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How Games And Religion Could Mix

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the greatest-game-never-played dept.

Games 180

An anonymous reader writes "The Passion of the Christ brought in $370 million at the box office. The Left Behind book series have sold over 63 million copies. And Christian Rock is growing more and more popular. But the video game industry has so far ignored the topic of religion. CNN/Money's Game Over column talked with game developers (including id Software CEO Todd Hollenshead and Diablo co-creator Bill Roper) about the reasons behind this - and asked them what sort of game they would make if they were creating one with a religious theme. The answers ranged from a Moses RPG to a faith-based MMO."

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180 comments

Games and religion? (3, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007404)


Already been done. [neoseeker.com]

Re:Games and religion? (5, Insightful)

Wylfing (144940) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008392)

Yeah, here's one of my favorite examples [games-workshop.com] of a game with plenty of religion in it.

What? Oh, my mistake. You're not talking about games with religion. You're talking about games that evangelize American Protestant Christianity. Well, no, I don't want to play a game that is trying to convert me or get me "fired up for Christ!" or any of that. It's nothing to do with the fact that it's religious. PETA likes to produce "activities" that evangelize their viewpoint, and I don't want that junk either.

I will go out on a limb and suggest that the only people who want a game that promotes a moral viewpoint are the ones who are already zealots.

Re:Games and religion? (Hey, look, a joke!) (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008560)

Of course it's been done. I mean, a game about Jesus? We already have tons of games where you kill zombies!

Re:Games and religion? (2, Insightful)

RevAaron (125240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009765)

Yeah, there have been religious video games since the 8 bit days. And they pretty much all suck. Oftentimes technically, but they're usually just really, really, really lame.

Imagine my shock as a bright eyed and bushy tailed 8 year old:
friend: "Hey Aaron! You coming over and play Nintendo after school?"
me: "Yup, my mom said I could. Let's play!" ...
friend: "Check out this game! It's called Moses and the Trees of God and it's just like Super Mario Brothers, but it's not evil!"
me: "Mario Brothers is ... evil?"
friend: "Yeah! Nintendo is a tool of Satan, you know, there are angels of God and demons constantly fighting over your soul... AS WE SPEAK! So, every time we choose something godly, we are fighting Satan! Cool, huh?"
** 4 minutes into playing, the game freezes **
me: "hmm... that's no fun!"
friend: "Yeah, but it's christian! SO it's better than Mario!"

I knew that crazy mofo for a longtime after that, and had the same discussion for so many things- "Hey! This sounds just like Green Day... but it's CHRISTIAN!" ... "but Todd, Green Day blows, why would I want to listen to a bad Green Day clone with lame, non-subtle jesus-is-lord lyrics?"

No answer for that.

Man, that kind of childhood whacks a person out. I'll never forget the look on his face as the automatic garage door closed, his 12 year old face staring out as he started taking his clothes off. Standing on the concrete floor at the inside door to the house, his parents surrounding him, looking stern. They caught us listening to another friends copy of some Adam Sandler CD. "Todd! You will strip down into your underwear, and you are going to get a spanking for your sin." I found out at school the next day that the parents made him burn the CD, wanting to rid the world of such vile and evil filth, with no regard to the fact that the CD was owned by some other kid...

OK, sorry about the flashback! The moral? Just say no to poorly done, lame christian video games. Which is to say, there exists some decent so-called christian music, but mostly because it's music made with "christian values" in mind, rather than singing about naught but jesus and god, in the most annoying fashion possible.

Passion of the Christ, the videogame (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007426)

I'm not even a Christian, but I would BUY that game!

Choose Your side!! Christian or Pagan, the Choice is Yours!!

-Eric

Re:Passion of the Christ, the videogame (1)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007703)

Blah, I'm still waiting for Billy Graham's Bible Blasters to come out. Quick convert the heathens.

Re:Passion of the Christ, the videogame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13008421)

Aww. You just winged that one and made him a Unitarian.

Makes total sense. (4, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007442)


Both games and religion are make-believe, it only makes sense that they merge. Jesus with a BFG-900 taking on a 50M tall Ganesh with glowing laser-tusks could be fun.

Re:Makes total sense. (1)

Sebadude (680162) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008425)

Now that, I would worship. It also begs the question:

What would Jesus do... with a BFG-9000?

Fnord:Makes total sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13008795)

What would Eris do... with a Golden Apple Corps?

Games haven't ignored it (2, Insightful)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007465)

Nobody wants to play a religous game, just like nobody wants to listen to religous music.

Here's an example [somethingawful.com]. And another [somethingawful.com].

The thing with religion in the US is, people will attend services but are embarassed to say so.

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007569)

How do you explain the sales of Christian rock (as the /. blurb mentioned)?

Do most of these teenagers listen to Christian rock because that's all they're allowed? Probably, but you could say the same thing about video games. No, the reason why Christian video games go nowhere is because they're horrible. Even Christian rock, Left Behind, and so forth are of much higher quality, especially when compared to the mainstream music and books that most people like now-a-days anyway.

Rob

Re:Games haven't ignored it (3, Insightful)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007686)

Did...did you just say that Christian rock and the Left Behind series are higher quality? Granted, mainstream isn't too high a target but I still have trouble seeing this.

I guess things have come a long way since Carmen and Chicks comics. Or maybe they seem higher quality to those with ears for the faith orientation; but to my impartial eyes and ears the lyrics and books seem trite, the emotions forced and self-serving, and the "faith" monetary based.

But don't just say "Christian" games go nowhere; I challenge you to find any real world religion well represented by fictional book, music, or video game. Where's my video game that simulates the Buddhist wheel of life and my character's struggle to wake up from it and break the chains that bind? Of course the realtime lifelong meditation would be tricky to gamify, but I'm sure it could be done. :-)

The best religious videogame I can think of is Ultima IV and that wasn't even a real religion (nice concepts though).

Give me a Bioware RPG (with the good and evil possibilities that implies) set in Biblical times and I'd be all over that game. How cool would it be to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt...or betray them for a rich reward.

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007853)

Did...did you just say that Christian rock and the Left Behind series are higher quality?

Than Christian video games? I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who's tried all of those who wouldn't agree with me. As corny and weak as that music and those books are, they're still far better than crap like what Wisdom Tree puts out.

Where's my video game that simulates the Buddhist wheel of life and my character's struggle to wake up from it and break the chains that bind?

I think this [the-underdogs.org] might be something like what you're looking for.

Rob

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

yasth (203461) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008031)

I challenge you to find any real world religion well represented by fictional book, music, or video game

Narnia to name the easy example. Books are easy. solid games are hard because of the interactivity ("Open World" systems like Morrowind, or Dues Ex well they almost demand that you rob people blind) I mean the easy thing I can think of would be SimMissionary but it would be hard to make that PC. (Also wooing people over to your side virtually seems like a waste of time outside of a training tool).

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

bofkentucky (555107) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008530)

Game designers hit PC limitations all the time. Sid Meier's Pirates should have african slaves (Sugar plantations crews, slave raids, etc) and prostitues (comfort women, disease vectors for enemy crews) if it is going to be a "realistic" sim, but there is no way those would make it past the ESRB.

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

jpsowin (325530) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008548)

I challenge you to find any real world religion well represented by fictional book, music, or video game.

Fictional books: Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Do you consider Paradise Lost by Milton fiction? Then that too. What about Dante's Inferno? Pilgrim's Progress by Bunyan. And that's just off the top of my head--there are others.

Music: Have you ever heard of Bach, Mozart, maybe Handel? Or any of the classic hymn composers? I think simply listing Handel's massive Messiah should prove my point.

So... what do I win since I met your "challenge"?

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

-kertrats- (718219) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008790)

If given the choice between a top 40 station and something like RadioU (christian rock radio station, but available streaming online at radiou.com), I can't think of a single music fan (of rock, obviously) that would willingly choose the former. Their may be better music in indie circles that I haven't heard, but compare anything from Thousand Foot Krutch, tobyMac or Falling Up to mainstream 'rock' like Coldplay and there's no competition.

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009925)

If given the choice between a top 40 station

Off? Is "off" an option?

Obvious (1, Funny)

Dissonant (125475) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009282)

I challenge you to find any real world religion well represented by fictional book...

Umm...the Bible?

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

HanClinto (621615) | more than 8 years ago | (#13010039)

I challenge you to find any real world religion well represented by fictional book, music, or video game. Where's my video game that simulates the Buddhist wheel of life and my character's struggle to wake up from it and break the chains that bind? Of course the realtime lifelong meditation would be tricky to gamify, but I'm sure it could be done. :-)

Most of the other answers to this challenge focused on Christianity, so here's a couple others:

The religion of Atheistic Existentialism I feel is well-represented by the book "L'etranger" (The Stranger) by Albert Camus.
For a video game example of this worldview, any atheistic hedonistic game such as GTA will do (not bashing it, I played through it and enjoyed it, I'm just commenting on the worldviews represented).

A classic Buddhist book would be "Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse -- while it's not perfect doctrine, I'm under the impression that it represents many things well.
I've seen a couple examples of Buddhist video games, but they were usually things to aid in meditation.

I haven't read many writings of followers of Joseph Smith, but the best example I can think of that I've read was some of the literature by Orson Scott Card. "The Lost Boys" did an excellent job of presenting real-life Mormonism to the reader in a way that showed the difference between the psychos that give Mormons a bad name and to the ones who are more moderate, reasonable, and intelligent. Interestingly enough, the protagonist in that story is a former video game programmer. :)
I don't know of any specifically Mormon video games.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the storylines of Final Fantasy heavily influenced by Japanese Shinto religion?

So anyway, there's a taste of religious literature and video games other than the obvious Christian ones.

Cheers!

--clint

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009870)

I just have to put in my 2 cents worth. Left Behind was awful. I got about half way through the book before putting it down. The writing is childish at best, the story is so thin you can see right through it to the preaching. For goodness sake, if you're going to talk about christian fiction, at least use C.S. Lewis or Dante, or any one of a number of good writers who did christain based works.
As for christian rock, as long as it isn't too preachy, it's not too bad.
As for why the stuff is selling so well, we've got a lot of chirstians in this country, and they like anything which validates their religion. Take a look at the Left Behind series. The writing is terrible, and preachy beyond belief, but for someone who agrees with the message, they are going to love it because it reaffirms their belief. Christain rock has it even better, much of it isn't bad, and it gets a bonus by reaffirming beliefs.
Back to the subject at hand. A well done christain based game could work, the biggest problem with it is, it's going to have to allow the player to make wrong choices, without that, it will feel forced and no fun. Even still, it may fall into the trap of feeling too much like a sermon, which could suck the fun right out of it.

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

pthor1231 (885423) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007636)

Nice, reference two OLD games, and link reviews, and that suddenly leads to the fact that no one wants to play religious themed games? Also, about people being embarassed about attending services, I don't know where you came up with that idea.

Re:Games haven't ignored it (5, Insightful)

SocialEngineer (673690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007952)

I listen to and write Christian-influenced music (not Christian rock, or Christian pop, mind you - I have a solo Industrial project, and I also write classical and neo-classical music - almost all of my music is instrumental). Granted, most Christian music in my favorite genres.. well.. suck. If you are into electronic/industrial, check out Juggernautz - they definately rival their secular peers.

I'd play a Christian game if it was good. Thats the point - Love it or hate it because its good or not, to you. People play those stupid deer avenger games, or the Extreme Paintbrawl games, and they are awful by most gamer's standards.

Look at classical music - Handel's "Messiah", Vivaldi's "Gloria", Brahm's German Requiem - all regarded highly among classical music fans. Why? Because they are all good.

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008866)

"The only good thing ever to come out of religion was the music." -- George Carlin

There is some pretty good art and architecture, too. ;)

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

-kertrats- (718219) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008158)

Nobody wants to listen to religious music? Thats why several christian rock bands break 50,000-100,000 sales on every album they sell (Pillar, Skillet, etc)

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

elemental23 (322479) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009288)

Interesting that they remain almost totally unknown outside of Christian circles. I've never heard of either band.

Christian music really seems to live in its own isolated world. It's pretty rare to see one acheive anything remotely like mainstream popularity. I think Creed was the most recent one to broke out, and that was years ago. I have no idea who the last one before them was.

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009401)

Stryper [stryper.com], maybe?

BTW, Creed was just a "Christian" band (i.e. they tried really hard to act like they weren't, but they so obviously were). Real Christian bands are not only open about their faith, they also make it a very explicit part of their music (yes, even more explicit than Creed did).

Rob

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

TheWatchfulBabbler (859328) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008287)

The thing with religion in the US is, people will attend services but are embarassed to say so.

Quite the opposite -- Americans tend to overreport their observances; actual church attendance tends to run 10-20% lower than self-reported figures.

As for religious music, the last few thousand years suggest you may not be right. More recently, how do you feel about a group like U2, whose music is deeply influenced by Catholicism? The Violent Femmes? Leonard Cohen, whose music feeds upon his Jewish heritage and Buddhist beliefs?

I do agree that music that places ideology before artistry suffers, but the same is true of any medium -- consider the Left Behind series, which manages to be both terrible theology and terrible writing. Those soi disant Christians who use their poorly-conceived theologies to hide from the ethical, moral, and emotional turmoil of being human are all but incapable of making decent art, but don't mistake their crude passion plays for all religiously-infused works.

Re:Games haven't ignored it (1)

tacroy (813477) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008345)

No one likes christian music they like that devil music like Switchfoot, P.O.D, Jaci Velasquez, Evanescence, Chevelle. ..irony.

Xenosaga (1)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007473)

I thought that the Xenosaga series was covering the topic very well.

Re:Xenosaga (3, Insightful)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007515)

By "but the video game industry has so far ignored the topic of religion," the submitter obviously meant "but the video game industry has so far ignored the topic of serious Christianity (as opposed to the silliness found in Xenogears et al.)." And of course that's incorrect too, if you consider such examples as Wisdom Tree (which was actually mentioned in the article).

Rob

Re:Xenosaga (2, Insightful)

Dizzle (781717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007634)

Mod parent up! The original poster obviously looked in the store, saw no games dealing explicity with Christianity, and said that there wasn't any. This is a sweeping generalization. Many games have religion in them, even if it's not necessarily retelling a religious story. Xenosaga is one (bad game, but that's beside the point), and I'm positive there's others. Just because they don't deal with the poster's religion doesn't make them non-religious games.

Even GTA has religion. The mission for Jizzy the Pimp that has you trying to save Jizzy's ho from a priest in a limo... well... a priest is religious, right?

hmm (5, Funny)

hobotron (891379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007483)


:lvl 53 Judas LFG!
:guyss??
:plx i need grp
:i wont tk guys rly

Re:hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007671)

I was always looking forward to a Christian-based fighting game style.

Peter would have a fishing net and yell something like "get thine body here!!!" His finishing move could be the reverse-crucifixion.

There could be a special move where paper would fall from the sky called "Letters of Paul" (hey, it works for Gambit, right?) or he could do this one move called "Persecution" that does damage against Christians.

Judas could do the "Betrayal Kiss" move and have the opponent taken away by pharisees.

Zachaeus (sp?) could be the midget fighter. Lazarus was already animated from the darkstalkers series. Ezekiel could do that Samuel Jackson line from Pulp Fiction. Job could beat the heck out of everyone but will still lose no matter what. Then Jesus...can send forth the Holy Spirit and decimate everything in sight...but only on the second round if he was killed on the first round. Satan, of course, would be an unlockable cheat code.

As a framework... (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007487)

Fifield said he would use biblical stories as a framework. "The story of Moses has multiple decade long breaks in the text," he said. "Fill in those blanks and detail his rise to prominence in the Egyptian military, his wanderings and encounters in the wilderness and end the game with God's Judgment of Egypt and deliverance of the Hebrews through the Red Sea."

From a gameplay point of view, this one strikes me as the most promising of the ideas. I don't recall Moses' "prominence in the Egyptian military" in the original text, exactly, (although he obviously was a pretty badass guy) but the overall plan seems sound.

Re:As a framework... (1)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007796)

The writings of Josephus, who was a Jewish scholar, hold that Moses was one of the major generals or some such for Pharaoh, and brought him much glory.

I'm a little off on the details I'm sure, but you can check out more here [wikipedia.org].

Re:As a framework... (1)

LocoMan (744414) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008046)

Well, he was pharao's adopted son... I doubt that anyone that would deny him a promotion would have a very long military career after that... or a life at all... :)

How Games And Religion Could Mix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007512)

How Games And Religion Could Mix

1) Suicide bombing RPG
2) Sim Christian Evangalist
3) Buddhist Reincarnation MMOG
4) "Don't Hurt the Cows" Hindi Strategy
5) Druidic Tree Adventure

religious games (2, Funny)

FrontalLobe (897758) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007521)

I remember when i was in high school. Our church youth group went on a trip somewhere, and they brought a projector and an NES. They actually had these kind of games with them.

There was one I remember where you were Noah, you had to pick up animals and throw them in the ark, but none of us could figure out what the controls where to actually get them to stay in the ark.

Seriously... It was something right out of the Flanders' household...

Re:religious games (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007631)

Bible Adventures, the game that could be found in every Christian household with a video-gaming child at that point in time. I don't remember having a problem with keeping the animals in the ark, though. I think you were just supposed to press Up to enter it while still carrying the animal.

Rob

Limitations... (2)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007527)

One of the problems with doing games based on historical contexts is that, like it or not, events happened a certain way. No retrying until you win. Purists--and there are a lot of outspoken purists when it comes to religion--hate it when the apparent outcome of a historical event can be changed by human interaction.

However, I can see games being written that take religious values into account, and set the player's goals in line with those values. I'd probably even play a few.

Imagine a Scientology MMORPG (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007574)

Imagine a Scientology MMORPG..

You'd start out with quite little, and have to work your way up through various 'levels', while either having to live in the game or by spending tons and tons of real life money just to get cool stuff in the game. You'd get addicted to the game, and they'd keep adding things to it to make sure you don't leave. The game would be set in a weird sci-fi world where things are totally ridiculous, but you don't realize so at the time.

Oh.. hang on, that describes, um, almost every MMORPG that's out now :)

Re:Imagine a Scientology MMORPG (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007785)

Only I haven't seen an MMORPG game that has aliens infecting people brains and taking over.

Oh wait I hear a knock on my door, one sec.

Final Fantasy VII (2, Funny)

Digital_Quartz (75366) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007616)

...hate it when the apparent outcome of a historical event can be changed by human interaction.

You obviously missed out on FF7. No part of the outcome of that game could be altered by human interaction, and it was one of the bestselling games in the world at the time.

Re:Jesus vs the Terminator (2, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007645)

Yeah, I'd think the purists would be rather upset if you prevented Jesus's cruxifition or altered the timeline in which Jesus was never born.

You could however have fictional characters living in that time frame who interact with the main characters in cutscenes and then go off and do their own thing. Like Bob, who hears about Jesus and must make his way to Jeruselem and encouters mini-quests on the way.

However, I will always be highly suspect of any group that sells Religion for money wheather it be music, books, or video games. Most motivation tends to be with money rather than actual salvation.

If someone were to give these games away for free out of a labor of love then you have a bit more moral highground.

Re:Jesus vs the Terminator (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008520)

I do believe they would be rather pissed off if we had a "PASSION OF CHRIST" game , with such boss battles as, the "Jesus whip-o-mania " , or a light gun mini game of firing crucifixion nails.
(Or for those into Final fantasy) having a level 90 Jesus cast sodom on Pontious pilot , whilst st peter buffs up the party with his level 40 Fish and bread trick

Re:Limitations... (1)

freakmn (712872) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008239)

It could be done in a current context, also. Perhaps something like paperboy, with the gideons, or something throwing bibles towards houses. To me, as a Christian, I think a game is a game, and I'll play Christian Games, only if they are good. Same goes for music (Personal favorite Christian band: Five Iron Frenzy).

As a side note, I believe that many Christians (and perhaps other religions, also) take things way too seriously. I wouldn't force people to believe what I believe, because I've had people try to do that to me. I realize that people have differing beliefs and values. A whole lot of problems that are caused by religion could be solved with some understanding. /rant

Nethack (2, Funny)

atomic-penguin (100835) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007644)

Religion is a theme in NetHack. Haven't you ever #pray'ed to the RNG?

Re:Nethack (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008123)

Roguelikes often have a fleshed-out diety system.

Nethack's is rather primitive (the gods are more or less identical in their actions).

The roguelike "Dungeon Crawl" has a well-fleshed out deity system. For example, Xom, the god of chaos, doesn't care what the character does -- he just randomly awards/punishes [google.com]. Trog, the god of berzerkers, hates it when you use magic. Sif Muna rewards magic casters.

Crawl is a fun (although extremely difficult) little game.

UNIX (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007676)

Someone once said that linux/unix is the ultimate text-based adventure. I suppose Zen would be its religion.

I guess the game could be called: "KISS, the Zen"

I would also say that playing this game will actually increase you intelligence, attention to detail, and ability to earn a respectable income.

Finally, playing "KISS, the Zen" would be frowned upon by parents (from the name alone), making it highly popular among smart rebellious kids.

# /me rolls 4d3.

A couple games worth mention... (1)

neostorm (462848) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007742)

I think what this article really means to say is that there aren't many games based on positive, pro-religious propaganda.
Xenogears and Final Fantasy Tactics were two that had heavy religious overtones, and were done very well. There are a handful of games that use religion to enhance the story, so I don't think this articles talk of the "potential" between games and religion is very accurate.

Re:A couple games worth mention... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13007993)

Is there really such a thing as "positive, pro-religious propaganda"?

Re:A couple games worth mention... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13008575)

Yeah I guess that was kind of a redundant phrase, wasn't it...
What I meant to type was "...positive/pro-religious..."

Already Done (1)

Ridgelift (228977) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007793)

asked them what sort of game they would make if they were creating one with a religious theme
They already wrote that sort of game...

TETRIS

Ask anyone who's hooked how religiously they play the darned thing.

Homeworld (3, Insightful)

Unordained (262962) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007794)

The religion gets stripped out, but if you look at the Homeworld RTS games, they're pulling pretty strongly from middle-eastern religious themes (and music) -- the jewish diaspora, the hebrew/arab relationship, the trinity (christianity thrown in?), the struggle to find a home ... but it's not really approached from a religious perspective. It's much more "the story of the jews, but without god, and in space".

Besides -- you don't 'game' religion. Nothing about religion is predictable from a scientific point of view. If it were, people would be using prayer tactically to their advantage. Coding a game in which no results are ever guaranteed, nor even terribly predictable (don't even want to introduce the concept of probability that your prayer will be answered vs. the cost of praying) ... there's just nothing left. Random background noise, probability-wise? You can't "play" that -- there's no technique, no challenge. If anything, the game would teach you that you can do just fine without religion helping you. Oops.

So it winds up always being story-oriented. And you're not very free to change the story. So you wind up with games like "go find the animals for Noah's ark" ... which really isn't about religion, it's more like slapping a theme pack on top of a game like Tetris -- the artwork can be religious, but the game isn't.

Re:Homeworld (1)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009904)

Remember Earthbound? With the completely random prayer effects? The first two times I had Paula Pray, my entire party died instantly to the effect. This was in the bad old days of SNES RPGing where that meant backing up hours and hours through the dungeon to the last save point in town. I concluded that God hated me and that I would never use the Pray ability again, so for the rest of the game I just used her regular, predictable heals and frying pan. I lived in fear of accidentally hitting the pray button in battle -- it happened maybe twice (once in the fight with Poo) and those were my most gut-wrenchingly scary moments in gaming ("My party! Nooooooooo! Oh, wait, heal for 8 damage. Phew, dodged a bullet there."). I wiped three times on the end boss because even though my little brother was telling me "You have to pray to beat him!" I was saying "No way you're going to trick me into praying! I've seen what happens!"

How about... (2, Funny)

gmezero (4448) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007900)

<sarcasm>A game where you hunt down all forms of religious zelots/fundamentalists, be they christian, muselum, etc... and pop a cap in their ass. You could hunt down the suicide bomber before he blows, or track down the nut before he starts killing at an abortion clinic.

Heck we could even have it Deathrace 2000 style where you just run down all religious types you see when you're driving, like those "two guys on mountain bikes" types... Bonus, if you get them both in one shot.

Wow... this could be a whole new game "GTA: Down Wit' Religion" (pun intended).</sarcasm>

Sigh...

Am I the only one who thought about Joshua? (2, Interesting)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 8 years ago | (#13007995)

So here's the story: the Jews spend 40 years wandering around in the desert before they reach the promised land. Moses dies shortly before they enter, leaving Joshua in charge. Now, if you've actually read the book, you'd realise that it's all blood and gore: Yahweh commands the Jews to kill everybody and everything. Can we say RTS?

So they enter the promised land, call upon the power of Yahweh to do miraculous stuff (Walls of Jericho, battle at AI where the sun & moon stand still), and take over the land. Traditional RTS elements using real geograhical locations and a Biblical back-story. Age of the Promised Land, anybody?

Whoops, got another one (1)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008038)

I posted too soon, I suppose. An adventure game based on the life of Paul (post-conversion) would be pretty kick-ass too. He's gotta travel around the Mediterranean & spread the gospel.

Last one, I promise: take the episodic system of Eternal Darkness for the Cube and trace the lineage of Christ from Adam. Each "chapter" takes about an hour to complete and has an extremely focused task. I'm not creative enough to figure out what Adam would have to do, but Noah's got a boat, David's got lots of interesting stuff to do, and then you've got Solomon, Esther, Ruth, throw in a couple of prophets, and you've got yourself an interesting game based on the Tanakh. Dunno if you'd want to let the player control Christ, though, so maybe Peter or one of the other disciples?

Re:Whoops, got another one (1)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008946)

Please, for the love of the Elder Gods, do not drag such a masterpiece of a game as Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, which obviously borrowed so much from the Cthulhu mythos, down into the realm of 'Christianity.'

You know the truth about the Second Coming?
Jesus has to come back so Cthulhu can devour him along with all that lives.

IA! IA! CTHULHU FTHAGN!

Re:Whoops, got another one (1)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009714)

I'm not talking about the plot, which is absolutely fascinating to me (even as a Christian), but about the form, or the mode, of the game. I don't know any other games that feature a similar episodic element where the player controls successive characters. If you don't like Christianity, that's your problem, but understand that there's nothing wrong with making a game about it, and if you're so adamantly anti-Christian (as your post seems to imply), then perhaps you shouldn't comment on a story about "How games and religion could mix."

Re:Whoops, got another one (1)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 8 years ago | (#13010004)

I see you're as anti-sarcasm as I am anti-christianity. And I am not Anti-Christianity. I have no problem with the religion. Just with many of its adherants.

And I do agree. The game blew me away. An engrossing story and, what for me, atleast, was an entirely new form of play. Not to mention the fact that the game would screw with your head.

The Spanish Inquisition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13008016)

The Latest First Person Gaming Experienz!!!

You be the Judge, the Jury, the Executioner!

Separate the Heretics and Infidels From The Believers!!!!

Call Forth Gods True Vengence!

** New Realistic 3D Effects **

Realistic looking "flames of perdition" particle graphics consume your devil worshipping Witches, Warlocks, Natural Philosophers and more!

New online "Bonfire of the Vanities Mode". You race other players to see who can collect the most priceless masterpieces and ancient philosophical manuscripts. Burn them all!

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!!!

Yahweh! (1)

duncanbojangles (787775) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008096)

I would totally play a game where you're the Old Testament God! Imagine all the cool stuff you get to do! You get to wipe out the entire populace of a planet, flood said planet, burn whole cities to the ground, and annoy a bunch of egyptians with plagues! It would be similar to SimCity, Civilization, and Fable :)

That is easy. (2, Interesting)

Zangief (461457) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008122)

One based on Paradise Lost, by John Milton.

An all out war between heaven and hell, and the adventures of Satan to tempt humankind.

The main character is Satan, of course!

Religious!

Just start with the right quote (2, Funny)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008126)

"I'm here to preach and chew bubble gum, and I'm all out of gum..."

The first step is not to preach. (3, Insightful)

nunchux (869574) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008150)

For a Christian game to be successful, the first two thing it should NOT do is preach. The second thing it shouldn't do is educate. Kids will sense both of these coming a mile away and run in the opposite direction.

And that's the biggest problem with most Christian entertainment, a total lack of subtlety. It doesn't have to be about hitting you over the head with the message. IMHO the best Christians live by setting an example, not by brow-beating you into submission.

Re:The first step is not to preach. (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009339)

For a Christian game to be successful, the first two thing it should NOT do is preach. The second thing it shouldn't do is educate.

Sorry, I am sure this is just a typo...but it appears from this sentence that maybe a little education might be a good thing.

Re:The first step is not to preach. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13009655)

Education and religion? Isn't that a contridiction?

Depends on how it's done. (3, Insightful)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008166)

Take Peanuts by Charles M Schulz and BC, for example. Both artists are/were extremely devout Christians. In the former comic, Schulz focused on making the comic funny first, and he uses his beliefs as a springboard towards a joke or a humorous situation, such as one comic where Charlie Brown's baseball teammates are babbling theology while Charlie Brown himself is standing on the mound, physically above them all, mentally below them, and with a "good grief" expression more accurately saying, "Uhm... can we get back to baseball?"

In the latter case, you see the comic used as a podium for lectures, for example a recent comic where Wiley's writing under his tree and writes how Darwin "made monkeys out of you and me."

Now in games, I think we've already seen religion done right: Ultima IV. Being "moral" within the game is not just context, but the end of the game itself, and in that case, it made for a better, more interesting and (most vitally) more fun game than its hack-n-slash predecessors in which the goal was to defeat the murderous villain by being more murderous than him/her. Its religion is not specifically Christian, but the Ultima series shows the general principle that you can make a fun game based on religion. Making a game fun for a different set of beliefs is just applying the Ultima IV-VI design principles to different specific dogmas.

Of course, it's all easier said than done, but that's why good designers make the big bucks.

Re:Depends on how it's done. (1)

TheWatchfulBabbler (859328) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008370)

I'd also argue that Schulz understood, better than most, the human condition, while Wiley seems to only understand humans as caricatures. Peanuts is Bonhoeffer; B.C. is James Dobson.

Re:Depends on how it's done. (1)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008705)

That's a good point, and it reflects the way they see Christianity as well.

All games are religious games (1)

Vampyre_Dark (630787) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008241)

You round up people who are different then you, and don't see eye to eye. Than you cause harm to them, repeatedly, in biblical proportions, casuing many holy shit moments. Then at the end, you run off with all the [i]goddamn[/i] money, and await the second coming(sequel).

Unreal Tournament Mod (1)

jgoemat (565882) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008397)

It's not a full game, but The Landover Baptist Church [landoverbaptist.org] has already created the "True Christian® mod" [landoverbaptist.org] for Unreal Tournament 2003 with a religious theme, check it out.

Timothy explained that there was still a bit of tweaking to do in order to put Jesus into a "god-mode" without allowing the other characters to be in "god-mode" as well.

How Games And Religion Could Mix... (1)

aneroid (856995) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008484)

real life and games. one good reason not to do an ALL OUT religious game: people tend to be fanatics about religion more than anything else. and they get irrational about things that obviously don't mean any harm/ill-will.

imho, doom et al don't motivate kids to kill their classmates. but a game with a religious base is just asking for trouble...more than it's worth. in GTA, where u kill everyone: innocent ppl of various backgrounds and ethnicity's, prostitutes, cops, criminals, etc. it's all OK, it's not personal (and even then, it received complaints from various groups). but when u represent some sort of religious-someone killing ppl of other religions, it's very specific. asking for a boatload of trouble.

even if it's a peaceful game (like The Longest Journey which i played recently), religious leaders and followers may take offense to implications of religious unity/mixing and any kind of "religion X is better than religion Y"-attitude (prepend 'ppl of' for added effect).

so (assuming u wanted to avoid aforementioned issues) how interesting could a religious game be? all i can think of is educational games for kids.

Already been done... (2, Funny)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008523)

Bart: Whaddya got?... "Billy Graham's Bible Blaster?"
Rod: Keep firing; convert the heathens!
Bart: Got him!
Rod: No, you just winged him and made him a Unitarian.
Todd: Look out, Bart! A gentle Baha'i!
Bart: All right! Full conversion! Thanks guys, this really cheered me up.
Video: Second Coming! Reload, reload!

http://www.snpp.com/episodes/BABF10 [snpp.com]

Game Type (1)

BlueLightSpecial (898144) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008583)

I'd definately have to say that it'd be a first person shooter, set in WWII, Jesus- the one man nazi killing machine o wait..... thats medal of honor, minus the Jesus

Re:Game Type (1)

Chemical (49694) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008755)

Well is already a "religious" FPS. Super Noah's Ark 3D was an unlicensed hack of Wolfenstein 3D for the SNES. Instead of killing Nazis though, you have to put rogue animals to "sleep".

Super 3D Noah's Ark (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009219)

Super Noah's Ark 3D was an unlicensed hack of Wolfenstein 3D for the SNES.

"Unlicensed" by Nintendo but "licensed" by Id Software. The Super NES version of Super 3D Noah's Ark [wisdomtreegames.com] looked like a Game Genie accessory or a Sonic & Knuckles cartridge because it used a "passthrough" for the Super NES's improved lockout chip that didn't succumb to the -5V trick that Wisdom Tree used in its NES games. The player put any standard game carrying a Nintendo Seal into the top slot and plugged the top into the Super NES. It is known that Id licensed the Wolf3d engine to Wisdom Tree; it is thought that Id did so as a protest against the censorship of Wolfenstein 3D.

There already is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13008762)

it's called counter-strike

It's all in the intent (1)

ashground (760276) | more than 8 years ago | (#13008941)

Games as a tool for spreading religion doesn't work. It's exactly why I don't listen to much Christian music -- I hate listening to the 'salvation message' in every track on every CD (I'm saying this as a Christian who has worked at a Christian bookstore for a year -- there really is some good Christian music, but most of it is utter crap lyrically). People don't want to play a game that's trying to convert them.

On the other hand, religious video games can be fantastic. Final Fantasy Tactics, anyone? Love it or hate it, Xenogears?

"Christian" video games can be just fine. The problem is that most "Christian" publishers have the mentality that if it's not 'saving souls' it's not worth publishing. It's all about conversion. And I wish it wasn't so.

Re:It's all in the intent (1)

Tanmi-Daiow (802793) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009037)

i totally agree. I play drums in my praise band at church. That is the only time ill listen to praise music. its all the same. Afterwards i go home to my rock, mostly secular. I was talkin to a guy in a christian rock band, and he said he did the same thing. If you like a band, listen to them. Doesnt matter if they are preachin what you agree with.

The problem is innate to the medium (1)

Dissonant (125475) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009342)

I can't speak for any religions outside of the "big three", but one of the central themes of Christianity, Judaism and Islam is that the will of God is ultimately unopposable. Humanity is helpless, and everything that happens is absolutely preordained. The stories encoded in the base texts of the religions happened as they did because they absolutely could not have happened any other way. Basically, there is nothing anyone can do to change what's to come, we have no control over what happens to us.

This is not a very good match for a medium whose sole distinuishing feature is its interactivity.

Here's another idea: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13009426)

How about a homosexual themed FPS where you run around shooting sperm at your enemies? It'd be as gay as this story...

I could see how this would make pretty good games (1)

Lothars (898157) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009569)

I really could see that depending on the type of games they make, it could really be interesting of course it really depends on the take of the game and the type of it as well I would like to see some religious games, might actually be pretty cool of course though it could be terrible as well We will see if it goes anywhere.

WWJP? (1)

OpenSourceOfAllEvil (716426) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009612)

Most comments here seem to be missing the point. Any group of people that can be categorized is a potential market. If you can name a large demographic then there are advertising campaigns and products that target them.

It's not about whether you would play such a game or even what you think about the people that would play one. It's about who is going to be the first to successfully tackle that market.

Religion + videogames = disservice to both (1)

syntaxglitch (889367) | more than 8 years ago | (#13009672)

Religion in videogames is a terrible idea. Go play a random RPG and watch them babble philosophy that make the Matrix's sophmoric concepts look deep and well-explained in comparison, and spew crappy arm-chair psychology as part of 'character development'. Does anyone REALLY want that level of shoddy, shallow treatment applied to religion?
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