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.