Editorial: Videogame Gods Are Made Of Cake

Hello, my darling Lusi-sprites.

We seem to live in a world where if you sneeze the wrong way someone will be offended, if you are short someone will be offended, or if you are ginger, well, everyone will be offended, and your mother does not love you. We are, to put it simply, an offendable lot. Or at least, some people are, and those same people have big goddamn mouths, and ruin everything for everyone else. Game developers and other media types need to be so careful in regards to how violent, how sexual, and how offensive their content is, or else they get backhanded by the ratings board and angry housewives start letter writing campaigns asking stores to please not sell the big mean scary game. Personally, I am as difficult to offend as it gets. Sex? Drugs? Violence? Racism? Sexism? Bring it!

As our Autumn of X playthrough of Xenogears draws near, I find myself wondering at how forgiving we are when it comes to religious content in games. Of course there are always shrill harpies who will screetch in protest, but by and large, religious content tends to be given a free pass in games. The killjoys tend to be more concerned with sex and violence. Oh sure, if they add Jesus to the roster for the next King of Fighters game, people will get their panties in a big old twist, but beyond that, most people do not care. Or perhaps it would be more apt to say that most people do not pay enough attention to the nuances of a game to actually clue into the fact that Fei is going to punk God out, or that Ark in Terranigma is, you know, named in the Biblical sense.

Many games villify organized religion or the concept of a God. “God” is more often than not some sinister being, toying with mankind like so many …. uh, toys. Sometimes “God” is going to destroy the world. Sometimes “God” is just a big fat lie and the real villan is “The Church” which may or may not have an actual name. These guys, oh man. What a bunch of rude guses. They lie, murder, exploit the masses and carefully cover it all up (until you as the hero rip them apart and restore a new order). Hmm, I suddenly have a hankering to play Final Fantasy Tactics.

Sure, sometimes videogame religions are harmless. There will always be helpful Orders of the White Mage to heal our boo-boos, and random churches and shrines where one can be healed (for a modest fee) and save their progress. I do not mean these people any disrespect, of course, and I thank them for their kind Curaga spells, and Raises and even the occasional removing of a curse.

I do not precisely know what my “point” is. I just find it amusing that as long as we do not use the names of existing religions or religious figures, we can get away with damn near anything religion-wise in a game. Maybe nobody actually cares if a game makes religions and Gods in general look bad, or maybe they just do not pay that much attention. Whatever the reason, I am just glad that people’s hyper-sensitivity to religious views has not impacted my gaming experience too severely.

0 comments

  1. This is an interesting point. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of this stems from the fact that ultra violent and/or sexy video games make good news clips, whereas you can’t sum up a game’s worth of religious undertones with a single censored screenshot or video clip you can play in the background while a new anchor acts offended.

  2. Also, I’m offended by the Ethos taking offense at the lack of pictures. What ever happened to good old-fashioned reading? Are words not good enough for you, media boy?

  3. I’m offended by the excessive amount of Ethos in this post.

    @Darth: That may be a contributing factor, too. Too much work and/or effort. Which is fine by me, leave my RPGs alone, plz. I don’t care if you kill a creator-god which is actually a robotic dinosaur from the planet Zorg or wtfever. It’s a game. :p

  4. Who cares about this post? I’m offended by the excessive amount of Ethos on this planet. Something should be done about it.

    What DG said is a big part of the point at issue. Also, sex sells. Being seen to encourage religious argumentation doesn’t sell so much and will likely just get one bad press, pun not intended.

    Ultimately, “Boobs Before Bibles” seems to be the predominant market theory, and makes for less acidic forum discussion.

  5. I too agree with the Gibblet. I can’t see any news programs posting a picture of the Asura summon (FFIV) and going on a tirade about its bastardization of the Hindu deity.

    But there is one other factor as well that presents a good question to our readers: how would you even work religion into a game? The number of sexually-explicit, drug-filled, blood-covered video games on the market is enough to make the average fundie shit a crucifix-shaped brick. But of games that make significant (either subtle or explicit) reference to religion…hmm, there’s FFT as you mentioned, Dante’s Inferno was a laughable attempt, the release of El Shaddai will be another instance. Its more complicated, more difficult, and thus, not worth the effort to try offending us with religion when developers can offend us with pixelated boobies.

  6. Has everyone forgotten how Little Big Planet had to be recalled by Sony because the Muslims kicked up a fuss about one of the songs having a line from the Quoran? And has everyone forgotten that online fighting game that was pulled because Muslims kicked up a fuss because it had depictions of Mohammad?

    More people need to insult Islam, they’re a bunch of thin skinned cry babies.

  7. @Ginia: That game would be a day one purchase for me. Seriously, how could that NOT be worth the money?

    @Lusi: Boobs Before Bibles would be a great name for a rock band

    @Jenifer: While they don’t go after a specific religion by name, I think many of the SMT games allow you to choose between “God”, “Satan”, and “Humanity” endings (I haven’t played many of them, though, so I’m not sure how frequently this happens in the series). It does take quite a bit more doing, though, and I’m glad games are to the point where they can do stuff like that instead of “Him bad guy, go hit with stick until head explode! BOOBS!”

  8. @DG Perhaps that could be incorporated into Lusipurr’s Fountain of Perpetual Disappointment

  9. I’m offended by ginia’s new word “roffensive”. Haha, not really. It made me laugh. Someone define it!

  10. What are all of these words doing here? Where are the boobs?!

  11. I’m also curious as to what a “modet fee” is!

    Also, good point NooB. That made me remember that the music for the Fire Temple in Ocarina of Time had that same issue that LittleBigPlanet had!

  12. @SN – Thanks for that! I was starting to go through UNDERwithdraw.

  13. America freaks the fuck out any time religion is mentioned in a game, unless it’s the “Left Behind” game where you can literally play the forces of the antichrist and kill Christians. I mean, Timothy LaHaye’s “theology” is about as harebrained as they come, but a game based off of it gets made, while Final Fantasy mention of “goddesses” drew harsh glares from self-censoring publishers worried that the Jesus contingent would freak out.

    When in reality, no one really cared. People that religious weren’t about to let their kids play a fantasy roleplaying game anyway.

  14. Do fundamentalist Christians complain the same way about Harry Potter games as they do the books?

  15. Always fun to remember how Breath of Fire II and III got away with highly controversial despictions of God and the church in a time where EVERYTHING got censored. Guess not many people played them.

  16. I actually did have a friend whose mother we had to convince to let her play Final Fantasy because it contained black magic. Fundies are ridiculous >.>