Amid the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, and clearly related to it, was sensationalism around the popular role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, simply known as “D & D” by the players. Newspaper articles, “investigative journalists,” and a host of religious figures warned America’s mothers and fathers to watch their sons carefully and to make sure they weren’t falling into the evil grasp of Dungeons & Dragons. To prove their point, they used a variety of examples of murder and mayhem. But a closer look reveals that, like much of the Satanic Panic, the D & D claims were overexaggerated.

Dungeons & Dragons was the brainchild of game designers Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in the 1970s. It wasn’t the first role-playing game to appear on the market, but after it was first published in 1974, it quickly became the most popular.

For the first few years of Dungeons & Dragons’ existence, it went largely unnoticed by the media and religious leaders. Most of the people who knew anything about it thought it was a silly activity from the Counterculture Movement for boys with no girlfriends.

But as the culture of America changed in the 1980s, so too did its view of Dungeons & Dragons.

For those of you not familiar with the game, the players essentially pretend to be characters in a fantasy world that is heavily influenced by ancient and medieval history and mythology. Because of its subject matter, some religious leaders railed against the game as a gateway to Satanism, or worse—violent cult activity. Whether most of those religious leaders actually believed that Dungeons & Dragons was the spawn of Satan, or if they just grabbed on to the hysteria to elicit donations, is a matter of debate. But the mainstream media’s role in the situation is not.

Normally, conservative Christian leaders and the mainstream media are not allies in America. But when it came to D & D in the 1980s, they both had a common message: the game was undoubtedly a bad influence on America’s youth.

The popular news program 60 Minutes aired a segment in 1985 that featured the game’s creators on one side versus a woman named Patricia Pulling on the other. Pulling became an anti-Dungeons & Dragons activist after her son committed suicide in 1982.

She was convinced the game made him do it.

Then there was the 1988 murder of Leith von Stein and the attempted murder of his wife Bonnie. The police investigation of the brutal stabbing and bludgeoning attack quickly focused on Bonnie’s son and Leith’s stepson, Christopher Pritchard, and two of his friends. Christopher and his friends were convicted of murder, along with other charges, and given lengthy prison sentences for a crime that the prosecutors said was carried out purely for greed.

But it was also revealed that the three young men liked to drink booze, smoke pot, and play Dungeons & Dragons in the steam tunnels beneath North Carolina State University.

The panic over Dungeons & Dragons subsided as Grunge music became a more popular pastime for America’s youth. Academic studies have since shown that the game didn’t contribute to more teen suicides, and criminologists point out that any amount of crime associate with D & D was negligible at best.

Kids who had to hide their twelve-sided dice from their parents in the 1980s are now parents who wish their kids would play Dungeons & Dragons rather than spend all day fixated on their phones.