By Letter to the Editor on December 2, 2021.
I was recently left completely flabbergasted over a CBC Radio article. The title was “I Rediscovered an old board game during the pandemic, but found that its fans now include hate groups.” As a lifelong player of tabletop roleplaying games, I was immediately intrigued. It turns out the individual writing the article discovered a miniatures wargame called Warhammer 40,000. The report went on to talk about how the person was shocked to learn that some players of the game were white supremacists and Trump supporters, and they weren’t sure they would be safe playing it. The web article was trying to leave the impression that Warhammer was being controlled by racists and hate groups, drawing suspicion to it as a method of entertainment and whether it led to unsavoury political opinions and practices. After reading it I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was ridiculous. I remembered a similar argument made in the 1980s and early 1990s about the game Dungeons and Dragons. The game (basically themed on the Lord of the Rings, using different names to avoid copyright issues), was caught up in the social frenzy known as “Satanic Panic”, a phenomenon whipped up by conservative Christians in the 1980s and 1990s, supported by hack-pop-psychologists, who could not come to grips with the reality that “traditional family” models were showing cracks in their Norman Rockwell-esque facades. The panic ravaged North America with innuendo and blatant violations of the Judeo-Christian 9th Commandment. Before the nonsense of satanic panic ended, and the scare of “Satanic Ritual Abuse” was seen as the charlatan garbage that it was, tens of thousands of people were falsely accused, thousands were falsely imprisoned, and as many families and numerous communities (e.g. Martinsville, Saskatchewan), were left ripped apart and traumatized in a 20th century reenactment of the Salem Witch Trials.
In the end, the author of this article basically said, “I’ll just play the game with people that I feel comfortable with”.
Thus, in essence, it was a completely unnecessary and irrational article, where the author discovered some sense of rationality in the end, all the while trying to whip up fervor over imagined associations that Warhammer 40,000 leads impressionable young people to become card-carrying members of the Ku Klux Klan. For those of us who experienced (at least tangentially) Satanic Panicâ€¦I vow that I won’t fall for that nonsense again, and encourage others not to either!