Bioshock Infinite, Religion and Refunds

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So, the baptism scene at the beginning of Bioshock Inifnite has created some controversy.

For those who don't know the scene, the character is forced to accept baptism in order to enter Columbia.

Kotaku has reported that one gamer has demanded and received a refund, claiming he can't play it.

In his letter to Valve, he says this section of the game is so offensive to his religion, he couldn't go on playing it. He also compares it to a Muslim player being forced to spit in the face of Allah.

You can find the letter in full, here: http://kotaku.com/some-dont-like-bioshocks-forced-baptism-enough-to-as-473178476?utm_campaign=Socialflow_Kotaku_Facebook&utm_source=Kotaku_Facebook&utm_medium=Socialflow

Opinion time! I personally think there's a lot of bullshit going on here. The brutal killing, setting people on fire, electrocuting them, etc is clearly visible in the trailers and the box, of course, warns of this yet this baptism is what offends his religion the most. I find it hard to believe that a well balanced person can't separate himself from a fictional character, anyway.

I also find it to be a BS reason to get a refund.

That being said, perhaps a warning on the box or the description, along with the warnings of violence and so on, wouldn't be a bad idea. "Warning, strong themes of religion requiring player interaction."

I also found his letter to be kind of rude and self righteous.

What do you think? Is he right? Wrong? Full of it? A hero?

Did a man break into his house and attempt to baptize him before he went on in the game?

No?

Then it's not a real baptism and doesn't apply. Ridiculous. He has a problem with baptism but if he were to move on a few minutes after the baptism would be have a problem grinding a mans face into pulp with a spinning hook?

What? How narrow-minded is that? I'm not religious, but I can still enjoy the Qu'ran, Torah, Bible, and so on. Does he think he can just live his life in an echo chamber without exposing himself to the ideals of others?

Get real.

R.Nevermore:
Did a man break into his house and attempt to baptize him before he went on in the game?

No?

Then it's not a real baptism and doesn't apply. Ridiculous. He has a problem with baptism but if he were to move on a few minutes after the baptism would be have a problem grinding a mans face into pulp with a spinning hook?

That's the worst thing, in my opinion; he goes on about how the baptism isn't mentioned in the trailer or anything but we all know the violence is. So, according to him, getting a bit wet is worse than the whole skyhook grinding business with Christianity. I'd be on his side if the game was advertised as a family friendly romp, where you play as a man visiting a sky city where nothing bad happens.

I would have thought it clear that acts that would generally be perceived as immoral in real life *cough* such as rampant murder *cough* are acceptable when virtual, otherwise this player would have to limit himself to not playing anything above about a +3 age rating. Is virtual blasphemy really worse than virtual murder? I wonder if this player would also refuse to read a book or watch a movie where the protagonist gets a false baptism?

...

Not feasible to warn everyone about something that might be against their religion.

Now, I can understand him deciding not to keep playing, fair enough, and that'd make him annoyed, but there's nothing that can be done about it.

Wow, thats pretty lame. As others have stated, the fact that being baptised in a game is more offensive to someone than killing people on a massive scale in gruesome ways is pretty fucked. I found a number of things in the game that were far more potentially offensive than that one scene (I wasn't actually offended by them). Its not like I, as an atheist, would demand my money back, as I don't believe in baptism.

Well, it's not that I couldn't see warnings on the box about religion being equally warranted to violence or discrimination, as it's an expression of those. It's just that all such warning labels are idiotic, as fiction is fiction.

I don't understand. The writer says he is a Christian and can't be baptized? Did I read this correctly? This doesn't make any sense. As a Christian this is one of the most important rites there are. So he is saying he can't do something he has already done in real life? I think I need this explained for me or it's just too early in the morning for me to comprehend.

BlackConservative:
I don't understand. The writer says he is a Christian and can't be baptized? Did I read this correctly? This doesn't make any sense. As a Christian this is one of the most important rites there are. So he is saying he can't do something he has already done in real life? I think I need this explained for me or it's just too early in the morning for me to comprehend.

I think that it's because it's a fake baptism or something, your character doesn't take it seriously and just does it to get to the next thing, or something.

Alternatively, the complainer is from a christian group which is opposed to baptism.

That's... odd. I mean, the game certainly didn't make any qualms about being sensitive in regards to religion. Granted, I haven't played it yet, but the rhetoric quite often sounded decidedly racist and Christian fundamentalist. The rhetoric of the villains, mind. Now, I have played Quake 4 once. Talk about lack of consent regarding what happens to the player character... Bioshock Infinite appears to try to be controversial regarding religion. Nobody can claim false advertising or anything of the sort on this issue. Hell, I'm quite clearly an Atheist but I would view that as just another annoying to atrocious thing (depending what form this baptism takes exactly) happening to a character, little more.

thaluikhain:
Not feasible to warn everyone about something that might be against their religion

WARNING:
Orcs consume pork. If the consumption thereof is offensive to you for religious reasons or otherwise, please be advised and consider choosing a different game.
image

Well, there are some Christian groups who split over as small an issue as whether baptism requires one to be fully immersed in water, or if simply sprinkling water on the head is ok. This stuff is SRS BSNS to some people.

Wat?

So on a screen in front of him, some pixels move around in an approximation of water flowing over the head of the person he is controlling. How is this a problem? I could understand if you had to stand in front of a camera and actually baptise yourself in order to progress, but you obviously don't, because that would be buttfucking retarded.

Someone needs to realise that Christianity is so diverse and ambiguous, there's always a faction of it that causes offence to some other faction. People have been burnt alive over the differences. Any portrayal of Christianity is going to offend a Christian somewhere. The only way not to cause offence is to not portray any kind of Christianity whatsoever. But even that would be offensive. Someone needs to realise Columbia isn't his version of Christianity, so stop worrying.

Like hes going to get to saint peter and find out "sorry, no can do, you took the baptism in bioshock infinite, yeah a lot of people fell for that, enjoy hell!"

BlackConservative:
I don't understand. The writer says he is a Christian and can't be baptized? Did I read this correctly? This doesn't make any sense. As a Christian this is one of the most important rites there are. So he is saying he can't do something he has already done in real life? I think I need this explained for me or it's just too early in the morning for me to comprehend.

Baptism being a one time event is a big deal for some flavors of Christianity, so the fact that he's already done it may be the problem. Though he's still taking pressing x way too seriously.

Warning: Game contains graphic scenes of the player character's head dipped in water. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
So let me get this right: He's okay with the genetic modification, shooting people up, and using the genetic modifications to kill people in 'creative' ways, but once it comes to having a dunk in the river he goes bonkers?

This guy is either a Grade-F moron or a complete lying asshole. "Oh, the baptism violates my delicate sensibilities and would be an incredible blasphemy against my religion! Why can't you remove it so that I can move on to committing mass slaughter?"

This is an incredible example, though. First, it's an example of how Valve will bend over backwards to accomodate even the most ridiculous among their customers. Second, if I ever need to answer the question "Well, what exactly does "douchebag" mean as an insult?", I can pull this up and not utter another word.

I bet this guy is the life of the party.

Uhm? Why is this offensive? I haven't played the game but I bet that being forced to have a baptism was portrayed in a negative light. Its portraying something thats against your faith. Does that mean this person doesn't play games where the bad guys do other nasty things, or his is interpretation of religion so shallow he can't see past the obvious? I'm Christian and I think this guy is both thin skinned and a bit on the foolish side.

Shock and Awe:
Uhm? Why is this offensive? I haven't played the game but I bet that being forced to have a baptism was portrayed in a negative light. Its portraying something thats against your faith. Does that mean this person doesn't play games where the bad guys do other nasty things, or his is interpretation of religion so shallow he can't see past the obvious? I'm Christian and I think this guy is both thin skinned and a bit on the foolish side.

Personally, I feel like he's causing trouble for attention. This whole thing seems weak and full of holes.

There's a difference between something offending you and something being offensive.

This complaint is ridiculous.

I'd politely tell him to fuck off. First of all, if you can't separate yourself from the character, there's something wrong with you. Secondly, if you can't commit an action in a videogame recognizing that its a ficticious act, part of an experience, there's something wrong with you. Guy shouldn't even be playing any game in the first place if he can't go through with that, and if his god is so unforgiving about getting fake baptised in a videogame that is making a commentary about religious cults, among other things, than thats a god not worth your time.

Sounds like 2K just decided it would be less of a headache to provide a refund as opposed to fight a legal or PR battle. By and large everyone has the same opinion that is prominent on this thread, the guy is a loon however they can't treat him like one he is after all a paying customer. Treat one gamer with "disrespect" you lose droves, treat one gamer with respect and suddenly you are the benevolent developer/publisher and people are on your side.

To be generous I can kind of see why a baptism might offend a player of a certain religious bent while the bloodshed might not. Flying through the air in a fantasy land blowing away cartoonishly evil minions with psychic powers[1] is so detached from reality that it's easy to take part in. Taking part in a much more real-world activity like a baptism is a lot closer-to-home and presumably more difficult to swallow as being "just part of roleplay or escapism". I'm pretty sure we could all think of something that we personally would balk at doing for our own reasons, but which wouldn't cause the censors to even raise their eyebrows.

For example,

Still, surely the guy could just have had a friend skip through the baptism section if it pained him so much, and enjoyed the rest of the game? It seems an overblown complaint to say the least.

[1] I've not played the game but I think this is a fair appraisal of the "action" content?

ninjaRiv:
Wow... Grey tweeted this comment he found on Kotaku

http://kotaku.com/im-so-sick-of-people-trying-to-come-don-on-christians-f-473332739

Yeah, I lost it at "Nudity is far more damaging to a person than violence." No, it isn't. You bloody clown. Seeing a pair of boobs will NEVER damage anyone unless the dancer gets too close and you get slapped in the face with them. I swear, America needs to get over its backwards fear of the human body. YOU LIVE INSIDE ONE.

dmase:
Sounds like 2K just decided it would be less of a headache to provide a refund as opposed to fight a legal or PR battle. By and large everyone has the same opinion that is prominent on this thread, the guy is a loon however they can't treat him like one he is after all a paying customer. Treat one gamer with "disrespect" you lose droves, treat one gamer with respect and suddenly you are the benevolent developer/publisher and people are on your side.

Steam, actually. It's actually got to the point that I'm now very suspicious of them because of their niceness. Something's up.

Aris Khandr:

ninjaRiv:
Wow... Grey tweeted this comment he found on Kotaku

http://kotaku.com/im-so-sick-of-people-trying-to-come-don-on-christians-f-473332739

Yeah, I lost it at "Nudity is far more damaging to a person than violence." No, it isn't. You bloody clown. Seeing a pair of boobs will NEVER damage anyone unless the dancer gets too close and you get slapped in the face with them. I swear, America needs to get over its backwards fear of the human body. YOU LIVE INSIDE ONE.

I wonder if he'd be offended by your choice of football team. "How dare you support something with the word arse in it!!!" I find that people like this look for offence and try their best to cause it.

The scene served an important purpose... that I won't state here. If it was there for no reason other than to maybe potentially offend some sensitive bastard, then maybe I'd think he had a little bit of ground to stand on. But nope, this guy is left floundering in the ocean because that is an important scene in terms of the narrative.

LetalisK:

dmase:
Sounds like 2K just decided it would be less of a headache to provide a refund as opposed to fight a legal or PR battle. By and large everyone has the same opinion that is prominent on this thread, the guy is a loon however they can't treat him like one he is after all a paying customer. Treat one gamer with "disrespect" you lose droves, treat one gamer with respect and suddenly you are the benevolent developer/publisher and people are on your side.

Steam, actually. It's actually got to the point that I'm now very suspicious of them because of their niceness. Something's up.

That's weird, they have nothing to do with production or development just a pure distributor yet they are providing a refund? That is TOO nice.

MarsAtlas:
I'd politely tell him to fuck off. First of all, if you can't separate yourself from the character, there's something wrong with you.

I'll have to remember this the next time a non-White, female, or LGBT person complains about how they feel the need to connect to the character in a video game.

OP:Eh, I guess its fine as long as he isn't trying to get the game banned or something. Its $60 for the company, not really that big of a deal.

I'm basically an animist but I went through a born-again phase years and years ago and was even baptized in the process. To put it mildly, however, I was far more inclusive than exclusive in my approach to my religion even then.

Granted, I agree with everyone else here that it's almost ludicrous to be offended by the Baptism scene when the majority of the game (which I haven't played but have heard much of) revolves around killing. Having said that and having read the guy's letter I can actually grok the mindset where he's coming from, though.

The key to this guy's problem seems to be the degree of significance he (personally?) places on the ritual of being baptized. Given that there literally tens of thousands of Christian sects, denominations, etc and that some folks are even taught that "only the people from THIS particular church will go to heaven" it's easy for me to picture someone getting their feathers ruffled by what they consider a sacred ritual.

From the comments in the OP's link he wasn't the only one bugged by the baptism scene, either.

From the linked story:

*************

Others disliked the scene--and not always because of its religious roots. Some of the responses I got:

"I felt that it was ham-handed as hell."

"It was irritating. I don't take baptism seriously, so the religious implications didn't offend, but the absence of choice did."

"I find baptisms generally creepy, especially magnified by timing of opening with a altered version of a common Passover prayer. Additionally made weird considering release date was during Passover. Generally, being involved in religious ceremonies not my own is a strange feeling."

"Eye rolling, because it felt like a forced setup with overblown Christian symbolism. And the payoff in the ending angered me."

*************

It speaks well of Valve's customer service that they refunded the kid his money/credit. It also makes sense that they didn't begrudge doing so given that this probably isn't the sort of complaint they often run into.

In a game like Bioshock infinite people forget that they are playing a character, this is not the same thing as in B1. I didn't like not being able to avoid the baptism, but I don't forget that I'm playing a game as a character.

ninjaRiv:
Wow... Grey tweeted this comment he found on Kotaku

http://kotaku.com/im-so-sick-of-people-trying-to-come-don-on-christians-f-473332739

Well, it's quite logical from a Christian point of view that "god" should matter more than humans. There's already a thread here where the idea of letting one's entirely family die in order to stay true to Jesus' word and will is promoted.

That's how religion work and is to be understood: Placing (fictional) collective dogma over individual humanity. It's of course an absurd - and dangerous - notion to all who don't belong to the religion, but it makes all too perfect sense within the delusional dogmatic framework itself.

***

I guess the morale of the story is that one need only say that one's religion was offended to get a refund from US based companies. Religion is nothing if not exploitable, so it could bypass the hassle of having to explain and argue over the actual inadequacy of the product.

...I did not know that Command & Conquer 4 would suck exploit references to the parable of Kain and Abel in its B-movie cut scenes, in an insensitive manner grossly offensive to my... what to go with... Lutheranslamic faith! Where's my money, EA?!

I think most of us can agree that if you bought the game knowing there'd be killing (and buckets of it), and yet you're offended because the main character of the game you're playing gets (unwillingly) baptized, your priorities are all wrong.

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