal, who shot members of a student prayer group on December 1st, 1997.

``This was a tragic situation, but tragedies such as this simply defy rational explanation and the courts should not pretend otherwise,'' wrote U.S. District Judge Edward Johnstone in his opinion on the case. 

Judge Johnstone based his opinion on a similar case in which the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that TSR was not liable for the suicide of a McCracken County teen-ager.

For more, check out Paducah Shooting Lawsuit Dismissed

Men In Black Come to Life at Universal Studios

From PRNewswire: Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida has debuted the "world's first life-size, ride-through, interactive video game experience," based on the popular science-fiction film Men In Black.

Patrons of the ride interact with their surroundings, firing laser rifles as aliens surround and threaten them, and the outcome of the adventure is based on the accuracy of their shooting skills.

MIB stars Will Smith and Rip Torn make appearances as their characters from the film, and the ride's finale features a 30-foot high animatronic alien bug with eight-foot teeth.  For more gory details, check out  Universal Studios at Universal Orlando Debuts World's First Life-Size, Ride-Through, Interactive Video Game Experience.

Interactive gaming has reached a new level.  Four words: see you in line!

March 17th, 2000:

CAR-PGa Joins eGroups

Stephen Jay has started a CAR-PGa message group on eGroups, to allow ease of communication between members and non-members alike. You can join the group or view the messages by visiting

Go Ask Alice…

Nicholas Yee has publicly posted the results of his psychological study on gamers and the characters they play. "Through The Looking Glass: An Exploration of the Interplay Between Player and Character Selves in Role-Playing Games" can be viewed at Yee does an excellent job of making his results available to experts and laymen, and his findings are a great read.

RPGnet Releases Survey Results, Too

Not wanting to be outdone by Wizards of the Coast, RPGNet has released the results of their surveys, which include topics ranging from the use of religion in RPGs to favorite beverages to drink while playing. As you can probably guess, some of the questions are off of the wall, but the more serious questions and their results are very interesting. To view the results, go to

March 3rd, 2000:

Wizards Releases Gamer Research Summary

On February 7th, 2000, Wizards of the Coast publicly released the results of a research study that they conducted in the summer of 1999.

The study's scope is slightly limited, dealing with gamers between the ages of 12 and 35; Wizards vice president Ryan Dancey claims this is to keep it to a manageable size.  The study does include a wide variety of games, from tabletop RPGs and CCGs to computer RPGs and family board games.

All in all, the results make for some interesting reading.  To check out the full report, click here.

Hooray! For Role-Playing

A company called Hooray! has released a line of role-playing toys entitled "Just Like Dad's" and endorsed by Cal Ripken Jr.

The line includes kits that allow kids to play the roles of camper, fisherman, carpenter, doctor, chef, engineer, contractor, executive, roadside safety engineer, and baseball player.

Hooray!'s press release mentions that sales of dress-up and role-play toys are at an all-time high, and that the dress-up business has shifted from seasonal to year-round.  While this could be mere sales hype, it could mean that kids are enjoying make-believe more now than in recent years.  For the full story, click here.

Here's a fun fact: Hooray!, like Wizards of the Coast, won a National Parenting Center Seal of Approval in 1999 for their "Huggy Buggy" line of soft toy vehicles.  Wizards won the award in 1999 for the Pokemon collectible card game.

Trouble In Canada

Three young men in Brockville, Ontario Canada have been arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit murder of a police officer during New Year's festivities. 

Two neighbors with a police scanners overheard one of the men talking on a cell phone about a plot to murder a police officer, steal a police vehicle, and make an escape into the United States.  The Canadian media has latched onto the fact that the men were Rifts players, but it is still very unclear as to what was actually going on.

The worst part of this tale are the comments that have been gathered from local gamers and a game store employee that do very little to help the situation at all.  One Rifts player tell a reporter that hostility to the police is a major theme of the game, for example.

To read more, check out these stories: Mother says teens' plot to kill police just a prank, New Charges in Y2K Plot, Maybe it's all a game to would-be cop killers, and Alleged conspiracy 'just a game'

Special thanks to Mark Towler, Kamadeus, and Lynette R. F. Cowper for this story

February 11th, 2000:

Return of the Son of Pokemon Problems

Just when you thought it was safe to carry miniature monsters around in spherical traps... 

pokemon_manji.jpg (9728 bytes)-- Concerned parents have discovered what they believe is a swastika on a Japanese Pokemon card.  It is in fact a manji, a symbol of good luck, and was only printed on Japanese cards.  Those cards, however, have been popular here in the states as collector's items.  Check out the full story here.

What the AP story doesn't mention, however, is that the symbol is not unique to Asia.  The Mescalero Apache use the same symbol as an icon of a running or dancing man.  Regardless, it has a different meaning to most of the people living in the modern day; for that reason, Nintendo has decided to discontinue the card.

This, of course, will cause it's value to skyrocket like a retired Beanie Baby with a misprinted heart tag, which is the exact reverse of the desired effect.  But, such is life...

Special thanks to Jon Liming for the story and Laura Purdy for the info on the Mescalero.

-- The 700 Club has struck again, this time against Pokemon.This story from last November pretty much follows the same formula as their story about Magic: The Gathering; playing the game causes nightmares, makes the kids chant occultic phrases, and so on.  So much for originality...

Special thanks to Heli Kinnunen and Jon Liming for this story.

-- A Puerto Rico lawmaker has called for an investigation into the Pokemon craze in an attempt to protect the nation's children from related acts of violence.  Read the full story here.

Special thanks to Wayne Brown for this story

-- The culture minister of Quebec is threatening to fine Wizards of the Coast a paltry $1000 if they do not supply Canada with a French-language version of Pokemon.  According to Quebec's language laws, all labeling and literature for products sold there must be in French.  Wizards has agreed to comply in the face of a fine that could set them back...  well, not at all, really.  But at least they're playing nice.  Read the full story here.

-- Another Universe compiled a listing of all of the current Pokemon related brawls in their article Poke-Crime Sweeps Nation!, including a man who punched a Burger King employee when he did not get a Pokemon toy in his kid's meal.   Perhaps BK should put Prozac on the menu.

Special thanks to Jon Liming, who is attempting to beat Spencer Lease's record...

...And Some Pokemon Praise!

The December 7th issue of Woman's World magazine contained a real jaw-dropper; an article praising the game and listing it's benefits.  In Experts Reveal: Pokemon Mania Is Actually Good For Your Kids, many of the beneficial elements of the game are detailed, such as building social, strategical, and economical skills.

So did I miss it, or did Wizards of the Coast buy Woman's World magazine when no one was looking?

Give Me A Break!

While watching ABC's 20/20 on Friday, November 26th, I caught a report by John Stossel on the dangers of "over-reporting" certain news stories.  Stossel has a regular piece called "Give Me A Break," in which he expresses his distaste on a certain topic... for example, a recent installment featured tax breaks for the wealthy on the purchase of yachts and other luxuries. 

This time, Stossel turned his ire towards himself and his colleagues for giving too much coverage to certain stories, and fueling public paranoia about unlikely and uncommon events.  He lambasted networks for refusing to cease live coverage of a story, even when no further developments are at hand, and bringing in experts to formulate theories and postulations when there is time to fill (not unlike anti-gamer "cult expert" Carl Rashke's murder theories on the scene of the Heaven's Gate mass suicide).

What pricked my ears (and eyes), however, was when he began to rant about the media's tendency to create undue public concern for things that have very little chance of happening.  The recent flight 990 disaster, for example, generated hundreds of stories about the mental capacity of airline pilots, which gave hundreds of thousands of people one more thing to fear about airline travel.  Yet, the total lives lost in that crash is but a fraction of those lost in auto accidents over the recent Thanksgiving holiday.  The stories about the infamous ValuJet crash caused several budget airlines to lose millions in ticket sales, while the reality is that their safety records are just as good as those of the major airlines.

Then, there was a small glimpse of a headline, something that mentioned a blood-drinking vampire cult.  I jumped to the edge of my seat; was Stossel going to debunk any Goth or gaming legends?  I was immediately let down, however, as the headline faded as quickly as it appeared, and no mention of it's existence was made at all.

Still, it has to be the biggest CLUE the media has gotten in a long time...


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