Why Discussing the Past Matters

The past is still very present for many. We regularly meet people in the gaming community who do not understand why we spend as much time as we do in some of our presentations talking about all the misconceptions of the past regarding recreation therapy, music, role-playing games, and gamers. This posting provides a brief explanation as to the important value of having a historical perspective.

As therapeutic recreation professionals, we use a wide range of recreational activities to help clients meet their educational, mental health, professional, recreational, social, and therapeutic goals. Some of these activities may include what some consider to be  controversial modalities such as music and role-playing games. Their concerns are usually based on misinformation from the past.

Just as understanding a client's history is important for the assessment phase when planning a program plan for a facility or client, so to is it important for those that may have concerns stemming from the past.

The past is still very present for many. We regularly meet people in the gaming community who do not understand why we spend as much time as we do in some of our presentations talking about all the misconceptions of the past regarding recreation therapy, music, role-playing games, and gamers.

Outside of special interest in-group populations, such as musicians, recreation therapists, music therapists, and gamers, most out-group populations often have misconceptions about these activities and those people that engage in them.

For example, outside of the gamer fandom bubble, a very large percentage of people still believe the negative myths and stereotypes about games and gamers. In presentations to out-group populations, if we don't address those issues up-front and head-on, it is literally the difference between our programs being accepted or denied.

A historical context is important in being prepared for any potential “push back” that may sometimes occur because of many inculcated conceptions regarding role-playing gaming and gamers. This is also true to a lesser degree with music and recreation therapy in general.

Even as recently as 2019, we have run into many settings and people who still believe the inculcated negative stereotypes and myths about role-playing gamers and games.

Outside of the geek culture "bubble", the majority of people need to be educated about the myths and realities of role-playing games. We run into hundreds of parents a year worried about the "dangers" of their child participating in a role-playing game program. We are usually able to assuage most of these concerns if given the chance to present our methodical approach to these discussions.

We literally have to spend much of our initial presentation when we first approach new clients outside of fandom, addressing their beliefs that role-playing games / Dungeons & Dragons are dangerous or inherently evil.

This is still a VERY SIGNIFICANT issue even in 2019!

Examples in just 2018 and 2019 include presentations at public school districts, libraries, professional therapeutic & medical conferences, social workers (see the 2017 survey), rehabilitation centers, hospitals, modern day "orphanages", prisons, and much of the general public outside of the fandom community bubble. Every subculture has its own internal bubble of in-group acceptance, that often are not shared in the out-group populations.

We often run into those in the gaming community who do not understand why we still "waste time" addressing these issues. And when speaking to the gaming community, it is preaching to the choir, so we usually don't need to spend much time on such issues at conferences, but in training people they need to have the facts at their fingertips to prepare themselves for the heavy resistance outside of the gaming community that they will run into when attempting to bring RPGs to other communities.

We have found that if we do not address these issues head-on and up-front, prospective clients will not be able to listen to the rest of the information we provide, and that it is literally the difference between getting acceptance for the RPG program or rejection of the program.

Once the methodical approach is used, then excellent progress can be made moving forward.

 

Reference

2017 Social Workers’ Perceptions of the Association Between Role Playing Games and Psychopathology

 

 

 

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