“The Dungeon Master” by Sam Lipsyte
I’m about 5 years younger than the characters in this story. I was only ten when Irving Pulling committed suicide and his mother Patricia began her liftetime crusade to ban D&D for its tendencies towards satanism, the occult, and abberrant behavior. I was surprised to find out today that Patricia Pulling was a Richmond native.
I remember my mom giving me a copy of the AD&D Player’s Handbook for Christmas circa 1984. Somewhat defensively, she opened to a random page and showed the dense resolution table on the page to my grandparents, explaining “Anything that looks like this can’t be completely frivilous”. Funnily enough, I never really played D&D then, but I became fascinated with game mechanics, a love that continues to this day. Gary Gygax died a couple years ago and I was astonished to read that prior to designing D&D he was a successful insurance underwriter. Makes perfect sense. The mechanics of a pen-and-paper game sysytem are a lot like an insurance rating system.
The story Adam posted is a good one. It’s not about suicide, but instead the alienation that was so common in 1980′s teens, and the shared escapist worlds they created. Before Blizzard came along, stripped away the creative imaginative world-building, and made billions of dollars.