Tuesday, April 12, 2022

A to Z 10 Year Update: J is for "Just a Game"

 This post has been minimally updated at the end of the original post from April 11, 2012,

A to Z 2012: Gaming in the 1980s

"Just a Game"

I uttered those words numerous times in the 1980's - every time some close-minded person would start rambling on about the "evils of D&D".  So did some of my gaming buddies.  Looking back at it all, I understand why the concern took place at this point in time.  I am not caving in and saying that "they" are right, but I am saying that the 80's was ripe for this sort of thing.  You see, the 80's was the time of the bogey man around every corner.

The Cold War happened during this time period.  Remember all of the hype about mutually assured destruction between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.?  I remember doing bomb drills in school!  We would actually get out of our seats and crouch under our desks during these drills.  Adding to the hype was the film Red Dawn.  I believe there was also a TV movie made during this time - Amerika, I believe - that told the story of a Soviet occupied America.
This decade also saw the spotlight hit the music scene.  Critics of hard rock and heavy metal bands such as Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Jame Dio, Pink Floyd, and others were worried that these bands would lead to drugs, wild sex, satanic worship, or even suicide.  In fact, Judas Priest was even brought to trial over their music.  It was crazy times.

The slasher films and video games also came into popularity at this time.  This was another area of concern for critics.  They were convinced that the violence in these films and games would make people desensitized to the blood and gore so they would be more likely to commit violent acts.

Dungeons & Dragons came into extreme popularity in the 80's.  I am not talking about a somewhat large part of the population playing the game BUT it seemed like within a short while EVERYBODY had either played or at least knew a few details about the game.  Just to show how popular D&D was at this time, here are a few things I remember:
  1. Mattel released an electronic D&D board game.
  2. There was a red, electronic handheld pocket D&D game.
  3. Basic D&D was in the SEARS catalog.
  4. Basic D&D was available for a reward in GRIT Newspaper sellers program.
  5. D&D action figures.
  6. D&D animated series.
That's just real quick off the top of my head.  Not only was D&D very popular but people tended to play the hell out of it for long periods of time.  The point is that the popularity put D&D in the spotlight.  If someone committed suicide or murdered someone and they were a D&D player then it would draw more attention to it.   

The bogeyman was everywhere during the 80's.  It makes perfect sense that the role-playing game Paranoia would come out of this decade. 

I've rewritten this update three times in an attempt to get it "just right" but I neve3r felt like I had accomplished my goal. I'm going to keep it simple.  Despite the efforts of some inside and outside of the hobby, D&D is still just a game.

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