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Crime The Courts Games Idle

Court Rules Dungeons and Dragons Threatens Prison Security 353

Posted by samzenpus
from the but-I-want-to-cast-magic-missile dept.
KermodeBear writes "Dungeons and Dragons — originally Satan's Game — has now been found to encourage gang-like behavior. In a finding by a three judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, D&D 'can mimic the organization of gangs and lead to the actual development thereof.' From the ruling: 'during D&D games, one player is denoted the "Dungeon Master." 'The Dungeon Master is tasked with giving directions to other players, which Muraski testified mimics the organization of a gang.'"

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Court Rules Dungeons and Dragons Threatens Prison Security

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  • by Elgonn (921934) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @01:55PM (#35021898)
    This story is at least a year old. Thanks slashdot for rehashing the past.
  • Paranoia (Score:5, Funny)

    by Captain Spam (66120) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @01:55PM (#35021900) Homepage

    Okay, okay, fine. Just have them play Paranoia instead. That oughta screw up the Court of Appeals.

  • by v1 (525388) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @01:56PM (#35021916) Homepage Journal

    the DM is anything but a "leader" in D&D. His job is more akin to that of the judges themselves, that passed this retarded ruling.

    • by dintech (998802)

      Maybe they were worried about the use of D4s as weapons. Dangerous those. You could have an eye out.

    • In the very few games of D&D that I've played the DM was less judge and more executioner. Finding new fun and exciting ways to kill off the party appeared to be his primary purpose, so I guess maybe inquisition age executioner would be even more accurate.

    • the DM is anything but a "leader" in D&D. His job is more akin to that of the judges themselves, that passed this retarded ruling.

      Have you never DMed or played under one that did quid pro quo trades in game? "Get me a coke for that 15xp you need to get to next level." "Whoever does X, I will give Y." There are plenty of instances where a DM can be a leader or use their position as one of authority. It's just like Farmville. Do this and I will give you this imaginary reward in this imaginary world. But d

    • If DM's were gang leaders their gangs would have to come though scores of instant death traps just to have an audience.
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dintech (998802) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @01:56PM (#35021918)

    Haven't they got better things to do, like reducing the prevalence of weapons, drugs, alcohol and cellular phones in prisons?

  • Uh yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@@@gmail...com> on Thursday January 27, 2011 @01:56PM (#35021922) Homepage
    ... hierarchical command structures are everywhere in our society?
  • Is it just me? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jorl17 (1716772) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @01:57PM (#35021934)
    [Offtopic] Is it just me, or the new Slashdot design seems to have chased away most of the people out there? Most stories are very short on comments! Come on people, get back to trolling and bashing stuff!!
    • Sir, subscribe me to your gang's newsletter, post haste!!1! Personally, I think they're just lurking in protest because I found them out to be date rapists.

    • Re:Is it just me? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tophermeyer (1573841) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:26PM (#35022274)
      I find it harder to read the comment threads with the redesign. As I'm scrolling down I can't tell which comments lead to long threads and which don't, so I find myself skimming through a lot fewer comments and am less tempted to post myself.
      • by TheSpoom (715771)

        Same. These grey boxes (especially with the slightly darker grey text within) are really hard on the eyes.

        And the idea that abbreviated comments should completely hide all of their children is poorly conceived at best.

        I can fix the design issues myself in a local stylesheet and release that for anyone interested, but I hope they fix the hidden comments thing.

    • Re:Is it just me? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Qzukk (229616) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:41PM (#35022452) Journal

      There's plenty of posts, you just can't see them since after the redesign, "abbreviated" comments completely hide all of the comments below them.

      • by Jorl17 (1716772)
        I tend to disagree. Have you looked at the numbers? There are around 30-50 comments (sometimes they reach 150), when they usually peaked at 200 or more. Might be a work day or just stupid news, but it sounds to me like people have left. I, for one, cannot get myself organized in this whitespace madness (and BIG GUIness).
    • I noticed that I started getting way, way fewer replies to my comments than normal, and when I went to look for my comments... they were invisible. Not modded down - most were still 2's. But you couldn't see them. Not sure what's going on.
  • by MattGWU (86623) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @01:57PM (#35021936)

    So don't let them all play rogues. What's the big deal?

    "Ok, what do you do?"
    "I backstab"
    "Backstab"
    "Um...Backstab?"
    "I shank him"
    "You're not supposed to say it like that! We'll get in trouble"
    "Fine, jeeze...'backstab'"

  • Oh please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2011 @01:58PM (#35021952)
    I served 15 days in a county Jail (under Huber law) about 15 years ago or so I actually brought a few roleplaying books in with me, and set up a gaming session. (most of the guys in there with me were in for minor drug possession, and quite a few were gamers). I wound up running a 36 hour gaming session where people picked up and left off when they got tired, or had to go to work. It helped pass the time immensely, and gaming made my two weeks in jail go a lot faster than it would have otherwise.

    Don't get me wrong, it was still a terrible experience, and I wouldn't want to go back (and I haven't!). But banning things like D&D isn't going to solve anything.
  • What (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GlyphedArchitect (1605113) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @01:59PM (#35021972)

    The Employer is tasked with giving directions to employees, which Muraski testified mimics the organization of a gang.

    The Teacher is tasked with giving directions to students, which Muraski testified mimics the organization of a gang.

    The Emergency Broadcast System is tasked with giving directions to the public during an emergency, which Muraski testified mimics the organization of a gang.

    Really? When you have criteria for gang behavior that is that loose, anything can be classified and banned.

    The Warden is tasked with giving directions to prisoners, which Muraski testified mimics the organization of a gang.

  • In other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NevarMore (248971) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:00PM (#35021976) Homepage Journal

    ...religious services banned in prisons.

    They mimic gang activity, there is a "priest" or "sheik" or "prophet" that tells the other participants how to interpret and act on religious texts

    • I think you mean cult. I don't think too many gang leaders are interpreting religious texts for their followers.
  • by Ben4jammin (1233084) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:00PM (#35021978)
    My favorite part:

    but that the game encourages players to become obsessed with mentally escaping the restrictions of prison life

    Because surely it NEVER occurred to inmates to attempt to mentally escape the restrictions of prison life until the DM told them to

  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:00PM (#35021980) Homepage

    Make them pee in a cup, make the results public.

  • Given the inherent need for a good DM to have a streak of sadism, I would think prisons would encourage playing D&D with the guards acting as DM...

  • Where the hell (pardon the pun) did "Satan's Game" come from? D&D has always been Dungeons & Dragons since inception. Now get off my lawn!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This was a reference to a rather infamous bit of audio that was released as a parody of The Watchtower's attack on D&D. You can give it a listen [youtube.com], and I recommend you do. It's quite funny.

    • Re:Satan's Game? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by just_another_sean (919159) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:18PM (#35022202) Homepage Journal

      Never saw Mazes and Monsters or saw news (hysteria really) from the 80's about D&D?

      My parents almost made me see a psychiatrist over that crap until my brother and I sat my Mom down and made her play a game with us. We interspersed the play with quips about how it was encouraging us to read, expanding our vocabulary and working our imagination in ways that TV and Video Games never could.

      Can't say I specifically remember "Satan's Game" but doesn't sound far off...

      Wait, is this one of those whooosh moments? Sorry, nm.

    • It's reference to the beating D&D took during the "Satanic Panic" of the 80s. It was widely blasted for being "Satanic" by even relatively mild religious organizations, and took the blame for a number of suicides and murders. Kinda like video games today. Nobody with any real intelligence took it seriously, but there was plenty of hype and general insanity surrounding the game.

    • Where the hell (pardon the pun) did "Satan's Game" come from? D&D has always been Dungeons & Dragons since inception. Now get off my lawn!

      Are you kidding me?

      D&D suffered from an awful lot of bad press back in the 80's. Lots of folks were claiming it was satanic. I remember getting an awful lot of odd looks from folks when I'd admit to playing. My folks were pretty concerned until I actually showed them the rulebooks.

      They even made a movie [wikipedia.org] about the perils of D&D.

  • by MoldySpore (1280634) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:06PM (#35022046)

    Got me into eating small white pills. And don't even get me started on "candy"-land. And Battleship? I heard it trains terrorists on how to sink ships.

    Honestly, they can find the most ridiculous things to try and turn something harmless into a big deal. D&D is not what created gangs. Gangs create gangs. And they certainly aren't running around screaming "lightning bolt" and talking about going into unexplored caves to find treasure out on the streets. This is beyond hilarious for anyone who has any kind of knowledge of both D&D and gang-related activities.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Gangs create gangs. And they certainly aren't running around screaming "lightning bolt"

      You've never watched Reno 911 have you? Our law enforcement officers have to deal with anachronistic ruffians shouting "lightning bolt" regularly.

  • I really don't care about criminals rights, but the court got it wrong. The dungeon master is not the leader of the party and does not give orders or directions. DM represents an interface to the world. The party makes their own decision.
    • by Thing 1 (178996)

      I really don't care about criminals rights

      You should; "there but for the grace of a pissed-off investigator, go I."

  • Let's be clear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cfulmer (3166) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:07PM (#35022066) Homepage Journal
    The 7th circuit did *not* find that D&D encourages gang-like behavior. What it found is that this prisoner didn't provide any relevant evidence that it doesn't encourage gang-like behavior. Basically, the warden said "Hey, this sort of thing looks like something which could encourage gangs -- it mimics human interaction. So, we're banning it." The inmate could have gone out and found other wardens who said "No, we've had it in our prison, and it's been fine." But, he didn't. Instead, he found other inmates (or former inmates). And that's not good enough.
  • Not the real reason. They are worried about the inmates getting boots of escapement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxF0vygnF2Y [youtube.com]
  • I'm sure this is just how the Bloods and the Crypts got started!

  • haha (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@@@gmail...com> on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:12PM (#35022130) Homepage
    A while ago I had a case before the trial judge here. Knowing his personality, and age, it amuses me to no end to imagine the efforts the prisoners must have gone through to explain to him what Dungeons and Dragons is.
  • People in gangs reject society, and create their own. Now, what could be more natural society to create for a group of men than an informal but still very hierarchial one where everyone's heavily armed?
  • In a related ruling, the court banned standing in queues for food in the cafeteria, because it mimics doing the bunny-hop. And spooning.
  • "The Dungeon Master is tasked with giving directions to other players, which Muraski testified mimics the organization of a gang."

    Or a corporation.

  • There, an expert on prison gangs argued not only that having a Dungeon Master issue direction to other players “mimics the organization of a gang”, but that the game encourages players to become obsessed with mentally escaping the restrictions of prison life, which could threaten “the safety and security of the institution.”

    As opposed to leaving them in the courtyard to look at the outside, separated from society by armed guards and chainlink fences?

  • by istartedi (132515) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:23PM (#35022252) Journal

    A midshipman at the US Naval Academy was asked what the difference was between being in the Navy or a gang. He thought for a moment and said, "we have uniforms". It was the Washington Post, IIRC, and for all I know it may have been fabricated by the same reporter who wrote "Jimmy's World, the story of a 9 year old heroin addict".

    It still has a ring of truth to it though.

    So yeah, every social order is gang if you want to look at it that way. Did any of these people making the call actually, you know, check to see if DD players in prison were getting into more trouble, or less trouble?

  • That judge is going to have to ban all group activities with that logic. No basketball, or other sports, no quilting bees, no prison work groups, no film making, no year book, no cheerleading, no anything that has somebody directing/leading/refereeing that includes multiple people.

    Ok, I listed some retirement home stuff and school stuff, but then again I'm pointing out how stupid the judges idea of things that leads to gang-like-behavior is. Additionally, I have no idea what people do in prison other than t
  • This Just In... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MDillenbeck (1739920) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:23PM (#35022256)
    Courts rule that political parties are now illegal in the prison systems. Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, and so forth are obviously modeled after gang organizations, and thus should be allowed. Especially those Tea Party-ers who like to engage in an activity they dub "tea bagging" - which in a prison is just wrong on so many levels.
  • Who Knew (Score:5, Funny)

    by mattwrock (1630159) <mattwrock@gmail.com> on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:26PM (#35022282)
    I was gangsta way back in 81'. Suck on it bitches, the druid's in da house!
  • Awful Arguments (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rydia (556444) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:32PM (#35022342)

    I actually watched the oral argument for this case, and the appointed counsel did a really hideous job ... one of the judges (based on the testimony of the correctional officer at trial) was talking about "escapism" being a problem that was promoted by dungeons and dragons, as in it would actually lead to the players escaping from the jail. The attorney completely missed this, didn't even familiarize himself with the material that was being discussed, and generally did a half-assed job of informing the court, which also admitted they had no idea how the game worked or what its implications were. I only partially blame the judges -- after all, part of your job is to inform the court of your arguments and interpretations of facts. That's what an oral argument is for.

    So yes, "escapism" is a real problem. I expect the next things to be banned in the seventh circuit to be books, closely followed by looking out the window, closely followed by thinking.

    Anyway, the judges have betrayed two things:

    1. They have never been in a gang, because gang heirarchy doesn't work that way.
    2. They have never played Dungeons & Dragons, because they think people actually listen to the DM.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I spent a few days in a county jail a couple of years ago and I was actually NOT allowed to look out the window.

  • by sxmjmae (809464) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:44PM (#35022482)

    HA HA HA.
    The prison guard tell them what to do all the time - the whole system is just a big gang.

    I think the same can be said about the government. After all the US President is tasked with giving directions and his fellow gang members try to achieve the goals. Although there are two gangs running the country both are just legitimized organized criminal gangs. Pay your protection money, I mean taxes!

  • my gang (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ogive17 (691899) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:48PM (#35022534)
    Well, my gang and I will be getting together this weekend to try and tackle the Tomb of Horrors. Hope the cops don't show up and bust us like they kicked us off a frozen pond while playing hockey a few weekends ago.
  • DnD In Prison (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    A gamer buddy of mine actual was in jail for a few years and game mastered plenty of games while he was incarcerated.

    He said the escapism allowed by DnD or tabletop rpgs in general was one of the few things lifetimers had to look forward to while behind bars. I'm talking about stonecold killers with a lifetime of no parole. For a few, it was the only thing they had to look forward to in life. (You can easily argue that they don't deserve the fun they are having but that isn't what I'm trying to say.)

    I think

  • dangerous (Score:4, Funny)

    by jqh1 (212455) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:57PM (#35022644) Homepage

    Yup - that was me - 13 years old, with a stack of graph paper, a bunch of pencils, and a bag of funny shaped dice. 100% pure gangsta!

    • by dcollins (135727)

      You know, when I was 15 I actually did have a cop pull into my driveway behind my truck, flash his lights, and accuse me of illegally hunting deer... with said graph paper, D&D books, and pencils on the seat beside me.

      Of course, it was really part of a harassment campaign of my whole family by local cops after my dad confronted the chief of police at a town hall meeting, but still... Did not like that campaign at all.

  • Wait a second (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:59PM (#35022666)
    Gang-"like" behavior? Because there are no gangs in prison? Or because the court would rather the inmate join a real gang than a D&D party? Is there a ban on team sports in jail too, because that's gang-like behavior too...
  • by Haedrian (1676506) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @03:02PM (#35022698)

    Don't these people research or anything?

    Oh right. Fox news. Carry on.

  • by anyGould (1295481) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @03:04PM (#35022720)

    during work hours, one player is denoted the "Boss." 'The Boss is tasked with giving directions to other players, which Muraski testified mimics the organization of a gang.'"

    OMG - I'm in a gang too!

  • by b4upoo (166390) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @03:05PM (#35022726)

    Does electing the leader of a basketball team, a football team, or the state governor not also teach the formation of a gang? Another waste of taxpayer dollars by people who do no real work but seek to be the moral guardians of us all is in play.

  • by qeveren (318805) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @03:34PM (#35023040)

    Oh my god!!! Gang-like behaviour in a prison!! It must be that Satanic game's fault!

    Seriously? Money and time got spent on this? Why do they allow sports in prison then? Obviously having a team captain and/or coach mimics gang-like behaviour!

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