||Anyone who has studied urban legends, or has bothered to do any research on this article will see clearly it is a hoax. Consider the following points:
"I ran my hand along their spines, recognizing some but unable to recognize a couple towards the top. I removed them and brought them out of the closet and into the light:
Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition Player's Handbook
Dungeons and Dragons Third Edition Dungeon Master's Guide"
The actual D&D books in question do not contain the words 'Third Edition' anywhere on the covers spine, or anywhere in the text. There is no mention of 'third edition', or even '3rd edition' anywhere on the outside surface of those books.
"Like all cults, Dungeons has its charismatic leader, a bald moustached man named Peter D Adkison. Read his biography, as it's the first step all Dungeons adherents must undertake when joining the cult."
Peter D. Adkinson is the founder of Wizards of the Coast, a company that makes games. His involvment with Dungeons & Dragons is much the same as Steve Berman's involvment with rap music: they are both heads of companies that produce products. As for the 'required reading' of his biography, neither Amazon.com, nor Wizards.com (the website where one may buy D&D products) lists any biography of Mr. Adkinson. If this book was required reading, wouldn't it be easy to find & buy?
Another key clue that this article is a hoax is that 'Billy' has no last name; whatever city he lived in is unknown as well, which makes searching for any news stories or obituaries impossible. There is then no way to prove 'Billy' ever existed. Certainly, in this litigeous society of ours, if a mother truly believed that Dungeons & Dragons caused her son's death, she would sue the company. And such a lawsuit would make news. But a search of the AP wire reports shows no lawsuits pending or filed against Wizards of the Coast regarding a suicide.
The next clue to this hoax is the odd language used:
"...sitting around a table massaging integers instead of breathing the fresh air of our fair planet..."
"play stickball in the streets..."
"..any of a host of normal healthful activities."
While 'our fair planet' and 'massaging integers' certainly sound odd, they seem to be used more for suggestive purposes. However, 'stickball' and 'healthful' are words that have not been in common usage for more than 20 years. ('Healthy' entered common usage and has been dominant since the early 80s, thanks primarily due to advertising)
Next we look at the overly vague remarks:
"Dungeons adherents are renowned for their iconoclastic lifestyles. The very fact alone that they would rather spend their time sitting around a table massaging integers instead of breathing the fresh air of our fair planet is enough to prove my point."
Replace 'Dungeon adherents' with "Computer programmers", "Mathmaticians", "Internet Users", or even "Drug Users" and the statement remains 'valid'. Condeming a group for living 'iconoclasic' (different) lifestyles and spending time indoors is hardly a new or unique tactic, and this 'argument' is vague enough to fit any target group.
"Religions are systems of belief that consume one's entire intellectual outlook, a characteristic Dungeons typifies... Dungeons adherents are encouraged to despise them as detractions from the task at hand: perpetuating the Dungeons movement and its subversive goals."
At no point are the 'subversive goals' of the 'Dungeons movement' ever described. The author says D&D is a 'relgion' but never describes any beliefs beyond 'prepetuating the movement'. By this open-ended argument, network marketing (like Amway) is a religion.
"When I cracked open those Dungeons tomes, what did I find? Heaps and heaps of rules governing how adherents are supposed to go about even basic tasks like purchasing goods and speaking to non-adherents (when allowed)."
On the FIRST PAGE of the Player's Handbook, in a brightly colored box, in large type, is a disclaimer, EXPLICITLY STATING that the book contains rules for a game, and that in no way is Dungeons & Dragons 'real'. Of course, the author does not feel it appropriate to mention that. Nor does the author at any time state that Dungeons & Dragons is a game. If she had, the announcement that a rulebook contains 'heaps and heaps of rules' would come as little or no surprise. I imagine that this author might be horrified to read the back of a Stratego box, wherein it details a 'class system' of ranks, and encourages the use of explosives to get rid of opposition.
CONTRADICTORY REMARKS & JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS:
"I knew my Billy. I watched what he eat, how much he slept, which friends he played with, and everything else, trying to be the best parent I could and trying to make sure he was safe and happy. But I couldn't make heads or tails of what these books were and why he had them."
"If only I had spoken to Billy before he could have gotten in with the wrong crowd and done this to himself!"
The author knew her son, who his friends were, and 'everything else', but she didn't know what those books were? She'd never seen him reading them, putting them in his backpack on his way out the door, never noticed them when she cleaned his room? We're supposed to believe that a parent who knew her child didn't know her child. She knew who his friends were, but she didn't know they were 'the wrong crowd'?
"In fact, one of the easiest ways to spot an adherent to Dungeons is to mention Adkinson's name and watch the listener's eyes for that flash of recognition, as every Dungeons adherent knows his name and his vision well..."
"I would, however, even go as far as to say that only the especially slow-witted adherents cannot recognize Adkinson..."
OK, so 'every Dungeons adherent' knows who Peter Adkinson is, unless they're 'especially slow-witted', even though reading his (non-existent) biography is necessary for 'indoctrination'. See also: The Emperor's New Clothes. All cultists know Peter Adkinson, unless they don't, in which case they're very stupid. By this definition, anyone who does, or doesn't recognize the name of a person almost totally unrelated to Dungeons & Dragons can still be part of the cult.
This lovely piece of doublespeak also displays the extent of the 'research' done by the author. The Dungeons & Dragons game was developed by a man named Gary Gygax, about thirty years ago. His name and credit for design are listed in large type on the credits page of both the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide, both books the author supposedly had in her possession.
"...as though those dice could help him if he ever found himself drowning off a real-life icy floe or languishing at the bottom of a dark pit where he'd accidentally fallen while practicing unsafe and irresponsible exploration. This is what it means to be false."
This is a breathtaking lurch into left field. Up until this point, the author has made a repeated point that 'adherents' don't like going outside. (go back to the insinuitive 'massaging integers' remark) Now little 'Billy' is on an ice floe and exploring places with dark pits? This isn't just off-topic, it's a cheap scare tactic as well. "Dungeons & Dragons wouldn't help Billy if a gorilla attacked him in the kitchen!" No, but neither would 'stickball' or line-dancing.
So, going back to the definition of a cult:
"A religion or religious sect..."
The author has made references to the 'relgious' nature of D&D, but hasn't explained them at all.
"generally considered to be extremist or false,"
the author's proof of extremism is to point to a rulebook full of rules and claim that it's controlling a game. The evidence of false is completely contradictory to evidence offered previously.
"...with its followers often living in an unconventional manner..."
'unconventional' beging defined as 'not liking to go outdoors'.
"...under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader."
The leader in this case is a man with no biography, and if you don't recognize his name, that just means you're stupid.
"Here's a partial list of those warning signs:
Does your child spend excessive amounts of time with friends unsupervised indoors?
...Does he question the rules and commands you lay down as a parent?
...Are his grades slipping of late?"
All of these 'warning signs' are behavioral changes common to adolesence. Imagine a 13 year old who doesn't closet himself with friends, talk back to his parents, and let his grades slide for a term. What's really damaging here is that these behaviors are usually indicators for a more serious problem: drug use. If a child is spending time over at a friend's house, talking back, failing tests, and smelling heavily of incencse, than any responsible parent SHOULD search their child's room, not for books, but for drugs. A parent finding D&D books and mis-identify a drug problem would be tragic indeed.
"Dungeons, at least superficially, promotes independent decision making, though we all know this "free thinking" would be more aptly described as "thinking consistent with the tenets and dictates of the Dungeons movement and ideology". "
Once again we see a reference to the 'tenents and dictactes' of a game, but no further exploration. At no point are we ever told any of the Dungeons & Dragons 'ideology'. It's left as a shadowy bogey-man, with no substance, letting the reader fill in the worst.
"One of the myriad of sinister consequences of adherence to Dungeons is the sheer amount of squandered time spent convening and practicing its cult teachings. Dungeons is highly addictive and, if left unchecked, can push a child's entire life aside to make room for more Dungeons. "
Or perhaps the child is spending too much time playing computer games, or surfing the internet, or practicing baseball. At no point does the author suggest that any other hobby could cause a slip in grades.
"Friends made over Dungeons aren't friends at all. True friendship can only be forged through community-building activities like softball and linestepping. If you ever had to rely on these so-called friends in a time of need, then rest assured they would be no where to be found; alternatively, they could be found, but only playing more Dungeons."
Replace the word 'Dungeons' with another hobby, like like softball or linestepping, and you'll see how ludicrious this argument is. 'Friends made over a hobby aren't true friends, they're only interested in being around you when you're all engaged in a common activity.'
"Imagination has its place in a civilized society, but when its citizens become too far removed from reality, social upheaval inevitably follows."
Social upheaval comes about from unacceptable social conditions being forced on large sectors of the population. When citizens truly do become too far removed from reality, we instiutionalize them.
"But like everything else, excessive imagination can lead to severe emotional and physical problems."
This is actually one of the rare, valid statements in this article. However, the author fails to point out that obsession is the risk here, not the subject of that obsession. People are being diagnosed with Obsessive/Compulsive disorder, specifically needing to make several hundred prayers to stave off disabling terror of going to hell. I mention this not to attack prayer, but to point out that anything, even something generally accepted and viewed as positive, can be destructive if it becomes an obsession. And obsession is a factor of personality; who you are determines your risk for obsession, not what you're studying.
"At best, Dungeons is directly responsible for the social failures their adherents experience when mixing with jocks and beauty queens."
Now this is just insulting. Dungeons & Dragons has only been around for about 30 years. Socially awkward, intellegent children have been experiencing social failures with 'jocks and beauty queens' for a lot longer. The issues behind bullying are much, much more complex than one game.
"At worst, it can induce psychotic schizophrenic episodes like the ones shown in the 1982 documentary Mazes and Monsters."
Now this is just laughable. Not only was 'Mazes and Monsters' not a documentary, it was also not a very watchable movie. Again, this is the 'research' the author has done.
"Sign him up for the church choir. Get him to join a little-league team. Have him attend 4H meetings. There's a whole world of community groups out there."
Hmm. Interesting message. If your child picks up a hobby you disagree with, force him into another. No hand-eye co-ordination? Make him play little-league anyway. Asthmatic? Heck, if 4H doesn't kill him, it'll make him stronger, right?
"Dungeons adherents have even been known to kill their loved ones who stand in the way of their addiction."
Now this is just tasteless, especially with a link to Columbine High School. Neither of the shooters at Columbine played D&D, and even if they had, using such a tradgedy as a scare tactic to back up an already flimsy argument is extremely tacky.
"If you feel like you're getting in over your head, then call in a pastor or other prominent community leader to help -- I know my husband's army chaplain was a big help for me."
Here's another alternative that the author never suggests: borrow the rulebooks and read at least the introductions. Sit in on one of the 'sessions'. Talk to you child about the experience. Go to a hobby store where these products are sold and talk to the staff. None of these options are mentioned, despite the fact that parents informing themselves is considered a mark of good parenting.
"I'll never have my Billy back; he's lost to a world of dangers and temptations that have already too claimed many.
Another vague and misleading statment. There is no way to know exactly why some people commit suicide. Suicide notes are written during a highly emotional state and rarely reflect the true feelings of the victim. And the basis of this author's belief that Dungeons & Dragons killed her son seems to be that those were the books he stood on in his closet. Had he used two or three volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica to stand on, would this author claim that a feeling of national infereority to Britan caused his death?
"I know Billy's looking down from up there and smiling. He would've wanted it this way."
This last remark is stereotypical of a 'glurge', a type of urban legend known for it's overly distored message and complete lack of provable evidence. Aside from the fact that, according to Christian dogma, anyone who commits suicide does NOT go to heaven, how can we deduce 'he would've wanted it this way' when we still don't have a reason for his death. Fundamentally, this last remark points out that the author has not explained HOW Dungeons & Dragons killed her son. It does NOT meet the definition of a 'cult' anymore than does Amway, Excel, or Tupperware.
Bottom line: A boy with no last name, in an unknown town, committed suicide by standing on top of a stack of books. Two of the books are Dungeons & Dragons books; therefore, Dungeons & Dragons must be to blame for this unknown boy's death. To 'avenge' this death, the mother is not filing a lawsuit, nor setting up a website. She's 'warning' other parents with inaccurate, distorted, and flawed arguments. 'Beatrice' does not sign her piece with her full name, or her city, since such things might make it possible to confirm her story. Nor does she leave an e-mail address, or have any other information under her profile. The advice offered is at best vague, at worst misleading and dangerous.
The managers of this site should remove this story at once, as Wizards of The Coast has been known to sue for such libel as this.