Every so often, it is edifying to browse Google News and see what's up in the real world. That is, what's up with our favorite role-play game! I searched for "Dungeons and Dragons," and the results were interesting.
As you would expect, there were the usual snide and nasty comments. Like this put-down: " 'Dungeons and Dragons' syndrome — a largely male affliction common to those desperate to hide a far-from-cool adolescence." That's from the New York Post, though, so I shouldn't be surprised ... as a New Yorker, let me say that I wouldn't read that rag with a ten-foot pole.
And from one college paper, the Oklahoma Daily O’Collegian, the rude notion that astrologers are aging hippies "pulling a fast one to help support a 'Dungeons and Dragons' habit born out of his teenage yearning for mystical powers." Low blow! Astrologers may indeed be pulling a fast one, but conflating them with D&D players is pulling an even faster one! And some of us don't have to yearn for mystical powers because we already have mystical powers!*
Anyway, I just don't know what they're teaching kids these days. From another college paper, the Oregon Daily Emerald, the slur that D&D players "still live in their parents' basement." Excuse me! My wife and I moved out of my parents' basement last year.
And here's yet another citation from the halls of academia -- a profile of a student who works as a janitor in the Boise Arbiter. Mostly this article talks about the kid's goals ("escaping an elevator Batman-style," finding "a dead body"), but toward the end it just can't resist dwelling on his love of D&D, mentioning his "+5 mithrol chain mail" [sic] and "+5 burger" story. This article is so bad that I begin to suspect satire. I mean, is it an accident that the two-word headline has both words mispelled? Well, funny or inept, this article, like the other three so far, gets its jollies making fun of D&D.
But then, that's about what I would expect from the sophomoric media. (And, yes, I'm lumping the Post with the collegiate press under the "sophomoric" banner. Sorry, collegiate press.) But is the mainstream media doing any better? Thankfully, yes, they are.
Take this mention of the game in a first-person report on American soldiers in Afghanistan from the Fort Wayne, Ind., News-Sentinal. During a lull, the soldiers turn to games: "We have also been playing Monopoly and Risk, and a few of the soldiers have been playing Dungeons and Dragons." Thank you! No snarky aside, no jabs or insults. Nice.
And even better, here's an article about astronaut Jim Kelly, in Florida Today. Talking about the space shuttle pilot's youth, the piece reads:
As a youngster, he dodged dirt clods in friendly battles with neighborhood kids in the freshly plowed fields that surrounded his home. Those kids also organized touch football games and for hours played Dungeons and Dragons. The role-playing game requires focus, planning and cooperation. With an emphasis on scenarios and action rather than winning, the fantasy game can go on indefinitely.
Wow! You just can't get better press than that!
"When they would play these games, they were focused. That's a game where you had to make plans," said Ruth Ann Sandrock, whose family lived nearby and whose son, Blake, was a friend of Kelly.
Finally, I enjoyed this student of the week report from KVOA in Tuscon, Ariz. Seems that ninth-grader Elizabeth Roberts is a D&D fan:
Outside the classroom: Elizabeth has played piano for about nine years. She likes to read fantasy and science fiction novels. “I also like to play Dungeons and Dragons.” She acknowledges it’s a pastime that’s still dominated by boys, “but there are a few more girls who play it these days,” she said.
Good for you, Elizabeth Roberts! And don't let them tell you any different when you get to college!
*Ask me some time about my Speak-to-Animals and Speak-to-Dead abilities. And my amazing power of Body over Mind.