The lead story on the BBC News Magazine today is all about "The great 1980s Dungeons & Dragons panic". It’s a nice little summary of a situation which I wish we could all scoff at and say would never happen again with anything. Fat fucking chance.
"In 1982, high school student Irving Lee Pulling died after shooting himself in the chest. Despite an article in the Washington Post at the time commenting "how [Pulling] had trouble ‘fitting in’", mother Patricia Pulling believed her son’s suicide was caused by him playing D&D.
Again, it was clear that more complex psychological factors were at play. Victoria Rockecharlie, a classmate of Irving Pulling, commented that “he had a lot of problems anyway that weren’t associated with the game”.
At first, Patricia Pulling attempted to sue her son’s high school principal, claiming the curse placed upon her son’s character during a game run by the principal was real. She also sued TSR Inc, the publishers of D&D. Despite the court dismissing these cases, Pulling continued her campaign by forming Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons (BADD) in 1983.”
Whilst I knew about the general situation, I’d never investigated BADD before. So I did a bit of rooting around, and found this: a scan of one of BADD’s propaganda booklets, with commentary. PRIMARY SOURCES ARE THE BEST SOURCES.
If you’re even vaguely interested in the subject, I highly recommend you give this a read. It’s ludicrously fascinating… and a reminder of just how much effort people will put into crusades that are so fundamentally warped.