In reality, however, these are not "god games" at all, in the sense that the player is truly controlling the One True Deity. These games are antitheist in the exact opposite way the Halos of the world are. Where god-devoid games like Metal Gear Solid allow the player to exercise some control over the world, these player-as-god games must actually redefine the idea of "god" in order to prevent the player having too much control. The player-god of these "god games" is not all-powerful, and thus is not, by current religious definition, God at all. Perhaps it would be more accurate to refer to Black & White as a "demi-god game."

In Civilization and Spore, the player's powers don't extend beyond the realm of the currently possible (terraforming and planet-busting bombs notwithstanding), nor do they extend past the player's chosen race or nation. If the player is indeed a god, then he's only the god of a particular group of people on a particular planet - his direct influence on sentient beings goes no further than that. Even Black & White, a game where the player can conjure fire and water with a few mouse clicks, focuses much of its gameplay on forcing the player's god to extend his limited influence and defeat other, similarly geographically-restricted gods in what can only be described as god versus god combat.


These not-quite-gods are, once again, necessitated by mainstream design philosophies. If the player inhabited the body of a true god, becoming omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, then the game is over: There's no more challenge to be had if the player can snap his fingers and end wars, no sense of progression if the player begins the game with the ability to influence the entire cosmos. Though Black & White 2 took the idea of progression and linear goals a little too far (prompting GameSpy to characterize the campaign mode as "reducing a god's rise to power to a checklist of tasks that must be completed to advance"), its design choices were very much in line with the gaming community's demands for an accessible strategy game. The player never gets to explore the logistical and philosophical ramifications of being all-powerful - the sorts of things that would make for a truthful and truly interesting god game - but instead trudges through a typical world conquest scenario. Conventional design seems either to necessitate the total lack of a god, or the existence of a gimped, player-controlled one.

But what about games focused on killing God?

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