I wanted to write something about Gary Gygax dying, but I wasn't sure what. Gaming is very important to me, as I think anyone who knows me will recognize. I wanted to run my own game company for a while, and spent some number of years in pursuit of same. Standing on the dancefloor of the White Wolf party at GenCon in '93 was probably one of the turning points in my life, for good or ill. And that's all owed to Gary, and Dave. So it's a passing I'd like to note.
In my life at least, the most important thing about D&D is that it was the first time I didn't believe something my parents told me. Specifically, that it was a recruiting tool for the satanic church. I was conditioned in such a way that I just believed that, initially, as I believed everything my parents told me in that realm. I can still remember my dad getting angry when I expressed an interest in it. Anyway. I eventually convinced them to let me play Middle Earth Role Playing (MERP) which had some interesting stuff in it, and in some ways was a good system to start with. I played with a bunch of kids from school. Their parents expressed concern, so we had to have them all over for dinner one night, and then they sat around and watched us play for a while, flipped through the books, and asked a bunch of questions. Most of the questions were so...ridiculous. These people simply couldn't discern fantasy from reality. At the time I didn't make the connect, that they were so heavily invested in one of the deepest fantasy worlds created, so I answered their questions with a smile and they let us play. Still some of the best gaming in my life.
The more familiar I became with the game community as a whole, the less I bought into the whole "recruitment" thing. There was just such a disconnect between what I was being told and what I saw, it was hard to respect the more outrageous position.
When I got to college I decided to settle this once and for all, in my mind at least. I rigorously researched all the evidence presented against D&D. I was at one of the premier religious colleges in the world, I had the resources. They were...paltry. The case was built almost entirely on hearsay and popular belief. And the books that were written in prosecution were themselves not researched. At all.
So I gave up. It was the first substantial crack in my armor, and it set me on a path of self inspection. I had been raised just believing. It took a while, but I re-evaluated my life, my belief system. I came up with something that I believed, not because it had been handed to me, but because I honestly believe it.
I guess in a way that makes my parents right. D&D got me out of the church, once and for all. Just not the way they thought.