Catholic Candle note: Catholic Candle normally examines particular issues thoroughly, at length, using the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the other Doctors of the Church. By contrast, our feature CC in brief, gives a short answer to a reader’s question. We invite readers to submit their own questions.
Why No One should play Dungeons and Dragons
Q. My son has gotten into the game Dungeons and Dragons at his school and from the stories he’s told me about the game, it sounds pretty bad. I want to give him some definitive reasons he shouldn’t play it, but I don’t know enough about it to tell him not to. Any help is appreciated.
A. The virtuous life is the happy life on earth and, more importantly, is the road to heaven. We should not engage in entertainments which work against virtue and our progress toward heaven.
One such entertainment is the role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons, which especially attracts high school boys and less-mature young men.
Here are our five biggest reasons this game is bad and everyone should avoid it.
1. Dungeons and Dragons presents a false moral framework for life. This is done explicitly and implicitly. Players are allowed to explicitly choose to make their characters evil or morally “neutral” (i.e., “amoral”, “chaotic”) and players are free to live according to whatever moral standards they choose. Thus, they are allowed to choose, imagine, and cause their characters to sin without limitation or contrition. This is licentiousness, not true liberty, and it is not the conduct of a friend of God! The evil of that licentiousness is evident if someone puts himself in God’s “shoes”: Suppose a person learned that his family members and best friends spent considerable time enjoying the daydream of torturing and murdering him. Their pleasurable fantasy would prove that they do not love him and are not his friends. Similarly, a person would obviously offend God and not be God’s friend, if he spent his recreation time enjoying the daydream of offending God by committing sins.
2. Besides the sin of willfully taking pleasure in imagining committing sins, such daydreams can also be sins for a second reason: they can lead to committing those sins we are imagining, and could make it easier for us to commit those sins through breaking down any reluctance we might have to committing such sins. So, e.g., if a young man were to spend a lot of time taking pleasure by imagining shoplifting and how he could do it without getting caught, it would tend to break down his inhibitions and could make him more likely to actually commit that sin. Thus, such imaginings can be deliberate (and unnecessary) occasions of sin.
3. Besides this false moral framework (discussed above), Dungeons and Dragons promotes and glorifies killing for personal gain and advantage. Catholics (and all men seeking virtue) should be peaceable and should be builders, not destroyers, as much as possible. Dungeons and Dragons encourages the opposite: “let’s go kill and be violent”.
4. Dungeons and Dragons presents to the players the false, central goal of living to amass material goods and power, whereas the truth is that those goods play only a small part in the good and happy life. The truly important parts of life are missing and are “written out” of the game.
5. Dungeons and Dragons promotes interest in (and entrance into) the occult, to learn about, use, and seek spells and magic.
The above reasons leave aside many other reasons not to play Dungeons and Dragons, such as:
§ Dangers to purity built into the game;
§ The wasting of time involved in the game;
§ The inherent, additional unwholesomeness of this game as played as a computer game, i.e., when the game is played on that medium. (Board games are generally better than electronic games.)
§ The superiority of “real” activities, such as sports, hiking, rafting, writing and reading activities, art and kraft projects, fishing, long bike rides, swimming, gardening, raising animals, model rockets, taking on extra side jobs to save money for college, etc.