Report On The 2001 Gen Con Game Fair #34
Filed David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Independent T.V.News Service
P.O. Box 370322
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53237
August 20, 2001 David L. Brown
According to the press packet I received, "Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc., is the worldwide market share leader in the trading card game and tabletop roleplaying game categories." They own and produce line Dungeons and Dragons and related materials, the Pokemon cards, Magic: The Gathering collector card games and the new Harry Potter collector card game. The press release in my press packet says, "This year more than 25,000 gaming enthusiasts will gather in Milwaukee, August 2-5, when the Gen Con Game Fair, a four-day annual extravaganza, returns to the city."
It goes on to say, "In its 34th year as the largest game-playing convention in North America, the Gen Con Game Fairwill showcase more then 3,000 events, from adventure and strategy games to miniatures and computer games. The Gen Con Game Fair will offer more new product introductions than any other fantasy game convention in the United States." On the Fact Sheet it says, "The Exhibit Hall is sold out, with more than 200 game-industry exhibitors demonstrating games and presenting their latest products."
There were also numerous game competitions that you could register for, and participate in. "In addition, Gen Con will brim with a variety of celebrities from science fiction and fantasy television and movie rolesAlexandra Tydings, Aphrodite from Xena: Warrior Princess; James Marsters, Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer; Michael Kuluth, cover artist for DC and Marvel Comics" and others. For instance, I saw two overexposed "famous" females sitting on top of tables signing autographs. While I have no idea who they were, I could tell from the long lines that those standing there sure knew who they were and were anxious to get a close up look and autograph!
In this report, I are going to examine what I saw at Gen Con from a Biblical point of view. I make no apologies for that. Contrary to popular Christian practice, that is exactly what we are supposed to do with everything. The Bible is the Christians AUTHORITY for faith and practice. It shows us whats right, whats not right, how to get right and how to stay right. (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." The Bible says, "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31. The Bible says, "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:2
Christians are not to allow the world to squeeze them into its mold! Being a friend of this world makes you an enemy of God. The Bible says, "whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." James 4:4 But, that is exactly what is happening. Christians are being squeezed into the worlds mold and positioning themselves as friends of this world. Here is an e-mail I received from a high school student from Orlando, Florida which is similar to the kind of comments and rationalization that I get from many world loving "Christians." I have blanked out portions of the words for obvious reasons, but otherwise I have left it unchanged, except to bold the part where he claims to be a Christian. He writes --
Lets briefly examine the letter. First, Matthew 7:16-21 says, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." What does his foul language indicate? His letter is filled with rationalizations. For instance, since his "intelligent" Biology teacher plays D&D, then it must be acceptable, right? In fact, there is not even a fragment of evidence that this young man has followed the Bible in evaluating whether he should play D&D or not! His purpose is not to follow the Lord in the matter but to justify his worldly actions.
I hear from preachers all over the country are running into problems because the children, teens and even adults in their churches are wrapped up in these ungodly, worldly games.
An Idaho pastor wrote to me asking for some information. He wrote --
He goes on to ask my credentials and for information that might help him combat the problem of teens being involved in Dungeons & Dragons type games.
The problem is world wide. Today I received this letter in the ministry post office box
Now, I know that many of the people who will read this report will cry, "It's only a game. What's the big deal?" I must admit that I have heard that line hundreds of times. However, I do have a response that I would ask you to consider. First, few things in this life are "values neutral." Games, especially those showcased each year at Gen Con, embrace unbiblical philosophies, beliefs and values. The manufacturers of today's games build-in their own themes. These preprogrammed themes and story lines squeeze the players imagination into the game maker's mold. And, though it is a game, what if the themes or story lines are occult oriented; do they mock Christ and Christianity; are they violent; are they sensual, etc.? Does it matter? YES IT DOES MATTER! We are instructed in the importance of "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" 2 Corinthians 10:5. We should not allow our minds or the minds of our children to be exposed to things that can cause spiritual, psychological, or social problems? The Bible warns, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Colossians 2:8.
I cannot stress to you enough the importance of evaluating everything you let into your mind. That is SO IMPORTANT! The Bible says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23 In other words, watch what you let into your mind because what you let into your mind affects the choices you make in your life!
The question that naturally arises is what do I use as a basis for evaluating what is right and wrong. The answer is the principles that are contained in the Bible. On my web page I have an article posted titled Principles For Determining What Is Acceptable. It is located at http://logosresourcepages.org/acceptable.htm
Briefly, here is the content of that article. Use these Biblical principles to determine if games, toys, music, videos, etc. are acceptable to be involved with.
I have tracked the Fantasy Gaming/Role Playing/Science Fiction industry for nearly two decades now. Over the years, I have identified Seven Basic Elements that are incorporated in their materials. The materials often include multiple elements.
MAGIC, THE OCCULT (WITCHCRAFT) & DEMONOLOGY -- Deuteronomy 18:10-13
SCIENCE FICTION & ALIEN LIFE FORMS
THE PREHISTORIC REALM
IDOLATRY, MOCKING CHRISTIANITY & MYTHOLOGY -- Exodus 20:4; 1 John 5:21; 2 Timothy 4:24
VIOLENCE, TORTURE & DEATH -- Psalm 11:5; Proverbs 8:36
SENSUALITY, LUST & IMMORALITY -- Psalm 101:3; Job 31:1
At Gen Con #34, it has become evident that I need to add two more themes
OVERT PORNOGRAPHY Psalm 101:3
SADO-MASOCHISTIC SITUATIONS Psalm 101:3
I will begin by addressing what some perceive as the lesser of the nine evils.
First, Medieval Times are not portrayed accurately. They exaggerate the violence aspect of that time period. This can be seen in the Warhammer Fantasy Role Play game. They focus on the horrific weapons, dungeons and tortures. Likewise, they embellish the occult element in these games. The characters in these games garner occult power to fight their battles, which, by the way, is forbidden in the Bible. Protest if you like, playing occult oriented games IS having "fellowship" with the works or workings of darkness and the Bible clearly states "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness" Ephesians 5:11
Next, we come to Science Fiction. It seems two key areas crop up again and again in the science fiction area -- Alien Life Forms & Transformations. Let's look at the "alien" situation first. As I have explored the games that focus on this theme, I have discovered that many of the alien being characters are shown to be more powerful, more advanced and smarter than humans. Their power is almost always occult based and in many of the games the alien beings are considered "gods." This is a problem because it subtly undermines the Bible's teaching that man is God's unique, special creation whom He loves (John 3:16). Further, we know that God is omnipotent, all powerful (Job 42:2; Psalm 62:11) and that we can access His power by reading and obeying the Bible and being filled with the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 4:12; Acts 1:8). We are not to dabble in the realm of the occult (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Neither are we to acknowledge any god(s) but the God of the Bible (Hosea 13:4, Psalm 82:18; Isaiah 43:10). A new twist is the addition of an Eastern Mysticism flavor with Zen and Taoist philosophy included. I am not surprised since Star Wars/Star Trek is heavily laced with these doctrines and many of the Science Fiction Games have that spin. I believe we should discard games, toys, etc. that are alien oriented. But what about characters that transform. What's wrong with that? The ability to transform from one form to another finds its origin in the occult world. Shamans claim to have the power to transform themselves into spirits or "power animals" to gain some secret knowledge or to attack their enemies. Allow me to quote from The Magician's Companion by Bill Whitcomb, "most shamanistic practices involve astral projection, sometimes in animal form." But this does not necessarily mean the transformation into animals as we know them. "The power animal may resemble a real creature or a mythical one. It is considered to be a personification of magical or personal power...the shaman will attempt to bring the power animal back from the spiritual journey. Once this is done, the shaman can summon the power animal to assist in various rituals and working."
It is clear that the power to transform is a power derived from the demonic or occult realm; therefore it is unwise to dabble in games that promote this form of the occult.
Finally, we come to the Prehistoric Realm. The games that use this as their backdrop are laced with heavy evolutionary overtones. You can expect mutants, monsters and who knows what as evolution goes wild. I have seen this theme diminish a bit in recent years in favor of more science fiction/alien games. Games that use this theme condition the player's mind to be receptive to the lie of evolution. The triune God is the Creator (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17). Lets look at the other categories in light of this years Gen Con.
MAGIC, THE OCCULT (WITCHCRAFT) & DEMONOLOGY
Magic, the occult, witchcraft and demons are still, the primary theme of nearly all the games and literature in this genre. My first stop at Gen Con the Wizards of the Coast display. Their "hot item" was the new Harry Potter collector card game. The game is based on J. K. Rowlings first book Harry Potter and The Sorcerers Stone. It is a game of occult magic power vs. occult magic powers. The prayers must choose which witch or wizard they will be. The goal is to defeat your opponent by casting powerful magic spells. One spell card I picked up and read was a Noxious Poison spell card. The card quotes Professor Severus Snap of the Hogwart School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, "the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind and ensnaring the senses" In fact, the purpose of the Hogwart School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is to teach the students how to practice witchcraft! This game will only reinforce the occult doctrines that Rowling clearly articulates in her books. I have to agree with Steve Bonta who wrote in his article Harry Potters Hocus-Pocus, "All of these imagesseem to be derived from occult material, suggesting a sophisticated knowledge of the occult on the part of the author." Indeed Joanne Kathleen Rowling has a sophisticated knowledge of the occult. Even the London Times noted this occult knowledge in a July 12, 2000 article titled Muggle Adventures in Potterland. The article reads, "Magical feats and spells, fantastic charms and startling metamorphoses, conjuring exploitsHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fireis crammed to the bursting with vanishings, flights, zombies, replicants, identity switches, cryptozoological monsters," etc. He goes on to say, "To a restless, channel-surfing rhythm, Rowling switches tone, now teenage psychology, now Alastair Crowley-ish Satanism."
Now, before I move on, I should note that in early November, 2001 the first Harry Potter movie will be shown in theaters all over the United States, United Kingdom and Europe. Merchandisers like Wizards of the Coast and Sears already have products ready for the "feeding frenzy" that will result from the movie. For a more thorough treatment of the problems with Harry Potter go to the Logos web site http://logosresourcepages.org/potter.htm and read that article.
Perhaps you are wondering, "Why is this guy so upset about kids books and games?" Let me tell you why. Harry Potter books and games (and similar occult oriented material for youth) prepare the minds of the reader/player for more hard core occult games and materials. Thats a proven fact. There were certainly hard core occult games and reading materials at this years Gen Con. One offering was Aleister Crowley In Dresden. Anyone who knows anything about Crowley knows that he was a wicked, debauched, demon possessed individual. Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) boasted of being, as he said, "the wickedest man in the world." He openly despised Christ and the faith of his parents who were Plymouth Brethren. One writer characterized Crowley as, "a Satanist, a pornographer, a traitor to his countryan insatiable ambisexual athlete, a pimp who lived on the immoral earnings of his girlfriends, and a junkie who daily took enough heroin to kill a room full of people."
I interviewed the author of Aleister Crowley In Dresden. He stressed the heavy occult nature of his book/game. He bragged that there was a genuine Gnostic Mass included in the book.
Perhaps you are thinking, thats just an isolated example! No, there were other examples of known occult false prophets used as a basis for fantasy role playing games. Here is another example -- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky who was born on August 12, 1831.
The left picture above is the genuine H. P. Blavatskys picture. She was the principal founder of the occult Theosophical Society. She was also the publisher of the Lucifer Magazine in the late 1880s. As you can see, on the right is a picture I took at Gen Con of The Book of Dzyan. There can be no doubt that many of those developing materials in this genre get their ideas from the real world of the occult. And, I have recorded interviews with people who became involved in the "real occult" who testify to the fact that their curiosity was peaked by playing and reading this type of gaming material.
Matthew is just one example. He told me, "in Dungeons & Dragons if you get attacked by anything or if some situation is against you, you can use your magical powers to face the situation and get your way out of it." Matthew reasoned that "if you have these magical, special types of power that are real, when you face the adversities of life, you can take care of business." The result was that he and a friend began experimenting with the "real" occult. Matthew told me, "Rituals were really easy to find in books from the public and school libraries. We were desperately trying to gain power through all this. We started doing blood sacrifices. We actually thought if we have blood in the sacrifices, it will honor the demon more and the demon will be more pleased and he will work on our behalf to a greater extentBut the bad thing that happens is, when you are sitting there and you are trying to do all these rituals, there was that power there but it took our minds to a different level. When you are killing things and seeing which way their entrails move after they are dead and you actually get joy from this, your mind has taken a dark slide into sickness."
It all started with Dungeons & Dragons for Matthew! Thankfully, by the grace of God, Matthew trusted Christ as his Savior and was rescued from his Hell bound path.
Magic, the Occult/Witchcraft and various forms of Demon contact are still a major focus of the fantasy gaming industry.
IDOLATRY, MOCKING CHRISTIANITY & MYTHOLOGY -- Exodus 20:4; 1 John 5:21; 2 Timothy 4:24
I was in for a shock in this area. There were actually numerous vendors, which carried god and goddess statues like I have seen in occult bookstores and on pagan altars.
I have two photos of idols from the Egyptian pantheon and Hindu idols as well. If fact, the fantasy gaming industry has used pagan gods and goddesses all along in their games. It has just come one step further. You can buy the real thing now. The Bible is clear, we are to flee idolatry and have nothing to with it (1 Corinthians 10:14). In fact, the Bible connects idolatry and witchcraft together (Galatians 5:20). Behind idolatry and witchcraft is the devil and again the Bible says, "I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. 22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?" 1 Corinthians 10:20-22. I believe that even playing games that involve "pretend" worship of false gods and goddesses is fellowshipping with them. Clearly, we are not to involve ourselves in such behavior.
That brings me to a game book scenario called The Last Exodus. It is a mockery of the Bible, God and Christ from start to finish. John the Baptist is said to be, "A maniac, somewhat bizarre prophet." The author characterizes the betrayal of Christ by Judas as an unfortunate mistake. On page 22 it reads, "After the Last Supper, the Apostles went out of the Garden of Gethsemane to fall asleep. Judasreturned to the Garden and Jesus invited him to sit and speak with him. The two talked for hours, and settled most of their differences. Judas confessed his love for Mary, and Jesus agreed to preside over their wedding, and Judas, overcome with affection, kissed his friend in thanks. Unfortunately, Judas had forgotten that this was the signal to the Sanhedrins soldiers to arrest Jesus."
In fact, that is a slanderous lie! But theres more. The rapists and predators of the story are described as being "imbued with the power of Christ, and working under the spiritual conviction that what they do is nothing less than the will of God himself." To top it all off, listed under Sacrament in the game it says, "Membersmust complete a sex act to Cross Over to Eden." Woe to those who slander our holy LORD and His Word.
VIOLENCE, TORTURE & DEATH -- Psalm 11:5; Proverbs 8:36
Violence, torture and death is a common theme in roleplaying games. A new game offered this year with the original title Violence is just one example. On the blood-spattered front cover the subtitle reads, "The roleplaying game of egregious and repulsive bloodshed."
Then there are the Vampire, Werewolf games that flow with violence and blood. Titles like Sins of the Blood, Even the Damned Have Taboos, and Bitter Crusade are just a few examples. In Bitter Crusade the ad says, "Blood calls to blood and the flames of mortal hatred burn brightly."
Another prime example is Todd Breitensteins board game ZOMBIES!!! The add slick shows a mans slashed and bleeding face and another man wielding a blood stained chain saw. Its just a game, right?
Then there is the Synister Creations Systems group. They advertise themselves this way "We've got plans in the works, kidsbig plans on a biblical scale. Games are just the beginning. CDs, Novels, Comics, and other entertainment media are coming down the 'pike....hittin' on all cylinders, and coming with more." In the front of their gaming book it lists Rev. Sean Jaffe as the line developer. Jaffe is the author of the book World of Darkness: Blood-Dimmed Tides (World of Darkness Series). Here is a paragraph from the review copy of the "Reverends" gaming book I got at Gen Con. In the section titled Dogma we read: "We are the only ones who are truly free; we are guided by every single human impulse. We take what we want and do what we enjoy. We are all you claim to loathe. We rape. We are infanticide. We are the victimizer" They then go on to that, "Crushprefer brutality for its own sake, the vast majority, both male and female, prefer to use sex as their theater for sadism. The reasons for this are twofold sexual violence is usually the most psychological damaging physical wounds heal. Second, once a victim is dead, the pain cant continue. The Crush rarely leave their victims completely dead."
Promoting the kind of violence that is in these examples is criminal! Yet parents, even Christian parents, are allowing their children to occupy their minds with video games, card games, books, videos, DVD, etc. with violent themes. I am warning you that games like these give your children an appetite for violence. The Psalmist wrote, "The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth." Psalms 11:5
SENSUALITY, LUST & IMMORALITY -- Psalm 101:3; Job 31:1
Job of old wrote, Job 31:1 "I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?" The word think in this verse is a translation of the Hebrew word which means to separate mentally. Simply stated, Job was careful how he looked at women. He strived not to think of them in a sensual, lustful, immoral way. Thats good advice because Christ warned against looking at woman in a sexual way because he said mental immorality is sin (see Matthew 5:28).
Many artists had booths at this years Gen Con. I interviewed two of them. Their art is used on fantasy and collector game cards, in their magazines and books, etc. Many artists were autographing their books, magazines and collector cards they had designed (for a fee). The artists were also selling their "art." (I have covered up portions of the picture to the left for obvious reasons).
But there is a MAJOR PROBLEM with their "art," Much of it is so called "soft core" pornography and some of it is "hard core" pornography." Over the years the portrayal of women in fantasy art has become increasingly more sensual. This year there were numerous booths that displayed, scantily clad, and bare chest women for all to see. These same type graphics are in the materials being published as well. One artist bragged about there being an increasing market for his pornographic "art work" these days. His business card, which was on the table for anyone to pick up advertised his web address which included samples of ALL his art. Then, there were women (un)dressed walking around advertising the fantasy clothing and portraying fantasy characters. The word that comes to mind is lewd. Which brings me to my next point
OVERT PORNOGRAPHY Psalm 101:3
At Gen Con #34, it became evident to me that I needed to add two more theme categories to my list of elements incorporated in the fantasy gaming scene Overt pornography and Sado-Masochistic perversion. There were probably a dozen displays that featured videos and DVDs. Upon closer examination, I discovered that many of the videos were pornographic in nature. One of the biggest offenders were the Japanese Animation videos. These popular videos often come in two versions. The "tame" (still trash) version and the porno version. One booth had an add slick titled "Product for your passion!" Indeed they were catered to arouse lust.
However, cartoon pornography was not the flavor. There was porn "star," B-movie "Scream Queen" Glori-Anne Gilbert on site. She has modeled for fantasy art and was signing cards, selling nude photos of herself and selling her horror/porn videos. People, young and old, were stacked three deep around her booth. She was telling them about her porno fan club and web site. She also mentioned her magazine adds in gaming magazines.
Protest if you like. But, it is obvious from my visit to this years gaming convention that fantasy pornography, by design, is simply wetting the player/readers appetite for the dark reality of the genuine article. Dont sell me the "its only a game" line. Im not buying it and neither does our Lord!
SADO-MASOCHISTIC PERVERSION Psalm 101:3
It was not uncommon in a fantasy roleplaying art scenario for a woman to be taken captive, tied up, with the subtle suggestion of bodily harm and sexual assault. Ive seen examples of this over the years. As the role players ponder that perversion, it conditions their minds to be open to that perversion. And, following the pattern of the pornography previously mentioned, the full blown fantasy and tools for the actual implementation of the perversion were available at this years Gen Con. One example was the video "Bondage House" It was right there along with several other titles staring the passers by in the face. And, for those whose depraved desires motivate them to move from "fantasy" to the real thing, a variety of restraints, gangs, whips and paddles were on display and for sale to anyone who was interested.
I am reminded of what the Apostle James wrote -- "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." James 1:15.
It is my studied conclusion that by and large the fantasy gaming industry has and is developing its games based on the wisdom of the world, which is characterized by the Apostle James as being earthly,sensual and devilish (James 3:15). Christians are to have nothing to do with worldly wisdom or worldly activities. The Bible says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15
If you cannot see where the fantasy gaming industry is leading the people who are involved in it, you are greatly deceived. While I know that there are parents who are going to protest, "my kids are only into the light stuff, like Pokemon and Harry Potter." I am telling you that the evil seeds of this diabolical industry are already being planted in the minds of your children by these games and they will one-day spring up, yielding an evil harvest. A Christian has no business entertaining him or herself with games from the den of the devil.
My suggestion to anyone who is involved in fantasy gaming is to repent and follow Acts 19:19-20 "Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."