Religion in Gaming

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ArcticFox
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Religion in Gaming

Postby ArcticFox » Mon Oct 27, 2014 6:37 pm

Below are Part I and II of the video that triggered the one I linked to in the thread "Faith and Science"



"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
—Christopher Hitchens

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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby ArchAngel » Mon Oct 27, 2014 10:25 pm

Glad to see you've been going through the Extra Credits backlog, I absolutely love what they've done.

It wasn't ancient history when I aspired to be a christian game developer.
Christian gaming hasn't ever really fully taken off, with duds like Left Behind and a slew of games made by amateurs who knew little about development or game design, or even games. It seems that no small number of people don't even like gaming, but thought this was their calling for a ministry. These ended disastrously.
This is not to say there aren't some good ones. I've had a great time with N'Lightning's Catechumen and Ominous Horizons, and I'm still looking forward to Xrucifix's Eternal War. I fell in love with their concept art; just check out that Lust demon or those angels. I can't find their site anymore, so I'm not afraid it's fallen into development hell. Time to reach out to Mack.

Anyhow, I'm saying all this, not necessarily to extend an olive branch, but to point out that yes, religion in gaming is a bit untapped. Even a lot of the ones out there, they never really build the concepts into game design. It's often a poor facsimile with a preach message tacked on. Gaming is an art, and art is an expression of oneself, and religion is very central to many people. I think people need to spend a little more time falling in love with gaming and really find what of their religion resonates within them, and not try to just work in a sermon.

I'm definitely not saying I've done this with my tiny stint in christian game development. Nobody said it'd be easy.
Going back over this topic, I apparently have still some sympathies and fondness for the Christian Gaming industry.
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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby ArcticFox » Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:49 am

You know what would rock? A Strategy game similar to the Total War series, but focusing on the conquest of the Promised Land. That game would rawk my face off.

...or at least have the potential to.

But that wouldn't really address the biggest gripe the guys had in the video: That issues of faith are largely untapped. To be fair, I'm not sure how you'd build that into a game. How does one represent faith without it being a simple game mechanic like mana or health?
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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby ChickenSoup » Tue Oct 28, 2014 4:18 am

You know what would rock? A Strategy game similar to the Total War series, but focusing on the conquest of the Promised Land. That game would rawk my face off.
Just jumping in here to mention that I'm pretty sure someone modded a Rome: Total War "Judea" or something. I'll do a search for it

EDIT: Pretty sure that project died years ago now :\
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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby wulfiedude14 » Tue Oct 28, 2014 6:51 pm

I haven't ever heard of Extra Credits but that was a really interesting video. Especially the idea of faith and someone wrestling to reconcile that, that's something I've always thought could be more explored not only in games but in movies/tv shows/books too. It wouldn't even have to be a real world faith I think. For example, I feel like there could be a very compelling game in the Zelda series where in the midst of everything that was happening people were starting to wonder if the goddesses had abandoned them. In such a situation, the idea of faith could still be addressed without giving offense to anyone either religious or atheist.

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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby ArcticFox » Tue Oct 28, 2014 9:09 pm

That would be a pretty cool approach. Seems like a huge amount of untapped story ideas in that.
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—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby ccgr » Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:03 pm

Good videos, thanks for sharing. Liked the Einstein quote at the end

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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby Sstavix » Thu Oct 30, 2014 6:43 am

I've been meaning to watch the videos, but I still haven't. :oops: It's after 11:30 now - I should have been in bed an hour ago.

But before I forget... reading some of the responses to this reminded me that I have a game I obtained through a Humble Bundle a while ago called The Shivah. Not a Christian perspective, but definitely religious - the character you control is a rabbi who has fallen on hard times and is tempted to just give up and walk away from his synagogue. I've been meaning to play it mainly to see how religion is treated in the game, but I haven't had the opportunity to do so yet (maybe after November...).

You know, I don't think we have a review of that game here yet. Another reason for me to play it, then....

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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby UsagiGlen » Mon Nov 03, 2014 5:44 am

When I hear "religion in gaming" I think about MMOs. Pretty much any MMO out there today forbids players from making a big deal out of their religion. The strictest MMOs forbid any reference to religion at all, such as roleplaying a priest or naming yourself after a prophet. The typical MMOs allow you to talk about religion as long as everyone else is fine with the discussion. This usually means religious discussion is limited to private conversations between 2 people or a guild/clan. You usually don't find broad freedom to speak about your beliefs unless you join a private server that specifically supports the same beliefs you adhere to.

I do understand that games are privately owned, and privately run. Players agree to whatever rules a game has when they sign up. Because of this, I do understand that these games legally have the right to censor religion even in a country such as the USA, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion. I find this unfortunate and oppressive, but it is the world we live in.

Games have players. Multiplayer games have multiple players, with varying beliefs. Conflict is inevitable in MMOs. A healthy, normal social life, whether online or offline, includes some conflict. I think the key is for the parties involved in conflict to learn to resolve their conflicts, or to voluntarily avoid conflicts. Sure, not everyone will want to resolve conflicts. Those players do need to be muted, occasionally banned, etc. But I really would like to see games not use widespread rules forbidding every player from exploring controversial topics. It's overkill.

I suppose what we Christians can do is to talk about religion inside games when other players are interested and not offended. For now many games accept this. If the censorship becomes more severe though, I guess we'll have to decide: keep silent about our faith, violate rules by sharing faith, or don't play the majority of online multiplayer games. It reminds me of the Christians in the Bible who were punished because they chose to ignore censorship and tell people about God anyway. God was more important to them than anything else. I wonder if we're that passionate.

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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby selderane » Wed Nov 05, 2014 9:20 am

It's often a poor facsimile with a preach message tacked on. Gaming is an art, and art is an expression of oneself, and religion is very central to many people. I think people need to spend a little more time falling in love with gaming and really find what of their religion resonates within them, and not try to just work in a sermon.
It's not just Christian gaming that has this problem. My love is film and what often gets made... even the ones that are "supposed" to be for non-Christian...

I about bashed my face into my keyboard when I saw Left Behind was getting remade with Nicholas Cage. I wanted to scream. Bad theology aside, there isn't a non-Christian who will watch it and go, "You know what? I don't want to get Left Behind (pause for pun). I'll check out what that God-thing is about I've been avoiding my entire life."

The moment you start your story, any story, with the goal of conversion you've sold out. And not in the good way I've advocated for in the past that will actually get you to a place where you might be able to get away with something a little more heavy handed. You sold out what your story should have been. Could have been. You pimped it out for an easy, cheap thrill.

Christian writers who want to reach non-believers in a meaningful way need to learn that the message, the sermon, always comes second to the needs of the story. If the story doesn't work without the sermon, you're not writing a story. You're writing a bad sermon.

If you can't tell, I'm a little passionate about this. :mrgreen:
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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby UsagiGlen » Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:27 pm

If the goal is to entertain, then certainly, prioritize the story over God. If the goal is to tell people about God, then prioritize God over the story. If the goal is to do both, then work hard at both.

I think the difficulty with including theology in game stories is about the same as the difficulty with making a good, entertaining educational game. Kids often dislike them because the emphasis on actual facts gets in the way of entertainment. It can be done well, but it's not the easiest thing to do.

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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby selderane » Thu Nov 06, 2014 1:22 am

If I may borrow from Scripture, you can't serve two masters. The task of telling a good story (or making a good game) and adroitly crafting a spiritual message are so overwhelming that to try to tackle both you're guaranteed to do both poorly. They each demand and deserve so much care by themselves you're setting yourself up for failure.

Think about any good story or game that had a deep political or religious message and I'd bet you a steak dinner they didn't start with that message at the fore.

If someone came to me and said, "I want to tell a story about a man in turmoil who, through finding redemption in Christ, reconciles with his estranged daughter," I'd ask them if they can tell me a good story without that middle part. If they say they can't then I know they're not looking to tell the story about a father and his daughter, but about their thoughts on what Christ can do to bring people together.

It's a sweet sentiment, but it's a bad story. Their characters deserve better.

If they say they can tell that story without it then I know the message will naturally find its way in.

You can only serve one master. If you want to tell a story then tell a story. The message will work itself out so don't worry about it.

Anyone who says of their story, "There isn't enough message!" is in the wrong business. The story will precisely tell you how much message there should be, where is should come up, and how. Trust your characters, respect them, and not only will they not let you down, they'll likely surprise you.
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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby Orodrist » Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:14 am

As Chesterton said of HG Wells: Mr. Wells is a born storyteller who has sold his birthright for a pot of message
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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby selderane » Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:44 am

As Chesterton said of HG Wells: Mr. Wells is a born storyteller who has sold his birthright for a pot of message
That's precisely it. A good message does not a good story make, whereas a good story will make a good message shine.
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Re: Religion in Gaming

Postby UsagiGlen » Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:57 am

I think I'm not going to agree with anyone here ultimately. This'll be my last post here, to avoid wasting our time further.
Anyone who says of their story, "There isn't enough message!" is in the wrong business.
What bugs me about that reasoning is that you end up with no message left. You end up with a respawn point that looks like a cathedral, and maybe a few cross designs on the armor. You never include anything that can actually make a difference in anyone's life, and you just do a good job entertaining.

I hope you don't truly mean to state it in such extremes that the message is omitted like that. But if you aren't going to such extremes, then you are balancing two goals. You may choose a different balance that emphasizes story much more than I would, but if you are attempting to include both a story and a message then you must balance two goals to some degree.


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