Edgar posted about concern for possible parent backlash in recruiting neighborhood kids to play D&D with his daughter. Even though I don't live anywhere near him (Midwest versus South) I share his concern. This is not a false concern, but based on empirical evidence. As a kid who loved D&D in the 80s, I remember being extrememly confused as to why my parents and adults at church demonstrated such concern. As an adult, I am confused as to why a game that encourages and possibly develops interpersonal skills, math fluency, history, and non-fiction reading is still culturally shunned and geekified if not outright villified.
Last year I broached the topic with some gifted educators in my district (I'm a teacher). That is, I presented an overview of the game and why it would meet certain math and language arts standards, while encouraging student creativity as "project-based learning". While I described the game and math and literacy behind it, they got excited. However, as soon as the words "D&D" came out of my mouth, they all immediately said "no". Even if I strip away the label "D&D" (which is fairly easy as I typically use Labyrinth Lord materials anyway), I observe similar (though, admitably, less intense) negativism with terms such as "fantasy role-play" and "table-top gaming". Bottom line, even though the fanaticism of the 80s Satanism scare is over, the shadow is long. That shadow isn't just about D&D being evil, but also geeky.
As I work on my "Teach Your Kids to Game" game (which I no longer think will be finished by week's end, alas), I experience particular concern with this topic. Indeed, in my introduction I make sure to avoid terms that may cue someone in to the D&D history behind the game.
I can't help but think our society would be better to embrace table-top playing rather than shun or snort at it (and then promptly sit the kids back in front of the televsion for another passive round of Honey Boo Boo and numbing "reality television"). Visualization is a well-documented technique for athletes such as gymnasts and high jumpers. I can't help but wonder if D&D, as a visualization tool, doesn't help people develop interpersonal, math, and language arts skills in a comparable way.