Via Neogrognard, I just ran across the original broadcast of the 60 Minutes episode investigating the role of Dungeons and Dragons in murder/suicides. It was run in 1985.
I highly recommend watching these, they are instructive.
The videos feature Patricia Pulling, who’s son, Irving “Bink” Pulling committed suicide. Also Thomas Radecki, who is a psychologist.
Gygax and his PR dude came off as defensive and insensitive pricks who were using D&D money to shut down investigations. Remember that this is the height of the great Satanism scare of the 80s. It was a strange time.
There was never going to be another outcome. There is no argument to be made that will make you look better, if you’re E. Gary. With 3.5 million people playing, and 35 deaths, you have no real case. If you are going to run the segment at all, you have to have some narrative to support it.
And it’s always a strange time. There are people today who will swear that vaccinations cause autism, and refuse to have their children vaccinated. It’s causing a whooping cough epidemic in California’s Central Valley. People are strange, even redheaded elves have their kinks. They always will.
Of course, Dungeons and Dragons doesn’t kill people. Nor does playing the online versions of these games. For some debunking of this stuff, The Escapist has a nice little encyclopedia of unfavorable media references. For example, his entries on Bink and Patricia Pulling.
(I have a little small spot of sympathy for Mrs. Pulling, who died in 1997. Stuff can go wrong with children, even when parents mean the best, and do the best they can. It seems she made some mistakes, and in her case, they turned out to be fatal for her child. That would suck.)
In some ways, the internet makes conspiracy theory mongering worse. People who are in the grip of a crazy idea can find other people with the same crazy idea much more easily, and reinforce each other. But that doesn’t mean I want to shut down the internet, because that same internet let me do the research to debunk it.
So I come to how much I like the concept of Net Neutrality. If someone could pay off someone else to keep stuff that embarasses them off the internet, that would be a great, great loss.