Sunday, 30 March 2014

Fantasy wins the war on fantasy

Very soon the next series of Game of Thrones hits our screens. The anticipation is palpable, and it is the biggest news in the fantasy and sci-fi community. Since the Hobbit part 2. And it'll no doubt soon be eclipsed by the new Star Wars movies. The point is that these types of genre fiction, where girls raise baby dragons, where dwarfs flirt with elves and Princess Leia and Han have kids (maybe) is massive business.

However, as Annalee Newitz has just pointed out in a good article at iO9, the public feeling about fantasy (and in particular pen-and-paper RPG games) were oh-so very different in the late 70s. D&D enthusiasts were not only ridiculed by their peers, but organised right-wing religious groups actively campaigned against these hobbies. And if you read some of the archived pamphlets, you'll realise that "campaigned" is quite a mild term. "Hate-peddle" might be a better one.

By the late 80s, when I was becoming culturally aware and getting into fantasy, the furore surrounding RPGs had died down. However, the popularity of RPG gaming was also ebbing so I was only dimly aware that there had even been a debate. Skip forward 25 years (yes, I am that old) and a friend recently told me he was thinking of exploring Judeo-Christian demonology as material for a role-play setting. This is a guy whose work in RPGs and tabletop gaming is already widely published and he's a household name in the industry. The very fact he's considering this is testament to how far we've com. And how the geeks have won the war against the bile-filled nonsense that the religious right saw fit to trot out.


  1. Satisfying isn't it? Luckily we didn't cop this madness as much in Australia, but around 1980 or so (at the age of 14) I did write an angry letter to the local version of '60 Minutes' when they ran a ridiculously biased and sensationalised story on the subject, complete with zoom-in shots of the efreet (they no doubt thought it was a demon) on the cover of the AD&D DM's Guide and screams on the soundtrack. I never respected their journalism again.

  2. Are you familiar with Jack Chick's evangelical comics? There's at least one about D&D - You should speak to JB about this, too, he mentioned some angry letters being sent to the studio decrying its Satanism in the 80s.