I was never a Dungeons and Dragons person, but as a nerd, seems like they’ve always been nearby. I would not have expected a Venn diagram overlapping the D&D nerds I know — delightful, gentle weirdos who like elves and other imaginary creatures — with high security prisoners.
Elisabeth de Cleer wrote about one such group of prisoners and a case they made to protect their right to play the game. From Waypoint (a Vice channel):
Currently, Bey plays a female halfling (he offers in a high-pitched tone—clearly his role-playing voice). Role-playing a female character in prison seems like it would take guts, but Bey isn’t worried. “When you’re in a setting like prison,” he says, “where so much depends on bravado and presenting a credible threat, to sit down and play a game that has the word ‘faerie’ anywhere in it takes a certain self-confidence that I think demands respect.”
Then again, Bey may be downplaying what it took to earn that respect in the first place. A couple years ago another inmate who was not a member of the group had gotten into the habit of interrupting their game to taunt the players. With each interruption, Bey became increasingly irate until one day, he couldn’t take it anymore. “I told you to quit messing with us while we’re playing our game,” he screamed as he jabbed his pencil into the bully’s thigh multiple times.
Bey’s justification: “In the facility, we have three hours a day of pod time where we have access to the tables and we’re not locked down. So we have very little time to game and this time has to be shared with phone calls, showers, etc. The last thing we need is a level six npc distracting the players.” Prison officials sent Bey to solitary confinement, where he convinced the inmates in neighboring cells to play a game with him by yelling through the ventilation shafts.
- The Art of Escape: What do we gain from giving inmates access to video games? (Ryan Bradley, Kill Screen)
- On Barbs and Demogorgons: A Stranger Things Reading List