Episode 13: Games People Play
Rusty and his mom, Nancy, are at Sam's house. Nancy and Crystal, Sam's mom, are getting ready for their weekend bridge game. Sam suggests that Rusty accompany her and her younger brother Jason after Rusty starts talking back to his mom. As the three of them hang out in Sam's room, Sam mentions her cousin Eddie will be coming by soon as will Donny Hopper, the only son of the town doctor. Rusty says he met Donny already and since he likes to read, Rusty had loaned him a copy of The Sword of Shannara. This worries Sam and Jason as they point as that Donny's mother is the town nurse and she is very overprotective of what her son does or what media he uses.
Soon, Eddie arrives with his mother, Sarah, and joins Sam and company in her room. Next, Dr. Maximillian Hopper, the town doctor, arrives along with his son, Donny, and the town's psychologist, Dr. Auernheimer. Donny goes upstairs to Sam's room too and demonstrates his genius by answering a question from a trivia game that theyare playing. After another question, Eddie reveals that he has a tabletop fantasy game with him. Rusty and friends play the game. The party of characters consist of Rusty as the robber, Sam as the cleric, Jason as the barbarian and Donny as the wizard.
As they play their game, we cut to Donny's mother, Nurse Hopper, going through some books in her son's room. Nurse Hopper goes through the classic literature that she is having her son read, only to find Rusty's loaned copy of The Sword of Shannara among them. She thumbs through the book and becomes angry at its contents. Nurse Hopper then storms over to Sam's house to confront Rusty for lending her son the book and to berate Donny for partaking in fantasy media. Nancy backs Nurse Hopper up on this too as she has specifically forbidden Rusty to play fantasy games.
Cooler heads prevail when Sam, Eddie and Aunt Sarah defend Rusty and Donny. Dr. Auernheimer also intervenes by explaining that many reputable professionals have found no link to fantasy media and deviant behavior. Faced with this evidence, Dr. Hopper adds that a lot of the literary classics that Donny reads are actually far worse in content than the Shannara books. Nancy and Nurse Hopper admit defeat, allowing their sons to resume to indulge themselves in fantasy media.
Rusty and Donny thank Sam and Eddie for standing up for them. Eddie casually mentions that there's a new video game at his family's video arcade; he asks if Rusty and Donny will play the machine to see if it will be a moneymaker. The two eagerly agree, but leads to their moms hearing this and angrily intervening about how dangerous video games are. Sam does a Face Palm as Rusty says Here We Go Again!.
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- Big "SHUT UP!": Crystal shouts "Enough!" to stop the arguing between everybody over fantasy media.
- Bullying a Dragon: Rusty does this with his mom, not only insulting her but also doing so when she is very angry and implies she'll punish him.
- Chubby Mama, Skinny Papa: Nurse Beatrice Hopper and Doctor Maximillian Hopper
- Continuity Nod:
- Eddie mentions how Rusty declared his desire to be an animator, mentioned in panel from Sunnyville #11.
- Donny asks Eddie if his family owns a video arcade, which Eddie confirms and was also mentioned in Sunnyville #11.
- Deep-Immersion Gaming: Rusty and friends are shown as being their fantasy characters in Eddie's fantasy game.
- Education Mama: Implied at the end as Nurse Hopper yells at Donny not to play video games as it will distract him from his schoolwork.
- Failed a Spot Check: Mentioned by name; Rusty's brash action in approaching the house in game leads to him being surprised by a big, vicious lion.
- Here We Go Again!: Happens at the end of the story when Nancy and Nurse Hopper complain about video games in the same way they did with tabletop games; Rusty even says this trope by name!
- King of Beasts: Rusty and friends encounter a lion guarding the abandoned house in their gaming session.
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: The books that Nurse Hopper finds on her son's bed consist of Ivanhoe, Moby-Dick, War and Peace and The Sword of Shannara. This leads to a Beat Panel where Nurse Hopper pauses and then examines the Shannara book more closely.
- Musical Theme Naming: This story is the second one in the series to be named after a song by The Alan Parsons Project, after Sunnyville #4 "Don't Answer Me".
- My Beloved Smother: Discussed early on in the story and confirmed in Nurse Hopper's treatment of her son.
- Neck Lift: An angry Nurse Hopper carries her son out of Sam's room and downstairs this way.
- The New Rock & Roll: An In-Universe example where Nancy and Nurse Hopper denounce fantasy games and fantasy literature as being violent or promoting Satanism.
- Off with His Head!: A comical example - Rusty's party not only defeats the lion, but Rusty actually cuts the lion's head off afterwards and takes it with him as a souvenir.
- RPG Episode
- Shown Their Work: Dr. Auernheimer cites two publications (the Skeptical Inquirer and Psychiatric Quarterly) and three different organizations (the American Association of Suicidology, the center for Disease Control and Health & Welfare Canada) that conducted studies, which found no link to fantasy media and deviant behavior. This is Truth in Television as the aforementioned names did undertake such studies.
- Take That!: Rusty comments on Eddie's description of the ruined mansion they have to explore; he compares it to the state of California.
- Women Are Wiser:
- Averted with Nancy and Nurse Hopper as their accusations against fantasy are based on incorrect information.
- Played straight with Sam and her aunt Sarah as they vouch for Eddie, Donny and Rusty, defending their good character
- Inverted genderwise with Dr. Hopper and Dr. Auernheimer; the former points out the fantasy novel is more tame compared to literary classics and the latter cites studies disproving fantasy is dangerous.