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Advocacy 2000 Article Archive
December 11th, 2000:
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.
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.
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
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.
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 Gamers.com for some exclusive
preview clips of "Dragons In The Basement," at www.gamers.com/news/349480.
July 7th, 2000:
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
For the full story, without my little
sarcastic jibes, click here.
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,
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,
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...
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
April 28th, 2000:
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.
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...)
From the we-should-have-seen-this-coming
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
April 15th, 2000:
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
``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
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
Interactive gaming has reached a new level.
Four words: see you in line!
March 17th, 2000:
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
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 www.students.haverford.edu/nyee/rpg/home.html.
Yee does an excellent job of making his results available to experts and
laymen, and his findings are a great read.
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 http://www.rpg.net/cgibin/register.cgi?showall=1
March 3rd, 2000:
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
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,
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:
of the Son of Pokemon Problems
Just when you thought it was safe to carry miniature
monsters around in spherical traps...
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
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
story from last November pretty much follows the same formula as their
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
-- 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.
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...
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
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
Still, it has to be the biggest CLUE the media
has gotten in a long time...