By James Dominic Flores
Eddie Munson has been all over social media for the past few weeks due to his eccentric character traits of being geeky yet badass.
From being a Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) dungeon master for the Hellfire Club to making a heroic stand against the demobats by playing Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” to serve as bait to protect his friends on their quest to kill Vecna, Eddie had all the traits to qualify as a hero.
However, his most defining traits are the tragic setups to his misunderstood character throughout the series, an outcast seen as a devil worshipper to the point that people would vandalize flyers searching for him with devil horns, the public not knowing the role he played in protecting the town of Hawkins.
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Dungeons and Dragons and heavy metal music have been associated with the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s. Most of these concerns involved concerns of cult-like behaviors and conspiracies on how it can disrupt one’s moral fiber.
Even in the Philippines, books have been confiscated by teachers during the peak of Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” for it can corrupt the youth’s Christian morals.
The Eraserheads received some backlash upon the backmasking of their song “Ligaya”, and who could forget the “Asereje (Ketchup song)” controversies of it being a ritual demonic language.
Why gaming gets a bad rep
Today, video games have also been a target of these accusations that are spread even further through the power of social media wherein people or pages can simply plant a rumor and their own followers will validate those ideas, regardless of the credibility of the claim.
The court of public opinion still makes its mark through a psychological phenomenon known as Groupthink.
Groupthink is not as positive as one may think upon first encountering the word. It refers to the tendency of people to conform to like-minded people causing them to reject alternative or dissenting views, unpopular opinions, and even common sense, all in favor of harmony within a group.
Combining this with stereotypes or prejudice one person may have and it can encourage discriminatory behavior. Imagine a parent who’s only exposure to video games are how it can be "violent" without taking the time to understand it. These parents are more likely to absorb like-minded ideas (video games are evil) because it reinforces their initial idea and makes them feel good for being “right” in their minds.
What outsiders may not realize is that people who participate in DnD sessions or play video games are more aware of what is happening in the game compared to others; Players are aware that it is a game, that it is fictional, and more often than not it is the parent or teacher who can not seem to distinguish the boundaries of the game and real life.
How to broaden your view of gaming
Cases of these hobbies leading into violent or satanic behavior are few and rare, but are highlighted whenever it occurs because of its novelty and its use as a scapegoat for other issues such as poor mental health awareness of the public.
Whether you are a concerned parent, teacher, or friend, avoiding the moral panic brought about by groupthink starts by making the effort to understand others: Engage the person concerned about their hobbies, ask why it is enjoyable, be prepared to process this information even if it contradicts what you believe.
This ensures that you have a more holistic view of the activity in question. From there, the person would likely be more open to share their passions with you and appreciate the time you take to connect with them creating healthier relationships.
The next geek you meet know may turn out to be a hero to be remembered, and if so, would you be seen as someone who gave them understanding and support or would you be the one holding the pitchfork?