Why are roleplaying games subject to such close scrutiny?
Roleplaying games are based on ideas and imagination instead of actions, so they can be difficult to explain in ways that others can easily understand. They are harder to map out than traditional sports, are more complicated than movies, and don't have the long history of other niche hobbies (like card collecting). Although tabletop RPGs have a large adult audience, they also appeal to kids and teens whose parents might not have heard of such games before. It can be difficult to answer basic questions about tabletop gaming on your own, since you can't find a televised roleplaying game and many public libraries don't carry books that you can check out. The internet is great but it offers so many opinions that you can easily become overwhelmed.
It doesn't help that roleplaying games have received a lot of negative publicity over the last few decades, which has sullied the reputation of the entire hobby. Many of the reports are from cases that are decades old and disregard vital factors, but new accusations come up again from time to time. Most news articles seem to reinforce misconceptions about RPGs without really touching on how such games are normally played. Many people have unpleasant associations with the hobby because of old, lingering rumors and might be discouraged when the only information readily available is alarming.
This section is aimed at exploring the benefits, pitfalls, and real life concerns about roleplaying games. I do not claim to be neutral, since I have supported roleplaying games for half my life, but I would like to help others gain a more rational and complete understanding of a continuing tradition of entertainment. Instead of avoiding the charges against RPGs, I would like to explore them and try to give all sides due respect.
Note: Although this section is written with care, it is not intended to be a college-level discourse on the controversy concerning roleplaying games. It is meant to be a resource, however, and there are many links provided on the Further Reading page. Many links lead to organized and carefully referenced arguments.