The Worst Jesus-Free Review Of Portal 2 You Will Ever Read

If you're going to review Portal 2, that's cool with me if you don't bring up Jesus. Seriously, I'm totally OK with that.

I reviewed Portal 2 here and I didn't once mention Jesus, or any other religious figure. It's a perfectly viable approach. So why would I have a problem with this Jesusless review of Portal 2?

(Note from Kotaku: Tom's about to spoil Portal 2, OK?)

Because the site is called Christ Centered Gamer. I followed a link to the review because I was genuinely curious to read a Christian perspective on Portal 2. Doesn't a game about an all-powerful being putting her hapless subject through trials resonate with a religion that sees fit to include the story of Job in its bible? Isn't there a cute analogue to the Incarnation of Christ when GlaDOS is made flesh in a potato, tormented by a bird, bereft of much of her power, and brought to a closer relationship with Chell? Do I detect something Christian in Portal 2′s vertical movement, plunged into the depths and eventually reaching into the heavens? Doesn't Wheatley's easy descent into cruelty say something about human sin, even if he's a man-made simulacrum of humanity? Isn't Cave Johnson about as big a blowhard as Paul? Okay, I'm not really a Christian, so it's not my job to come up with that stuff, but that's the sort of thing I'd like to read about.

Instead, I got a review that's no different from what I could read on a boring arse secular site like Gamespot or IGN. It's all stuff that may as well be on the back of a box. Not a shred of insight, much less Christian insight. Which is really nothing new. So many reviews are dryly observational, minus any meaningful perspective, or much insight, or even context.

I poked around Christ Centered Gaming in vain, hoping to read about how Alan Wake's dark world might resonate with a Christian, or how a Christian might feel about the historical representation of his religion in Paradox's strategy games like Victoria II. No such luck. Instead, the Christian perspective is reduced to an absurd morality score, explained here, in which points are docked based on the presence of occult themes, profanity, violence, homosexuality, or disrespect for family values. In other words, the only potentially interesting observations are reduced to a numerical score that equates Christianity with facile morality. I suppose it's about as helpful as any review score.

Tom Chick has been covering videogames for nearly 20 years. He'd like you to get off his lawn and come inside where it's cool. Can he get you something to drink?.

Republished with permission.


Comments

    The idea of the site is to provide Christians with insight as to whether or not certain games sit well with their faith before purchase (which is quite important for a lot of us). It's not to super spiritualize every line of dialogue about your blood turning in to gasoline and how it parallels with CS Lewis' ideas presented in The Four Loves (although there are some review sites like that).

      Well if that's the case then they should change the name of their site to Morality Centered Gaming. If someone wants to find out how "sinful" a game is, we have a classifications system (albeit a terrible one), and secular websites with in-depth reviews. i also thinks its silly to do that, because if the bible was reviewed on their website, it would probably get a morality score of 10%. It's not a Sin to see or hear evil, Christians ought to be in the world but not of the world.

      As for this article, Well done! "Isn’t there a cute analogue to the Incarnation of Christ when GlaDOS is made flesh in a potato, tormented by a bird, bereft of much of her power, and brought to a closer relationship with Chell?" This is how Christians ought to engage with movies, book, games etc... by drawing out themes that are paralleled by the bible's grand narrative of redemption, in which Christ is the pinnacle. You do it the other way, and you convey that Christians are legalistic self righteous people you just need try really hard to be good.
      Christianity is about who Jesus is, and what he's done, not who we are and what we can do.

    I have to agree with Matt on this one. I can see where Chick is coming from, but this site never claimed to review games in the way *he* has deemed insightful, but in the way that they think is helpful.

    Their FAQ states that "So many games out there are inappropriate for children and Christians. Our reviews help Christians and parents choose their games wisely . . . Our mission is to find games that are both fun and appropriate." For some Christians, this is all they need: to know whether a game contains concepts or scenarios that they think might make playing the game a negative experience for themselves or their children.

    Most Christian sects frown upon idol worship, for example; if this scenario is depicted in a game, it might affect a Christian player in a negative way. Obviously, they'd want to avoid this scenario, and this site helps them do that. Some things, like losing points for depicting homosexuality or homosexual acts, I don't personally agree with, but a lot of people would be offended by that, so to them it's useful information.

    For gamers who want to read a Christian interpretation of a game with comparisons to Christian literature, I'm sure there are plenty of other sites out there that provide that service. But this website never claimed to be one of them.

    There's something that seems very strange to me about christian centred video gaming. The two don't really harmonise I think. Spirituality of any sort is generally about raising your consciousness to become closer to god, and video games most certainly do not provide that, at least any that I have played.

    I feel like christianity has become the consumer religion, constantly seeking ways to reconcile modern life with religious dogma, when really, they just don't work. It's all strained and rather desperate seeming.

    Surely the more informed Christians feel about games, the more likely we will get an R18+ rating?

    I like the part where you used a screen shot from portal 1.

    The article itself is dull.

    Orange goop makes the floors fast? Well no; it makes you fast, not the the floor...

    Great article - I wonder what GlaDOS would say about looking for intelligence on a Christian website.. (don't flame me, God will do that, apparently :P)

    I think it's a good idea for Christian parents deciding what games to buy their kids. He would be doing his bit to keep 8 and 10 yr olds out of the Black Ops servers.

    For that I thank him.

    I wrote a few reviews of games from a Christian perspective a while back. (If you're curious, Google me.) My methodology was basically "Take what many other Christian video game reviews do, then don't do that."

    My reasoning was this:

    Firstly, if people are happy with what they've got, they'll stick with that - so I need to do something different.

    Secondly, the website I write for has outreach as one of its primary foci. Commenting on how the Bible might apply to a game is more likely to interest non-Christians (as you point out, Tom P) than rating a game on how "sinful" it is (which is, let's face it, what such morality scales do).

    Thirdly, different games are for different audiences. Hence, Resident Evil 4 would fail on a one-size-fits-all review, because that one size would be tailored for the youngest common denominator. By taking a different tack, I was able to affirm what might actually be good about that game and how a Christian could play it without feeling guilty.

    Life's been sort of busy, so I haven't been able to write for a while. But, Tom and Tom, I've taken your words to heart - next time I write, I'll make sure to keep it interesting!

      Good points mate :) out of curiosity, why would a Christian feel guilty playing RE4?

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