Pat Robertson Advises Against Playing Dungeons & Dragons… Because That’s What Kids Play These Days

Pat Robertson is such an easy target that I almost hesitate to keep blog-kicking him. But the material he offers up is just irresistible.

Right Wing Watch caught Pat answering a question about whether it’s okay for a Christian to play video games with magic in them. A little bewildered, Pat reaches back to the 70s and 80s and advises against playing Dungeons & Dragons, which, of course, is not itself a video game. (Yes, it’s spawned countless video games, but you and I both know that’s not what Pat’s talking about.)

Now, I used to play quite a bit of Dungeons & Dragons in my day, though not nearly as much as I would have liked. (By the way, this hunky movie star guy, I can personally attest, is a kick-ass Dungeon Master. Like, a real maestro.) I first became interested in it when I was about 11 or 12, and my parents helped me get a few of the starter books. Now, when my late grandfather caught wind of this interest, while we were out shopping for something or other, he forbade my grandmother from purchasing me any additional books on the subject. “No, no,” said my gruff (yet lovable), short (like me), and Mediterranean grandfather. “None of that satanic crap.” My grandmother, true to form, rolled her eyes.

Not too much later, I remember reading the book The Dungeon Master, by a detective who struggles to find a missing kid who’d disappeared while playing D&D, and the swirl of controversy around the “cult” of D&D. I remember really liking that book.

So that’s what I thought of when I saw ol’ Pat getting antsy about “games” and, as he pronounces it, the “OCK-ult.” Remember kids, it’s not “is it wrong or not wrong. I just think we should [pause] flee from evil!

About Paul Fidalgo

Paul is communications director for the Center for Inquiry, as well as an actor and musician. His blog is iMortal, and he tweets as @paulfidalgo, and the blog tweets as @iMortal_blog.
The opinions expressed on this blog are personal to Paul and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for Inquiry.

  • http://twitter.com/Chimako_27 Chimako

    I have a 17 yr old. He and his friends all play D&D, apparently it’s a thing again. The older the version the better.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      i was under the impression that it never really went away. the video game explosion cut into its popularity for a while. but i know quite a few gamers, and they are grown ups who never stopped playing.

      • Vanadise

        The economic recession several years ago actually ended up being a huge boost for tabletop gaming. D&D, Pathfinder, Vampire, and other similar games are all very cheap forms of entertainment, comparatively; spend $50 on books and you have a game that you and several of your friends can spend hundreds of hours playing. Pen & paper roleplaying games are more popular now than they have been in a long time.

        • Carys

          Pathfinder is great… I’ve loved it since it first came out.

          • Vanadise

            Agreed. My gaming group tried 4E when it first came out, but got bored after a few months; we switched to Pathfinder almost immediately. Nowadays I play in two Pathfinder home games and I coordinate Pathfinder Society games…

    • 3lemenope

      I dunno about the older the better; I was skeptical, having grown up with 2nd ed, but found 3 and 3.5 to be really creative in surmounting the irritating idiosyncrasies of earlier versions. (THAC0, ugh.)

      4, however, is crap.

      • invivoMark

        3.5 is the best by far. I didn’t even realize there could be disagreement about this.

      • WallofSleep

        “To Hit Armor Class Zero”. Now that’s a phrase I haven’t heard in a long time. Never really played the PnP version, but I played the hell out of the old SSI games on a Commie 64. Kids these days don’t know shit about “load times”.

      • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

        GASP! Hush yo’ mouth! (Not about 4th. I have no knowledge of this version.)

      • Baby_Raptor

        I completely deny any knowledge of 4 existing. 3.5 is the last version put out.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Honestly, I’ll adjust whichever Ed is used.

        Don’t care, so long as I get my D&D time in.

        Hell, doesn’t even have to be D&D, The Elder Scrolls are quite epic, as well, and I’ve been a fan since Daggerfall.

        (Also, I love the video games, because there’s usually a solo-campaign, and I’m one of those gamers that just loves to explore every cave, crevice, and mountain-top just because it’s there. Yes, curiosity does occasionally kill this cat, but that’s what the “save” feature is for.)

        • 3lemenope

          For the D&D properties, Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 were both just incredibly awesome games. Neverwinter Nights grew on me, too, though I didn’t much like the implementation of the second one. Been a fan of the Elder Scrolls since Morrowind. My significant other is very much like you in the absolutely-must-explore-every-nook-and-cranny style, and she’s very thorough about it. I’m more of a haphazard “hey, that looks shiny!” kind of explorer.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Well, there’s this one quest in Skyrim that has me tearing my fur out. I think, this time, I’ll keep a detailed checklist of which stones I’ve found.

            • 3lemenope

              Oh yes. That is certainly a quest I will never complete in any playthrough.

            • Sarah

              If you really want to get it done (and you’re playing on the PC) you could always add the Stones of Barenziah Quest Markers Mod.

              • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                Nope… PS3. So it’s a pen-and-paper checklist for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chengis-Khan/100003317165064 Chengis Khan

    In 1988 even GOP rejected him. Why would kids now-a-days accept him or his advise?

  • Gus Snarp

    Yeah, we should flee from evil. Especially the occult. You know, like people who say they can predict the future: http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/2011/05/pat-robertson-predicts-2013.html

  • JET

    No, no, no… It was Harry Potter.

  • TiltedHorizon

    My apologies to the world. I did not realize the ‘true’ satanic power of D&D. How was I supposed to know that the random transmutation spell I placed on Pat Robertson would have turned him into a shit spewing Sphincterian, kinda like a Ballchinian, the difference being what they spew.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      +1 for Ballchinnian

  • http://twitter.com/ylaenna M. Elaine

    D&D is alive and well. http://dnd.meetup.com/
    (Gotta love the one at the south pole.)

  • WallofSleep

    I grew up through the Satanic Panic of the ’80s, and it was a pain in the arse. If it (“it” being anything anyone showed interest in) wasn’t all about Jesus, then it came from Satan. Fools like Pat could find the devil in a jar of peanut butter.

  • Spuddie

    Hey Pat, 1979 called, they want their moral outrage back

    • WallofSleep

      Next up: How “Weird Al” Yankovic is leading our children into rebellion.

      • Spuddie

        One hopes.

      • busterggi

        Its Elvis I tell ya! He’s an unholy influence on that tv tube.

      • Tak

        I actually heard that as a kid. Looking back I can’t believe that songs about food and parodies of pop music could have ever been mistaken for rebellious music.

  • invivoMark

    Alright, who cast Touch of Idiocy on Mr. Robertson?

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Are we sure it wasn’t Feeblemind?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

    I played DnD 3.5 and 4e, then some Mage: The Ascension. These days, I’m running a Traveller game. But perhaps my players don’t count as kids – the youngest is 19.

  • Grung_e_Gene

    Bet you didn’t know Lake Geneva, Wisconsin was a hotbed for occultish demonic worship? And to all, Pathfinder is the True inheritor of Gygax’s D&D Vision!!!

  • Matt

    Reminds me of the Pentecostal church I went to when I was a kid. The pastor gave a sermon about the evils of Pokemon. I still remember his dramatic “You know what Pokemon means? It means pocket. Pocket … MONSTERS!!!!”

    I lol’d

    • http://www.facebook.com/brian.westley Brian Westley

      It’s funny ’cause it’s true!

    • pagansister

      Pocket pool?

  • JWH

    Pat Robertson should actually encourage D&D. At my high school, those 20-sided dice were a near certain guarantor of abstinence …

    • WallofSleep

      +3 Ward vs. Gettin’ Some.

    • snoozn

      Heh, well normally this may be true. But my daughter and her boyfriend initially bonded over D&D (co-founded their high school D&D club). Several years later and they are getting ready to move in together. I blame the dice.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      Unless you have actual reliable data on who was having sex with at your high school, I suspect that you are perpetuating an inaccurate stereotype.

      • JWH

        My goodness, Michael. Have a sense of humor.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          I have difficulty finding jokes that stereotype geeks funny.

          • WallofSleep

            Screw you, buddy. I happen to find that D&D shit to be fascinating, and I ain’t no friggin’ geek. I’m a dork. There’s a difference.

          • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

            Doesn’t bother me any. I was a gamer and a geek in HS and still am. :)

  • Trick Question

    Makes me want to watch my DVD of Mazes and Monsters…

  • ben porter

    we need to start us an online athiest dnd group

  • Rev. Achron Timeless

    Wait, we don’t play D&D anymore? Then why the hell do I have all these funny shaped dice? =)

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    I figured it out. Pat Robertson is a time traveler from 1982 that just got done watching Mazes and Monsters.

  • fsm

    I found gaming to be very important in shaping my atheism.

    First, when you create your own world as a dungeon master you must decide how your gods work. This gave me great insight into how religion was shaped in the first place thousands of years ago.

    Second, When we got into Vampire: The Masquerade I created a character (I was not the Storyteller for that one), that was devoutly Catholic (yea, I know, I always had to be different). I learned a lot about Catholicism because I did research for the part. I learned all about the rosary and even had my wife make one that I still have. I learned about the prayers and the Catholic church in New Orleans. We even stopped there for our vacation just before Katrina hit.

    Gaming teaches kids about research, statistics, geography (real and imagined), religious differences, politics and government, and many, many other things that can help them get a leg up in life. But most of all, it can show them that there is more to the human mind (and dwarves) than what your parents told you.

    and I miss Thac0;(

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      My wife tells me I’m no longer allowed to play clerics in DnD. Apparently, my character who was a cleric of a god he created was not acceptable.

    • Leonidas

      Love the World of Darkness system. New one, though I’ve heard wonderful things about the old one too. In a Firefly game (yes, there’s a couple systems based on that setting) I also played a devoutly religious Catholic. The greatest thing these games gave me is the ability to consider another persons viewpoint and the reasons they hold the opinions that they do. Of course, the ability to analyze the conclusions the characters come to and rationally agree or disagree hopefully comes along with that.

  • http://twitter.com/rubahtics ブライアン

    in fairness, the old-school capcom dnd arcade games are being ported to psn and xbla, so maybe Pat’s just getting ahead of the resurgence that will sweep the world this summer

  • busterggi

    I started with the White Box edition and I agree with Pat as long as it includes only d20 and other post-2nd edition AD &D.

  • HomerThompson

    But Pat is absolutely correct. If it’s not of God, it’s of the Devil. “Good Christians” seem to forgot that even as they may pray before a football game or reading a book unrelated to their faith. Pat is a buffoon, but he is frequently faithful to the also buffoonish source material.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Reed/692599362 Paul Reed

    Reminded me of this great lil toon:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM7YhMfN0v4

    • midnight rambler

      Did Satan take away their arms?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Reed/692599362 Paul Reed

        No, Mrs McCaffrey used her new-found demonic power to remove the entire concept of “arms” from all time and space. Why? So that people can’t wear magical protective bracelets to ward off her evil magic, of course!
        Then she went to 1974 and invented D&D.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Thank Talos he hasn’t heard about The Elder Scrolls…

  • pagansister

    WHY does ANYONE still ask this senile dude for any advice much less listen to him when he spouts off????

  • pagansister

    Does he approve of —-Chutes and Ladders? Little kids play that!

    • kraken17

      In Canada it’s called Snakes and Ladders. I can imagine poor Pat disapproving of the obviously Satanic imagery.

  • ecolt

    My partner and his sons are big gamers (the PS3 in our house has been known to overheat). Whenever there’s a question about gaming in our house, it’s usually along the lines of is it too over-the-top violent (we’re pretty open-minded, but stuff like GTA is a bit much for their ages), is it likely to give the little guy nightmares or is it too complicated for him to be able to follow and play himself. Like I said, we’re pretty permissive when it comes to games, since we’re also sure to reinforce that there’s a big difference between games and real life, but Pat’s answer is still just baffling to me. Of course, most of what he says baffles me.

    My partner did play D&D a bit as a kid, and games like Magic: The Gathering when he was older, and he probably still would if he had friends who were into it. Honestly, I think if his sons expressed any interest in those games he’d just be happy that they wanted to play something that requires a bit more imagination and creativity than the more linear video games they love now and would look forward to kicking their butts when they played together.

  • kraken17

    I heard the same thing growing up in the Jehovah’s Witness in the 90′s. Anything referencing magic was strictly forbidden. Leviticus 20:27 ftw!

  • cipher

    How much more crazy shit will Pat’s handlers put up with before they begin to segue him off the program?

    You know a Christian leader is batcrap crazy when even the Christian trolls don’t show up to defend him.

  • http://twitter.com/jayvail2 Jason Vail

    Great article Paul, you always make me laugh and thanks for the shout out, miss those days.

  • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

    Back in the ’90s, when I was forced to listen to the Focus on the Family radio program on the way to church, James Dobson had an entire episode devoted to the dangers of D&D. Robertson is really behind the curve on this one.


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