That would be a natural "1" on your journalism check...

>> Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tuesday, The Boston Herald reported that alleged campus shooter Amy Bishop was a Dungeons And Dragons player and wonders whether this was a factor in Dr. Bishop's alleged murder of her professional colleagues. An anonymous coward "source" told reporter Laurel J. Sweet:

Bishop, now a University of Alabama professor, and her husband James Anderson met and fell in love in a Dungeons & Dragons club while biology students at Northeastern University in the early 1980s, and were heavily into the fantasy role-playing board game, a source told the Herald.

"They even acted this crap out," the source said.

Sigh. The number of things that are obviously wrong with that paragraph. First, as any informed gamer can tell you, Dungeons And Dragons is a card game, not a board game, one which uses a special customized deck of standard playing cards in which all of the Threes and the Five of Hearts have been removed, the Seven of Spades is folded in half, and the Queen Of Diamonds has a moustache drawn on with a Sharpie (Wizards Of The Coast sells pre-customized decks, but you can easily make your own). Secondly, I refuse to believe that Alabama actually has a university, or--to be more exact--I'm aware that there is an entity called the "University Of Alabama" that fields a football team, thus I am reasonably certain that the first sentence in the passage quoted above should identify Bishop as a coach. "Northeastern University" also sounds vague--next they'll be saying there's some sort of, I don't know, southern... college... something-with-religion, like, maybe some kind of "Southern Methodist University" or some sort of lameass fake name like that. Ha! Sure there is!

Also, isn't a story about a girl playing D&D kind of suspect to start with?

I kid, obviously. Still, it's not hard to imagine where Ms. Sweet stores her head when she's not using it, when she writes lines like, "Some experts have cited the D&D backgrounds of people who were later involved in violent crimes, while others say it [sic] just a game." Vague, on occasion, Ms. Sweet? I understand there are space limitations that your editors insist on (though frankly omitting an apostrophe "s" in the word "it's" seems a bit stringent on the spacesaving front, not to mention grammatically suspect)--but couldn't you at least mention one expert by name or one person who says "it just a game" (I assume the source for the latter quote was a bigfoot or thawed-out caveman, or possibly even Tarzan: "Me know Jane no want Boy play, but me say it just a game.") Sans accreditation of your sources, y'know, someone might think you were keeping it vague because you were sorta making it up; not out of whole cloth, of course, but just pulling something out of your brain that you remember seeing or hearing somewhere that you couldn't really bother checking up on.

Regular readers know I'm a gamer and a D&D player; I imagine it's easy to think I'm offended more than I'm amused. Really, I assure you, it's the latter--Ms. Sweet's article is too vague, unsourced, sloppily written, poorly edited and generally thrown together to work up more than a Jack Shafferish O RLY? sort of reaction after seeing the piece mentioned on IO9 yesterday.

At any rate, I gleefully look forward to Ms. Sweet's dissection of Dr. Bishop's record collection. Did she listen to heavy metal? Was she influenced by backwards-masked messages? Some experts say there are coded Satanic messages embedded in musical recordings by acts such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, while others say goddammit I just totally fucked up my copy of Houses Of The Holy and all I heard was somebody, Bonham, maybe (not sure), burbling about "grudge my wampa tiles" which doesn't even fucking make any sense, dude.


Nathan Saturday, February 20, 2010 at 9:49:00 AM EST  

And then, of course, there's a report about Ms. Bishop asking her attorney whether or not she's been fired by the University. Is it possible her fantasy life is somewhat more all encompassing?

In a late breaking report, Ms. Bishop is said to have sent multiple screeds to Post Cereals complaining that each time she was just about to see the revealed message in her Alpha-Bits™, the milk caused the message to dissolve and foiled ultimate understanding.

Or: Peter suddenly exclaims, "Oh my God! Brian, there's a message in my Alpha Bits! It says 'Ooooo!'" A visibly annoyed Brian looks up from his newspaper and says, "Peter, those are Cheerios." (OK, fine...this last bit doesn't really apply, but I couldn't help myself.)

Anne C. Saturday, February 20, 2010 at 10:13:00 AM EST  

She must be quoting "experts" she heard of while in middle school, since the 80s was the last time I ever heard D&D being associated with satanism. No wonder she doesn't remember their names, she wasn't even a journalist yet.
Yawn. That was sooooo twentieth century...

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