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    Are RPG's evil?

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    feanel

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    Are RPG's evil?

    Post  feanel on March 6th 2012, 7:54 pm

    I looked around the forum and didn't see a thread on this topic, but I'm not a regular; so, I may have missed it. If I did, feel free to point me to that discussion.

    I grew up being told that Dungeons and Dragons (and, therefore, all RPG's) are evil. I have since revised my view of this and have a small collection of RPG's on my shelf (including D&D); however, my argument for them is something to the effect of "I've never heard a good reason why a Christian shouldn't play RPG's." The usual arguments I hear are basically something like "D&D uses magic and magic is evil; therefore, D&D is evil." I have a few different objections to this argument, but I think it is sufficient to say that I don't find it to be compelling.

    What I am looking for is a good, well-reasoned argument for why Christians should stay away from RPG's (or some of them). Can anyone post such an argument or point me towards one?

    Thanks, F.

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    Re: Are RPG's evil?

    Post  WhiteBoy on March 6th 2012, 9:42 pm

    I was raised the same way, but, like you, I have since changed my thinking on it. I think it is one of those things that fall into the area of liberty talked about in Romans 14. To people that think it is wrong, it is wrong for them (no, I'm not a believer in moral relativism). But the Bible is silent on the issue so they should not look down on those who do not think it is wrong. The flip side is that the responsibility falls on the one who thinks it is OK. We are obligated to not be a stumbling block to one who does think it is wrong.


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    Re: Are RPG's evil?

    Post  feanel on March 6th 2012, 11:43 pm

    I agree with you, WhiteBoy. I look at this as basically being in the same category as what Paul says in 1 Cor. 8; we all have areas where we are weaker and where we need to be extra vigilant and if playing RPG's causes someone to stumble then they shouldn't play them.

    All that being said, I don't want to just assume that RPG's are okay for me as long as my playing them doesn't cause myself or someone else to stumble; I don't want to just assume that I'm right. I want to hear a good argument against them so that I can give it proper consideration.

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    Re: Are RPG's evil?

    Post  Guest on March 7th 2012, 2:04 am

    I find it hard to imagine people who might like things such as RPG like on this forum trying very hard to work through a really great reason against playing RPG's. If each of us who really like these games made a concerted effort to find the great argument against them, isn't that basically us making the effort to persuade ourselves that RPGs are not for us? It seems like we would be looking for our own psychological achilles heel, for the purpose of ruining the game for ourselves from a healthy standpoint.

    I can't imagine doing this for, say, swing dancing, which is a fun activity that I do. I'm sure I can imagine, in passing, some reasons that other Christians might come up with (that maybe apply to them specifically, but not to others). I would go so far as to say that some of the issues that might worry a Christian...worry-wart...are exactly the sort of things that swing dancing has helped me personally gain very healthy perspective and experience about.

    If we focus strongly enough on our fears, can that focus by itself make the source of our fear become exaggerated out of proportion?

    RPGs are just another way to tell a story, with a game framework for structure. Most human beings have the capacity to enjoy a story, or tell a story, without getting confused about reality!

    Your focus is going effect how you view reality. What's bad about RPGs? How about, what's been refuted about claims that RPGs are bad? Or a different perspective, What's good about RPGs? Can you go further, and ask, how can I make an RPG serve as a vehicle for the cause of God/Christ/Christianity/the Holy Spirit/morality? There are roleplaying games out there that are specifically inspired by these things. Alternatively, you could set all this baggage aside and just get on with play, and have a good time! Generally, the gaming tends to be something of a social occasion; I've seen some Referee/Gamemasters going crazy that their players are socializing and the actual game play is going too slowly.

    Rickster

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    Re: Are RPG's evil?

    Post  Rickster on March 7th 2012, 3:50 am

    i heard a podcast that mentioned this they say that RPG and ouija board open a portal to the spirit demension that can cause demon position. But when you play RPG's your not calling on spirits to move the peices

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    Re: Are RPG's evil?

    Post  Nathan James Norman on March 7th 2012, 10:29 am

    Paeter has a great two-part article on the blog. He's recently placed a link to the article on the front page of the blog. But the first part of his article on "Questionable Content" (which included RPGs) can be found here:

    http://spiritblade.blogspot.com/p/questionable-content.html

    This is one of the best things I've seen written on the topic.

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    Re: Are RPG's evil?

    Post  WhiteBoy on March 7th 2012, 11:54 am

    Nathan James Norman wrote:Paeter has a great two-part article on the blog. He's recently placed a link to the article on the front page of the blog. But the first part of his article on "Questionable Content" (which included RPGs) can be found here:

    http://spiritblade.blogspot.com/p/questionable-content.html

    This is one of the best things I've seen written on the topic.

    Thanks, Nathan. I was pretty sure I'd read something on here about the topic, but didn't find it in the forums.


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    Re: Are RPG's evil?

    Post  mindspike on March 7th 2012, 2:42 pm

    Desert Kris wrote:RPGs are just another way to tell a story, with a game framework for structure. Most human beings have the capacity to enjoy a story, or tell a story, without getting confused about reality!

    Your focus is going effect how you view reality. What's bad about RPGs? How about, what's been refuted about claims that RPGs are bad?

    If you've every seen Tom Hanks in "Mazes and Monsters", you know exactly what it is people are afraid will happen when rampant RPG playing occurs - gamers will lose touch with reality in a way that is unhealthy. If you've ever seen the documentary "Second Skin", you understand that this phenomenon is not confined to pen and paper RPGs, and is in fact fairly common to one extent or another among serious gamers (those who play for multiple hours a day on a regular basis). Shows like "The Guild" make much of this stereotype.

    I am a pen-and-paper Gamer. I have a huge library of RPG products that run the gamut from AD&D (first edition orange books) through modern Savage Worlds imprints. This includes GURPS books bought specifically for (and cited in college papers as) reference material vis-a-vis the "real world", and White Wolf books with an unabashedly post-modern perspective.

    These two represent opposite extremes of a spectrum, where most books fall squarely in the middle - the kind of structured storytelling experience that Kris described above. The middle ground books seldom make people nervous; they emphasize the story as the point of the exercise. It's the extreme ends that people get squirrely about, and here's why: simulators like GURPS treat everything as grounded in reality, when this treatment is applied to unobservable phenomenon like magic and ghosts, the implication is that these things are real; immersives like White Wolf emphasize adoption of character perspective over observance of rules, which leads to behavior more like Tom Hanks than any gamer will readily admit, and which unconsciously colors the gamer's "real world" perspective regardless of how much he attempts to separate them.

    Acknowledging something as "real" means dealing with that phenomenon as a legitimate entity. While Christians nominally acknowledge that magic and spirit beings are "real", mainstream Christian culture denies the right of man to deal with these phenomenon in any way other than condemnation by the church. When an RPG presents a framework that does exactly that - with the same detail and authority as it describes ballistics - mainstream Christian culture gets nervous that these things will not be seen as worthy of condemnation. This is the place to apply Paeter's two-part article on Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 8.

    Immersive behavior is a bit different, and has a different impact. I am a Christian. I played White Wolf Mage: the Awakening on a regular basis. The premise of this book is unashamedly post-modern - it posits that reality is a function of group perception and magic a function of individual perception. It says that God created the world, and then desired companionship within it. Consequently, He created mankind and placed within them the desire to seek out reciprocating divine companionship. Men who awaken to this knowledge can see past the physical world to the spiritual reality underneath and eventually become enlightened enough to achieve transcendence - companionship with God. The emphasis on White Wolf is one of adopting a character's viewpoint in order to play that character. This kind of philosophy is *so* close to pre-reformation orthodoxy that it becomes very seductive indeed. Add to this the draw that the concept of the supernatural has on humanity and you echo Chesterton's question, "Why cannot these things be?" beginning a chain of reasoning that may not result in "This is harmless entertainment" but rather in "Did God really say we would die?"

    Are RPGs inherently evil and damaging? You might as well ask if any other form of art is evil. It is all an expression of human reason and emotion, and humanity's underlying nature is selfish, sinful, and entirely separate from God.

    We are given two Biblical commands in this regard:
    1) Study the scriptures to show ourselves approved of God, workmen who rightly divide the words of truth.
    2) Think on those things that are good, true, worthy of high regard, honest, and pure.

    $0.02


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    feanel

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    Re: Are RPG's evil?

    Post  feanel on March 7th 2012, 11:56 pm

    Rickster wrote:i heard a podcast that mentioned this they say that RPG and ouija board open a portal to the spirit demension that can cause demon position. But when you play RPG's your not calling on spirits to move the peices

    I think we may listen to the same podcast. I heard a podcast where a teacher I respect made a comment that matches what you said above, Rickster, and it got me thinking. Enough Christians hold the "RPG's are evil" view that it isn't something that I want to discount without consideration (which is basically what I've done up till now). My basic argument in favor of RPG's goes like this: people who play RPG's aren't casting spells, killing orcs or slaying dragons; their characters are doing those things. Saying that a Christian shouldn't play RPG's is like saying that a Christian can be an actor (or actress) in Macbeth, because it has witches in it. For that matter, 1 Samuel 28 has a medium in it; so by that logic, Christians shouldn't read the Bible.

    I would guess that most of the people who hold this view are people who have never played an RPG and who condemn it because people they respect condemn it; however, someone down the line had to have had a reason for condemning RPG's and I don't want to just assume their reason was a bad one. I'm not worried about having committed the "unpardonable sin" and I'm not losing any sleep over this, I'm just curious.

    Obviously, there are ways to go down a path toward sin with an RPG. For instance, if one struggles with alcohol, then they probably shouldn't RP as someone who spends a lot of time in the village tavern or they may be tempted to go do that for real. Similar arguments could be made using sex, killing, etc. In fact, if playing a caster makes you want to go look into trying to cast real spells, then RPG's could lead to the occult.

    I am wondering if there is some aspect to RPG's that I haven't considered that would lead to the average person being led into sin (or some similarly reasonable objection). I haven't heard one; so, I'm guessing there isn't, but thought that I would pose the question anyway.

    F

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    Re: Are RPG's evil?

    Post  Hackmodford on March 8th 2012, 10:31 am

    I really find this fear by christians quite sickening. Another one that comes to mind is that Poke'mon are evil and they're all names for the devil, blah blah blah.

    I have long ago since ignored such ignorant attacks on harmless entertainment.

    In regards to ouija boards (I've never played one) here is Penn & Teller addressing the game. (Note: This is not safe for work, if harsh language offends you don't watch this.)


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    Re: Are RPG's evil?

    Post  Paeter on March 8th 2012, 12:03 pm

    Interesting video, thanks for posting!

    Not sure that Penn and Teller are giving the issue a fair shot. To be clear, I'm not saying spirit boards are NOT a hoax. But this show is for entertainment, not for careful and systematic discovery of truth.

    Penn was interviewed on a talk show once talking about his beliefs (or lack of) regarding God and he used some philosophical lingo that may have sounded intelligent on the surface, but actually demonstrated the numerous areas of thought he had failed to investigate.

    I also can't help but wonder if he picked these people to interview based more on how interesting/strange they would appear on camera rather than their ability to effectively defend/explain their beliefs.

    My position on spirit boards is similar to my position on D&D etc. I think, theoretically at least, a group of people could have harmless fun with one if they approach it completely like a silly board game. On the other hand, I can see Satan using it for something more if even one person in the group is looking for a real spiritual experience. The same is true of D&D, although the premise of a spirit board(to "contact the dead"), compared to an RPG(to create a fictional story), seems to lend itself far more to Satan's use.

    In the end, I don't think I'm one of those people that could be okay with participating in the use of a Spirit Board even in a completely non-serious setting, but I don't have an air-tight argument allowing me to assume that it CAN'T be played with harmlessly by the right people.



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    Re: Are RPG's evil?

    Post  Hackmodford on March 8th 2012, 12:06 pm

    Did you watch all 3 parts of the video? I just posted part 1.


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