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Israeli Army Frowns on D&D 984

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the gotta-cancel-my-tuesday-night-campaign dept.
Big Rob found us a gem of a story about the Israeli Army frowning on D&D players. Apparently '18-year-olds who tell recruiters they play the popular fantasy game are automatically given low security clearance.' I especially enjoyed the pictures of D&D players with swords, as generally the only thing in my hand during D&D is soda and/or swiss cake rolls. I'm thinking that a few generals should meet up with Jack Chick and have a good long discussion about the evils of role playing.
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Israeli Army Frowns on D&D

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  • I like D&D (Score:5, Funny)

    by ect5150 (700619) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:17PM (#11890003) Journal
    I like D&D. But after seeing some of those pics (before the slashdot effect), I frown on it too!
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:17PM (#11890004) Homepage
    I think the IDF is going a little overboard, here. I mean, it's just D&D; it's not like they're going around eating cheeseburgers and shellfish, or something crazy like that.

    Heck, you'd think they'd get a leg up for it--for example, as D&D precludes any and all contact with females, they run no risk of sexual transgression whatsoever!

    • This sounds like nothing more than a new version of the old "roleplayers are unstable" line. Whaddya want to bet that some recruiting officer watched Tom Hanks' early movie Monsters and Mazes and thought "Oh boy, those roleplayers must be nuts".

      This movie has to be, despite being horribly scripted and acted, one of the most damaging things done to roleplaying. What's really funny is that Hanks' real-life counterpart didn't go nuts, but in fact had a gay liason and made up the story.

      I've had a very Fun

      • Re:It Could Be Worse (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jason Ford (635431) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @01:12PM (#11890922)
        I've had a very Fundie Christian relative who started blabbing off about how roleplaying was letting Satan into your heart with all that magic and fantastical creatures.

        In his autobiography 'Black Boy', Richard Wright recalls his grandmother's attitude towards his writing. She believed that fiction was the work of the Devil. Paraphrasing: 'You writin' down things that ain' true. Tha's the Devil's work, boy.' (My apologies to Richard Wright for my crude approximation of his characteristic style.)

        Things are getting a little better as time goes on, I hope.
  • by Pugflop (797868) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:17PM (#11890011) Homepage
    My level 12 Galil with plumbum bullets strike down the level 4 suicide bomber. 100EXP and 12GP. :D
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:17PM (#11890012)


    Wait 'til you hear what they do to recruits who admit they read Slashdot!

    • Actually.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Eesh (50408) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:47PM (#11890523) Homepage
      Actually, in one of my pre-recruitment interviews I told the interviewer that I read Slashdot and he was enthusiastic because he did too. :) That was an interview by technical people for a technical job, though, not the generic screening interviews that all Israeli teenagers do. (Recruitment is mandatory in Israel)

      However, it should be noted that this was news to me, as I know quite a few people who played or still play D&D and other RPGs (I did, too) and served in highly classified jobs (Like myself).

      Also, a prominent Israeli portal posted this caricature [nana.co.il] about the issue.

      The guy on the dragon is saying (Very loosely translated) "I won't go anywhere but Golani", which is an elite unit.

      And for the Slashdot crowd, the artist (Miki Mottes) was once the Sysop of a major Israeli BBS.
  • by CSMastermind (847625) <freight_train10@hotmail.com> on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:18PM (#11890014)
    Think about it. D&D attracts imaginitive players who are able to think for themselves. Now does that seem like people you want in your Army? I ship out to Marine boot camp Aug. 1st and people have told me over and over again that when I get there...I shouldn't stand out. D&D players are different...and normally very smart. In an army you want drones who can think for themselves but will never question orders. Why do you think the great dictators killed teachers???
    • by deft (253558) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:24PM (#11890126) Homepage
      "Think about it. D&D attracts imaginitive players who are able to think for themselves. Now does that seem like people you want in your Army?"

      If you are going to make broad generalizations about D&D players, I'll go ahead and say are you sure you want a bunch of pasty white never been outside dice rollers carrying around guns in a battlefield not taking orders because they are "thinking for themselves?".

      Nope, but dont worry, this former D&D player was all state, all conference, MVP, etc in HS and college waterpolo. Not all D&D players are your typical generalization. Nor are all of them imaginative.
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770)
      For privates? No, independant thought is not prized. You want people that will do their job, as they are ordered to, without question. The same is not true of officers. Even NCOs, but certianly anyone above Sergeant needs to be able to think, and the higher the rank, the more true that is.
    • by northcat (827059) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @01:00PM (#11890723) Journal
      Oh please. You're giving too much credit to gamers. The Israeli army frowns upon them because the players are *impressionable*. Almost the opposite of what you said. The players easily adapt to the fantasy world of D&D, so their beliefs can be changed easily than others.
      • Nail, meet hammer. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Da VinMan (7669) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @01:21PM (#11891050)
        I think you hit the nail on the head. I wish I had mod points for your post.

        Being impressionable and in a sensitive position means you are ripe for the harvest in a counter intelligence situation. You will be much easier to convert to the opposition's cause as it will be much easier to have you see the issue from their point of view and develop sympathy for their position.

        A flexible mindset isn't automatically an overly flexible mindset; it's just that much more prone to changes over time. A changed mindset and set of beliefs can manifest as treason.

        So, in a way, the IDF is doing those soldiers a favor. They protecting Israel from an increased likelihood of treason, and they're protecting those soldiers from themselves.

        Yeah, it's kind of a control freak thing, but it *is* a military organization.
    • by Dun Malg (230075) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @01:04PM (#11890792) Homepage
      Think about it. D&D attracts imaginitive players who are able to think for themselves. Now does that seem like people you want in your Army?

      That's exactly the sort of people you want in your army. Clueless nimrods who can't function if the expected parameters are altered are exactly what they should be trying to avoid.

      I ship out to Marine boot camp Aug. 1st and people have told me over and over again that when I get there...I shouldn't stand out. D&D players are different...and normally very smart.

      You assume that being smart will make you stand out in the military. Well, sorry to burst your bubble but the military has a LOT of smart people, and chances are your intelligence won't stand out as much as you think. Anyone who says "don't let on that you're smart" is really saying "don't spout off trying to be a know-it-all". Keeping your mouth shut and your eyes open (particularly when in boot camp) is the wisest course. Once you've been in a while you'll figure out when it's appropriate to offer your "smarts". Nobody (particularly drill sergeants) likes a wise-ass.

      In an army you want drones who can think for themselves but will never question orders.

      You got a lot to learn about the nature of the US military. Your description fits the old Soviet military, but not ours. In an army you want people who can understand an objective and modify an operational plan of the fly as the situation changes. Soldiers who stop and look at their commanding officer every time they run into an unexpected obstacle are worthless. I suspect you'll get quite an eye-opening education on this come 2005AUG01, courtesy of the US Marine Corps.

      Why do you think the great dictators killed teachers???

      Which "great dictators"? Name a dictator that had an effective army full of mindless, uneducated "drones". Name an effective army that wasn't backed by a solid educational system. Killing teachers is a move to solidify a political position, not to create an ignorant pool of cannon fodder.

      As for the IDF automatically lowering RPG-ers security clearances, I think they're idiots. I spent 4 years in the US Army as a SIGINT analyst, and I'd say that fully half the people I worked with played role playing games. I wonder, do they think that D&D is "bad" and that hex-map war games are good? At what point does pretending you're Rommel the general become OK, vs. playing Skorzeny the commando? Is it the level of abstraction? Is it the medieval fantasy aspect of D&D? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that most people entering the IDF are there for compulsory service. I knew a lot of D&D dorks in high school who would never be a good fit for military service. The thing is, those of us dorks who were a good fit would have been stuck as truck drivers or something under an IDF-style rule. I think the IDF is tossing out the baby with the bathwater here, but hey, it's their stupid army.

      • by sconeu (64226)
        Dun Malg is correct. I'm having this same debate over on another board, with someone who is convinced that the US Military is all about robotically following orders.

        Current US doctrine calls for highly trained professional warriors. You don't get that with "Obey any and all dumb orders and don't think". They *WANT* people who show initiative. I've been a defense contractor for 20 years, and without exception, the people I've dealt with -- from E-1s up to 2-stars -- have been intelligent, capable people
    • by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot AT monkelectric DOT com> on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @02:18PM (#11891809)
      Way to compliment yourself. When I hear someone is a D&D player the first thing I think are the phrases "severe family and emotional problems" and "divorced from reality."

      Every person Ive known who was seriously into D&D has had just that, severe emotional problems. In college I was dating this gorgeous chick who was big into D&D, MUDs, LOTR, etc. It was a novelty for about a month... then it became appartent she was a complete basketcase using MUDs to only spend a few hours a day in this reality. Id ask her how her day went and shed blather on about the dragons in her games or something... She met another D&D addict and started dating him at the same time I was pressuring her to back off the MUDs and concentrate on things like paying the rent... you know what they say about getting inbetween people and their addictions.

      Second story, I was hiring my replacement at my last sysadmin job ts a university research lab. The decision came down to a qualified guy, and a less qualified guy. The less qualified guy got the job due to some nepo/favoritism. First thing he does after I make his accounts is install MUD clients and ask "do you play DND?" I knew he was toast right there. After a months training, last thing I do on the last minute of my last day is run a L0 backup (the user accounts are worth hundreds of thousands if not millions). First thing the guy does the next morning, erase all the user accounts. Suprisingly they overlooked the ordeal, but after two months he was gone just the same.

      I have had several other friends as well who had pretty bad problems, who played D&D. I think D&D attracts emotional problems like GTA attracts those violence nuts.

  • D&D or LARP? (Score:5, Informative)

    by tsanth (619234) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:18PM (#11890024)
    Judging from the article, it seems that the IDF is frowning upon LARPers, not D&Ders per se.

    At least, that's what I get from all the pictures and quotations like "[soon] hundreds of fans are expected to meet in a forest in the southern part of Israel for a two-day game of pure fantasy."
    • by Dirtside (91468) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:38PM (#11890389) Journal
      "[soon] hundreds of fans are expected to meet in a forest in the southern part of Israel for a two-day game of pure fantasy."
      That's no way to refer to the peace talks!
    • Re:D&D or LARP? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by corporatemutantninja (533295) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @01:15PM (#11890956)
      Not to be terribly prejudicial, but that would make a little more sense. I mean, those SCA guys are just weeeeeeeeird.

      No, seriously, it has always struck me as rather odd that guys who sit around and collaboratively make up stories, be it about dragons or spaceships or spies, are considered weird, and yet guys who sit around memorizing and arguing passionately about statistics for rich athletes who they've never met and never will is considered perfectly normal. The athletes may be real but it's still fantasy to live vicariously through them. I think going out and PLAYING sports with my buddies is better than either, but for some reason being a sports fanatic is normal and RPGing is strange. I don't get it.

  • by Peldor (639336) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:19PM (#11890043)
    Players are always trying to peek behind the DM's screen so they can see what's coming up next. Cheating on the dice rolls, making up munchkin characters, sneaking a look at the monster manual, etc. Untrustworthy, the whole lot of em.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:19PM (#11890054) Homepage Journal
    Is a bomb an "edged weapon"? Maybe the IDF just doesn't want clerics to know they have a better chance "to hit" with a guided missile than with a war hammer, mace or morningstar.
  • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:28PM (#11890215)
    It seems kind of strange. Back in my D&D days, most of the game in our groups was about combat. Lots of work on strategy, using the resources at hand, layout of the battlefield, etc, to keep your character alive and obtain your objective. Plenty of practice thinking like that is something I'd think would be desirable in a military recruit.

    Apparently I must be mentally unbalanced though, so don't trust my judgment on that one. I'm all detached from reality and stuff.

  • by Spencerian (465343) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:28PM (#11890224) Homepage Journal
    Fallacious thinking on behalf of Israel military people. I wonder if a county whose identity is rooted so strongly in a state-sponsored faith can see outside of the box as the United States has in accepting almost any religion, yet taking no direct preference in any one.

    (This isn't a jab at the Jewish faith at all. I'm about to join the Catholic faith myself, but the question is there, as I'll explain.)

    There are a few studies that show positives with game playing. At heart, a proper game based on reality or fantasy settings in an Earth-like setting is a simulation. Sims teach with low costs and reduce or eliminate the expenses needed in live training. Twitch games aid in dexterity and coordination, of course.

    And the US Army believes that a good sim of their work is also not only a fun game, but a great recruiting tool. [americasarmy.com]

    While board games like D&D itself may not show an immediate dividend to fighting a war, consider that any game helps plot strategy, conserve resources, and deal consequence.

    Game playing may help a soldier think "outside of the box" in a combat situation where unusual solutions with conventional weapons and tactics may prove worthwhile. It seems that the Israeli Army may decide to stick to convention.
  • Weird... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jethro (14165) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:29PM (#11890236) Homepage
    I think this only shows one side of the story.

    They do ask you about your hobbies when you go through recruitment (at 16 years old). They may assume that people who play fantasy games are a 'security risk', but they definitely recognize that kids who play complex rule-based cooporative games in their teens /do/ have some valuable qualities, too.

    The Israeli army tends to know how to assign people to jobs they'd be good at. And use the rest for cannon fodder. Or, in my case, tell them to just stay home if it's all the same.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:30PM (#11890257)
    I had to pretend I was gay to get kicked out of the military. I'd much rather have just played a board game.
  • Hah! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by greg_barton (5551) * <[moc.oohay] [ta] [notrab_gerg]> on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:33PM (#11890298) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

    Ynetnews has learned that 18-year-olds who tell recruiters they play the popular fantasy game are automatically given low security clearance.

    "They're detached from reality and suscepitble to influence," the army says.


    So, if you're "detached from reality," or as some people call it, "creative," you're subject to "influence"? So no Israeli soldier has an original thought, ever?

    No wonder the country is in such a fucked up situation...
  • by Kenja (541830) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:34PM (#11890316)
    "snif... snif... NERDS!"

    before he hefted a beer keg over his head while all his frends chanted "ogre, ogre, ogre".

  • by eaddict (148006) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:38PM (#11890400)
    I was in a combat engineering group (ariborne!), had secret clearance, and was in charge of many men and equipment. My squad would often play D&D or other RPGs during down time. I think it helped us to think outside the box and come up with unique solutions to the problems presented to us during military exercises. In fact, it got so the whole platoon used to play Squad Leader (and other board games) along with my squad.

    I think it has to do more with being creative and maybe anti-establishment. My squad (and I) would often ruffle brass when we did something that worked and worked well BUT wasn't by the book.

    Oh well, that was 20 years ago. Now the US Army just wants bodies...
  • by William_Lee (834197) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:47PM (#11890524)
    Ehrm...And who exactly doesn't frown on D&D, other than sadistic DMs and the dicerollers who love them?

    Elmar, a level 12 half elf thief walks into a college party:

    Rolling 20 sided die, possible outcomes:

    1-15 Every girl there that happens to notice Elmar laughs and shakes their head sadly - Charisma -3

    16-18 Other partygoers dump beer on nerd taunting him unmercifully - Defense -3

    19 Jocks perform +5 super atomic wedgie on Elmar grievously injuring him

    20 It is dark in the closet you are locked in. You are likely to be eaten by a GRUE.
  • by Maljin Jolt (746064) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:54PM (#11890629) Journal
    According my observations on my friends and myself several decades ago, D&D style role-players are more (if not completely) resistant to propaganda, brain-washing and military drill. The real problem of recruiters with new recruits is, security clearance in military is not about trust, but about thought control. They trust no one. So they can't give security clearance to someone who's mind they can't control.

    Let me comment some headers of TFA:

    'Simply detached from reality'

    Does mean subject is mentally independent from factual perception, able to create experience according his own intentions. That allows him potentially diverge from lined propaganda. Note, the military propaganda is also somewhat "detached from reality", but other, organized and controlled way.

    'The game indicates a weak personality'

    "Strong personality" in military sense is someone who obeys all commands unquestionably and is capable to force them out to the lower levels. Higher intellect, which is often a characteristic for D&D players, is not a bonus for performing something that "does not make sense to do" in critical situation. Actually, in D&D all good players are very picky about what does make sense to do in dangerous conditions. Sometimes, simply stand and fight is not an option in dungeon and players already know about it.

  • by etheriel (620275) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @12:56PM (#11890656)
    +1 Slashdotting Jack Chick
  • YHBT. YHL. FOAD. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Safety Cap (253500) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @01:01PM (#11890737) Homepage Journal

    "Ynetnews" is written much like another "news" site I know: an outrageous headline, some carefully omitted facts, and a long enough article so that the majority (read: ADD) of readers get the "facts" the author intended, instead of the actual truth. That truth is buried at the bottom (probably to avoid litigation due to libel) of the article, natch.

    According to the actual facts, if you say you play D&D (not "D and D," dumbass), you are "evaluated." Note that evaluation is not always performed by a Psychologist, ("usually" != always). And then

    More than half of the soldiers sent for evaluation receive low security clearances ~.

    Note that they didn't say that the people who are evaluated are only the ones who admit to playing D&D; surely there are other reasons that could make one eligible for "evaluation." In fact, they could have ONLY ONE GUY who admitted to playing D&D, got evaluated and received a low security clearance, and their entire article could be true.

    One last thing: a real news site's editors would stamp out something like

    Most soldiers who play Dungeons and Dragons simply do not admit to it while they are in teh [sic] army, he says.

    So my guess is "Ynetnews" subscribes to the same story editing that /. does: queue's getting big, this one sounds good, post it, is it a dupe? who cares; just pass the gin 'n' juice.

  • Makes sense (Score:3, Funny)

    by Serveert (102805) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @01:15PM (#11890960)
    Not to be mean but some of you trekkie / D&D types are really scary. Don't get me wrong, I love to program, but I get scared when I see your long greasy hair/cowboy hat/D&D attire.
  • by Simulant (528590) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @01:16PM (#11890984) Journal
    I'm almost certain I told my recruiter (US Air Force) that I played D&D. In fact when I joined, I had a weekly game going on at the rec center across the street from the recruiter's office, with military players involved. I most definitely told told the recruiter I smoked pot (but was quitting, which I did for four years).

    They gave me a TS SCI clearance. Also, the Army hired me years later and gave me a Secret... (or they tried... I quit before it came through, nearly two years later. Still, I had a interim secret clearance for that period)

    On the other hand... If anyone had ever stuck a gun in my hand and told me to shoot someone, I'd have probably deserted.
  • by Meest (714734) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @01:18PM (#11891007)
    Am I then only one that see's a bunch of soldiers with rocks yelling

    Soldier = "LIGHTNING BOLT!!! LIGHTNING BOLT!!"

    Enemy in big homemade suit = "RAWGRAWGRAWRG"

    Soldier = "LIGHTNING BOLT!!! LIGHTNING BOLT!!"
  • Aight... (Score:3, Funny)

    by bloggins02 (468782) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @01:21PM (#11891066)
  • by sfjoe (470510) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @01:43PM (#11891337)

    "I went over to the sargent, said, "Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I've rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I'm sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin here on the Group W bench 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug." He looked at me and said, "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send you fingerprints off to Washington."

  • by proind (837269) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @01:46PM (#11891376)
    The article (at least the original one in Hebrew) doesn't talk about D&D but about LARPing (apparently it was mistranslated). Also these people are not automatically discarded but go through a psychological evaluation to decide whether they might pose a problem. The article mentions that about 50% of these people don't receive a security clearance, which means that 50% of them do get it. The problem with the other 50% being that they have trouble distinguishing between reality and fantasy (this decided after a thorough psychological evaluation and not just because the army doesn't like the games they play). Obviously the IDF believes that LARPing might be a symptom of a psychological problem but not necessarily the problem itself.
  • by Catbeller (118204) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @01:54PM (#11891480) Homepage
    So, if you want to bring up playing around with fantasies...

    Um, let's say someone believes that his country has a right to occupy a piece of land because 3000 or so years ago his ancestor obediently offered up his son to be a human sacrifice because a voice he heard in his head told him to. The voice in his head later rescinded its instructions to kill the guy's son, because he showed that he would value the approval of the voice in his head over that of a little boy one of his wives dropped off for him. This of course showed that human sacrifice was a-okay with the people of time, of course, but that's a talk for another time.

    Okay, and then we have the guy who obtained great favor with his voice in his head when he offered up his virgin daughter to the mob for rape and/or murder if the would leave the three guys (who he suspected to be angels) alone.

    Then we another guy who listened to the voice in HIS head which told him to clear town with his family because the voice was fixing to burn everyone alive because they were pissing the voice off. A wife looked back as they were leaving, the guy says, and was turned into a box of Morton's salt. At least that's what he told her kin when they asked where the hell she was.

    Then we have the guy who heard a voice telling him to build a boat, put two of everything in it, and wait out a world flood which later no one else remembers happening, like, say, the Chinese, having been around for 4000 years or more.

    That's reality-based community, not like them D&D fantasists.

    You wouldn't want people who had strange ideas about reality in the ranks of your specialist armed forces.
  • by Caiwyn (120510) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @02:11PM (#11891704)
    From the article:

    Ynetnews has learned that 18-year-olds who tell recruiters they play the popular fantasy game are automatically given low security clearance.

    Then, later:

    "One of the tests we do, either by asking soldiers directly or through information provided us, is to ask whether they take part in the game," he says. "If a soldier answers in the affirmative, he is sent to a professional for an evaluation, usually a psychologist."

    More than half of the soldiers sent for evaluation receive low security clearances, thus preventing them from serving in sensitive IDF positions, he says.


    Half of the soldiers being given low security clearances after being sent for psychological evaluation isn't the same thing as "automatic." Which one is it, Ynet?
  • by darth_borehd (644166) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @02:30PM (#11891950)
    I wonder what it is about D&D they object to. Is it the fantasy aspects of it? What about roleplayers who the Star Wars RPG or a modern based RPG like Spycraft? Are they in the same group? Also, do they object to the time and devotion given to the game or the fact they are playing an imaginary character? If so, what about all-strategy games like Warhammer? It would seem to me that wargamers might actually be looked upon favorably in the military due their familiarity with strategy.

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