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Role Playing Games: A Gateway Drug

Fundamentalists have been screaming for years about how Role Playing Games like Dungeons and Dragons are a gateway drug which are "corrupting our youth!"

Gamers are just as quick to scream back, "That's RIDICULOUS!"

Today I pose the question... Is it?

Aside from being fun (and in some circles quite kinky), Role Playing Games can be a wonderful training tool.

The process of placing oneself into a scenario to prepare a response for situations is used in fields like Medicine, Law and Technology.  Heck, even the military uses Role Playing Games for Training.

Role Playing Games provide an opportunity to safely explore options from different points of view than one currently holds, and HERE is where the corruptive influence/gateway drug nature of gaming emerges.  Most fundamentalists hold the perception that theirs is the one true way.  Reality needs to fit into a box and anything that doesn't, tends to be "evil."

Now it IS possible to create gaming scenarios which fit in the box (lookup Christian role playing games for an example).  However, it is also possible to design the scenario far outside what someone might realistically encounter.  Enter Dungeons and Dragons.

It should be safe to have a completely fictional world right?  Elves, Orcs, Monsters and Magic make it clear that this is entirely a fantasy.  Except for one thing.  We all experience reality through a model.  The models common games present may be clearly fictitious; however, once in a while, a person who has played these games runs across something that their normal life model doesn't fit.  And sometimes their fantasy gaming model DOES fit.

Suddenly they are saying things like "I rolled a one" when they screw up, or "5 pound TK" when asking someone to pass the salt.

Additionally, Role Playing Games give participants an opportunity to challenge their beliefs and ideas without breaking their personal rules.  In my case, when I started playing I made sure my character followed the same rules I believed in.  I wasn't willing to "sin," even in thought.

But a weird thing happened.  My faith wasn't challenged.  My model of reality was.  I believed that people should respond a certain way to things... and they didn't.  Not just the fantasy characters, but the players.  In these players, I started spending a lot of time with people who weren't the enemy, but didn't agree with my faith.   Slowly and gently I was asked questions and given points to ponder.

My convictions held strong for a long time.  Ironically it was not gaming, but evidence of family "gifts" that I hadn't believed in before which led me to question my religious beliefs.  However, gaming gave me a chance to open my mind and explore different possibilities.   It trained me to ask certain questions and to wonder about things I hadn't allowed myself to wonder about before.  Without this ability to ask questions, I may have continued being under the influence of these family "gifts" never allowing myself to believe in them.

Listen carefully to how I said that.   Magick was in my life long before I gamed, long before I walked away from Christianity.  In fact, I can look back and see clear examples of how Aura's, Empathy, Telepathy and even Spirits affected me.  The only difference was that my model of reality wouldn't accept them. Unfortunately, disbelieving something with solid conceptual momentum doesn't make it disappear.   Sure it may lessen the effect… or it might allow it to affect you far more than if you were actively dealing with it.

To me gaming WAS a gateway drug into a world where my will changed things; where God and Spirit weren’t two Dimensional and black & white.   Sure D&D was fun.  But the model had its serious limits.  It was hard to use its model in Real Life.  So after a few years of it I created my own system.

My system has become a model to empower people to understand themselves and Magick as I’ve experienced it in Real Life (of course, the in-game Magick is a WHOLE lot more powerful) while having a ton of fun.

So now I’m using it intentionally. Not to convert people’s spirituality, but to empower them with a new way to experience life.  Hopefully, to those people, the gateway they walk through won’t be into an empty fantasy, but instead into a more powerful understanding of a VERY powerful and magickal world…

The real world

Power Before Wisdom

 

© Scott Reimers 2014