#032: The Satanic Panic, Fantasy Games, and Religion (w/ Joseph Laycock, PhD)

#032: The Satanic Panic, Fantasy Games, and Religion (w/ Joseph Laycock, PhD)

In this episode, we explore the topic of fantasy role-playing games (RPGs) within the context of the moral panic and cultural stigmatization that surrounded games like Dungeons & Dragons and Vampire: The Masquerade during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and 1990s. My special guest is Joseph Laycock, PhD, assistant professor of religious studies at Texas State University and the author of three books, including Dangerous Games: What the Moral Panic over Role-Playing Games Says about Play, Religion, and Imagined Worlds. He has also written a book about vampire mythology and the communities that form around them and several journal articles on subjects which include Otherkin, parody religions, and paranormal beliefs.

Doubter of the Week: Reginald Scot (1538-1599), English politician, legal scholar, and author of The Discoverie of Witchcraft, a skeptical treatise on demonology that set out to refute the widespread belief in witches during the European witch craze.



Joseph Laycock on Twitter:

Joseph Laycock’s website:

Joseph Laycock’s book “Dangerous Games”:

Jack Chick’s “Dark Dungeons” comic tract (1984):

Dark Dungeons movie (Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, 2014):

Michael A. Stackpole, “The Pulling Report” (1990):


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The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license. The editing was done by Rich Lyons of the “Living After Faith” podcast.

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