Dungeons & Dragons was introduced to the world in the 1970s. While many saw it as an escapist fantasy game to enjoy with a small group of friends, others, including several prominent religious figures, saw it as a gateway to satanism.
A private investigator named William C. Dear took this “Satanic Panic” very seriously when he investigated the mysterious disappearance of a teenage boy in 1979. He hypothesized (incorrectly, it turns out) that the boy had disappeared into the steam tunnels of his college campus to binge out on D&D. About the game, Dear says, “It advocated murder, decapitation… And I’m going, ‘This isn’t a healthy game. How can it be a healthy game?'”
Dear went on to publish a book titled The Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III, and some have come to the conclusion that Dear was stoking the flames of this particular fire in order to sell more copies of it.
In a video titled “Dungeons & Dragons: Fact from Fantasy,” Retro Report (presented by the New York Times) takes a look at the events surrounding this panic. It’s an interesting watch, and definitely worth 13 minutes of your time.