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Darkon: War Gaming for the Mentally Challenged?

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posted on Apr, 8 2009 @ 11:22 AM
I'm not sure if this is even the right forum for this thread, but it seemed appropriate. Also, I am not a member of this or any other role-playing club, and I'm not selling it.

Just finished channel-hopping in the wee hours and watched a kind of disturbing documentary on the Independent Film Channel, an offering called Darkon. You can check out the movie trailer here:

Darkon the Movie Site

For those who don't know — and, up until a couple of hours ago I was among them — Darkon is a fantasy war gaming club that is apparently thriving in the Baltimore/Washington DC area, boasting a membership of about 300. Here's their website:

Darkon War Gaming Site

I'm not and have never been a member of any role-playing group — I'm kind of dealing with REALITY on a full-time basis, which doesn't leave me much opportunity for schizophrenic escapism.

Which pretty much describes Darkon to a tee. Except that Darkon is overtly violent, and that's the disturbing part. Darkon is sort of like what Dungeons and Dragons would be if all the D&D players regularly congregated in a mob down at the municipal park and beat the living hell out of each other.

Now, I will confess that I've played a few rounds of paintball in my time, and I know paintball can escalate into a mindless melee, as well. I'm happy to report that, after taking a few dozen rounds at close range to exposed flesh, the novelty of paintball wore off for me. As far as I'm concerned, there's not enough adrenaline reward in the sport to justify the monetary expenditure and the sense of shame.

I think that's how most people are, you know — trying out something new and quirky until the novelty wears off, then growing up a little more and moving on to more sophisticated games... Like making the mortgage and car payments.

But I know there are some out there who never seem to break out of the fantasy and who go on in an endless loop of escapism. In an earlier decade we would have called them Nerds or Trekkies or Liberals, living in a perpetual dream world that can probably be diagnosed as schizophrenia.

Okay. So imagine a few hundred Trekkies regularly congregating down at the municipal park and beating the hell out of one another. Now you're starting to get the flavor of Darkon.

Judging from the several interviews in the afore-mentioned documentary, I'd say most of these Darkon members could very easily be diagnosed with severe neuroses (or even psychoses), and I'm willing to bet you money that many of them are on disability for mental disorders. Watch the movie when you get a chance before you tell me I'm wrong.

Darkon members are largely the social misfits you remember from high school, and they readily state this themselves in the film. They were bullied, they rode the short bus, and now they blame everyone else for their problems, which is their justification for retreating into a fantasy world of Middle Earth gobbledegook and, yes, waging physical war on each other.

What's more disturbing than the violence is the fact that it's self-perpetuating. I mean, these people become more and more engrossed with the fantasy until it consumes their lives — not only their lives, but the lives of their children, as well. Yes, they breed, and their little kids exhibit these same violent tendencies. They even encourage it.

Now, if it was just a bunch of social misfits with Nerf swords and shields pounding the daylights out of each other, that would be one thing. That would almost be amusing in a grotesque way. But it's what these Darkon members reveal about themselves in the movie that is most chilling.

Some of them equate their fantasy with religion. Some of them use phrases like "terrorist" to describe themselves. They tell war stories about their mock battles — they believe they know what real war is all about, based on their Darkon experience. One guy made people so nervous that they reported him as a potential school-shooter; this same guy says he sometimes fantasizes about taking his Nerf sword and attacking the customers at the fast-food place where he works.

These people need to be in therapy, not reinforcing their malcontent dispositions through war gaming.

When and if you watch the documentary, you can try to keep an open mind, and you can try to tell yourself that this sort of extremely violent role-playing is a "positive outlet" for these people's bubbling frustrations... But I will warn you that you will start to feel ill-at-ease as the film progresses and as you come to know some of these Darkon members.

Something aint right with hundreds and hundreds of social misfits practicing medieval slaughter down at the municipal park on weekends, okay?

— Doc Velocity

[edit on 4/8/2009 by Doc Velocity]

posted on Apr, 8 2009 @ 12:40 PM
I think you may be over exaggerating a little, these people don't seem dangerous or anything it's just their way of blowing off some steam. Let them have their fun!

posted on Apr, 8 2009 @ 12:51 PM
I guess I have failed to see how their outlet is any less "fanatic" than most. I personally never been one to understand why millions of people on a regular basis go off to the movies to watch horribly insane violence.

posted on Apr, 8 2009 @ 02:37 PM
Well, in case I failed to make the point in the OP, I think Darkon is pure cult mentality and is a likely breeding ground for the future mass-murderers of America. One guy in the film even says he's never had a relationship with another human being except through the excessive violence of Darkon — this is the same guy who was turned in by his classmates as a potential school-shooter.

I think our non-judgmentalism in America is a prime factor in the mass shootings we see taking place in this country. In almost every instance of mass-shooting, we hear that many people suspected something was wrong with the killer before he went on his rampage, but they chose to hold their tongues.

When we see the red flags going up — and there are a lot of flags going up in Darkon — I think it's our responsibility to step in and check these people out, check their psychiatric histories, check their histories of violence in the real world, and separate them from their little cult of enablers.

— Doc Velocity

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