Late Night Open Thread: Dungeons & Dragons & Memory Holes

Evidence that progress has been made, in some areas; there are still individuals who regard D&D as the Devil’s Doorway but nowadays the rest of us laugh at them. From the NYTimes article:

The 1980s were prime years for accusations that the game fostered demon worship and a belief in witchcraft and magic. Some religious figures cast it as corrupting enough to steer impressionable young players toward suicide and murder. As Retro Report recalls, fears began to be stirred in 1979 with the disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III, a gifted 16-year-old student at Michigan State University and a devoted D&D player. The game warped his thinking and drove him to behave erratically — or so some insisted. In reality, the boy was already troubled. After a month’s absence, he was found. But in 1980 he ended up taking his own life.

A nationwide focus on his plight propelled interest in D&D. Sales soared, with the numbers of players leaping from the thousands into the millions. Condemnation rose as well, usually after bad things happened to D&D gamers….

Agitation over the game has subsided. So has general interest. D&D is classically low-tech, played with pens, paper, dice and figurines. Its influence, however, abides, notably among creative types who acknowledge that they qualified as full-blown nerds in their teens…

Figures that the Grey Lady somehow manages to overlook the real reason D&D has been “normalized”; the kids playing it today are the kids and grandkids of those original 1970s gamers.

As for the foundational horror story highlighted in the video… I was working on that campus when Dallas Egbert went missing and William Dear discovered his perfect marks in Egbert’s parents. Even the campus and city newspapers reported — obliquely, as was the custom in those days — that Egbert was a gay sixteen-year-old, bullied by his older dorm mates’ jock friends, seeking to explore his sexuality and consuming whatever intoxicants he could get his hands on. Given his extreme youth, all the men were older & he couldn’t legally consume so much as a beer. He also played D&D. Private Investigator Dear might not be able to track down a flatulent St. Bernard in an old-fashioned phone booth, but he could spot a gullible media personality like a hawk hunting mice. And since the campus bullies, the still-mostly-underground local gay community, and the people who sold Egbert drugs & booze weren’t exactly eager to speak for attribution, Dear made himself an easy profit blaming Those Witchcraft-Addled D&Ders who were Egbert’s only street-legal comrades.

It’d be nice to believe Dear was genuinely afraid that gamer voodoo had ensnared an innocent child, but his every action during those dark days belies that. Like every other outbreak of Satanic Panic in America, the Great D&D Terror was 60% gullible idiots, 30% victims / victimisers looking for something to blame, and 10% grifters honing in on the latest profitable outrage. Only the proportions change, and that not by much.

Commentor Condorcet Runner Up linked to a great post by Annalee Newirtz at io9, “How We Won the War on Dungeons & Dragons” — the NYTimes reporters would have done well to read it, too. But then they’d have risked their readers (or their editors) seeing comments like…

It was never a fair fight between fundamentalist Christianity and D&D. One was a dangerous system full of dark mysticism and threats to warp a young mind beyond repair, and the other was a tabletop RPG.

Best Game Review Ever

I was going through the Steam Store checking out the new releases, and Call of Duty: Black Ops III was released at midnight, and apparently there have been some problems. Whenever a game has mixed reviews on Steam, I read a couple to see what the issue is and lo and behold, found the best review ever:

When i was 6 years old, my uncle came over and had a really cool board game. He told me it was the best game ever, and sold it to me for all my allowance I had been saving up from my parents.

Long story short, most of the pieces were missing and my uncle was addicted to meth and ripped me off. I’ve never felt like I did as a child that day until now. Thanks Treyarch.

I’m dying.

Open Thread: It’s All Fun & Games Until Someone Brings An AR-15 to the Pokemon Championships

Not the Onion (this may need to be a category). Per Kotaku:

Two men who drove from Iowa to Boston for the Pokémon World Championships were arrested Friday after threatening violence over social media against attendees of the event, according to the Boston Police Department.

Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, were arrested on several firearm-related charges. The official Pokémon site lists a Kevin Norton and a James Stumbo, both from the U.S., as invitees in the “masters division” of the world championships for the Pokemon Trading Card Game.

Private security at the Hynes Convention Center, where the Championships were taking place, were also aware of the threats and stopped the two men when they attempted to enter on Thursday. Police detectives seized their car and upon delivery of a search warrant on Friday found within a 12 gauge shotgun, an AR-15 rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. They then arrested Norton and Stumbo that afternoon in Saugus, Massachusetts…

Is is too soon to say “I blame Rep. Steve King”?

U Mad Bro?

As a lifelong gamer, this is not even remotely surprising:

Here’s a research finding that should surprise no one: The men most likely to harass women online … are the men most likely to have their own problems.

That bit of validation comes courtesy Michael Kasumovic and Jeffrey Kuznekoff, researchers at the University of New South Wales and Miami University, respectively. For their latest study, published in the journal PLOS One last week, the duo watched how men treated women during 163 plays of the video game Halo 3.

As they watched the games play out and tracked the comments that players made to each other, the researchers observed that — no matter their skill level, or how the game went — men tended to be pretty cordial to each other. Male players who were good at the game also tended to pay compliments to other male and female players.

Some male players, however — the ones who were less-skilled at the game, and performing worse relative their peers — made frequent, nasty comments to the female gamers. In other words, sexist dudes are literally losers.


In each of these environments, Kasumovic suggests, a recent influx of female participants has disrupted a pre-existing social hierarchy. That’s okay for the guys at the top — but for the guys at the bottom, who stand to lose more status, that’s very threatening. (It’s also in keeping with the evolutionary framework on anti-lady hostility, which suggests sexism is a kind of Neanderthal defense mechanism for low-status, non-dominant men trying to maintain a shaky grip on their particular cave’s supply of women.)

“As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status,” Kasumovic writes, “the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance and suppress her disturbance on the hierarchy to retain their social rank.”

Losers are losers- hoocoodanode.

I’m Glad I Am Not the Only One Taking the GoT Season Finale Badly

Others are as well:

Banner day for dog ownership around here. Thurston chewed through my headset earphones in several places, so even though they can be spliced and fixed, I have to sit very still because I have about 6 inches of spare cable left to maneuver. Then, went to the big city, stopped at Wendy’s for a diet coke, and the lady at the drive thru gave Lily a chicken nugget because she was so cute. Lily gulped it down and then threw up on my crotch halfway home. I had to sit with vomit on my lap for 10 minutes because I could only move once or it would be everywhere, and that had to be a coordinated movement out of the car to where cleaning supplies were. I managed to hold back my gag reflex and not wreck while a puddle of warm, wet, viscous, and smelly dog barf seeped through my shorts onto my private parts. WINNING!

So, any recommendations on a nice gaming headset that will work with an ASUS XONAR ESSENCE soundcard. Have optical and RCA inputs.


I am on a self-imposed staycation for the next week. Done with some stuff I had to take care of, so I am just goingto garden and blog and play computer games and try to harness Thurston’s energy into something productive.

Speaking of games, there are just too many out there to keep up with. I have Pillars of Eternity and the Witcher which need my attention, and expansion for Dragon Age Inquisition, and I am still sucked in hard to World of Tanks. My clan in World of Tanks is all 11th ACR guys, some of whom I served with and many others throughout the ages. We range in age from active duty guys to old Viet Nam vets. We have a teamspeak server, shoot the shit, do clan matches and battles, tell war stories, and just joke around. We have an organized chain of command and clan officers who we elect, and we have clan practices twice a week and scheduled battles twice a week. I spend most of my time in game platooning with a crusty old Sergeant Major from the brown boot era and a guy about my age in Colorado who I met in game, and we work on tanks and joke around.

It’s really a cool thing- part time waster, part rehab, part club, part advice group, etc.

It’s About Time Travel In Game Journalism

Via the awesome Brianna Wu, see if you can spot the issue with this ZDNet article on women in the video game industry and getting VC funding.

Another entrepreneur, Janese Swanson, left Broderbund Software Inc. — the giant maker of educational and gaming software maker — and now heads Girl Tech, which focuses on technology products for girls. The fact that she didn’t see a lot of women in senior positions at technology firms was part of the motivation for her move from Broderbund six years ago.

“There wasn’t much room at the top,” Swanson said. “I didn’t see a whole lot of women being promoted.”

Being at a startup also has allowed her to create the products that are close to her heart: software for girls that’s not pink or poofy. Swanson said big firms focusing solely on the bottom line didn’t see a market for such products. “The view was that if you make software for boys, girls will buy it, but if you make software for girls, boys won’t buy it. So you make software for boys.”

Still, getting funding for startup ventures isn’t easy. Women who jump from larger firms can seek support from their former employer — as Polese did. But venture funding for women-owned firms is scarce. Studies show that only about 2 percent of all venture funding for technology firms goes to companies run by women.

NWBC’s Millman said that’s the next big hurdle for women executives in technology. “In the past they were discouraged,” Millman said. “Now the main barrier is finding the money to make it work.”

Seems to be a pretty standard article on making and marketing games to appeal to everyone (and women and girls in particular), and the difficulty involved for women in getting the money to do that.  If you’re still stumped, answer’s after the jump.

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