Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Media finds D&D angle to campus killer Amy Bishop story

It's been a while since we've had a really good "stone cold killer loves to get some D&D" story run in the media. Last big splash I recall were some early- to mid-90s stories on wayward Goths who embraced White Wolf products with gusto.

Next up in the queue is Amy Bishop, the University of Alabama instructor who allegedly gunned down three professors when denied tenure, and may committed murder before. According to the Boston Herald:
Accused campus killer Amy Bishop was a devotee of Dungeons & Dragons - just like Michael “Mucko” McDermott, the lone gunman behind the devastating workplace killings at Edgewater Technology in Wakefield in 2000.
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.
The article, written by Laurel Sweet, goes on to state that "the popular fantasy role-playing game has a long history of controversy, with objections raised to its demonic and violent elements. Some experts have cited the D&D backgrounds of people who were later involved in violent crimes, while others say it just a game." Personally, I'd like to see thoughtful commentary in murder stories on a variety of other pastimes enjoyed by the suspects... you know, like football (any flavor), bowling, or pachinko.


  1. Isn't she the same one who also killed her brother 20 years ago, but was let go by the police? That couldn't have been any indication that she has a temper was potentially dangerous. No, it has to be the D&D.

  2. I don't remember the reason the police let her go. Something to do with a missing file. I only caught bits and pieces of the story while getting ready for work.

  3. I think this incident (as described in another article written by Laurel Sweet) is far more suspect than her hobbies:

    "Bishop was charged with assault and battery for a March 2002 incident, in which an enraged Bishop unleashed a profanity-laced tirade against a mother whose child got the last booster seat at the Peabody International House of Pancakes, according to a Peabody police report.

    She yelled “I am Amy Bishop” and then punched the frightened mother in her head. When police questioned Bishop, she claimed to be the victim, the report stated.

    Prosecutors asked that Bishop, who received probation, take anger management classes. It is unclear if she did.

    My curiosity is this: now that video games are more popular, will the media go back to blaming D&D again?

  4. Yeah, it's the same lady. This irks me to no end about the media hoopla. Let's not blame her lifelong history of mental issues, no--it must be that dangerous fantasy game!

    I've opted not to blog about it myself for the simple reason that blog mentions are tracked by media to calculate buzz on a given topic. They'll be looking for a reason to blame D&D for something else, just watch.

  5. On one hand it is kind of funny that the media latches on to something as dumb as "she played D&D" when there have been countless studies that show RPGs are far more likely to be beneficial to social and mental development. The D&D corruption factor has been played to out. They beat that horse to death in the 80's. D&D and RPGs in general will always get picked on because they have never made the mainstream transition that comic books and video games made.
    Say what you will about the 90s boom and bust, but it did make comics more acceptable to the general public. I also think that the awareness brought on by the 90s made all the superhero movies we've seen in the past 10 years possible. Thus making superheroes even more acceptable.
    D&D/RPGs would have to have a similar thing happen to get out from under the D&D/Satanist/Sociopath stigma that has hung over gamer's heads since the late 70s.