In response to "A God Among Insects" from The Escapist Forum: I will admit that I never played with ants as a kid, and that was mostly due to the fact that I am an insectaphobe. However, I agree with the fact that the micro scale is far more interesting that the macro. That is why the Sims was so much more popular than SimCity or SimEarth. With each scale decrease, there is less automation of the subjects and more automation of the world. That way, you feel like you can actually interact with the things you are looking at, instead of making it rain and hoping they take out an umbrella.
In response to "Heathens by Design" from The Escapist Forum: This article badly conflates demigods / pagan gods with the Judeo-Christian God, and ends up a total mess.
God games put you in the role of a demigod, who has near-total control over the environment, but also has to follow certain rules and belong to a certain faction. Other games like System Shock, Portal or God of War pit you against a demigod, who appears to have total control over your environment - but also turns out to be limited and factional in the end.
No game that I know of has cast you in the role of an omniscient, omnipotent God - except insofar as that applies to the developer. Similarly, I don't know of any game that pits you against God, without applying some sort of disclaimer to make him less omnipotent than he seems. No conclusions can be drawn about theism/anti-theism in this regard from games, because games don't ask that question.
As far as Mario is concerned, Mario doesn't expect God to save the princess for him - which is exactly what Mario would expect if he were Christian. (Do you see God ending wars with a wave of his hand? No. So why would you expect it to happen to Mario?) So again, there's really no conclusion that can be gleaned from this.
Even God of War reveals the bankruptcy of your plan to kill a god - but that would be spoiler territory.
I just wanted to applaud the Escapist for daring to enter the troubled waters of religious discussion, and poking at games with the religion stick. As a game designer of many years, I can emphatically state that publishers deliberately stay away from something this touchy and controversial. And yet a quick glance at any news source shows the effect of religion on our daily lives. Games are a medium of expression, and in a perfect world game devs would be free to explore religion as well as any other topic. But the real world of corporate funded game development is governed by fear of litigation and negative publicity, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. Frankly this week's topic has worked as an artistic endeavor already, as I had NEVER thought about standard religion and games in any combined fashion prior to this. I don't know how games would incorporate religion into them, but it seems inconceivable that games would be the only artistic medium that did not.