Annalee Newitz has declared “Mission Accomplished” in the decades-long resistance to the ignorant theocrats who wanted to destroy Dungeons & Dragons. There have long been regressive Conservative Culture Warriors who railed against the game, and I remember a time in the late 70s and 80s when there were lots of silly stories in the media about the corrupting evil of fantasy role playing. Those just don’t happen now.
And yet the half-elf thieves and evil clerics and dorky kids with dice won at least one melee in this particular culture war. That’s abundantly obvious when you consider that the media is dominated by D&D-influenced stories. Meanwhile, the anti-D&D campaigns today have been reduced to items like this shabby little pamphlet, digitized by a gamer who wanted to memorialize a hard time in geek history. It’s a clear example of history being written by the winners.
When D&D types win a war like this, however, they don’t try to erase the perspective of the enemies who once threatened them. They have too much respect for the source material. In the 1980s, angry mobs of parents burned their kids’ D&D books. Those kids, now grown up, digitize and annotate the pamphlets that once condemned them.
Realistically, though, the bad guys never had a chance. It was a lot like the War on Christmas: conservatives grimly tut-tut about dangers of changing mores, while everyone sensible blithely goes on putting up Christmas trees and buying presents and getting together with their family. Similarly, we all went on throwing dice and inventing fantasy scenarios while the geezers clutched their Bibles and moaned.
It was hardly any kind of war at all, which is how we “won”. Just wait a few more years, and people will be finding old footage of Bill O’Reilly, and pointing and laughing.