Twenty plus years ago, when I was a teenager, several different church teachers taught that playing the game Dungeons and Dragons was wrong. It was a sure path to apostasy and outer darkness. So, despite the attraction—magic and elves have always held an allure for me, thanks to Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”—I resisted and have never played the game.
You can imagine my shock when my son shared that his mission president had given permission for the missionaries to play Dungeons and Dragons on their recent preparation day!?!
After hours of online research, the only comment made by a General Authority with regards to this specific game is one made by Elder Boyd K. Packer in the April 1989 General Conference. In his address to the young women and men of the Church, Elder Packer stated:
A warning: there is a dark side to spiritual things. In a moment of curiosity or reckless bravado, some teenagers have been tempted to toy with Satan worship. Don’t you ever do that! Don’t associate with those who do! You have no idea of the danger! Leave it alone! And there are other foolish games and activities that are on that dark side. Leave them alone!”
This clearly relates to the Ouija board my school friends obsessed over in high school, but Dungeons and Dragons? It’s basically a game where players assume a character and join with their fellow players to go on quests for magical objects and objectives. Is Dungeons and Dragons on the dark side? … no more than Harry Potter, it would seem.
However, is it a good use of time to spend hours and hours doing? General Conference October 2007 has a talk that has decided many concerns for me. Elder Oaks states:
We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.
Therefore, anything that takes hours and hours away from us being 100% invested in REAL life and doing what the spirit prompts (what really needs doing) is not a tool of our Father in Heaven. A way to relax occasionally is awesome … a way to spend hours upon hours of our precious time here in mortality?
As I researched an answer to whether or not playing Dungeons and Dragons was “allowed” for Mormons, I came across an Ensign article discussing online role-playing games. While this article is not specifically discussing D&D, I do think many of the insights are relevant to this discussion:
One of the ways Satan lessens your effectiveness and weakens your spiritual strength is by encouraging you to spend large blocks of your time doing things that matter very little. I speak of such things as sitting for hours on end watching television or videos, playing video games night in and night out, surfing the Internet or devoting huge blocks of time to sports, games, or other recreational activities.
Don’t misunderstand me. These activities are not wrong in and of themselves (unless, of course, you are watching salacious programs or seeking out pornographic images on the Internet). Games, sports, recreational activities, and even television can be relaxing and rejuvenating, especially in times when you are under stress or heavily scheduled.
You need activities that help you to unwind and rest your minds. It is healthy to go onto the soccer field or the basketball court and participate in a vigorous physical activity.
But I speak of letting things get out of balance. It is not watching television, but watching television hour after hour, night after night. Does not that qualify as idling away your time?
What will you say to the Lord when He asks what you have done with the precious gift of life and time? Surely you will not feel comfortable telling Him that you were able to pass the 100,000-point level in a challenging video game.
One devastating effect of idling away our time is that it deflects us from focusing on the things that matter most. Too many people are willing to sit back and let life just happen to them. It takes time to develop the attributes that will help you to be a well-balanced person.
What will we say to the Lord when He asks what we have done with the precious gift of time? This question has recently been foremost on my mind.
About two weeks ago, our family was wrapping up our family vacation. As we drove together through the countryside, our car was hit by an unlicensed and uninsured driver. She hit us hard, straight into the passenger side of the car, where I was sitting and my young teen daughter right behind me. Time seemed to slow down as I watched her car plow into the side of the large sedan we had rented for this outing.
Afterward, as I looked at the wreckage of our cars, I marveled that I was still alive. If our car had been a smaller model … if hers had been larger … as I wrapped my arms around this sobbing young girl, who apologized again and again through her tears, my only words were those of stunned gratitude, “We are all alive. That’s all that matters.”
I am alive. For what purpose, I don’t know. But I do know that it is not for me to waste this precious gift of time on hours of gaming. I have people to serve, to bless, and to lift. I have a family to hold close and to laugh and love. I have books upon books of knowledge to delve into and some favorite books to revisit to gain further insights! This life is precious, let us use each minute carefully.
Is playing Dungeons and Dragons a sure path to the dark side? Probably not. Is it a great way for friends to come together and make fun memories? Probably. Just be a constant, wise steward over this precious gift of time.
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years.