Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Gamers are a Security Risk?

Wow, I find this amusing. Aparently the IDF (Israeli Defense Force)automatically grants a lower security clearnace to people who play D&D and other Role Playing Games (RPG's)

I'm an AF vet, 2 years EM, 6 years as a reserve officer (actually just under three, just over 5). The last security clearance I held was TS with the full alphabet soup (it's been inactive the last two years). I can neither confirm nor deny that I have been in the presence of special ordnance and materials, and that's all I can say about that. I'm sorry sir you'll have to speak with the public information officer. I'm sorry sir you'll have to step behind that line. Now sir.

Okay, bad inside joke, feel free to ignore.

I've been playing SF/F-RPG's since I was seven, and I'm a member of the SCA. I'm also an avid SG/WG/BG.

Let me translate that: SF/F is "Science Fiction and Fantasy", the largest subcategory of RPGs. The SCA is the Society for Creative Anachronisms, a medieval recreation and recreation socity. SG is strategy gaming, WG is war gaming, BG is battle gaming.

ALL the airmen and officers around me had similar clearances, and every last one of them was into RPG and SG in some way. Hell, most of them went to fighter practice with me.

You have to understand, military life when you aren't actually in training, or on a deployment is PROFOUNDLY boring. Soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and officers will do literally ANYTHING to occupy their time. If you dont believe me take a look at this:, and this

One of the most popular hobbies in the American military (at least the Air Force and Navy anyway), is gaming. It's a mentally engaging hobby, that requires creativity, problem solving, and team skills to do it well (no, that asshole troll munchkin from the 7th grade isn't doing it well). It doesn't take up much space, or special equipment other than a dice, a tabletop, and some books. Trust me on this one, the smarter you are the more you have to engage your brain to avoid going insane. Most importantly to those of us who've served, gaming takes up a phenomenal amount of TIME, with your brain in gear. Time that you would otherwise have spent staring at the walls in the dayroom, or reading the same paperback over and over again.

A lot of folks in the military are into a particular (and particularly extreme to the outside world) sub section of this hobby called Live Action Role Playing (LARP), either through the SCA, or other LARP groups. In fact the article linked above has a picture of some LARPers in the included picture (not D&Ders as in the caption).

The single largest group of people in the SCA? Active duty military. The next largest? Military veterans. Every major U.S. military installation has an active SCA contingent. The aircraft carriers Enterprise, Nimitz, and John F. Kennedy all have at times been independent baronies or principalities within the SCA, which means that out of their 4-5000 crewmembers, at least a couple hundred were in the SCA.

The funniest thing here though; the smartest people in the military are generally the ones working in the jobs with the highest clearances; these are the same people who are most likely to be active gamers in some way or another, because as I said above, smart folsk need to keep their minds occupied in their off hours.

Trust me, if we tried to pull these policies, half our Air Force and Navy would have to resign because their clearances would be insufficient to do their jobs.

UPDATE: Just read this on slashdot, which had this lovely link. Where would we be without the self parodying genius, Jack Chick.