Study Says Video Games Have ‘Problematised’ View Of Religion

Study Says Video Games Have ‘Problematised’ View Of Religion

Do video games spend too much time emphasising the violent aspects of religion? A study released by the University of Missouri on Monday says so, concluding that video games present religion in a “problematised” way.

In the study, doctoral student Greg Perreault looks at five modern games: Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy XIII, Assassin’s Creed, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Examining religious aspects from each — like the bloodthirsty Templar Knights of Assassin’s Creed and the silent, death-fuelled prayer of the assassin Thane in Mass Effect 2 — Perreault eventually concludes that there is a link between religion and violence in video games:

What all of these games show, and what should have been anticipated, was the connection of religion to violence. There is a broad literature on violence in gaming. Violence is conflict and drama. And conflict and drama are key to making a good game. As narratives have become increasingly deep, religion has become a part of the stories of the protagonists and antagonists. So the fact that religion would end up being tied to religion is not unexpected. Given religion’s checkered history with violence in reality, it could also be seen as reflective.

The picture presented of religion the analyses shown here is a problematized one. This researcher initially went into this project thinking that organised religion would be shown in a bad light, and it often was, but more individualized ‘unorganized’ religion was not shown to be somehow superior. It would be safe to say that what we do see in these scenes in a problematized view of religion.

While Perreault makes some fair points — religious groups seem to frequently serve as gamers’ adversaries, and who hasn’t played a JRPG in which you have to kill God? — this study is far too limited to make any reasonable conclusions about the nature of religion in games. You could write an entire thesis paper about the religious overtones in titles like Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor or mythology-packed action games like God of War or Dante’s Inferno. It seems unfair to judge the entire medium based on a selection of five modern titles.

What do you think? Do video games treat religion unfairly?

Comments

    • Woah, easy on the hate.
      Play nice guys. We’re generally a tolerant bunch. We’ve talked about girls, gays, and other groups in gaming before. This is no different.

      • I’m with you, guy.

        I’m going to preface this mini-rant-essay-thing by saying it’s not a problem if people have less than stellar views of religion and/or good/bad reasons for these views.

        I’m also going to say that the study really is too small and focused to be considered with any weight.

        However, it does shine a spotlight on something that is prevalent in games – religious organisations are often great devices for showing conflict/corruption in games or movies.

        If you have games that constantly only show religions as being a source of corruption or evil, or part of a sinister plot, then yes, I’d say you could mount a case that it’s a pretty one-sided representation of religion; equally, games that showcase religions as only being sources of moralness and uprightness would be an issue.

        I don’t think it’s reasonable or fair to discount this simply because it’s okay to hate on religions at the moment.

        If this study were to show that games “always present women as weak and needing male support”, there’d be a massive outcry – and defending it by saying there’s evidence to suggest it’s not *wrong* and there is some factual basis for it would be rightly questioned.

        If this study were to show that games always display black Americans as criminals in computer games, there’d be a rightful outcry against it – and again, stating that in a certain area/locationsm black-based crime is higher than other groups while technically factually correct, would not be seen as anything other than trying to selectively use facts to defend a bad gaming trend.

        If the study is saying that (provided they widen the net of what they reviewed) religion is always displayed as a bad/corrupt thing, then it’s an equal issue – and stating that this one time, religion did something bad, should be seen exactly the same way: selectively using data to back up a position that really is not tenable.

        You could extend this to a lot of things – games always showing Italians as being mafia linked, for example. There’s plenty of them, and they’d all be seen as being bad directions in games.

        If religion is always shown in games to be a “bad thing”, then perhaps it is something that really does need to be looked into, at least to assess if it’s an unfair characterisation.

        Hateful comments are still hateful/misinformed/bigoted, even if there is popular support for them on the internet – look at the sort of comments this article has produced below, which are mostly an unloading of hate towards religions in general and complete avoidance of the issue actually raised.

        • Well I was referring to all comments as a whole on the site.
          But if its just this comment in particular? It’s still more a trolling than an opinion.

          • I don’t like it when people equate criticising religion to being homophobic or sexist. Religions are belief systems. Criticising them or hating them for the problems they cause does not make you bigoted in the same way that hating gays does.

            Glen could have elaborated more, but you can take a guess at what he means. It works in a lot of ways, (i.e gamers being stopped from playing violent games because of largely religious opposition) but the whole idea of most gods is that they’re morally superior and know better than you. I think that counts as “treating us unfairly”.

          • I don’t like it when people do that too. I am confused as to why you’re bringing this up.

            Its not about “what” we are criticizing, but “how” we go about doing it.
            No matter the topic, we need to be a bit more aware of offending other people and what they stand for, be it sexual orientation, gender, or religious views.
            Do I care that you have such a strong view on religion? Nope. What you believe and stand for is your business.

            BUT all I was asking for is a little courtesy when commenting and for commenters to rent the eyes of the person they might be offending before hitting the submit button.

          • Well I brought it up because you said “We’re generally a tolerant bunch. We’ve talked about girls, gays, and other groups in gaming before. This is no different.”

            I take your point that we should remain courteous, but I’m not sure I agree with trying not to offend people. You’re always going to offend people in these conversations, but I think as long as you can justify your comments then it’s ok. For example, “Christians are idiots” is different from “I think believing in God is stupid, here’s why.” Both will probably offend people, but the latter could be a constructive contribution.

          • True that.
            So we are in agreement and after all that guess what? we have come full circle.

            The original comment that I replied to was one which fell into your category of “Christians are idiots” with no constructive criticism.

  • I think it treats religion entirely fairly. It’s nice to have one medium in which religion isn’t presenting like it’s the be all and end all of morality.

    • Would these comments not imply that gaming society (as represented by the kotaku market) currently doesn’t like religion much. The themes of the games merely a reflection of said intolerance. An intolerance created perhaps by decades of attacks on gaming by organisations with religous affiliations??

    • Actually, you’ll find the majority of people today are a lot more agnostic than they were , say twenty to thirty years ago. Religion has lost its foundation and is often portrayed as corrupt, yes this keeps a story interesting, but it has become a kind of fashion as of late to emphasize on the negative connotations of religion and this would in turn subconsciously be conditioning people and their views on the matter.

      I don’t really mind it, personally. However, I would like developers to get a little more original, as it seems everyone is jumping on the religious bandwagon and making it a little stale. I don’t think I’ve really seen a triple A game as of late that involves religion under a more optimistic light. So I do agree somewhat with this article.

  • This researcher initially went into this project thinking that organised religion would be shown in a bad light, and it often was, but more individualized ‘unorganized’ religion was not shown to be somehow superior.

    So he’s freaked out that having no religion is shown to be superior…? Yet another crazy religious nutjob.

  • This researcher initially went into this project thinking that organised religion would be shown in a bad light, and it often was, but more individualized ‘unorganized’ religion was not shown to be somehow superior.

    So he’s freaked out that having no religion is shown to be superior…? Yet another crazy religious nutjob.

  • While broadly true, I agree that the study is far too narrow. Something like Thane’s “religion” is far more akin to “spirituality” as opposed to following any real church, thus making it a fairly null point, and I’m sure I could point out other stuff if I was less tired.

    If we took a sample comprised entirely of the His Dark Materials novels, then we’d find that books have a very problematised view of religion, but that’s clearly not true.

    • Indeed. I can think of a few games with Religions, and Religious characters in a heroic role, or at least possitive. The Light in Warcraft, Budhism in Mass Effect (Just ask the Turians) and in just about any RPG from Bethesda you will find both religious zealots screaming for blood, AND perfectly reasonable, inteligent followers, usualy of the same faith as the nutjobs. Religion gets screen time as both Good, and Evil, which seems about right.

      Also, Violence is a part of these games. Mass Effect is about soldiers in a war. Of course the religious character will also be a Soldier…In a War. It’s hardly a fault of Video Games. When was the last time you saw a WW2 movie WITHOUT a Religious squad member? It’s just a trope at this point.

  • The alternative to focusing on the non-violent aspects of religion would be largely interpreted (correctly or not) as ‘preaching’. That makes a lot of pople edgy, and developers wouldn’t chance it.

    Apart from the obvious fact the non violent aspects of religion don’t sell video games.

  • For all the good religions done, it’s been a catalyst for a whole lot of evil over the years. I appreciate seeing different takes of religion in game, I’ve got to say. I don’t think they’re vilifying or the like, just exploring interesting subject matter. (Extremists, corruption of power, etc.)

  • If anyone mentions the Crusades just don’t forget the main cause was that it was caused by the Muslim Empire entering europe and the Christians responding to that.

    All the other Crusades were just looting by Christians in the Muslim empires in the name of religion.

    I don’t believe Religion is viewed unfairly I reckon the way in which Humans practice religion is reflective in games, if that makes snese?

    • You say that as though I distinguish between religions when apportioning blame for a religious war. A bunch of guys on both sides killed each other because they had the “correct” sky fairy.

      • There are alot of misconceptions about the Crusades, alot of people just think it was a holy war forwarded by the pope to abolish all heretics and claim back ‘Holy Land’, so yeah I guess I am assuming everyone apportions cause and blame on the war on differing faiths.

        When in the most true of forms its was just boundry dispute that eventually turned into greed and an excuse to kill by using religion as cause.

        • It was a holy war as it was the direct command from the pope to “wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to yourselves” with the promise of ” the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the Kingdom of Heaven.”

          Im not saying the Muslims were innocent but FFS man up and accept that both sides (yours included) did some horrible things in the name of their god.

          On a side note… the quotes above sounds similiar to “Death to the infidels…” “seventy virgins…”
          Shit man even the 2 war crys of “Gods will” and “God is great” are similar.

    • That is the most inciteful and comprehensive description of the crusades I have ever read. However are you implying that the Muslim faith is not a religion? And further that Christianity is the only religion? I look forward to your treatise on the reformation.

      • I said Muslim Empire instead of Muslims because it was the quickest way to summarise all parties in the middle east who posed a threat to inner europe.

        I don’t believe I said Christians was the only true religion? merely they were a major driving force in the Crusades.

        • So the Christians were a major driving force in the crusades BUT we shouldn’t mention that because they were merely responding to incursions from the Muslim empire?

          • The first Crusade was fully justifiable by the Church and Christian/Catholic Crusaders because it was exactly how you would respond to Muslims Empires hostile entrance into Europe.

            The other four Crusades just seemed like the Crusaders were doing exactly what the Muslims were doing before the first crusade, spreading influence if anything I think the Vatican was just scared of the Middle Eastern Religions, so in the whole run of things I do believe the Christians were a major driving force in the Crusades.

        • i would just like to point out that the Pope Urban II launched a HOLY WAR against the infidels in response to Byzantiums Alexois. The CRUSADERS motto was “Deus Volt” – God wills. Further each CHRISTIAN SOLDIER took vows and was granted indulgences by the CHURCH.

          • Regardless – why should it not be mentioned – because the Muslims started it by preventing access to the holy lands?? It was a war steeped in inter religional conflict!!!! Very pertinant.

          • The refusal of entry into the Holy Land(Jereselum?) was just a straw that broke the camels back, sort of like Hitlers entry into Poland its what puts already rising tensions into outright war sure it’s pertienent however it was already much more.

          • Oh shuush you guys… and you wonder why religion comes across as the bad guy in videogames… you guys are so sketchy on each-other.. i feel like you are using up all your manna and HP in this little religious debate over here. settle.

    • Lol. You have a point. I don’t think we’re going to see any implied “kiddy fiddling” in games any time soon, so it’ll be a while before Catholicism is accurately portrayed.

      • This is really a pointless reply, but:

        The Catholic Church is responsible for providing more support and aid to HIV sufferers as well as doing more to prevent the spread of HIV in Africa than any other government, charitable, secular, or aid organisation in the world. By quite a lot.

        That’s not an absolution of bad things, but it’s worthwhile knowing that there’s a lot of good that flows out of the Catholic church that doesn’t make it to the press.

        • Except for the bit when the pope said dont use condoms in Africa and everywhere else. Having paple infallibility makes it so he is never wrong— except for the bit when he said oh ok aids is bad u can now use condoms.

          • Dude i can’t respect the statement that the catholic church has done more to prevent AIDS in africa than anyone else. That is absolute BS. The pope refused the use of condoms in direct response to the aids crisis in africa several times.

          • That infallibility only applies when speaking on matters of doctrine, not all the time.

            Also, you need to understand the logic of the thought behind that, rather than cherry pick the aspects of it you don’t like. ie:

            1. The Catholic Church believes sex should only be between married couples for whatever reason.
            2. The Catholic Church believes that sex acts should be open to the chance of conception so that you’re not just having sex due to lust, which it feels can lead to people devaluing each other and seeing each other solely as sex objects rather than partners if it goes unchecked.
            3. Using condoms pre-marriage as you’re engaged in pre-marital sex would go against these teachings, so…
            4. If you do not have pre-marital sex, and your partner does not have pre-marital sex, you are unlikely to contract HIV unless you get it through needles or through birth (separate issues), reducing the rate of HIV infections (greatest contributor to the count is unprotected sex)

            So following that logic, the Church would state that if people did not have pre-marital sex, they would not become infected through that means, and therefore the issue could be attacked from that angle, while still maintaining the teachings in point 1 and 2.

            You might not agree with their stance on pre-marital sex, or think it’s stupid, but it’s certainly not illogical.

          • Stop – “For whatever reason” – look it up then talk. sigh. Your lecturing me and dont understand this point. go make up a psychological study.

          • Don’t worry, I fully understand it. It’s just irrelevant to the logical point that was being discussed and is, at best, a distraction and tangent of discussion that would stray from that point.

            The important part is the Church considers sexual acts necessarily limited to married couples.

            It’s disappointing that that would stop you from responding to the logical thought process that was laid out, but hey, I’ve read Derailing for Dummies too.

          • I never said it was illogical. Phantastical yes but i disagree with Catholic doctorine. What Im saying is that you were full of shit for saying the catholic church has done more for aids… blah blah blah. in Africa. i too have read that book.

          • Wow martin so much hate towards religion.

            The reason why the Church frowns upon condoms is because the Church believes in families & Marriage as cornerstones of the faith. Having strong family unit are seen as the best way to ensure a stable and safe way to bring up children. This is key to understand their stance on premarital sex and condoms. Condoms promote sex before marriage, and as we know its not 100% safe and thus there is a chance of pregnancy out of wedlock. You must look at the churches stance on the matter and ideal which people can look too. But as we know as humans its not always the case. We are after all human, so while its expected of us we dont always necessarily follow.
            Just as society have ideals that people follow (fashion magazines movie stars etc) so does religion. We cant always be the same but we can try to emulate as best we can. Thats what religions teach us, ideals to follow. We all make mistakes, thats life.

            Sure there have been times when religion has forced itself on people (like the spanish inquisition) and that is always against the Core teachings of Jesus Christ. But as i have said, it is in the hands of men what they do with religion. Some will use it and some will abuse it.

            I will state it again. Take for example a car. Its very useful, can do many things and take people to far of places. In the right hands it can be an instrument of good. In the wrong hands it can cause death and destruction. Yet you would never blame the car for what it does, why blame religion?

          • He has hate towards religion with good reason. He’s not blindly hating a concept just for the sake of it, he’s giving you examples of real world harm being done by an ideology.

            It doesn’t matter why the church is against condoms, his point still stands. There has been a huge amount of damage done because religions are terrified of and obsessed with sex.

            Your car analogy is useless. Cars are inanimate objects. Religions are ideologies which encourage many harmful concepts.

          • um no my example makes perfect sense. Like Cars, Religion can be used for both good or evil. It depends who is running them. Im not trying to make a deep philosophical point with my car reference.

        • In 2003, contrary to empirical evidence, the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family – “senior spokesman” Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo – claimed that condoms are permeable to the aids virus. He explained to BBC interviewers that “The Aids virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the ‘net’ that is formed by the condom.” These false claims were echoed by an archbishop of Nairobi, as well as by Catholics as far Asia and Latin America. Also according to The Guardian, the BBC confirmed that this misinformation has real, damaging effects at the ground level. n- from wiki. So the catholic church LIED directly leading to more infections

          • No hate just an intolerance of lies. Does the catholic church have a pope? Does he not have papal infallibilty when speaking ex cathedra??? This blows your statement “just as society have ideals that people follow (fashion magazines movie stars etc) so does religion.” As a catholic you are not able to pick and choose what you do because you are human. You do it because the Pope said so. Further – that condoms promote sex before marriage??? Is that because you think it or the pope said so???? NEXT.

          • …of course they do.

            Any psychological study – and there’s a boat load of them – will confirm that if you remove the risk/undesired outcome associated with an activity, or minimise it, then people are more likely to engage in that activity as the risk assessment is low.

            In this case, a generally undesired outcome associated with sex is pregnancy for most younger people. If avenues to avoid that outcome are available and easy to take, the “risk” disappears, making the behaviour/act more likely.

            Regardless of a pointless debate about theology and the purpose of various aspects of doctrine, basic human psychology does show this.

            Other examples:
            The opportunity to stealing unattended money from a bank if you’re sure the cameras are off and no-one will know will see a much higher number of people stealing money.

          • First of all, I very much doubt that if condoms weren’t available, people wouldn’t be having premarital sex. They’d be using the withdrawal method like they used to.

            Second, I don’t believe that the Pope’s opposition to premarital sex comes from the need to preserve the “ideal family unit”. If something like contraceptive implants were 100% effective, do you really think he’d suddenly go “screw like rabbits guys, you won’t get pregnant!”? No. He’d retain his position that it’s immoral, because as usual the religion is obsessed with and terrified of sex.

            Third, even if everything you said is true, why wouldn’t he be solely promoting abstinence? He essentially said that aids are bad but condoms are worse. There was no need for that if his intentions are as you stated.

            It just seems like another ridiculous and harmful statement from a religious authority figure, like Mother Teresa’s “the greatest threat to world peace is abortion”. And you wonder why people hate religion…

          • Rules and laws unfortunately have to apply to the (i hate to use this term) ‘lowest common denominator’. I mean the roads these days 60kms per hour but i could comfortably drive them at 80+. However not everyone can and for safety reason they apply a lower speed limit that most people can achieve (even though i see a few that cant even drive at 60kmh GRRRR…) Its a blanket law that applies to everyone

            Same apply to religious law. They cant have complicated longwinded laws that apply to some and not others they have just made a blanket law that applies to everyone. Its not like the Papal police will come to your door to arrest you(although there are some rare instances of this happening in the past). Sheesh.

          • 1. Martin: “Having paple infallibility makes it so he is never wrong— except for the bit when he said oh ok aids is bad u can now use condoms.”

            2. Martin: “Does he not have papal infallibilty when speaking ex cathedra???”

            So at 1 you claim papal infallibility means “he is never wrong,” yet at 2 you acknowledge that is only applies “when speaking ex cathedra?” So you either made a claim you knew to be false (at 1) or were reckless as to the truth of your first claim. And still, you claim to have “an intolerance of lies?” Does that only apply to others? Or were you merely ignorant, and therefore not worth listening to?

          • He was speaking ex cathedra in regards to not using condoms. He was speaking ex cathedra when he (slyly) said its ok to use condoms. He is infallable when speaking ex cathedra. Thus ex cathedra he has made two irereconceivable statements that are simultaneously not wrong.

          • Martin you made two claims about the nature of the authority the pope allegedly has, not about the content of those claims. One claim is inconsistent with the other.

            What I’ll assume is that you’re probably a decent guy in real life and you just weren’t thinking clearly when you wrote those two posts.

            Sound fair?

          • TJW – I made two seperate statements in seperate contexts. The first statement is in the context that he was speaking ex cathedra.
            “Except for the bit when the pope said dont use condoms in Africa and everywhere else. Having paple infallibility makes it so he is never wrong— except for the bit when he said oh ok aids is bad u can now use condoms.” Thus I was pointing out the paradox involved. I wasn’t saying EVERYTHING he says is infallable -only the two statements contextually included. If I was not clear – then wow. I often refer to semantics as the lowest form of arguement – using semiotics and post structuralism to justify this statement.

          • Actually i do have a choice, The vatican has no forcible say in the way i run my life, I have a choice if i go to church or not, i have a choice what i do it has always been my choice and the choice of its people. He is a spiritual leader more then anything and what he says doesnt always go. Sorry if you feel that way. I dont agree with everything the Vatican does, just as i dont agree what our government does, but the government is still our leader. Or does that mean that you absolutely positively agree and accept everything your Government tell or expect of you? Case closed

            Intolerance of lies? WTF are you living in a dream world. Lies are everywhere, and you decide to get the $#!ts when religion lies? Arent you precious. Religions lie, Government Lies, Media Lies, What doesnt? Wow talk about precious.

            All that hate for nothing, get over it really.

          • “All that hate for nothing, get over it really.”

            What an appalling thing to say. “For nothing”?? Are you kidding?

          • Religion has done alot of bad things in the past that i agree, but what is forgotten is the good it does. I understand why people have issues with religion but there are good folk out there that value religion and dont want people devaluing due to the work of some terrible people. Religion at its heart is a force of good that can be twisted and used by powerful people to do bad things. The movie the Book of Eli makes a good point of this.

          • Not church lies. Lies from Zap. Regarding Catholics in Africa. The Vatican has no forceable way … spiritual leader”. If you believe this you are not a catholic. Go back to church and ask your priest. seriously look at catholic doctorine – just because you write these lines does not make it so. If you are a CATHOLIC then the line “He is a spiritual leader more then anything and what he says doesnt always go.” Sorry but it does. Wow. what a load of BS and hate

          • Are you for real? Do you think that the Church believes that all of its followers would to the letter of the law follow what they say? Are you serious? Um thats why we are HUMAN not Gods or freaken robots. Yeah they expect us to follow the rules but you must be crazy if you think they believe everyone is following them exactly. Thats why they have reconciliation and forgiveness that accept human weakness and true contrition.

            Wow we have laws here in Australia do you think everyone follows them to the letter? Wow just wow.

          • Further – How can anyone justify this
            In 2003, contrary to empirical evidence, the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family – “senior spokesman” Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo – claimed that condoms are permeable to the aids virus. He explained to BBC interviewers that “The Aids virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the ‘net’ that is formed by the condom.” These false claims were echoed by an archbishop of Nairobi, as well as by Catholics as far Asia and Latin America. Also according to The Guardian, the BBC confirmed that this misinformation has real, damaging effects at the ground level. n- from wiki

          • @ terrak -Yes. yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. i am serious. Ask your catholic priest. Are you stupid?? stop trolling.

          • Stop trolling? Oh so only you can make a one sided comment right?

            and your answer just shows how over zealous and wrong you are.

            Thanks for making it clear

          • Oh and you believe that the Church thinks all of its followers are following all the laws why do we have Reconciliation? Um yeah if no one Christianity is making mistakes why would they need something like reconciliation where they forgive the sins? Yeah.

            The Vatican is just another form of Government. A spiritual Government. Like any Government they have rules but have no way to enforce them (like a normal Government) And like any Government they make mistakes.

          • You are making things up. Your statements go DIRECTLY against catholic doctorine and you wonder why others don’t respect you??? I have not attacked your religion merely questioned the BS spewed out by religous zealots. In reply I get more BS, hypocrisy and am told i hate – merely because i dared question a follower of Christ?? you speak of tolerance yet the example you have shown merely justifies others derision. you speak of others doing bad things in the name of CHRIST – what exactly are you doing? you are vilifying me because i questioned catholic work in Africa. Ironic.

          • Obviously you dont understand – seriously??? You are dumb. Your defending something you don’t fully understand. Further you are putting words into my mouth. the basic tenament of catholicism is absolution and forgiveness – reconciliation has nothing to do with not following the pope. Reconciliation only occurs if you are truly repentant. wow. end of conversation.

          • So posting another perspective is doing bad things in the name of my religion. You are suddenly a judge of this? Oh and all of the sudden you can judge who respects me? Really? Wow bow down to this man /sarcasm i dont need or want anyones respect.

            Firstly if you believed for one moment the Church believes that all of its followers are Absolute saints running around without a sin in the world thats nonsense. I can guarantee you that its not true. Regardless of you asking my Priest. What do you think if i dont follow to the letter of the Catholic law my Catholic license is suspended or i lose my Catholic Passport? What nonsense. My priest never preaches if you dont listen to the pope piss off your not a Catholic. I dont know what nonsense your making up. Another thing is Religious law is not enforceable which nullifies your point entirely. Religion is like a moral guide. Its not Legal Law. To imply anything more then this is false.

          • not enforcable??? Ex communication and going to hell? You are wrong. say what you want about the catholic church it doesnt change the fact that you are wrong. Any of you other Catholics arguing gonna agree with him???? further I never ever said church law was legal law. once again stop the BS

          • FIrst of all if you dont believe in Christianity then you wont care about going to hell. Secondly there is Reconciliation and contrition. If a follower is truly sorry for their actions then they wont go to hell. Those that arent truly sorry for sinning, well there are consequences. That is the consequences we believe as Christians, If you dont thats your choice.

            Excommunication? If someone breaks legal law the go to Jail what if a person breaks religious law? Again Consequences. If there werent any no one would follow the laws. This is the most extreme form mind you and doesnt apply to everyone that sins. Whats wrong with this? Is it because its religion that having a punishment is bad?

            besides by enforcable i meant its not like they have a global police force that comes to your door and takes your Catholic license (lol). Again im not the one whos wrong. you are.

          • You are now even contradicting yourself and your sad logic. Seriously you are embarrassing yourself with unsubstantiated drivel. Please read through what you have typed and think about it.

        • “I don’t think we’re going to see any implied “kiddy fiddling” in games any time soon, so it’ll be a while before Catholicism is accurately portrayed.”

          Wow. So you actually think that child abuse is limited to the Catholic Church? Or that’s integral to it? Or what? There’s no credible evidence that abuse occurs more frequently in that organisation that it does in any other comparable groups. Yet of all the groups in society, and throughout history, you chose that particular one. Reflect upon that for a moment.

          • Oh come on. When a child gets abused by a teacher and the principal finds out, the teacher is immediately reported to the police. Whereas for decades senior members of the Catholic Church have found out about child abuse, covered it up, threatened the kid and transfered the offender to another area. It has a rich history of institutionalised child abuse. Don’t try to tell me there’s not something unusual about it.

          • Again there have been ugly incidents that have happened in the Name of Christianity and we have to be made aware of them and ensure this types of things dont happen again. Theres nothing wrong with calling out the Church for its shortcomings and failures. This must be done as with all powerful organizations, but to stereo type the whole religion made up of Millions of good law abiding citizens on the actions of a few evil individuals is wrong.

        • “Oh come on. When a child gets abused by a teacher and the principal finds out, the teacher is immediately reported to the police.”

          You’re making an absolute statement there. They might sound good but are impossible to prove. How could you ever prove that all accusations against teachers are always reported to the police? There are examples in the US of principals doing the opposite. See, for example: http://www.economist.com/node/1067027

          • I think I’ll leave the discussion. I always saw those internet brawls on religion and thought it was unproductive to get involved. Now I feel ashamed for ignoring my intuition.

          • “How could you ever prove that all accusations against teachers are always reported to the police?”

            I can’t. I was generalising to make a point about the institutionalised child abuse within the church, and how it’s not represented equally throughout all of society like you tried to suggest.

  • “problematized” (?!?!?!?!??!!?)

    Wow, someone’s actually come up with a worse frankenword than “diarised”!

    Please, tossers of the world, stop wrecking the english langauge with your drivel.

    • It’s common practice for academics and theorists to create new words. Intersectionality comes to mind.

      This study is silly. Studies very few games and uses them as a basis for making a huge sweeping statement regarding all others. Good on ya silly goose.

    • I have to use the term “attentional” a lot, which apparently isn’t a word. Pain in the ass too given everyone in my field gets it.

    • Not church lies. Lies from Zap. Regarding Catholics in Africa. The Vatican has no forceable way … spiritual leader”. If you believe this you are not a catholic. Go back to church and ask your priest. seriously look at catholic doctorine – just because you write these lines does not make it so. If you are a CATHOLIC then the line “He is a spiritual leader more then anything and what he says doesnt always go.” Sorry but it does. Wow. what a load of BS and hate

  • “So the fact that religion would end up being tied to religion is not unexpected”

    Strong point you make…

    Wait wut…

    • Lol yeah I spotted this too. Not sure if it was lost in transcription or originally stuffed. Still a glaring error though.

  • In movies they’re “partisan.” In music it’s “culturally enlightening.” In articles/books it’s “politically correct.” In Video games it’s “PROPAGANDA.”

    No wonder gaming culture is mostly progressive (except some online communities, the cynical, racist, sexist beasts).

  • Final Fantasy X’s treatment of organized religion as an evil conspiracy to control the world for the benefit of a few corrupt church bigwigs was the thing I liked most about the game. Nothing to do with the religion being violent, and everything to do with the way organized religion has actually worked in human history until the past century.

    • Oh wait, Kid Icarus too, but I don’t know if that counts since you are a straight up angel….

      OH! Earthbound uses faith to a certain degree, Paula’s key ability is ‘Pray’, and that eventually becomes the most important move in the game.

    • Most clerics in most games that have them are holy people who go around healing your party and acting like a moral compass.

  • Where’s the quote coming from? The link in the first paragraph doesn’t include it.

    At the very least it seems like he’s not screaming persecution about the situaiton and seems to take a realistic view that its a framing device to create conflct, nice to see in an era where polite disagreemennt is so often seen as a shrill attack

    If he wants a game that explores belief as something other than a source of violence, he should play Planescape Torment. Though in fairness I should point out that I think that EVERYONE should play Planescape Torment

  • Xenogears. The men of faith were sending believers to the soylent system to be turned into food. Then at the end you fight god. Xenogears

  • Appears to be not so much of a study as some cherry picked examples to “prove” a pre concived notion.

    The mention Thane from ME but the fail to mention any other religious representation from that game. I would hardly call the Hanar preaching about the Enkindlers as “emphasising the violent aspects of religion”. Plus random references to asari goddesses and people being at peace or with god now.
    Lazy tabloid “research”

  • Does a study on connections between modern gaming and God, and does not touch the modern gaming series where you play as a fallen God (Kratos) and go around killing many other Gods.

    Scumbag thesis.

  • Perhaps the question he should have asked, before presuming a problem within the entire industry, is to see whether portraying religion and violence as linked phenomena and morals as separate from religion are fact rather than fantasy.

    The author clearly shows he can’t conceive of an outcome where video games might portray these conflicts and still be portraying a very realistic commentary on religion. It’s not so much a ‘problematised’ industry, just one mans ‘problematised’ ideals.

  • Another game that could go on that list is Halo – the Covenant are basically just religious nut jobs.

    I think more games should show religion in a good light… Game are fantasy after all, what’s the point of just recreating reality?

  • oh joy, now we bring religion into it…

    honestly though, religion as cause for war is merely a poor mans scapegoat, used to get the masses onside. greed is, and always will be the biggest cause of violence. if the world was a-religious we would simply guise our conflict by other means. we are violent creatures, and games enable us to indulge. no harm done.

    • Really? Seemed like a perfectly acceptable means for slaughtering hundreds of thousands in the middle ages. There was no greed, but a devout belief that the Church was doing God’s work.

    • Except that Religion is used to enable atrocities other than war. Like how the Catholic church kept a dead bay in a freezer in Spain so they could use it to trick thousands of families into thinking their children had died in child birth so they could take their children away and give them to more ‘suitable’ Catholic families who wanted to adopt.

      An A religious society, greedy as it may be, probably wouldn’t feel the need to kidnap children to save them from their ‘heathen’ parents.

      • short history lesson for you.

        The first crusade was used and manipulated by the pope in Rome in his struggle against Constantinople. the Roman pope used it to legitimize and consolidate his power in Europe, cementing catholicism as the defacto religion. Initially his appeal to the western kings failed to gain him enough manpower to try to retake lands from the arab conquests (after justinian asked for help). So instead he appealed to the masses using religion as a way to garner support for his own ends. the response was the peasant crusade, followed by the first crusade. merely an extension of greed and political power wielding. not religious at all.

        Subsequent crusades were seen as a means of occupying idle soldiers as Feudalism became more centralized, better to rape and plunder someone elses kingdom than have them causing trouble at home.

        The motives for the crusades were never religious, merely religion was used as a tool to gather popular support, to make it seem like a good thing for everyone. the main underlying theme of the crusades was always power and greed.

        A little bit of research will help you actually understand the way the world really works instead of spouting ignorant rhetoric.

  • No, it’s those crazy people on TV that make it problematic for you. Honestly, every time I hear about religion on TV it’s got something with some group burning flags, some crazy nut talking about judgment day, or people killing each other over their religions… How am I supposed to believe in a god when so much bad happens in it’s stead.

  • I think games as a medium need to discover more ways for a player to interact with the world other than to shoot it or slash it.

    Saaaaaaaying that, look at history, religion is one of the most violent aspects of humanity.

  • wow those 5 games have very little to do with religion i can think of 4 games off the top of my head that have more to do with religion
    darksiders-you play as one of the horsemen of the apocalypse
    dantes inferno-you fight through the 9 circles of hell
    halo-the covenant are on a war of genecide to wipe the heretics from the galaxy
    god of war- you are a fallen god who kills the other gods
    just one of those games have more to do with religion then all of his examples combined so he just cherry picked his games to prove his point and ignored all the other examples

  • Maybe someone can make a kiddy-diddling simulator, or a game where the boss is a vagina that you have to mutilate? Oh wait, that would be “unfair” 🙁

  • absolute power corrupts absolutely

    Same is true for anything to do with humans including religion. At its core Most religions teach peace and goodwill (eg Jesus never incited violence and his teaching are the basis of Christianity) however like anything to do with humankind power and greed can corrupt and miss use religion for personal gain. Its like a person driving a car, if it ran over and kills someone do we blame the car or the person behind it?

    perspective people

    • “At its core Most religions teach peace and goodwill”
      Do they? I mean, the core concept of the abrahamic religions seems to be “worship your celestial dictator or be punished”. Hell, look at the ten commandments. The first three are “don’t worship other Gods”, “no graven images and “don’t take God’s name in vain”. If peace and goodwill are the primary objective, where are the commandments regarding personal freedom, slavery, child abuse or equality?

      They certainly have adopted the golden rule, but they didn’t invent it, and most, if not all religious leaders I’ve met or had dealings with have been intolerant, judgemental and patronising, if not just plain old bigoted.

      • If you actually look at it objectively every major religion builds itself around a central theme of “care for others before the self”… but, as it has been pointed out before, since Greed and selfishness is pretty important in our stupid animal-brains we get all these twisted versions that allow people to justify their own self-serving destructive behavior. If it’s not religion then it’s ideology and politics.

        All assholes are assholes. The only differences they have are in the shade of their excuses.

  • A lot of the funny buggers here seem to have a completely skewed perspective of religion. Religion itself is not the cause of all the ills in history that we have recorded where a link to religion has been made. Religion theology in itself is a baseline concept of the inexplicable necessity of one to live for more than the propagation of their species. You like to surf a lot, well maybe that’s what your religion is (although it would help to have different terms). What we’ve coined as religion is nothing more than a collection of people sharing the same motivations and beliefs who still have complete control of their actions and most atrocities seen as religious are people using the basis of their faith or others to empower or excuse themselves.

    • Humans need word to describe things… Religion = collection of people sharing the same motivations and beliefs.. therefore right now people are referring to the atrocities of people sharing the same motivations and beliefs (in an organised fashion.)…. ie The atrocities of Religion.

  • If Jedi is considered a religion, that I suppose the Jedi Knight games do a decent job of painting religion in a positive light.

  • Obviously you dont understand – seriously??? You are dumb. Your defending something you don’t fully understand. Further you are putting words into my mouth. the basic tenament of catholicism is absolution and forgiveness – reconciliation has nothing to do with not following the pope. Reconciliation only occurs if you are truly repentant. wow. end of conversation.

    • Wow still defaulting to the Troll argument. Yes mr i decide whats trolling or not (but ignores what he himself is doing hypocrite)

      Let me ask you mr know it all, if we ask 1 million Catholics if they have had sex before marriage or have used a condom i can GUARANTEE you that a large MAJORITY of them have done either or both (Guess what im ONE OF THEM). Yep i went against the LAWS of the POPE, yet even if i were to tell the priest you have Broken the Popes LAWs guess what that doesnt mean that person is no longer Catholic or i am ‘excommunicated’, as you have vehemently been repeating as your main argument. Im still a Catholic. I will ask my priest then about what you ask, then go ahead and either ask or look up studies about how many Catholics to the letter of the law follow what the Pope says, and yet they are still a Catholics. Maybe its you who are stupid then.

      Again the Pope gives a set of Rules to Follow or try to follow. Following all the rules the pope expects of us to the letter of the law, we might as Well be a Bishop or religious leader if we were so strongly following it not rank and file believers (who they know will not completely follow the rules). What utter nonsense you have made up. You think by talking last and making statements that you are dumb, or your argument is illogical with out even having the facts makes you right? ok believe what you like however doesnt make you right.

      Go play Diablo, hopefully you play that better then you argue.

      • Oh and another thing Hell is NOT a way the Pope enforces religion. Obviously it is a terrible place that people that sin (thats what Christians believe) go to but the Pope DOESNT decide who goes to hell, GOD does. So no again you are WRONG! Hell is not a way the Pope enforces Papal Law, even if the Pope says (and he wont) some one is going to hell its still Gods choice. What laughable excuse for any argument. End of conversation? well you had to make a point before you could start one, whoops you forgot to bring one of those with you sorry maybe next time.

        Wow i cant believe you make it sound like the Catholic Religion is like a Military organisation that expects ALL of its followers to follow to the letter the doctrines of its law and if you dont they will kick you out and send you to hell. Your proof? Go ask a priest. Wow maybe i’ll use that as the crux of my argument next time. go ask a priest go ask who ever. That gives me instant ‘im right’ status regardless of the facts. Ok i’ll remember that because martin mr ‘thinks hes right, decides whos a troll and who gets respect, also whos stupid’ said so yup thats what i’ll do (/sarcasm). LOL

  • religion has killed more people than anything. If anyone knows violence, torture and genocide its certainly religion.

  • I’ve always thought the disclaimer the Assassin’s Creed games put before you start the game about having a diverse group of people who worked on the game as a little cowardly. It’s an attempt to stem any criticism of the games religious themes. Essentially “Don’t get mad at us for using religion in this game, we have religious people working on it and they’re fine with it.

    It is like when some douche bags wanted the Da Vinci Code to put a disclaimer reiterating that it was all fiction.

    Having said all of that, my negative views of religion have exactly 0% to do with my gaming hobby. I would imagine most people whose opinion of religion is low and are gamers would agree.

  • has anybody considered that the non-violent aspects of religion are boring. who the hell would want to make a boring game about that type of stuff. last game like that I can think of which wasn’t about violence was bible stories (or adventures?) for the NES, which was rejected

  • How do you get people to do what you want? Invent a religion. It’s the oldest scam in the world, right next to blackmail.

  • To examine Thane and not the Hanar seems very silly. The Hanar are the most religious race in the galaxy, and they’re also the most peaceful, really. They are the definition of organised religion: they all believe the same thing. And what about the Justicars? They may be a tad violent, but they do it for good reasons. It’s like calling Superman violent.

    Assassin’s Creed doesn’t attack religion, it attacks how it used. Altair is Muslim and Ezio, as far as I can tell, is Christian. Adam and Eve are presented as actual people. It takes issue with religion being used to force rule over the people. In fact, individual religion (Ezio and Altair) is shown to be far superior to organised religion (Borgias).

    And there’s the key thing: these two games from the five that are referenced – arguably the ones that feature religion in the biggest ways – not only contradict the very argument of the study, but also contradict /each other/, thus drawing a conclusion based on these two is silly.

    ME2 shows both peaceful organised and individual religion. AC shows individual religion being preferable, though arguably the Assassin’s Creed itself is similar to religious dogma.

    And as you mention God of War, Dante’s Inferno and, I’m adding this, Darksiders: these aren’t original ideas. God of War’s violence is drawn from droves of violence in Greek mythology, Dante’s Inferno is an adaptation of a poem and Darksiders is drawn from the Book of Revelations. If these three are anti-religious, then so is religion.

    “in each of these games religion created a of problem that the main character must overcome, whether it is a direct confrontation with religious zealots or being haunted by religious guilt.”

    Not sure I remember this in Mass Effect 2. Thane had guilt, but that wasn’t because of his religion, and he wasn’t the main character.

    BUT, it should be stressed that the researcher says: “It doesn’t appear that game developers are trying to purposefully bash organized religion in these games.” So while I disagree with him that this problematised view exists, we agree that the developers do not intend to attack religion itself.

  • Aren’t most games violent anyway? I mean, perfectly peaceful religious practices sound like it makes a pretty boring game. Like, “Woo! I’m playing this game where I get to go to church every Sunday and donate money to orphanage and preach and help homeless….” Or rather, sounds like how the Sims would be if it wasn’t scared of offending the atheists and all the religions at once.

  • Perhaps gman’s point; while eloquently put, is an example of a false balance. Attacking religion is not the same as attacking, gender, race, etc. Attacking religious people on the basis of their beliefs would be the equivalent. Attacking the institution is no different than debating the merits of communism, capitalism, fascism or vegetarianism, etc.

    The idea that attacking the institution of religion is an attack on those whose believe it is an old strategy used to cloak theist ideas from rational arguement; google “circumscision” or the “hijab” for examples.

    I think the only point that can be gleaned from this study is that most video games are made by young people, with tertiary educations in technology and liberal arts, the majority of which view religion as superstitious, primitive and deceptive. I don’t think any of the makers of these games would carry their ideas about the institution onto all those who practice it, and this certainly is not the case in the games mentioned in the article.

  • Sunni Muslims just killed 18 Shiite Muslims on a bus in Pakistan. Afghans have lost their shit because someone burnt a book. The Catholic church is knee deep in child abuse controversy and evangelicals in the U.S want to elect a president who hates birth control. I know most religious types are good people, but seriously this is a gold mine of tragic comedy.

  • “Religion” is just another way of saying someone has a side in a specific moral argument about life, afterlfe, and behavior. Glossing it up as more than communities gathered around, and catering to, people who want to be “right” more than anything is really the only inaccuracy we should be concerned about.

    I’m sure somebody else on here is at least thinking “It would help if anyone could make positive religious video games.” I also think it would be a work of fiction, because religion itself represents conflicts internal and external.

  • Let’s not forget ANZAC day last year when Jim Wallace – head of the Australian Christian Lobby, used twitter to attack gays, lesbians and Muslims as “un Australian.

    If anything games show that what many religions are based on in their holy texts is quite different from what they say and how they act.

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