Religions Role in Games?

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Stradigos
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Religions Role in Games?

Postby Stradigos » Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:16 pm

http://kotaku.com/5450014/questions-of- ... e-in-games

Thoughts? The discussion is very interesting as well. My best advice is to not take offense by what some of the people are posting. Instead, look at it as a design challenge.
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby andygeers » Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:27 am

Interesting article - thanks for sharing!

It's interesting that they're obviously talking about it from the perspective of games made my secular games companies - so the fear of offending whichever faith their game "discusses" is at the front of their mind. I hope that a game made by Christians about Christian belief would be much safer territory! (if done well, of course)

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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby JeTSpice » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:58 am

I thought it amazing that the comments were not riddled with derogatory off-topic remarks about Christianity. In every other article I've seen, that's usually what you get. What's happening to the internet?
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby Stradigos » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:16 am

It's interesting that they're obviously talking about it from the perspective of games made my secular games companies - so the fear of offending whichever faith their game "discusses" is at the front of their mind. I hope that a game made by Christians about Christian belief would be much safer territory! (if done well, of course)
True, but in some cases it might be harder to not offend. At least between Christians and 'the rest' there are two sides. If you make an openly Christian game and have Christians as your target market, that's still a lot of different sides to take on. Why? All the little different branches and doctrines. Do you make the game with catholic overtones? Do you portray Jesus as white, black or middle eastern? And if you intend on proving things about the Passion of Christ in your game, then there's finding and using (and making it fun) credible evidence (which can be debated by everyone).

In my opinion, depending on what someone is looking to do in their game, making it strictly for Christians might be even harder. We are finicky people! Lol.

It doesn't matter in my case though. I'm designing my game in a more layered way.
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby JeTSpice » Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:25 pm

great observations Stradigos.
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby cephron » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:59 pm

I have a couple of thoughts to bounce in this general direction.

From our (Christian) point of view, I see two main objectives in putting religion/faith into a game. It might be to reach out to non-Christians, perhaps planting some small seeds - to misquote a common saying, the game may be the only Bible they ever read. The second objective would be to strengthen the faith of those already belonging to Jesus.

For the second objective, the role of religion/faith in a game seems decently clear to me - in the protagonist's life, showcase common difficulties that Christians have with their faith, and as the story progresses, their brothers and/or mentors support them and help them grow. Basically, show a somewhat functional version of what fellowship and communion (the concept, not the ritual) are supposed to be. The story should be one that glorifies both our God and the in-game equivalent. A task by no means simple or easy, but at least a clear role.

For the first objective, things become a lot less clear to me. I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that blatantly labelling a game with such a purpose as "Christian" wouldn't attract much of the intended audience, and would certainly attract non-intended audiences (people out to bash and denounce God/Christianity/any sort of organized religion). I have often wondered if a sort of Chronicles-of-Narnia-esque approach would work better - namely, without making any direct references to God/Jesus/the Bible, draw the player into a world where they can see a contrast between what is holy and what is unholy. Lots of people are jaded about religion because they've seen so much hypocrisy come out of it, right? What if they saw characters/a story that initally attracts them because of the profound good it displays, and upon further investigation, turns out to be analogous to the gospel?

Actually, because I'm new here, I imagine much of this stuff is already well-known to everyone. Forgive me if I'm preaching to the choir here. ;)
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby Stradigos » Wed Jan 20, 2010 7:57 pm

Lots of people are jaded about religion because they've seen so much hypocrisy come out of it, right? What if they saw characters/a story that initally attracts them because of the profound good it displays, and upon further investigation, turns out to be analogous to the gospel?
You've just outlined the mission statement I follow more or less. People look around this world all the time and wonder "where is God in all of this?" God still does his miracles behind the scenes, but the time has come and gone for God to use them to establish his credibility (like through out the bible). History has been written. Eye witness accounts have been recorded. 'Proving' is no longer his agenda. 'Believing' is now ours. Bottom line? We, as Christians, are the hands and feet of God now. There is POWER when the body of Christ shows up and touches a persons life.

My game won't go over Sunday school topics. It will look at humanity - the good and the bad - and how faith works inside of it. It's not going to be all sunshine either. People have their secrets, their dark places... faith has it's gray areas and fine lines. It's going to explore all of that. At least that's what I hope to do with it.

BTW - The Book of Eli movie was AWESOME. Definitely got my creative juices flowing.

PS: Nah, your not preaching to the choir XD
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby JeTSpice » Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:12 pm

I agree as well. Although creating a game for either of the two purposes stated (and currently, most Christian games are for Christians) qualifies in my mind, I'm leaning here and there toward trying to harness both.

I think that using a symbolic approach (or alegory) is the way to do it. Jesus says this, too -- he speaks to the crowds in parables but to his disciples he gives the interpretation of the parables.

Following his example, we might have an alegorical game and entrust that our symbolism and analogy was accurate enough to allow Christians to interpret the game for others. Probably posting "the answer" in a forum is a poor way of doing this. But allowing God-fearing people to teach others the interpretation is probably good.

Personally, in skillfully crafting an analogy, I think it's important that it cannot be used by other religions and wicked interpretations of the word. Contrarily, I think the expose of the Word through symbolism ought to be so thorough and tight that fights against those ideologies in the minds of the players.
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby HanClinto » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:15 pm

JeTSpice wrote:Personally, in skillfully crafting an analogy, I think it's important that it cannot be used by other religions and wicked interpretations of the word. Contrarily, I think the expose of the Word through symbolism ought to be so thorough and tight that fights against those ideologies in the minds of the players.
Do you think this is feasible? I'm not sure how to do this without making the game play out like the Westminster Confession of Faith.

It almost seems like in order for something to be exclusively Christian it must be comprehensively Christian.

Unless you're not pushing it to such extremes, and are just trying to reasonably cover your bases.

--clint
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby samw3 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:31 am

An allegory by it's own nature is incomplete. Every one of them breaks down at some point.

Imagine a story that parallels the story of Jesus and the redemption of the world exactly: the miracles, the teachings, passion, resurrection, etc. ... except that Christ is a woman and Jehovah is a goddess. That would be a very close allegory, nearly perfect symbolism, and yet would most likely rake against the majority of Christians.

Many like the allegory of Aslan as Christ in the Narnia series, but what about a hypothetical person who lost a loved one to a lion attack?

I think allegories do not need to be complete. No matter what you do you will encourage some and offend others.

When painting Christ in our games, we can choose to paint in the near photographic detail of the realist or the stippled dots of the impressionist, or even the abstract form and colors of the cubist, but it should come from who we are. Pour yourself into your work, and if you are a person who honors Christ in your life, lead by his Spirit, it will show as a witness.

...and if you're just a mediocre hypocrite trying to sell Jesus it'll show too, unfortunately.

My two cents :)
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby jesblood » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:55 am

I personally think it is possible to have a game that discusses Christ and his glory openly without having to resort to Narnia-ism. (Not that I oppose such a game) Tron was a great alogorical story for Christ in the movie medium.

My game centers itself on a broken family with it's cast of characters and how God has worked both behind and in front of the scenes to reunite them into a solid unit. The game will follow the player's character and the NPC's lives and the decisions they make. Most people won't even know God is involved until the second Game of a three game story arch.

I hope, with God's Spirit, to enrich people's lives through exsposure to God's love through the scifi opera of the game's story not through Jesus lessons 101.

@ Sawm3

I couldn't have put it better myself. Someone will always find fault in anything any of us do. Just follow God's Spirit and make the game he placed on the inside of you.
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby RockinRickOwen » Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:34 am

I think the main problem to overcome with an openly Christian game is who will buy it? Probably just Christians. It's like all those "positive thinking" books. Who buys them? Positive thinkers! They buy them to reinforce their confidence in positive thinking.

There's nothing wrong with helping or encouraging our fellow believers in their faith, but any evangelism will be lost with an open approach--the non Christian gamers will be completely turned off and cynical about such a thing.

That's the issue that needs to somehow be overcome.

I suggest a game which has the usual appealing factors (design, story, gameplay, etc) but presents sin and its consequences, and then offers different options for salvation (door numbers 1, 2, 3, etc).

And again, to be honest, that salvation has to be more of a promise, as many of us, who are saved, still struggle with our sin nature. And will do so until the resurrection of the dead.
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, "Will ye also go away?" Then Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the Living God." John 6:67-69
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby Lazarus » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:35 am

RockinRickOwen wrote:I think the main problem to overcome with an openly Christian game is who will buy it? Probably just Christians. It's like all those "positive thinking" books. Who buys them? Positive thinkers! They buy them to reinforce their confidence in positive thinking.
...really? I thought people who were negative thinkers bought those books to learn how to change their attitude. :/
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby jesblood » Sun Jan 31, 2010 10:25 pm

There's nothing wrong with helping or encouraging our fellow believers in their faith, but any evangelism will be lost with an open approach--the non Christian gamers will be completely turned off and cynical about such a thing.
My game will probably be geared more towards fellow believers than the unsaved. It's more of an uplifting game designed to go deeper and further into understanding the mysteries of God and just how great and POWERFUL his love is for us as well as how far he's willing to go to make us whole.

If non believers pick it up and like it. Awesome. If it plants a seed, that's even better. If not oh well. God be praised anyway.

Love ya bro. I see where your logic is coming from.
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby RockinRickOwen » Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:52 am

Thanks guys,

And, sorry, I don't think I was clear about one thing in that last post:
There's only ONE salvation from our problems, and that's Yeshua the Messiah.
Other proposed doors/options would be appealing, but ultimately fail.
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, "Will ye also go away?" Then Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the Living God." John 6:67-69
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby jesblood » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:48 am

Your welcome Rick.

However I want to add something I forgot to mention in my earlier post as well. I really believe that if we listen to God's Spirit and make the game he envisioned in us then I think we'll be in for some real surprises.

Even though my game, for example, is mostly geared towards fellow believers I may find in the end that it ends up reaching the lost more than edifiying the church. Only God knows.

I would just encourage everyone here to be careful and try not to lock God in a box of our limited expectations.

Love you guys. Blessings
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Re: Religions Role in Games?

Postby Matt Langley » Mon Feb 01, 2010 3:49 pm

I think religion can have a profound role in games, just like any other topic. I know philosophical concepts are some of the best parts of the games I like.

The problem to me is religion as a content and topic vs. the goal of converting people. There's a big difference between expressing a topic or concept (religious or not), even representing why you think it's right or wrong, and attempting to convert people to it (which often is implying that it's the only way or some other conversion tactic like that).

People can typically sense when they are trying to be converted, whether it's a Christian, a Jew, or a Politically aligned person whose attempting the conversion. This is a huge turn off. I know it is to me. If you believe what you hold is the truth then all you need to do is express it and discuss it (even express why you value it) and there is no conversion needed. You need too sell or convert to something that isn't quite so convincingly true (or to someone who isn't agreeing and seemingly won't agree in the near term).

There are quite a few games that involve religious content and concepts, they often do so in made up lore or worlds though that doesn't mean they don't contain powerful messages and concepts. I think this is a good approach since it helps to not come across as converting, even if the theme is faith or believing. People will resonate with that and it might empower them to agree or discover some truth of their own.

A lot of this I think comes down to communicating the similarities and not the differences. When you want someone to understand your perspective and have a possibility of seeing the "truth" in it, you don't point out all the differences, you point out all the similarities. For a Christian to a non-Christian it may be pointing out love, compassion, forgiveness, etc. Find things that most people will have in common and express religion in a comfortable and common way and through that lens. If you want to communicate something to someone you try to relate to them and express something that they can relate to you with, you don't shove your differences in beliefs down their throat, that's about pride not about truth.

I think Christians have a hard time doing this (harder that some of other beliefs) because Christianity is one of those religions where "We are right and everyone else is wrong" is a common attitude and belief. This comes through in the message and is a huge turn off. Just think how you would respond to someone who expressed that concept to you. Such is a prideful concept, even the most devout and faithful Christian can't know everything and have a perfect view of the truth, they are still flawed as a human. Sharing what you believe is the truth is never about you being right and others being wrong, but about sharing, about compassion, about sharing what you feel is a truthful understanding. If you have security in your beliefs then you should be calm and patient, you should be able to communicate with someone relating to their own beliefs even if they are different, you can accept that you may believe you have the truth but that you make mistakes too and may be just as "wrong" as someone else, that even if you have the absolute truth then it's not about "you" being right or about someone else being "wrong" but about communication and sharing.

Christianity isn't the only religion that is like this, but being as huge as it is and with as many offshoots as it has it is often the most obvious one.

My thoughts at least.
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