Israeli Military Withholds Security Clearance from D&D Gamers

Could your role-playing habit keep you from getting a government job with a security clearance?

If you live in Israel, it just might.

YNet reports that 18-year-old Israeli Defense Force (IDF) recruits who mention playing Dungeons & Dragons are automatically assigned a low security clearance. The reason? According to the Israeli army:

We have discovered that some of them are simply detached from reality… They’re detached from reality and susceptible to influence.

D&D is apparently quite popular in Israel. Fans of the game are said to be aware of the negative stereotype and often attempt to keep their hobby secret.

Gamer shame, anyone?

With military service mandatory in Israel, most teens are recruited when they graduate high school. Matan, a young Israeli soldier, is a fan of “live action role-playing” (LARP) in which fans dress in costume and act out their adventures. He told YNet:

It’s not a game of winners and losers, but rather entry into another world with stories and plot changes.

However an IDF official explained the official position:

One of the tests we do, either by asking soldiers directly or through information provided us, is to ask whether they take part in the game. If a soldier answers in the affirmative, he is sent to a professional for an evaluation, usually a psychologist.

These people have a tendency to be influenced by external factors which could cloud their judgment. They may be detached from reality or have a weak personality – elements which lower a person’s security clearance, allowing them to serve in the army, but not in sensitive positions.

Another gamer, David, objected to the negative stereotyping:

Many people who play served in the most classified units. They are intelligent and any attempt to label them as ‘weird’ is incorrect and unfair.

It’s unclear whether the IDF policy translates to PC or console RPGs such as World of Warcraft or Everquest II.

GP: This is not a new story. The YNet article cited originally appeared in early 2005. We just came upon it, however, and found it worthy of our readers’ consideration.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. 0
    Aron Eidelman says:

    *sigh* unfortunately, we have no way of knowing how Israelis think living in our comfortable, insulated, and safe nations. They are in a constant siege state, and of course a little paranoia is to be expected. Other reasons for not gaining security clearance in Israel: poor grades, political views, criminal offenses, use of prescribed psychiatric drugs. So pretty much, high level security clearance is only for people who are A) capable and B) extremely dedicated. I, personally, would just play D&D and get a low security job. 3 years of acting as a medic or providing border security sounds a bit more innocent than interogating prisoners and planning military raids. In my opinion.

  2. 0
    Rally says:

    What do you bet that one of those ‘external factors’ which ‘cloud their judgement’ happens to be ‘morality’?

    Never a good trait in a bloodthirsty murderer – errr, I mean, soldier.

  3. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    No so much as detach as get used to it while one can get used to how sad life s one is not going to blow ones brain out from it same can be said with Porn.

  4. 0
    Daniel says:

    These games don’t detatch people from reality. Gamers can function as well as anyone else, unless they have a problem somewhere else. I played for a long time and I am very much aware of the world around me.

  5. 0
    Wulf says:

    I wonder if there is any research that supports this policy. Maybe there is some co-relation between vivid imaginations and suceptibility to influence. Either that or weak minded people tend to get pulled into the game by friends for lack of anything else to do. I played because I liked it, but i’ve seen plenty of players who got involved just to be a part of something.

  6. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Because understanding the systems used in D&D requires so much less intelligence than, say, knowing how to play football….

    Well, their loss at the end of the day, there’s people who strive towards working together as a team, using each others strengths and weaknesses and assessing their resources to apply it towards a given situation. Of course they’ll be no use to the army….

  7. 0
    yoda ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    What gaming stores do you shop at, all mine have those socially-inept people cowering from the light (that might be why I shop there, I identify with em).

  8. 0
    Spicyragnatz says:

    To explain my previous comment:

    There is a world of difference between laughing at poor decisions made by a small body of ignorant politicos, but many of these comments are crossing the line by making light of the people affected by those politicos, people, in this case, that are fighting a war and dying.

  9. 0
    Brer says:

    Speaking as someone who is both a long time gamer (to include D&D, World of Darkness, Rifts, GURPS, Deadlands, Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu, Cybergen, CP2020, Blue Planet…you get the idea) and a combat veteran who held a security clearance, this is rather silly. However, several people have commented that they think this is outdated information. I’m a bit caught up in final preparations, so has anyone been able to run that down?

  10. 0
    Marshie says:


    There is no logic to this. There happens to be a few results, but very likely they’re no more accurate than snagging random samplings.

    Gamers have suffered under a lot of false stereotypes which just don’t prove true. Of course there are going to be exceptions, but these are just that: exceptions. Walk into the average RPG-dedicated store and you won’t find a bunch of socially-inept people, cowering from the light. You’ll find people you’d be hard-pressed to pick out of a crowd.

    Sure, there’s going to be some cases where the screening proves accurate and a gamer does have issues seperating fantasy from reality… but I’m willing to bet it’s any other hobby which even remotely involves the imagination.

  11. 0
    squigs says:

    People seem to be misunderstanding this. They’re quite happy for D&Ders to be grunts. And they’re not using it as the sole criterion for rejecting people. They’re just using it as an indicator for someone who may have the wrong personality. And there’s a certain logic to it. You probbly want people with a very black and white attitude. You don’t want someone to thin “Hey! Maybe these bad guys have a point”

    But it still stinks of bad over generalising. It’s like basing gender on height. You can get pretty good accuracy if you assume that anyone who’s over 5’11” is male, but it’s not a good way of filtering. It will have a lot of false negatives and false positives. Likewise, only requiring gamers to go for psych profile eliminates the non-gamers who may be detached from reality.

  12. 0
    Grahamr ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Israeli raid leader: Ok, let’s go guys.
    Israeli soldier hits hassan nasrallah for 16 damage(glancing)
    Hassan nasrallah:Yell: MUAHAHAH! This land is rightfully ours, israeli dogs! Prepare to face allah’s wrath!
    Israeli soldier #1: Heal plz
    israeli soldier #2:Get the rockets, guys!
    Hezbollah rocket hits raid group for 234 damage(AOE)
    israeli soldier 3#: Omfg, the rockets are too powerful. some1 report this 2 blizz, diz shyt iz buggd
    Israeli soldier 4#: Who has Aggro?
    Isreali soldier 2#:Lol!
    Hassan Nasrallah uses might of the hezbollah (+50 intel)
    Israeli raid leader: Someone dispel tht!
    Israeli soldier #1:KK
    Israeli soldier 1# dispels might of the hezbollah.
    Israeli soldier 2: Sweet, he’s a 20%
    israeli raid leader: Keep it up!
    Hassan Nasrallah: ARRGHH! I’ve had enough with you pigs! ROCKETS, FIREE!!!
    Hassan nasrallah berserks
    Hezbollah rocket hits for 835(AOE)
    Hezbollah Rocket hits for 947(AOE)
    Hezbollah rocket hits for 246(AOE)
    Israeli soldier #1: WE R GONA WHIPE!
    Israeli raid leader casts lay on hands.
    Israeli soldier #3 dies
    Israeli 3: Shyt i’m ded lol
    Hassan nasrallah dies
    Israeli raid leader: YES!!!!
    39 other israelis:*Various acronyms and exclamations of applauses, /dancing, etc.
    Israeli raid leader:looking for group: Has downed HN!!!!!
    Syria:looking for group: Ghey
    Pakistan:looking for group: Don spamm lfge or i gona report
    israelis on lfg: SWWEETT!
    Israeli raid leader: Ok, i roll on axe.
    israeli soldier #4: phat lewt lol

  13. 0
    Marshie says:

    Thanks, Jes.

    On the one hand, I can understand the sort of negative stereotype D&D can carry. I understand that this fine hobby is, at times, misunderstood by certain people even without the misinformation which has been spread by detractors such as Jack Chick or Patricia Pulling.

    It’s just hard not to mock it when someone with a shelf full of Shadowrun, White Wolf and Rifts (screw you, Registered Trademark symbol, you have no place there!) books could scrape by this test honestly just by answering the question without elaborating with “but I play other games LIKE D&D.”

  14. 0
    K-OSS ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Man, D&D players are so pathetic. Now AD&D players, that’s a different story. ha HA!

    Could be worse, atleast no one’s trying to recruit D&D players for suicide bombing jobs because of their detached sense of reality. Then I would be mad.

    …Strangely enough I remember when this was an issue at my house when I was like 10, because for some reason my parents felt that Emotional Disorder + D&D = School Shooting. Luckily that never happened, because I took up Shadowrun instead. zing!

  15. 0
    Ohma says:


    Yeah, I was wondering why the Isreali military would be listening to a christian whacko.

    Though psyche evaluations for all people entering the military is a good idea. (not that I think they’re all crazy, but it’s probably better to make sure you aren’t giving a gun and combat education to a borderline psychotic)

  16. 0
    Diceman says:

    *enemy tosses a grenade*
    D&Dsoldier#1:crap gotta roll a saving throw
    D&Dsoldier#2:ir cast stoneskin
    D&Dsoldier#3:ill back up and get ready to rez you n00bs
    *genade explodes*
    *soldier 1 saving throw fail*
    *soldier 2 casting failure*
    D&Dsoldier 1&2:rez plz!
    D&Dsoldier 3:cant ir needz limted wish to reassemble mangled body parts el oh el
    D&D soldier 1:omgwtf…bbq?
    D&D soldier 2:damn n00b priest
    D&D soldier 3:screw joo guys imma go solo the lunch instance.

    The IDF is silly >.>

  17. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “These people have a tendency to be influenced by external factors which could cloud their judgment. They may be detached from reality or have a weak personality “

    Odd…. that looks more like a definition of a bigot who blindly follows stereotypes about groups of individuals.

    Maybe they should do the smart thing and weed out bigots instead. I know the US military could use that type of rule. Then again, the US military might only be left with a handfull of soldiers to defend the US and no one high up in the ranks.

    Of course, it might also leave us without a President too.


    NW2K Software

  18. 0
    Thefremen says:

    I’m going to have to agree with some of what matan said and disagree with the rest of it. He’s right, LARP isn’t a game of winners and losers: it’s a game of losers.

  19. 0
    Greenbottle48 says:

    ROFL… I’ve played my fair share of D&D and this rule is quite ridiculous. I can only think of 1 person that destroys the image of D&D because all he does is work on D&D all day long, and talks about it all day in school. Needless to say this person has failed many highschool courses, and was expelled last year for threatning our principal by saying, “I’m going to blow up this school!”

    Thankfully I never played D&D with him and the real people I played with are smart. Just because people play D&D does not mean their stupid, dumb, or slow. This is simply a misunderstanding of the game coming from people who have never played the game. I see a coincedence.
    I wish our politics would play video games before they talk about how terrible they are… I bet they would even get addicted to some of the video games.

  20. 0
    Marshie says:


    Then again, I suppose if you’re going to be weeding people out of important positions, things like hobbies and not silly measurements like psych-profiles or test scores are the best way to ensure you’ve got a group of highly trained individuals.

    I can just see this in action…

    Recruiter: So, what are your hobbies?
    Soldier 1: Well, I like to program computers and brush up on physics equations. Oh, and I play the occasional game of D&D.
    Recruiter: Alright, we’ve got an excellent opening in Cannon Fodder division. Enjoy your two week stay!
    Soldier 1: Isn’t my term supposed to be longer?
    Recruiter: Only if you live. Next recruit? Ah yes, and what are YOUR hobbies?
    Soldier 2: I pokes the dead bodies with a stick. Sometimes I use rock and chain to beat them.
    Recruiter: Excellent! Welcome to the intelligence division!

  21. 0
    Brokenscope ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hell give the an analyst position. I mean damn, if you can play old style DnD you can easily deal with the mind numbing boredom on intelligence work.

    I’m kidding. Please don’t roll a twenty on me.

  22. 0
    Iliad says:

    GM: “You approach the briefing room doors, you can hear the general and the prime minister inside, suddenly a suspicious man dressed in black with throwing knives on his belt and a blowgun in his hand is behind you.”

    N1/VJa: “Let me in to the briefing room”

    Player: “I refuse him”

    GM: “You need to roll a nineteen”

    Player: (rolls)…. @#$%! a six!

    GM: “You allow him access into the briefing room, upon entering he blows a dart into the prime ministers neck before slicing the general into quarters with his katana”

    Player: “Why did you put a ninja in isreal?…”

    GM: “R0fl, stfu noob.. lrn2GM.”

  23. 0
    Salen says:

    I heard about this a while back, from a friend. It amazes me that this sort of stuff happens. Really, its just sad. And games like NWN or NWN2 are a lot like D&D probably even moreso than Everquest or WoW, so it makes me wonder if those sort of games are frowned upon.

    Really though, these rules are just silly. I’m suprised they haven’t started bumping down clearance levels because folks play video games or chat online or something, with that sort of thinking.

    Maybe the top brass just watched too much “Monsters & Mazes” one weekend. Oy, what a horrible movie that was.

  24. 0
    Jatone says:

    I’m really not that surprised about this. I had some jewish friends go over their to visit family and on the way back home at the airport the questions where all like this, “Are you Jewish?” followed by “Do you speak hebrew? Why not?” “Come here to live or Visit? Why arn’t you living here?” Really had nothing to do with security they just wanted you to feel like a tool for not living there if you where jewish.

    I’m sure they’d find similar results for “absent minded” people who don’t play D&D if they looked. I know plenty of D&D players (even if i didn’t play I got hooked into D&D video games before I learned about the pen and paper version whoops…..) and few if any are really absent minded.

    What I do find interesting is that they send them to a psychologist. I wonder if the recruit can refuse to go. Best thing about it though looks like an easy way out of the military in isreal. lol. Run around the base dressed as a wizard playing acting by throwing lightning bolts then refuse to go to a shrink. =P

  25. 0
    Muetank ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    That seems a bit odd. I havn’t played D&D my self, but i would think that playing D&D couldent be that mind warping. Hearing a guy who is a little too into D&D during role call would be wicked funny though.

    Guy1: soldier reporting for duity sir!
    Guy2: soldier reporting for duity sir!
    Guy3: Level 12 palidin reporting for duity sir! …Whats every one laffing at? I swear on the next roll i’m gona smite you guys.

  26. 0
    Terminator44 says:

    To think that the Israeli military would buy into the sterotypes and use such blatant discrimination policies is disgusting. You’d think a country in such great need for able-bodied people to serve in the military would have more sense than that.

Leave a Reply