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Main > Advocacy > Advocacy 1998

Advocacy 1998 Article Archive

September, 1998:

Ex-Vampire Gets A Book Deal

 Heather Wendorf has accepted $1,000 from Aphrodite Jones, a true-crime author, to do a book on the story of her parents' murders. This deal also comes with the promise of a $50,000 movie deal.

The problem? Jones will title the book "The Embrace." For those of you unfamiliar with Vampire: The Masquerade, "the embrace" is game term used to describe the process in which a vampire creates another vampire. Using this term for a title leads me to believe that the author may try to use the gaming angle to sell books, much like William Dear used it to sell copies of his "The Dungeon Master." With the possibility of a movie deal, this means that we may have another anti-game movie the caliber of "Mazes & Monsters" or "Honor Thy Mother" on our hands. 

Let's hope Hollywood isn't interested.

For the full story, look here.

(That's funny… I seem to remember once having a Malkavian character named Aphrodite Jones…)

Death At A Murder Mystery Party

From an AP story I found in the Delaware State News, Thursday, February 26th, 1998:

Not long after attending a murder mystery party held at a St. Michael's, Maryland resort during a Valentine's Day getaway, Stephen Hricko was found dead in his hotel room, his body burned from the waist up. 

After a police investigation, it was discovered that his wife, who had been plotting for some time to do him in, had killed him. She had previously asked a friend about hiring a hitman to do the job for her, and told another friend she had been planning to drug him and set him on fire to make it appear as if he had burned himself to death while smoking. It was this last plan that she decided to go with, leaving a pack of cigars near his body for police to find. Hricko, however, wasn't a smoker, as friends of the two told police.

Again, we see the one-sidedness of media opinion; had this been a gaming convention, instead of an interactive murder mystery party, the finger would have pointed to the activity of the participants as a possible motive for the murder. Instead, since it is common knowledge that murder mysteries don't cause real murders, the two do not get connected in such a way… the story is only reported as such because of the "strangeness factor" of an actual murder at a murder mystery party. In one of the AP stories, it is mentioned that a connection is not ruled out, but the distinct point is made that coincidence is a possibility. We gamers are never afforded that luxury.

 To read the articles, click here.

"Television For Women" Airs Anti-Game Movie

Sometime in March I happened upon the anti-game made-for-television movie "Honor Thy Mother," starring Sharon Gless. It is the story of a teen who tries to kill his parents to gain their inheritance. I was at work at the time, so I couldn't give the film my full attention, but I did get to catch a few offending scenes. In one, two police detectives peruse a "game manual," finding a scenario that perfectly matches the crime in question, and find a reference to "extra points for multiple hits." All the while, the name "Dungeons & Dragons" is bounced around with no concern for trademark rights or defamation, and no attempt is made to create a "fictional" game to go along with the fictional story. The game manual that they are looking in looks like no manual that TSR has ever printed for D&D, and the mention of "extra points for multiple hits" is a nonsensical blurb created by the writers to aid the gaming/murder connection.

It's a shame that Lifetime, a network that gears itself towards women, is using a blatant work of anti-game propaganda as part of their programming. The irony of this is that gaming has always been a male dominated hobby, and for that reason, there have always been attempts to bring more women into it. It looks like Lifetime isn't interested in helping out.

Gamer Was A Victim of Oregon Shooting

In another strange twist, the media has reported the death of a gamer without linking that death to gaming. One of Kip Kunkel's victims, Mike Nickolauson, was a 17-year old gamer who "liked to play a role-playing game, like Dungeons and Dragons" that he made up himself. He was also described as hanging out with "nerds and outcasts - the bottom of the pecking order."

But, that's as far as the AP has taken it, listing gaming as a casual interest of the victim, rather than a possible cause of his death. It's an unusual approach from the gaming-hostile media, and very refreshing.

To view the article, click here.

Bill Murray LARPs It Up

The Man Who Knew Too Little: No, it's not the story about your average reporter putting together an RPG scapegoat article. It's Bill Murray's latest film, recently released on video, and it should be of particular interest to LARPers.

Don't worry, I won't ruin anything for you: In TMWKTL, Bill plays an American who, for his birthday, visits England to be with his businessman brother. Lacking anything to do on his special day, his brother buys him a part in a local LARP to keep him occupied while he entertains some business contacts. All in all, it’s a hilarious story that is set in a world where our hobby is a little more accepted. 

If you like LARPing, rent it! And don't forget to pick up The Game while you're at the video store. For my review, check out the February 1998 column.

New Gaming Movie Looks Questionable

From the October, 1998 issue of Inquest magazine: Later this year, Collective Development Incorporated (CDI) will release a movie on video about a group of role-players who are troubled by the ghost of a deceased friend. In Knight Chills, according to CDI vice president Jeff Kennedy, the focus is on a high school gaming club and the lives of the students and teacher involved. When the ghost of one of the former players begins to threaten the others, the plot begins to thicken.

The problem? John, the deceased player, entered the afterlife by committing suicide. While Kennedy claims to be a gamer, and cites several games as personal inspiration, the presence of suicide in a film about gaming is hard to get around. It doesn't appear that Knight Chills will be a deliberate assault on gaming, but the suicide theme may leave a bad taste in many mouths. It may even be misinterpreted, as many other things are, into having a direct connection with the hobby. 

Only time (and a viewing of the video) will tell… I plan on picking it up and giving it a day in court. Watch this column for further news.

February, 1998:

Vampire Trial Begins In Florida

The murder trial of 17-year-old Rod Ferrell began in early February of this year. Ferrell, the leader of a "vampire cult" based in Kentucky, is on trial for the murder of the parents of Heather Wendorf, a fellow cultist. He and Wendorf were arrested in November of 1996.

Here are a couple of AP stories about the case (two separate articles in one file): Vampire Cult Trial To Begin Monday & Jurors Dismissed in Vampire Trial.

(For more info on the Wendorf/Ferrell case, check out my original writeup of the case in the 97 Advocacy file, and these articles found on the Resources page.)

One large difference is easily noted between the old articles and the new. All references to RPGs have been dropped, mainly because gaming wasn't a factor in the case; no games were found in the possesion of any party, nor were they found amoung their possessions, nor was any mention of gaming made by any of the accused. The gaming angle was entirely a media construct; Lesley Clark, author of two of the Orlando Sentinel pieces, admitted this to CAR-PGa's Paul Cardwell after her articles had run.

However, in these new AP pieces, mention is made that a corpse was "marked with occult markings" (can you say redundant for me?). The so-called "occult markings," the article later admits, consisted of a letter "V" surrounded by a series of circular marks, one for each member of the clan. The actual occult significance of this symbol isn't mentioned at all, because it has no significance; it's obviously just a mark made by a criminally deranged person. More media-induced satanic panic in action.

"Sounds like a bunch of that fantasy role-playing nonsense..."

These are the words of Nicholas Van Orton, played by Michael Douglas in the film The Game, which I finally got around to viewing, now that it has been released on video. In case you haven't heard about it, it tells the story of a wealthy banker who receives an unusual present from his brother Conrad (played by Sean Penn); a game that interacts with his real life that he must solve entirely on his own.

Without turning this into a movie review, I would like to recommend checking this movie out; not only is it an interesting topic for gamers like us, it's also full of plot twists and paranoia. If you're an Over The Edge GM, watch it, but don't let any of your players do so! Although the "game," as it is portrayed in the film, isn't actually a live-action RPG as we gamers know it, it is more than a little obvious that the writers and producers of this film have taken their inspiration from the LARP hobby. See it for yourself and I think you'll agree.


A Bunch of Dumb Jocks Call Us Nerds

Alright, I take that back. I wouldn't want to lower myself to the level of a writer for Sports Illustrated. Let me explain:

In their December issue, SI ran a little blurb on the ESPN2 coverage of the Magic: The Gathering Championship. The title for the piece, which no doubt took the SI crew weeks to come up with (there I go again... sorry) was Revenge of the Nerds.

Maybe if Magic was played by no one but bikini-clad supermodels, SI would start doing a whole issue about the game once a year...



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