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The Courts Your Rights Online Games

Prison Bans D&D For Mimicking Gang Structure 496

Posted by kdawson
from the step-away-from-the-polyhedral-dice dept.
Trepidity writes "In a case that has been winding its way through the courts for a while now, a Wisconsin prison banned inmates from playing Dungeons & Dragons, using the justification that 'one player is denoted the Dungeon Master... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other players... [which] mimics the organization of a gang.' The prison also cited some sparse evidence that a handful of non-inmate D&D players once committed some crimes that allegedly were related to their D&D playing. On Monday the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the regulation (PDF) against challenges from inmates. The court appeared skeptical of the ban, sarcastically referring to it as the 'war on D&D,' but upheld it nonetheless as having a 'rational basis.' Law professor Ilya Somin suggests that the court may have had no choice, given how deferential rational-basis review usually is."
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Prison Bans D&D For Mimicking Gang Structure

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  • Is it just D&D ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VShael (62735) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:25AM (#30901930) Journal

    What if they played any other sort of RPG?

    Or is the law so nutty that they'll ban boardgames like Clue because it features a murder? Or Colditz, because it features escaping from a prison?

    • by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:30AM (#30901960) Journal
      I don't think it's against the law to play D&D, rather that it's legal for the prison to ban it if they can make a plausible case.

      So it's a stupid rule that just happens to be upheld by a fairly reasonable law.
      • by KiloByte (825081) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:45AM (#30902324)

        They don't want the prisoners to learn black magic rituals [chick.com].

        • by digitalhermit (113459) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:14AM (#30902506) Homepage

          You bastard!! That just brought back some memories of my childhood. This was a real conversation:

          "So who is the dungeon master."

          "Well, Jonathan is usually the dungeon master."

          "Who is Jonathan?"

          "He's my friend."

          "So you can see him?"

          "What do you mean? Of course I can see him."

          "And he's the dungeon master?"

          "Yes, he's the dungeon mater."

          "Obviously this game is playing tricks with your mind if you think you can actually see this dungeon master."

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          It took me until the end of the comic to realize it wasn't a joke. WTF?
          • Re:Is it just D&D ? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Alex Belits (437) * on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @09:10AM (#30902884) Homepage

            It took me until the end of the comic to realize it wasn't a joke. WTF?

            THIS IS WHAT CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE.

            • by VorpalRodent (964940) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @09:35AM (#30903162)
              Not to get off topic, but it should be clarified that this is what *some* Christian fundamentalists believe. I would be categorized as a Christian fundamentalist, and I would categorize Jack Chick as a conspiracy theorist lunatic fringe nutjob Christian fundamentalist. There are a number of things in his tracts (aside from the weird stuff) that he presents as Biblical that aren't in the Bible (no matter how liberal/conservative your reading of it.
        • by Arthur Grumbine (1086397) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @11:47AM (#30905160) Journal
          I never knew the full depth of Jack Chick's disconnect with reality until now... 7 gamers - 4 of them attractive girls and not a single one - of any them - overweight!
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            I never knew the full depth of Jack Chick's disconnect with reality until now... 7 gamers - 4 of them attractive girls and not a single one - of any them - overweight!

            I know. It's like an advertisement for D&D. "Play Dungeons and Dragons! Meet cute girls! Spend your evenings with domineering sexy women DMs! Learn black magic and get that sourcebook you've always wanted!"

            Especially since the alternative seems to be "Become a Christian! Pray! Dress up! Hang around with older men and only a few depressed- or bored-looking people your own age! Burn books! Pray... again!"

            (I almost said "Hang around with domineering sexy women DMs!" in that last one, completely uninten

      • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:10AM (#30902492)

        Personally, I just think the Warden doesn't want them having FUN.

        And when you get down to brass tacks, it is a fucking PRISON.

        When I looked at this from that perspective, it makes quite a lot of sense. Prison isn't supposed to be fun, folks.

        "Hey! I never have to work again, my room and board are provided for me and I get to play D&D all fucking day!" This is most old-school gamers wet dream. The only thing missing is Mom cleaning up the basement for you once a month.

        C'mon folks. We have to make it a deterrent, not something to look forward to. The only reason this is fucked up is because they don't just come out and state it that way. Instead, they rationalize and tie this shit up in a courtroom. They could have just said "No fucking games" and been done with it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Talderas (1212466)

          I hate to be a me-too here, but you beat me to making a comment.

          I see all these people going "Waa waa they won't let prisoners play D&D in prisoner." What the fuck? It's prison. It's punishment. You're crying about not being able to play a game? What if another story came along and said "Prisoners are banned from playing Grand Theft Auto because it encourages gangs." It doesn't matter the fucking justification, it's prison. Prison isn't supposed to be fun.

          • by N1AK (864906) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:58AM (#30902784) Homepage
            And playing D&D while your incarcerated isn't going to make the whole experience enjoyable. Do you really think anyone might of been sat there thinking "Man, now that I can play D&D in prison I'm not sufficiently put off trying to rob this bank?".

            There is no one specific reason for putting people in prison, although generally people see it as being for protection of others and punishment of criminals (some would add to discourage other criminals). Personally I think protecting others is the most important of these reasons, and if letting the inmates play D&D in anyway improves the generally negative prison enviroment Ive got no issue with it.
            • Re:Is it just D&D ? (Score:5, Informative)

              by Vexar (664860) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @09:50AM (#30903336) Homepage Journal
              This is a debate over "fun" versus paying a debt to society and investing in the social adjustment that is supposed to improve a criminal's ability to return to society. You can't fight D&D. It is paper and pencil and dice, or it is excellent memory skills, and any number of ways to generate a random number. Flutter a few scraps of paper to the ground, or a dried leaf. Which end is up determines the number value. Strategy, chance, and imagination. That's where the fight really is.

              Do these elements show socialization skills? Cooperative ability? Evaluation of morals? Imagine if the prison ruled that all players must be Lawful Good. All these scenarios acted out in imagination helps decision-making, provided there's a good GM in charge of player role accuracy. I actually think role-playing games could be very useful. Role-playing is quite useful in psychological counseling, is it not?

              If I were imprisoned, I'd consider it a significant investment in an opportunity to work hard on improving myself, so as to no longer be a detriment to society. I would certainly not expect to be permitted to write Mein Kempf, or plot my next Una-Bomber attacks, much less communicate with folks on the outside to plot the next tragic act in my Jihad against the Great Satan.

              Prison should be about rehabilitation, not detention. In there, it is a battle for hearts and minds on an individual level, and the treasure of redemption. I say someone takes the fight into the dungeons, and helps slay the dragons on the inside of every man's heart.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by TheCarp (96830)

                > Do these elements show socialization skills? Cooperative ability? Evaluation of morals? Imagine if the prison ruled that all
                > players must be Lawful Good.

                Then players will secretly be chaotic evil, masquerading as lawful good. Let's see them stop that!

                > If I were imprisoned, I'd consider it a significant investment in an opportunity to work hard on improving myself, so as to no
                > longer be a detriment to society.

                I am not sure that I am comfortable with the assumption that being in prison means

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by BobMcD (601576)

                  Do these elements show socialization skills? Cooperative ability? Evaluation of morals? Imagine if the prison ruled that all
                  players must be Lawful Good.

                  Then players will secretly be chaotic evil, masquerading as lawful good. Let's see them stop that!

                  I'd think we would all know by now that there are basically two 'batcrap insane' alignments in the game: Lawful Good and Chaotic Neutral. It would be arguably better for these to be banned from play, before someone gets shanked.

              • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @11:51AM (#30905208) Homepage Journal

                If I were imprisoned, I'd consider it a significant investment in an opportunity to work hard on improving myself, so as to no longer be a detriment to society.

                With an attitude like that, good luck ever getting into prison.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Yeah, you're right - fuck rehabilitation, prison's for punishment, not for the safety of society or rehabilitation of criminals who may have a shot of entering society again one day.

          You're a fucking genius, I tell ya ... (Now where did I leave those red hot irons???)
        • by P0ltergeist333 (1473899) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:15AM (#30903672)

          When I looked at this from that perspective, it makes quite a lot of sense. Prison isn't supposed to be fun, folks.

          "Hey! I never have to work again, my room and board are provided for me and I get to play D&D all fucking day!" This is most old-school gamers wet dream. The only thing missing is Mom cleaning up the basement for you once a month.

          I know I shouldn't feed the trolls, but this is ridiculous.

          So...having 99% of you civil rights taken from you is not punishment enough?
          So...becoming institutionalized to the point that many cannot function in society for any amount of time is not punishment enough?
          So...not being able to see you friends and family except for in extremely controlled circumstances is not punishment enough?
          So...becoming stigmatized by society to the point that it is extremely difficult to get a decent job, get a decent apartment, or to some extent have any interaction with the public without being pre-judged is not punishment enough?
          So...getting beaten and or raped on a regular basis is not punishment enough?
          So...eating prison food isn't punishment enough?
          So...being forced to spend large amounts of time surrounded by sociopaths isn't punishment enough?
          I could go on and on...

          • by Count Fenring (669457) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @11:41AM (#30905060) Homepage Journal

            I agree with you on principle, but I'd like to make one side point - prison rape is not intended as part of the punishment/rehabilitation program, and is a huge PROBLEM, one that modern U.S. culture in particular insists on treating as a joke.

            It's not funny - people don't deserve to be raped, regardless of their crimes; and given that the worst offenders tend to be the ones most prone to violent, impulsive behavior, it's usually the less violent inmates that bear the brunt of it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          "one player is denoted the Boss... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other employees... [which] mimics the organization of a gang."

          Integration at its finest !

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Opportunist (166417)

          Ok, but turn it around and let's take a look at it from the prisoner's eyes. You know what a prisoner's biggest problem is, at least in medium-low security wards? Not drugs, not gang wars, not being locked up. It's the ultimate torture for the human being: Boredom. Prison life is utterly, mind numbing boring. Did you know that working is a privilege in most prisons? For good reasons, you finally get to do something with your time. Yes, being allowed to work is a fuckin' privilege. It sure as hell beats sitt

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by CodeBuster (516420)
            I agree. One wonders what this warden is thinking by banning D&D because it "emulates gang structure"? This sounds like something that a politician, who has never worked in or run a prison, might say or do to get votes. Any warden of any prison in America will tell you that privileges are a HUGE part of what makes any prison run smoothly; they are a vital tool. Absolute punishment 24/7 tends to backfire in the long run because people who have little or nothing left to lose are not easily controlled. Off
    • by Neoprofin (871029)
      In Clue only one person is a murderer, perhaps not even a played character, and your job is to find the killer and report it to the police.

      Sounds like a winner.
    • by mcvos (645701) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:48AM (#30902064)

      What if they played any other sort of RPG?

      Maybe the prison would prefer it if they played Shadowrun? Violent, gun-toting hoodlums breaking in and out of places sounds like just the thing to play when you're in prison.

    • by martyros (588782) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:02AM (#30902134)

      As the article noted, lots of games might come under their "mimics gang structure" argument:

      By this “reasoning,” you could ban the “cooperative game” of football because “during football games, one player is denoted the ‘quarterback.’ The quarterback is tasked with giving directions to other players.”

      • by deniable (76198)
        Better yet, some RPGs, similar to D&D use the term Referee instead of Dungeon Master, therefore any activity using a referee is suspect. No more sports. It's not like sports teams and gangs have any similarities either.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cgenman (325138)

        Not to be too elitist, but would it be a bad thing if they did ban other games like football? I mean, I don't mean to be harsh here, but these people are in prison. I'd like a fair, equitable, just applications of principles here. But at the same time, anything more than educational reading and meditation in a prison seems like it's a reward not a right.

        Perhaps someone here with more experience in this sort of thing can comment on how rights like these apply when you're in jail.

        • Re:Is it just D&D ? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by HungryHobo (1314109) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:29AM (#30902256)

          I think this comes under socialising and if you don't let people people socialise to a minimum extent it can screw up their minds.
          In other words if you lock someone up in a room with nothing but a pile of food,books and some weights equipment for a few years they probably come out more than somewhat messed up in the head.

          It occurs to me that it's like someone found that making their child go sit in the corner alone for 10 minutes when they were somewhat bad was a decent punishment and then tried to just sort of scale up the time and how far away the corner was for more serious offences and didn't consider that some things don't scale well...

        • by greentshirt (1308037) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:51AM (#30902358)
          You don't sound elitist, you sound sadly unaware of the very basics of human psychology.

          Do you realize that the most severe punishment in any United States prison is solitary confinement? The human need for socialization is the very foundation of Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Anthropology and many other schools. This is not opinion or conjecture, it is a basic assumption of most of the soft sciences and there have been many experiments that have shown the extreme adverse effects of solitary confinement.

          Do yourself a favor and read Discipline and Punish. You'll start to understand that the prison system is not in fact as old as civilization but a very new, very disturbing invention.

          The stated goals of prisons are to rehabilitate, they are called "correctional facilities". You cannot rehabilitate humans if you treat them like animals. All this ruling, and many like it, achieve is: a further sense of marginalization among the inmates, further reducing the chance of rehabilitation, a loss of a very positive venue for personal expression and imagination which could greatly aid in resocialization, more institutionalized, life long criminals. Our current system does not work nor is it meant to. Prisons are big business, and just like everything else, they are run by big business.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:52AM (#30902368)

          "..anything more than educational reading and meditation in a prison seems like it's a reward not a right."

          Right on! I want people coming out of prison extremely bitter and angry that the last few to several to many months to years of their lives were joyless and unrewarding. I want them walking around free society having no fresh recollection of what it meant to feel happy or satisfied. I want them to be suddenly forced to interact with functioning members of society immediately after they have been denied any forms of entertainment or amusement in an otherwise hellish living situation.

          How could there possibly be a downside to this?

        • Re:Is it just D&D ? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by martyros (588782) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @08:54AM (#30902756)

          I think prison is bad enough; and if you make it really terrible, then you get screwed up people coming out the other end.

          Also, it may be that you actually get a lot of enjoyment and refreshment out of "educational reading", and don't particularly enjoy football. But not everyone is of that bent: Imagine being sent to a prison where you *weren't* allowed educational reading, but *only* playing football. A little bit of "release" can change an unpleasant situation from unbearable to bearable.

          Disclaimer: I'm certainly no expert, but I have visited a prison at least once. :-)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jaysyn (203771)

          You've got it mixed up. Prisons in the US are for rehabilitation, not punishment. The sad fact is that they aren't very good at the former, probably due to being run by private companies that don't give a shit & are paid by headcount.

    • Re:Is it just D&D ? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:36AM (#30902280)

      I did a couple year stint for a drug crime and we played D&D all the time. We made different sided dice out of paper and cardboard. The guards only issue was when we made maps. They would often take our maps and make sure they weren't of the facility I was in. The dice were another issue as they were officially contraband, and when some guards were on duty we couldn't play.

      D&D was an awesome time waster and great fantasy get away.

      • Re:Is it just D&D ? (Score:4, Informative)

        by AuMatar (183847) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:50AM (#30902352)

        If you can't use dice, you can make pages of the numbers 1-n repeated in a matrix and have the roller close his eyes and point to a number with a pencil. Change sheets regularly so they can't memorize locations. Just as random and no problems due to lack of dice (which I assume were contraband to avoid craps playing?)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dogun (7502)

      It's not just D & D; they banned all fantasy roleplaying.

      Now that I've read the decision, I'm a little more annoyed.

      The prison officials provided evidence in the form of testimony, from one of the prison officials who claims to be a gang expert. The court appeared to find his testimony regarding gang structure unchallanged, so let that stand.

      They found that regulating gangs was reasonable, that Singer could play other games instead, that if it does lead to gang activity, that will put a strain on priso

  • Big Brother (Score:4, Funny)

    by CdXiminez (807199) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:28AM (#30901946)

    Soon, the game Paranoia will be outlawed.

  • by squidguy (846256) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:31AM (#30901966)
    After seeing Oz, the concept of "dungeonmaster" in prison brings on a whole new meaning...
  • Work Programs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:37AM (#30902008)
    Well, I hope these people don't participate in any work training programs. Those are also structured disturbing like gangs, with a leader and people specializing in different things. I think some people have also committed crimes while at work.
  • by Noughmad (1044096) <miha.cancula@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:43AM (#30902036) Homepage
    The United States Supreme Court banned the government, using the justification that 'one player is denoted the President... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other players... [which] mimics the organization of a gang.' The court also cited some sparse evidence that a handful of other presidents once committed some crimes that allegedly were related to their governing.
  • There might be evidence that some inmates go on to commit crimes that are related to their spell in prison. So ban prison.

  • by Rollgunner (630808) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:48AM (#30902062)
    'one player is denoted the Dungeon Master... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other players... [which] mimics the organization of a gang.'

    Clearly, no-one involved in the case has ever played a decent game of D&D. But why bother with facts when prejudice and hysteria will suffice ?

    For the 0.0001% of Slashdotters who've never played, a good "dungeon master" (just like a good computer game programmer) creates an interactive environment for players to explore.

    What the players decide to do from there is what can make the game an interesting vehicle for self-discovery and excercising one's imagination and problem-solving abilities.

    It no more mimics the structure of a gang than someone attending a lecture or watching a play.
    • by itsdapead (734413)

      'one player is denoted the Dungeon Master... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other players... [which] mimics the organization of a gang.'

      Of course, the prison may just have banned D&D because it was causing trouble, much as a school might ban trading cards because they were causing fights and aruments, and the above nonsense could just be some post-hoc rationalization that their lawyers came up with to defend against the frivolous lawsuit.

      I mean, ye gods, if the most heinous offense against human dignity in this place is that you're not allowed to play D&D, then US prisons have been receiving some very unfair press...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Trepidity (597)

        If the prison had actually just said, "we banned D&D because it was causing trouble", the whole thing would've seemed a lot more reasonable to me, and probably not really worth commenting on. I'm not quite sure why they didn't just say that, actually, unless it really wasn't causing problems, so they couldn't anyone to testify that D&D-playing prisoners were causing problems--- so they had to resort to the more hypothetical rationale, bolstered by testimony from a "gang expert", that D&D might p

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Vexar (664860)
        Yeah, you're right. On the scale of "North Korea" where they just make people disappear. I can just see the state letter:

        Dear Madam,
        On behalf of the People's Correctional Facility of North Korea, we are most sorry to report your son, while playing a banned D&D game, failed his dexterity roll against a spellcast as well as a critical hit save, the monster involved was level 20, and the spell involved resulted in a permanent Invisibility curse. We lack the ability to detect your son, however we do

  • My Crime (Score:5, Funny)

    by BlackHawk-666 (560896) <ivan.hawkes@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:55AM (#30902098) Homepage

    "The prison also cited some sparse evidence that a handful of non-inmate D&D players once committed some crimes that allegedly were related to their D&D playing."

    My only crime was to CAST FIREBALL at LEVEL 6 and do 6D6 damage to everyone in a huge sphere in front of me...except the ones who made their saving throws.

    I wouldn't even be here except I rolled a 4 on my SAVING THROW VS. JUDGES

    • by polar red (215081)

      I wouldn't even be here except I rolled a 4 on my SAVING THROW VS. JUDGES

      are you a dwarf ? maybe you should add [CON/3.5] to that.

  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @06:55AM (#30902102) Homepage Journal
    Freedom of speech
    Beyond prison reach
    Societal deportment
    So hard to teach
    Burma shave
  • by Ihlosi (895663) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:10AM (#30902178)

    ... magic missiles do.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:11AM (#30902186) Homepage
    I'ma tell my crew about it tonight after we execute every single one of those goblin mu'fas, take all they bling, and use it to buy mad straps.
  • What's a warden but a 'dungeon master.' Maybe he didn't want to share the title.
  • They should ask a prison guard to be the Dungeon Master :)

  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <(deleted) (at) (slashdot.org)> on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:43AM (#30902312)

    HUMANITY!

    This is pure hunter/gatherer humanity: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/12/hadza/finkel-text [nationalgeographic.com]
    Tell me that does not prove that the natural structure of human society is that of gangs!?

    Man, stupid, stupid, STUPID.

  • by ImNotAtWork (1375933) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @07:51AM (#30902362)

    There is a DM someone who sets the rules of the game and make sure everyone plays with in the imaginary boundaries. The DM is an authority figure and the players must acquesce to his/her rules. This is basically a model for prison life and some would say life as a "good citizen".

    If the rules are in dispute you negotiate and resolve the issue before moving on. Negotation is definitely something you want to teach to violent offenders since they may not have had any 1st hand experience with it.

    Basic mathematics and reading. Playing a game and being good at it requires one to learn the rules of the game. You want to find that numbers advantage? the DM isn't going to hand it to you on a silver platter. Many small gamers learn to read so they can figure out what to do next or what the screen is telling them and the same can apply in a prison setting with low literacy rates and math skills.

    Abstract problem solving skills. Ok this makes the criminal more dangerous but it could be a skill set that could be used for good and finding a respectable job. (yes I know about job aps and disclosure of arrests/prison time)

    As some one said before socializing with others as well as team work to accomplish goals together.

  • Heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pyster (670298) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @09:00AM (#30902798)
    Heh... So, instead of playing D&D they will just shank other inmates in their free time. I'm betting this isnt about security, or gangs, or any of that shit in reality. It's about the warden being a poostabbing griefer. Well, I hope they knife him to death when the riots come.
  • by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@noSpAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @09:04AM (#30902834) Homepage Journal

    $10 says that when you boil this down there is a silly bible-thumper at the root of this.

  • by HikingStick (878216) <z01riemer@hotmail . c om> on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:58AM (#30904378)
    As someone who was a long-time AD&D player who also worked for a time in a maximum security/close custody prison facility, my perspective may be a bit different from other who have replied here. In the prison environment, there are strict rules regarding fraternization among the incarcerated (prisoners/inmates). Often, there are limits on the number who may gather at one time, rules regarding proximity to others, and rules regarding communications. Inmates might not be allowed to carry stacks of personal papers or items from room to room. Any time inmates gather, it is suspect. Any time they are talking in hushed tones, it is suspect. Any time they are passing notes, it is suspect. Any talk of weapons or violoent actions puts the guards/officers at a heightened state of alert. Anything that might be viewed as gang-like behavior is suspect. Anything that could be viewed as cover for gang behavior is suspect.

    Now, if you have been an AD&D player (or a player of any number of other RPG games), think about the dynamics of game play. Games often include more than two or three people. Players often carry a stack of papers (e.g., maps, character sheets, game manuals) to and from game sessions. The group might get loud, but some members of the group might have a secret side conversation with another player or the DM. Notes might need to be passed (e.g., "I want to pickpocket the baron", "I want to move into the shadows behind the paladin"). Table conversation will include various weapons and tactics. Althought talk of some medieval weapons could easily be discerned as fantasy (e.g., "I'll run him through with my halberd"), others could easily match a contemporary context (e.g., "I'll knife the guard while you try to get his keys"). Most groups with which I've played held the DM in high regard; it was as if the DM had his own cult following or at least a lot of resepect. That behavior, to the untrained observer, would appear to mimic some gang behavior. Prison guards have no way of knowing if such a behavior is just a game, overt gang activity, or a game being used to hide gang activity. To strive for safety and control, they must err toward interpreting events as the worst possible scenario.

    If you are an RPG player, think through things that were said around your game table, and try to imagine hearing them as a prison guard or corrections officer. How might you interpret them?

    People who really got into their game playing often would talk about the game anywhere and everywhere. Can you imagine a guard in a lunchroom overhearing AD&D players discussing a plan to escape the tower by feigning illness before attacking the guards when they come to investigate? Can you imagine players discussing plans to dig an (in-game) escape tunnel while having recreation time in the yard? The game could easily be used as a veil to allow the player to communicate real escape plans out in the open while the rest of the facility thinks they are just a bunch of RPG geeks. I can't say I fully agree with the decision to bar AD&D, but I can say that I understand the reasoning behind the decision.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dogun (7502)

      Thanks for your perspective.

      What sort of alternative collaborative storytelling game would you propose for a prison setting?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by HikingStick (878216)
        I'm not sure I have an alternative to offer, as much as to suggest that the staff of the prison needs to be educated as to the nature of RPG gameplay. If similar group activities are allowed, once the decision makers are made aware of the nature of the game and its gameplay, I'd hope they'd work to find a resonable solution. Those incarcerated would find it in their best interest to be conscious of the behaviors and discussions in which they participate that might be viewed negatively by the administratio

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