Move Action: Are Gamers Unfit?

There was quite the stir over a recent post on Dungeons and Dragons and Dads, which featured commentary from a father who was concerned about encouraging his children to participate in roleplaying games and the culture that surrounds them. Please visit the original post before reading further.

Welcome back. The article sparked a good deal of debate, and another author presented a rebuttal on This Is My Game, which I also encourage you to read. The exchange continued between the two writers and others on the respective blogs and Twitter.

I had mentioned my misgivings about classic stereotypes being reinforced in the original article. I was concerned the article (admittedly) relied on a small sample of observations and anecdotal evidence. The bigger issue was the manner in which the “roleplaying community” was treated by the writer. Below, you’ll see how I struck out his words and inserted another word that is the victim of stereotypes and prejudice. I did this to illustrate my point that the structure of his arguement was problematic, and would not be tolerated if he was discussing another group of individuals. The following are the first two lines from his first post on the subject with my changes:

I hesitate to introduce my kids to role-playing games homosexuals and the culture that surrounds them. This isn’t because I don’t want my kids to benefit from the creativity and imagination that flourish in role-playing games homosexuals, but because I have observed that the health and fitness level of RPGers homosexuals is disproportionately lower than any other peer group with which I have associated.

Once again, I am not saying it was the author’s intention to present his argument in this manner, and I am certainly not accusing him of bigotry against any particular group of individuals. I appreciate that he has responded to feedback from various avenues, but there still seems to be the basic assumption that people who play roleplaying games are unfit when compared to people who do not play these games. No data is presented to support this assumption.

After thinking about my initial response, I figured I should add more to the discussion rather than just tear down the original post. I think the questions raised about the potential for the roleplaying-game culture to be a negative influence are worthy of discussion.

So I spent some time combing through the available literature. This is certainly not an exhaustive look through everything that is available, although I will state that all of the studies I mention below are published in peer-reviewed journals. I avoided anything that was presented as “research” by mainstream media; those articles typically have a host of methodology flaws. This is not to say that articles in journals do not have flaws; they most certainly do! But the peer-review system helps to eliminate studies that are not scientifically sound. Normally, a literature review on a subject would last anywhere from days to many months; however, I do not have the resources to devote that much time to this endeavor. The following articles are just a sampling of some of the work out there. I present and discuss the results to add some data to the discussion, and further clarify my reaction to the original post.

Continue reading “Move Action: Are Gamers Unfit?”