Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Courts gettin' all up in your nerdery! (And a secret campaign setting)

Mark Strauss has a great article over at io9 about 10 geekly debates that had to be settled in federal court.  It also includes one of my favorite (if wrongly decided) RPG-related cases, Singer v. Raemisch, which establishes that prisoners lack First Amendment rights to play Dungeons & Dragons because D&D players represent a security risk.  You D&D players out there are apparently a security risk.  You see, "if left unchecked, D & D could lead to gang behavior among inmates and undermine prison security in the future." (593 F.3d 529 (7th 2010))

"[T]he prison officials provided the court with a plausible explanation for the D & D policy, that the game's structure (especially its control by the Dungeon Master) mimicked that of gangs,...a rigid hierarchical leadership structure." (Id. at 536-37)  This statement clearly demonstrates that the 7th Circuit fundamentally does not understand the dynamics between players and GMs.  Most players I know would be far more likely to join a gang directed against the GM than they would to join one against the prison as a whole.  Admittedly, I'm not on frequent speaking terms with a lot of federal prisoners though.

Perhaps the most important part of the case from my point of view occurs in the first paragraph of the Background section.  The court tells us, "His enthusiasm for D & D is such that he has handwritten a ninety-six page manuscript outlining the specific details of a "campaign setting" he developed for use in D & D gameplay."  (Id. at 532)  That's right.  There is a campaign setting out there designed by a federal prison inmate.

Best of all, that 96-page campaign setting was also entered into the docket for the District Court level trial that was being appealed to the 7th Circuit.  That case was Singer v. Frank, 2007 WL 2220209 (E.D. Wis. 2007).  So, not only was this setting created, but it's also in the docket for the case.  I haven't been able to pull the electronic filing yet, but you can bet I will!