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Is Dungeons and Dragons dangerous?

It may just look like a few boys sitting around a table. But in their minds, they're paladins, illusionists, cavaliers, fighters, thieves, rangers and magic users. They're playing a game called Dungeons & Dragons. It's 1985, and the role-playing game has become extremely popular -- but it's also getting a lot of very bad press. There are claims that some youth are getting too immersed in their characters, with disastrous results that include suicide and murder. This 1985 CBC-TV report delves into the controversy surrounding the game.
• Dungeons & Dragons was first created in the mid-1970s. Although there are people who still play it today, it was at the height of its popularity in the mid-1980s.
  • The game inspired a Saturday morning cartoon that first aired in 1983 and ran for several seasons. The cartoon also had its critics, with some calling it too violent for children.

• In 1982, there was a movie released called Mazes and Monsters that was inspired by the controversy surrounding the Dungeons & Dragons game. Starring Tom Hanks, Wendy Crewson and Chris Makepeace, the main character (Hanks) gets so immersed in a role-playing game that he is unable to tell the difference between reality and fantasy.

• In 2000, there was another movie released based on the game. Called Dungeons & Dragons, it was a fantasy film starring actors including Jeremy Irons, Marlon Wayans, Bruce Payne and Thora Birch. It received largely negative reviews.

• In 2004, BBC News Online posted a feature article to mark the 30th anniversary of the game. In the article, several people who still regularly played Dungeons & Dragons extolled the virtues of the game. "The game is social, it is a form of storytelling, and it has allowed me to develop deep friendships with people over the years," said one 45-year-old man. And another 47-year-old man who has been playing for 30 years added: "The reason the game has survived is that it allows us the chance to play out a dream of being the classical hero - the slayer of dragons, the hero who saves the land from some terrible foe or danger." 

Medium: Television
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: April 15, 1985
Guest(s): Lee Patton, Pat Pulling, Dieter Sturm
Host: Peter Mansbridge, Ann Medina
Reporter: Carol Jerome
Duration: 13:36

Last updated: November 1, 2013

Page consulted on March 3, 2014

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