Rona Jaffe ("Mazes and Monsters") has died
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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 2:15 am 
 

Hello everyone!

Just thought I'd wander on over and deliver the news that author Rona Jaffe (best known for her sensationalist novel "Mazes and Monsters," a thinly-veiled and largely ignorance-based slam of RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, which became a TV movie starring a young Tom Hanks) died on December 30th.

Sorry for the run-on sentence!

Thinly based on the James Dallas Egbert III disappearance, "Mazes and Monsters" drew ire from many RPG enthusiasts for its skewed and inaccurate portrayal of a "live-action" version of a role-playing game taken too far by a mentally unstable player (Hanks).  Unfortunately, the TV movie helped solidify in many people's minds that RPGs were genuinely played like this.

I'd be curious to know if anyone else remembers watching this movie, and what their reactions were to it?

I saw it when it was on TV and somewhere in my collection have the official VHS release.

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 2:38 am 
 

Wandering Monster wrote:Hello everyone!

Just thought I'd wander on over and deliver the news that author Rona Jaffe (best known for her sensationalist novel "Mazes and Monsters," a thinly-veiled and largely ignorance-based slam of RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, which became a TV movie starring a young Tom Hanks) died on December 30th.

Sorry for the run-on sentence!

Thinly based on the James Dallas Egbert III disappearance, "Mazes and Monsters" drew ire from many RPG enthusiasts for its skewed and inaccurate portrayal of a "live-action" version of a role-playing game taken too far by a mentally unstable player (Hanks). Unfortunately, the TV movie helped solidify in many people's minds that RPGs were genuinely played like this.

I'd be curious to know if anyone else remembers watching this movie, and what their reactions were to it?

I saw it when it was on TV and somewhere in my collection have the official VHS release.

Cheers,
JohnH
aka Wandering Monster


At the end of it Hanks is admitted to a rather nice insane asylum so he can dream all day long of his imaginary adventures.  I always thought : What a way to go, lost in the land of RPG's forever  :lol:  :lol:

Seriously though the movie made an impact on at least one of my friends parents and they forbade him to ever play the game again :x   Just fueled the fire though and he never missed a session for like 6 months :twisted:

Al of us were obviously screwed up by the game, we all have great careers, families and good social lives.  A few of us still play the game after 25 years as well.  D&D obviously makes people crazy and should be avoided at all costs :!:

Happy new year

J


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 4:32 am 
 

Blackmoor wrote:Al of us were obviously screwed up by the game, we all have great careers, families and good social lives. A few of us still play the game after 25 years as well. D&D obviously makes people crazy and should be avoided at all costs :!:

Happy new year

J


yeah back in the day my mum & dad banned me from playing D&D - course that didnt stop me - "i am going round my friends to do stuff" and that was that - we carried on playing regardless......

all the best folks!

Al



  

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 6:22 am 
 

I still cannot figure out which one is more aggravating...silly and sensationalist portrayals of RPG's or the people who believe them.

    Jaffe was just trying to make a buck.  I don't like her, but I understand what she was doing.   :?

    The journalists who played up Dallas Egbert's stupid non-story were just trying to make a buck.  I don't like them, but that is the nature of the American news media (and I presume it is the the same in other countries).  (See my earlier post about the government witholding robotic butt wipers from hurricane victims.)   :?

    Why do otherwise sane and intelligent people switch off their brains when they hear the news or see a movie?  What happens to people to make them switch off their critical thinking powers?  I do not understand the phenomenon.   :x

Mark    8)


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:30 am 
 

MShipley88 wrote:Why do otherwise sane and intelligent people switch off their brains when they hear the news or see a movie? What happens to people to make them switch off their critical thinking powers?  


To (sorta) quote Invander Zim:

"dumb like a moose, Dib, dumb like a moose"


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 11:36 am 
 

Hello everyone!

Yes, Rona admitted as much in later interviews that she was cashing in on the hype regarding the Egbert case, and said she did minimal research into everything, because she was afraid that some other writer would get the same idea and try to cash in on it as well and beat her to the punch.

As a writer myself, I can't exactly fault her for this approach, but as an RPGer, I certainly can, because of the impact that the book and movie had on the image of the RPG industry.  One has to wonder how things would've been for D&D if the book/TV movie hadn't been made -- or, for that matter, if James Dallas Egbert III hadn't disappeared in the first place.

I own a copy of The Dungeon Master (the book written about the Egbert case by the investigating detective), and I recommend it as an interesting read about the whole phenomenon.  The author doesn't blame D&D for what happened, but rather a complex chain of things, many of which could be placed at the feet of Egbert's parents.

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 11:40 am 
 

MrFilthyIke wrote:
MShipley88 wrote:Why do otherwise sane and intelligent people switch off their brains when they hear the news or see a movie? What happens to people to make them switch off their critical thinking powers?


To (sorta) quote Invander Zim:

"dumb like a moose, Dib, dumb like a moose"


    Everything is relative, every era will have their boogeyman that prevents kids from living a normal life (Rock Music, Drugs, Long Hair, D&D, Heavy Metal Music, Violent R-Rated Movies, Video games, Internet, etc).  I'm going to be going through the same thing several years from now...what exactly do you say when your kid wants to play Grand Theft Auto San Andreas?  I don't think any kid under the age of 17 should have this in the house, am I just like the parents of the 80's?  I don't think so, since al the speculation about devil worship and mind control via D&D was just that, speculation.  Whereas in Grand Theft Auto you can actually run over a bystander, carjack a hot rod, shoot a cop in the head, or beat your girlfriend to death and see the results in living color on the TV screen. Never was D&D so viscereal an experience when we were younger, that is unless you were dressing up in full plate, swinging a longsword and beheading the family cat.... :twisted:
    Speaking of which, if you had given several 80's era mothers the choice between letting their kids play D&D or bringing Grand Theft Auto back in a time machine and setting kids down in front of a TV with controllers, is there even any question?  Like I said, it's all relative.  Our parents protests to D&D seem laughable now, whatever protests we make to our kids will probably seem laughable to today's kids in 20 years.

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 3:23 pm 
 

The other day my 11 year-old daughter brought home a rather harmless rap CD (Little BowWow  :roll: ) that belonged to a friend of hers.  I had a good time with my tirade:

  "There will be NO rap music in this house, young lady!  I have to put up with this crap all day at work and I will NOT have it in my home!  You will listen to heavy metal, or classic rock or maybe alternative or punk, but there will be NO RAP!  Understand?"     :lol:

    I try to teach my students, and my own children, how to think critically...to consider the motives of the speaker and to run media reports through reality filters.  Sometimes, they listen...at least my own children do.

  "What are the likely political views of this reporter?"

    "Why was this story chosen for the news rather than any other story?"

    "To what extend has this report been pre-interpreted and what other possible interpretations of the same facts might be possible?"

    "What do the statistics quoted really mean and why were these particular statistics chosen?"


    In all, I prefer the media of other other countries than the United States.  There is less pretending...less pretense of impartiality.  

    But, I wonder...how were RPG's described in the British press?  

Mark


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 3:47 pm 
 

MShipley88 wrote:   But, I wonder...how were RPG's described in the British press?

Mark


pretty much the same - well they were where i lived, cos i was totally banned from going anywhere near that sort of stuff.

i think the whole world over, ppl can be made into sheep far too easily and certainly dont do enough thinking for themselves.

i dont watch the news or read the papers too much, and i think my life is far better for it really.

Al



  

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 3:51 pm 
 

MShipley88 wrote:The other day my 11 year-old daughter brought home a rather harmless rap CD (Little BowWow :roll: ) that belonged to a friend of hers. I had a good time with my tirade:

 "There will be NO rap music in this house, young lady! I have to put up with this crap all day at work and I will NOT have it in my home! You will listen to heavy metal, or classic rock or maybe alternative or punk, but there will be NO RAP! Understand?"   :lol:

Mark


I mirrored that with the first time my stepson (who is 21 and can do whatever he wants) brought Grand Theft Auto San Andreas to the house to play in the living room.  I told him he was old enough to make his own decisions and I trusted his judgement for himself, but if I EVER saw the game playing with my grandson in the room, I would chuck it and the playstation out the window....I don't want him desensitized to people shooting cops and running down their girlfriends before he's even old enough to talk!  :roll:  Man, I have NEVER felt more like my own father!!!! 8O

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 4:44 pm 
 

I read the book long ago (1988), and I could have sworn that if anything the novel never laid blame on Dungeons & Dragons, but more on the fact that the guy was mentally unbalanced. Even at the age of 17 I just assumed she meant the guy had a chemical imbalance. Either way, the book sucked.

  

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 5:53 pm 
 

Zippanthropus wrote:I read the book long ago (1988), and I could have sworn that if anything the novel never laid blame on Dungeons & Dragons, but more on the fact that the guy was mentally unbalanced. Even at the age of 17 I just assumed she meant the guy had a chemical imbalance. Either way, the book sucked.


   Just like Dallas Egbert, who was a confused child genius, gay, emotionally disturbed, on drugs, suicidal and not actually missing at all.

:?


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 7:04 pm 
 

...Dallas Egbert...


Was that the kid who offed himself many years after anyway? The building he was under (or at least in its basement tunnels) was on his corkboard with pushpins?

Either way, blaming stuff on Dungeons and Dragons is just a way for many of these parents to avoid looking at themselves.

  


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 7:22 pm 
 

Zippanthropus wrote:Was that the kid who offed himself many years after anyway?


I think you might be remembering Irving Pulling, who commited suicide with his mother's handgun in 1982. His mother, Patricia, went on to found Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons, and was forever convinced that D&D led to her son's death.*

*apparently not recognizing the fact that keeping a loaded gun in her house wasn't the brightest of ideas.

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 7:53 pm 
 

How's this for some perspective — none of the three online obituaries I've found so far has even mentioned D&D or M&M. Here's the New York Times article, for example:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/31/arts/ ... wanted=all

I find this really interesting, for two reasons:

1. These writers have missed an angle ("crazy author blames D&D for everything") that you don't see every day (it's also possible their editors cut out the D&D references; it's impossible to know for sure). Even if it was buried in the 10th or 12th paragraph, a mention of M&M would have been of at least passing interest to many readers.

2. On the other hand, it's a good reminder that well over 99.99 percent of the world's population could really give a poo-poo about D&D. To anyone who frequents these forums, the Egbert tragedy is a seminal event in our shared history; to just about every other person on the planet, though, it's either yawn-inducing or "just another suicide" or "that crazy game where you cast spells and play with foam swords."

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 11:17 pm 
 

Zippanthropus wrote:
...Dallas Egbert...


Was that the kid who offed himself many years after anyway? The building he was under (or at least in its basement tunnels) was on his corkboard with pushpins?

Either way, blaming stuff on Dungeons and Dragons is just a way for many of these parents to avoid looking at themselves.


The funny thing about the Egbert "disappearance", is that the local dim bulb Sheriff saw some D&D maps lying around Egbert's dorm room, remembered some rumors about students running around in the steam tunnels around campus, and put 2 and 2 together to equal 15.  Egbert never had ventured into any steam tunnels nor were the maps in his dorm maps of the steam tunnels.  Nonetheless Barney Fife went to the media with his suspiciouns that Egbert was playing D&D in the tunnels and raised hysteria levels by having officers with dogs search every inch of the tunnels and come up empty.  Even though Egbert had only a very casual brush with roleplaying unfortunately D&D got linked to his disappearance by the slimmest of clues, which turned out to be completely off base.  It's as if you or I disappear tomorrow on our way home from work, and the local detectives search our rooms and after coming up with the module B1 start their investigation looking for something resembling Quaseqeton that we have obviously hidden in and two unknown perps named "Roghan" and "Zelligar" who we are hanging out with.   8O

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 11:59 pm 
 

Hello all,

Yes, Egbert did end up killing himself. After he was located and returned to his parents, his emotional problems continued, and (I think it was a year or so after his return), he shot himself and ended up dying six days later after being on life support (if I'm remembering this correctly). Such a waste...

Like one other kind poster mentioned, Egbert had a lot of problems in his life (being an emotionally underdeveloped child genius, struggling with his homosexuality at a time [25 years ago] when it wasn't very widely accepted, dabbling with drugs and so on), but naturally the media focused on the D&D/LARP aspect of things. *sigh*

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Post Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 12:52 am 
 

Xaxaxe wrote:
Zippanthropus wrote:Was that the kid who offed himself many years after anyway?


I think you might be remembering Irving Pulling, who commited suicide with his mother's handgun in 1982. His mother, Patricia, went on to found Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons, and was forever convinced that D&D led to her son's death.*

*apparently not recognizing the fact that keeping a loaded gun in her house wasn't the brightest of ideas.


   I saw this sad person years ago on a local talkshow.  (Mind you, it was the Seattle media, so she was right among her intellectual peers...somewhere behind the bell curve.)

  She spouted a bunch of psycho-babble about the son that she raised so well that she:

a)  Did not know he even played D&D even though he was "obsessed."
b)  Had no idea he was depressed.
c)  Had someone analyze with a "psychological autopsy."  

    Typically, she was joined on stage by a local psychologist who admitted at the start that he was unfamiliar with role-playing games.

   As far as I could tell it was all sprung from a need to blame someone or something other than...mom...for what had happened.  I was mad at her, but more sad for her.   :?

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Post Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 12:54 am 
 

QUASQUETON!  God did that ring a bell!  Roghan and Zelligar!  Yes, of course!   :P

   It has been a long time.

Mark


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:07 am 
 

I also remember that Dallas Egbert wanted to write computer programs, but his mom would not let him. She thought that it was a waste of time. It is not hard to imagine that if this boy was alive today he would be one of those computer gurus who made megabucks from the late 1980's and 1990's.

  
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