Should I allow my teenage son to continue his involvement with the role-playing game "Dungeons and Dragons?" I don't know a great deal about it, but I do know that it's beginning to eat up more and more of his time, and that concerns me. Am I worrying too much?
Probably not. We have serious concerns about "Dungeons and Dragons" and some of the other fantasy role-playing games (RPGs) that have become such a prevalent feature of contemporary youth culture.
Some of those concerns are spiritual in nature. We're aware that at one level "D & D" is simply a contest of strategy and mathematical skill. We know there are some players whose interest in the game would probably stay just as strong if its mystical and magical overtones were replaced with standard war-game imagery. That doesn't change the fact the game as actually constructed includes some strongly occultic elements. Some former devotees testify that their involvement with "D & D" brought them into contact with demonic activity. Such claims need to be regarded very seriously.
A second problem with this game is its obsessive potential. This concern is closely related to the first. As we understand it, it's not uncommon for young participants to undertake 48-hour marathon sessions of "Dungeons and Dragons." So intense are these sessions that the gamers sometimes forget to eat or sleep. Many conscientious parents are seriously worried about this particular aspect of "D & D."
There's good reason for their anxiety. For many players there is something dangerously addictive about the idea of entering a fantasy universe and assuming a different personality. This can be especially true for youngsters who tend to be isolated or socially challenged and who find it difficult to connect with real people in the real world.
The good news is that there are now a number of positive Christian products on the market that can sometimes be good, constructive alternatives to occultic and secular games such as "Dungeons and Dragons." But even these relatively benign RPGs need to be carefully examined and evaluated by parents.
In every case moms and dads need to ask themselves two questions. First, "What message is being communicated through the medium of this game?" And second, "What values is it designed to represent and promote?" Games that focus on violence, sensuality, greed, and ego-gratification should be avoided. Christian families who sincerely desire to build Christian homes founded upon biblical principles need to measure all of their entertainment choices against the standard of Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things."
If you'd like to discuss your concerns at greater length with a member of our staff, don't hesitate to call Focus on the Family's Counseling department. Our counselors would be pleased to assist you in any way they can. For further information, you might be interested in a book titled Spellbound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today's Kids that discusses "D & D" and other games in depth. This resource may be available at your local Christian bookstore or through various online retailers.
Boundaries With Teens