205: The Parables of Gaming

The Parables of Gaming

Religion and videogames mix like oil and water, with religious principles usually being tacked onto an ill-suited game design. However, one church Youth Director and Pastor in training sees a better way forward. He also happens to be a serious Call of Duty 4 player.

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Oh, man, this article is going to open a whole truck full of cans of worms. It seems that any discussion of religion 'round these here parts brings out all the sign-toting shouters.

Anyway, the primary issue with morality-driven gameplay is the same one that arises with movies or books brought to us by "great" authors or directors- they tend to assume that we, the audience, are too stupid to grasp anything subtle and therefore beat us about the head with their message, because it is vitally important that we listen to these people who are obviously smarter than us and know what's best for us.

I still believe that the best, and really only, way to have a discourse about morality, religion, etc. etc. is to actually TALK to other people.

What exactly is the moral of the Parable of the Talents? Is it that capitalism is good and rewarded by God, or to the talents represent something other than literally money? Presumably those children when trading candy were making decisions that they shrewdly knew would play to their advantage and leave the other participant disadvantaged, was that entirely moral? At the end the master orders the 'bad' servant killed -- what is this supposed to represent, divine retribution or earthly punishment?

I really don't like this parable because either it implies that God rewards the rich and punishes the poor because they are lazy OR it implies that the talents are in fact SOULS and that God will reward you in heaven according to how many people you convert (the corollory being only evangelical Christians will be saved by God). Life is not a game of poker played for souls with God stacking the deck.

That said, I did like your bit about examining these ratings of morality of Fallout, COD4 and GTA.

I see morality and gaming compatible, although i think it is easier to express moral ideas through story-driven game play rather than through the actual gameplay itself. Assasins Creed for instance seemed quite Utilitarian- kill a few to save the many.

Kevvers:
What exactly is the moral of the Parable of the Talents? Is it that capitalism is good and rewarded by God, or to the talents represent something other than literally money? Presumably those children when trading candy were making decisions that they shrewdly knew would play to their advantage and leave the other participant disadvantaged, was that entirely moral? At the end the master orders the 'bad' servant killed -- what is this supposed to represent, divine retribution or earthly punishment?

I really don't like this parable because either it implies that God rewards the rich and punishes the poor because they are lazy OR it implies that the talents are in fact SOULS and that God will reward you in heaven according to how many people you convert (the corollory being only evangelical Christians will be saved by God). Life is not a game of poker played for souls with God stacking the deck.

That said, I did like your bit about examining these ratings of morality of Fallout, COD4 and GTA.

I do believe the moral of that parable is that you should use your talents and develop them, but I could be wrong.

Kevvers:
What exactly is the moral of the Parable of the Talents? Is it that capitalism is good and rewarded by God, or to the talents represent something other than literally money? Presumably those children when trading candy were making decisions that they shrewdly knew would play to their advantage and leave the other participant disadvantaged, was that entirely moral? At the end the master orders the 'bad' servant killed -- what is this supposed to represent, divine retribution or earthly punishment?

Yeah, the money isn't literal money at all. Lemme explain:

The parable is imagery on the gift that God gave us in Christ. All three men were given the same gift of salvation and forgiveness. The two men went off and 'multiplied', meaning they lived their gift, shared it with others, and caused it to spread (Or multiply). The other man, however, hid that gift in the ground and didn't share or help or show anyone.

The other two men were blessed because they made USE of the gift.
The other man received death because he wasted it.

Finally, God doesn't reward you based on how many people you save. We can be living out this gift we've been given in Christ and not 'save' anyone (Though I don't like that term, since it implies men save men, not God). I'd say the focus of the parable shouldn't be on the men who multiplied their gift, but rather the man who hid it and did nothing. God calls Christians to actively live out their faith, not hide it away only to dust it off on Sundays.

On topic: Interesting article! This is a good issue! I gotta remember these.

Baby Tea:

Kevvers:
What exactly is the moral of the Parable of the Talents? Is it that capitalism is good and rewarded by God, or to the talents represent something other than literally money? Presumably those children when trading candy were making decisions that they shrewdly knew would play to their advantage and leave the other participant disadvantaged, was that entirely moral? At the end the master orders the 'bad' servant killed -- what is this supposed to represent, divine retribution or earthly punishment?

Yeah, the money isn't literal money at all. Lemme explain:

The parable is imagery on the gift that God gave us in Christ. All three men were given the same gift of salvation and forgiveness. The two men went off and 'multiplied', meaning they lived their gift, shared it with others, and caused it to spread (Or multiply). The other man, however, hid that gift in the ground and didn't share or help or show anyone.

The other two men were blessed because they made USE of the gift.
The other man received death because he wasted it.

Finally, God doesn't reward you based on how many people you save. We can be living out this gift we've been given in Christ and not 'save' anyone (Though I don't like that term, since it implies men save men, not God). I'd say the focus of the parable shouldn't be on the men who multiplied their gift, but rather the man who hid it and did nothing. God calls Christians to actively live out their faith, not hide it away only to dust it off on Sundays.

Very well, although if it is a 'gift' it is rather a provisional one, as it seems if it is not used to giver's liking it is taken away again. If the point of this parable is to motivate modest Christians into being better people, then let me tell you it fails miserably.

Looking up on wikipedia there is yet another interesting interpretation that I was not aware of (attributed but unconfirmed to William Herzog)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Talents

Kevvers:
Very well, although if it is a 'gift' it is rather a provisional one, as it seems if it is not used to giver's liking it is taken away again. If the point of this parable is to motivate modest Christians into being better people, then let me tell you it fails miserably.

Looking up on wikipedia there is yet another interesting interpretation that I was not aware of (attributed but unconfirmed to William Herzog)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Talents

That's actually a very interesting read, and seems like a pretty solid interpretation.
I'm actually surprised that I have not heard that before, but it certainly makes sense.

I'll have to look into that a bit more!

It's a much more interesting twist to focus on promoting pro-social behavior than on religious iconography. That certainly seems more akin to what Jesus preached (though I am hardly a scholar on the matter.) The interpretation of his philosophies is of greater importance than waving around crosses, damnation, and other religious motifs.

Kevvers:

Baby Tea:

Kevvers:
What exactly is the moral of the Parable of the Talents? Is it that capitalism is good and rewarded by God, or to the talents represent something other than literally money? Presumably those children when trading candy were making decisions that they shrewdly knew would play to their advantage and leave the other participant disadvantaged, was that entirely moral? At the end the master orders the 'bad' servant killed -- what is this supposed to represent, divine retribution or earthly punishment?

Yeah, the money isn't literal money at all. Lemme explain:

The parable is imagery on the gift that God gave us in Christ. All three men were given the same gift of salvation and forgiveness. The two men went off and 'multiplied', meaning they lived their gift, shared it with others, and caused it to spread (Or multiply). The other man, however, hid that gift in the ground and didn't share or help or show anyone.

The other two men were blessed because they made USE of the gift.
The other man received death because he wasted it.

Finally, God doesn't reward you based on how many people you save. We can be living out this gift we've been given in Christ and not 'save' anyone (Though I don't like that term, since it implies men save men, not God). I'd say the focus of the parable shouldn't be on the men who multiplied their gift, but rather the man who hid it and did nothing. God calls Christians to actively live out their faith, not hide it away only to dust it off on Sundays.

Very well, although if it is a 'gift' it is rather a provisional one, as it seems if it is not used to giver's liking it is taken away again. If the point of this parable is to motivate modest Christians into being better people, then let me tell you it fails miserably.

Looking up on wikipedia there is yet another interesting interpretation that I was not aware of (attributed but unconfirmed to William Herzog)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Talents

I don't see how it fails - the moral is that God has given you gifts, and you should use them for the betterment of everyone around you. If you do not use these gifts, you not only do not help anyone, but you lost them as well, seeing as never actually using something is the same as losing it.

Anywho, I really agree with this article - just throwing the imagery of Christianity makes a game no more "good" (from a Christian perspective) then just having profanity or sexuality makes it bad. It's all in how the elements are used to tell the story and illicit emotions in the player, and teach a lesson.

I quite enjoyed this article. I have recently been considering the idea of creating a game that would motivate the player towards being Christlike but also realize the challenge of making a game that focuses on Christian values... well... fun! I think choice-based gameplay, along with action using the Sword of Truth (literally a sword in the game) could make for a compelling game. This article helped me see some more potential pitfalls, such as the negative impact of focusing on the player character as the "hero" and the need to express penalty for sin, not simply "prayer as a quick fix." I will have to spend a lot more time thinking about the implications of creating such a game.

I think there are two problems with morality in games, one of which The Rogue Wolf already pointed out.

First, morality is oftened approached as "what is right and wrong". Games reward and punish players based on this binary distinction. This implies that there is a right and wrong thing to do and that the player should always do the right thing. But who decides what is right? In the end, the game is preaching doctorine, rather than allowing players to develop morality. Few games, if any, leave us with multiple options, none of which are clearly more beneficial.

Besides, games are about achieving goals. If you can find a path to achieving that goal, you win. If there's only one path, you've defined what is right and wrong. If there are multiple paths, then any one wins you the game; why would morality determine what path you take?

The other problem is consequences. Morality is learned by making choices and having to live with your decisions. In video games, there are no real consequences. At worst, you lose and start again. Making the wrong decision is never more than an inconvenience to the player. How do you add any weight to that decision?

I think teaching morality is itself wrong, because it requires there to be a "correct" system of morales. Morales are beliefs and opinions that people develop for themselves; which ones we choose may be influenced by what we've been taught, but they are still different for everybody. Morales aren't a skill like aiming, timing, and critical thinking that can be perfected -- they are patterns based on our experiences that guide our decisions. Sure, you can teach people what morales other people have come up with, but where do you get off trying to convince others to adopt those morales? Even something as simple as providing a virtual world in which those morales lead to the best outcome makes a strawman out of the real issue: your virtual world is not the real world that those morales will apply to, only your own view of the real world.

The Rogue Wolf:

I still believe that the best, and really only, way to have a discourse about morality, religion, etc. etc. is to actually TALK to other people.

Which is why I like games like Team Fortress 2 where social interaction is not only encouraged, it's usually paramount to success.

ReverseEngineered:

First, morality is oftened approached as "what is right and wrong". Games reward and punish players based on this binary distinction. This implies that there is a right and wrong thing to do and that the player should always do the right thing. But who decides what is right? In the end, the game is preaching doctorine, rather than allowing players to develop morality. Few games, if any, leave us with multiple options, none of which are clearly more beneficial.

This is a common problem in game design, more recognizably known as the [unfortunately] blurred distinction between Choice and Problem-Solving. Choice actually has two outcomes of equal value, which both may or may not be beneficial. Whereas Problem-Solving always has an outcome that is greater in net value in one way or another than all the others, or vice versa.
The challenge is that while Choice is the commendable design, it's hard to incorporate into something that's trying to absolute an opinion 'favorably'.

Many a video game production studio and game publisher have profited greatly by producing video games that offer people the opportunity to be completely amoral. GTA being a classic example. Man's primal bloodlust is exploited and nurtured through various video games as those who produce and publish such games rake in millions of dollars in profit. Sounds almost evil doesn't it? Imagine if your existence comprised of having to go around perpetually killing others, without purpose beyond the act itself, until you yourself were finally killed. Then to respawn 10 seconds later good as new to go off on another round of killing ad infinitum. Run, shoot, kill, die, respawn and repeat. Sounds kinda like what Hell would be like, and that's pretty much what you have with online FPS games.

The Left Behind game actually sounds like a rather accurate representation of the kind of thinking that permeates the Left Behind books and Tim LaHaye's church. LaHaye and Jenkins really do imagine prayer as some kind of magical incantation.

Here's Left Behind the book trying to make prayer sound deep and personal:

And as he prayed he believed. This was no experiment, no halfhearted attempt. He wasn't just hoping or trying something out. Buck knew he was talking to God himself. He admitted he needed God, that he knew he was as lost and as sinful as anyone. He didn't specifically pray the prayer he had heard others talk about, but when he finished he had covered the same territory and the deal was done.

"And the deal was done". Yeah...

(Of course, to be a truly accurate representation of the books, Left Behind would need a very prominent phone-call minigame.)

-- Alex

Alex_P:
The Left Behind game actually sounds like a rather accurate representation of the kind of thinking that permeates the Left Behind books and Tim LaHaye's church. LaHaye and Jenkins really do imagine prayer as some kind of magical incantation.

Here's Left Behind the book trying to make prayer sound deep and personal:

And as he prayed he believed. This was no experiment, no halfhearted attempt. He wasn't just hoping or trying something out. Buck knew he was talking to God himself. He admitted he needed God, that he knew he was as lost and as sinful as anyone. He didn't specifically pray the prayer he had heard others talk about, but when he finished he had covered the same territory and the deal was done.

"And the deal was done". Yeah...

(Of course, to be a truly accurate representation of the books, Left Behind would need a very prominent phone-call minigame.)

-- Alex

Given that their entire morality system is based around exception and avoidance, I imagine the gameplay as being something along the lines of Leisure Suit Larry, where your path is determined by a cursor moving through a dialogue tree that consists of dodging obstacles, obstacles representing naughty thoughts. Because morality consists of a lack of sin, you don't need to make any effort to do the right thing.

The whole morality system would just be a multiple-choice quiz, really. The courtship mini-game between Buck and Chloe wouldn't involve deciphering correct responses, just avoiding ones that step outside the boundaries of PMD rules. The prayer mini-game would just be picking out the correct lines from a list of choices, to make sure the magic spell takes effect. And converting unbelievers would be easy, since the only reason anyone doesn't believe exactly what you believe is that they haven't read the correct parts of the Bible, otherwise they'd be singing the same tunes you're singing.

(for those of you who don't get what Alex and I are talking about, just read this for a while)

Alex_P:

(Of course, to be a truly accurate representation of the books, Left Behind would need a very prominent phone-call minigame.)

-- Alex

Ugh.

I tried to avoid tearing into that game anymore than neccessary because the fanbase of the books and games are typically difficult to reason with. Anytime you say something besides gushing praise, they automatically assume that you have not played the game or that you're not Christian. Because if you were either, you would be lavishing the game with praise.

Wait...I just described every argument on the internet...

Well, this was a great article. I always wondered why Christian games are either not fun, completely contrary to Christian beliefs, or both, and finally it's right there: because their focus on the dogma, rather than the values and morals of Christianity. Actually, I think games are not the only thing that could benefit from realizing that.

This reminds me of an article on video game morality I read long, long ago, on a different site. It mentioned that the main fault on trying to make moral choices matter in a game is that players will just 'game' the choice - i.e., choose the one they think or know will have the best outcome. Do you let the starving man that stole food go or reveal his crime to the eatery owner? Well, which rewards do each side give you? Oh, none of them do? Then it's a pointless sidequest, skip it.

Oh, and I think that view on GTA's policemen as a response to the player's evil deeds is quite equivocated. I'll use N64's Goldeneye as an example because it jumped into my mind for some reason, but it could be any game, really. In Goldeneye's first level, you are a secret agent who is infiltrating a dam controlled by Russian soldiers. The Russian soldiers will shoot at you. Is this telling you a morality teaching that going to places you are not allowed in is bad? No; it's game design. The game gives you a goal (break into the dam), an obstacle that tries to keep you from reaching that goal (armed Russian soldiers) and the tools to remove those obstacles (a gun, and the ability to use the enemy's guns). The same thing applies to GTA, except that, since it's a sandbox game, you can create your own goal. So you decide your goal is to shoot random innocent people, and then the game creates an obstacle to stop you from reaching that goal and the tools to conquer those obstacles. If your goal was to reach the top of a bridge instead, the obstacle would be the game physics and the tools the flying vehicles.

Oh, and since we're on this subject, I saw an Atheist man posting that he found the Fallout 3 morality system too dogmatic, since you lose karma even if no one witnesses you doing an evil deed, which would imply a god-like entity keeping track. I just mention it to show that things are always more complicated than they first seem.

The possibility of more religious gaming is in some ways worrying.

I think that if people treat games as a vehicle for preaching there will be a bias towards one religion, Christianity. It dominates the countries which own most of the gaming industry. I've personally seen enough culture bias and monotony of this nature in games to be very bored with it. Thankfully, there is a good chance people will simply not buy games that continue along the line of similarity. This is very much an innovation industry like that, and this may keep things interesting.

From a design standpoint, I must ask: if there must be religious/moral systems in gaming, then why not make them as diverse as the ones we are presented with in the real world? How about, instead of simply having "good" and "evil", having "orderly" and "chaotic", a Y/X axis scale that literature and fandoms have already begun to use?

Or better still, have a reading that shows what secular philosophy/religion your set of actions so far conveys (a kind of changable reading from gameplay history). For example, your character might visit one church and go save some people, this would make them read as that religion, but if they pray at different churches, that makes them a universalist. If they kill everyone in sight, they might be a nihilist. If they rebel against more than one government with different views, they become an anarchist. If they kill one man when they see his about to do something evil, they might be seen as a utilitarian. If they act selfishly, objectivist. Continue this around the many flavoured scale of world philosophies, and you have a powerful, diverse system that would keep players engaged for years. It's not a simple thing to code or understand. However, it is something that gaming sorely needs.

Such a reading could create complex factional consequences in a world-scale game, whereby people with similar "beliefs" (actions) will ally themselves to you, and others will slowly become enemies, neutral, or unsure (apathetic) as you establish yourself. This realism would actually teach people something about true consequences, rather than being, as many complain of moral systems in games so far, "preachy".

In literature, almost every philosophy has been given a narrative in some form. The same goes for film, though it hasn't existed for as long and hasn't covered as much yet.

Gaming, meanwhile, is new to morality and ethics. I think that there must be a push for diversity, not simply Christian morality, in games. Unfortunately, thanks to the extremity of possible decisions in most games with morality systems, they seem to have a fairly obvious, simple, Christian basis. This isn't always true; there are games like Masq, which show more than that and throw unexpected consequences in to make being "good" or "evil" less easy and certain. But in terms of the mainstream, there is very little in the way of risks being taken to do something interesting with this.

If we're going to have a lot more religious games, then they will depart much more completely from the simple idea of being fun or not fun. This is both a good and a bad thing for obvious reasons. I really hope that the good side of this consequence is emphasised and strengthened by pushing for diversity and not black and white decisions in games. The potential for the demonisation of any faith and prejudice is very strong - this could also be avoided if each game character still acts separately from their factions in one way or another as individuals.

Games like PeaceMaker seem to do things right. A few more games about reaching peace (through diplomatic means) rather than waging war would be a fantastic thing which balances the situation. And not just because they're good morally, but because such games improve the image of gaming itself.

Let me start off by saying this: I am biased against Christianity.

I grew up in a highly religous community with a not-so religous group of friends and family. The more extreme religous classmates would go around with mission shirts, promote the Fellowship of Christain Athletes on the announcements, and include their beliefs in any type of discussion in any class. History, Science, whatever. Their religion came first.

That being said the key for religion to work is not to promote the beliefs, but the morals and values. Every major religion has about the same morals to be a good person, its the symbolism that needs to be kept a good distance away from the gaming industry. Athough the symbolism can be effectively used by games to tell their own story. The first example that comes to mind is in Halo. The Forerunners planned to get everyone to "The Ark" to escape "The Flood".

I think the concept is interesting and potentially entertaining at the same time. Similar things have been done numerous times. MANY games now often have some sort of message they want to get across. Look at Assassin's Creed. You kill a guy and they have a long discussion with you. The Suffering's enemies are all representations of the evil in the world. Silent Hill does similar tactics to represent a person's own demons. Metal Gear Solid seemed more like a lecture than a game sometimes (not saying I didn't like it!). Even games without an overt message is often insinuating one (Wolfenstein 3d told me Nazis were bad :P) Every single one seems to have a message.
What religious people seem to do is either hate games, or try to totally subvert them to their goals. Apparently, in order for a game to teach a good religious moral, it has to be boring, overly rigid, or random popup quizzes or something. It'd be cool if they could maybe relax and try making something fun for a change... one of those games that says something without shoving it down your throat.

Christianity can best be communicated through games by engaging the player in the morals of the text.

Lol yeah that works. We can have a game where you go into a city and kill every man and rape every woman. Awesome!

Before all the flaming starts i just want to bring in a serious 2 cents.
oh and, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!! can we make this civil, i am really interested in this topic, and i don't want to wade through a "I hate religion" flame thread to have a discussion about a very relevant topic.

I'll say this right out, I am a catholic and a game design major, i have been thinking about this exact topic for a while. Right now many games are too much about the action as compared to the story, but as games evolve i see there being more room for serious story telling.

One thing i have been thinking about is taking the C.S. Lewis approach, sheer allegory, i.e. instead of doing a story about Christ or the apostles, create a game that's central theme is redemption and sacrifice, like having the PC's mentor/teacher sacrificing himself to save the PC and others, essentially passing the mantel of the martyr to the PC, from there the PC can deal with the fact that he should be dead but is alive, he can choose to follow in his masters footsteps or to disregard the sacrifice and live the same or worse than before, possibly believing his masters act was committed in vain. Not only does this break the classic Mother Terrisa or baby eater morality, it also conveys a powerful aspect of the christian faith without being overt or pushy (the whole Jesus saved you, what you do with that is your choice). and even if a person doesn't get the christian bit the can still really enjoy the story.

My point is that you can have a game with powerful and moving religious tones WITHOUT being politically polarizing, religiously pushy, OR even detracting from game play. Its just that no one has every really tired it, as far as i know, (till me I guess).

So in closing, can we keep this on topic, i know the escapists has a disproportional representation of the non-religious societal demographic, but don't let that allow this thread to devolve into a divisive flame war. Doesn't matter what you life creed is, atheist or theist, don't hate, just talk.

There's definitely going to be an increase in "Christian" games - there's definitely room for a purely Christian game development studio in the industry.

I think the effectiveness of a game's message is ultimately based on the story-telling. A game like Call of Duty 4 manages to relate to the player the horrors of war (or at least, this was part of it); this is done, however, not by crippling the gameplay to try and imprint an idea on the player every time he shoots an enemy. Instead, they used clever story-telling techniques (like using the first-person perspective to literally put the player in a character's shoes) to show the consequences of one's actions.

I think that's the way a game can stay fun and still provide some sort of ultimate message for the player.

What is a "Christian" game? A game that supports the McCatholic or Prostitutestant brand? Because that is what religion is. A brand name, fast food spirituality that is quick and easy for most of you lames to consume. So good luck bringing that crap to games like people are going to swallow that load after they already escaped that crap to play games.

Videogames can contribute to building up or tearing down morals, context is very important. But its best to separate them from any religion. The truth to some people is a myth to others.

http://books.google.com/books?id=KnIYRi3upbEC&dq=christ+conspiracy+greatest+story+ever+sold&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=b8Ipi3qGWb&sig=jdC2SYHwzm4T7fKWK3rGm2fjGuU&hl=en&ei=8dzTSpiJJYXwsgO46onECg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CA8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Can of worms is a great phrase for how unpleasant the topic can be.

Edje:
Before all the flaming starts i just want to bring in a serious 2 cents.
oh and, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!! can we make this civil, i am really interested in this topic, and i don't want to wade through a "I hate religion" flame thread to have a discussion about a very relevant topic.

I'll say this right out, I am a catholic and a game design major, i have been thinking about this exact topic for a while. Right now many games are too much about the action as compared to the story, but as games evolve i see there being more room for serious story telling.

One thing i have been thinking about is taking the C.S. Lewis approach, sheer allegory, i.e. instead of doing a story about Christ or the apostles, create a game that's central theme is redemption and sacrifice, like having the PC's mentor/teacher sacrificing himself to save the PC and others, essentially passing the mantel of the martyr to the PC, from there the PC can deal with the fact that he should be dead but is alive, he can choose to follow in his masters footsteps or to disregard the sacrifice and live the same or worse than before, possibly believing his masters act was committed in vain. Not only does this break the classic Mother Terrisa or baby eater morality, it also conveys a powerful aspect of the christian faith without being overt or pushy (the whole Jesus saved you, what you do with that is your choice). and even if a person doesn't get the christian bit the can still really enjoy the story.

My point is that you can have a game with powerful and moving religious tones WITHOUT being politically polarizing, religiously pushy, OR even detracting from game play. Its just that no one has every really tired it, as far as i know, (till me I guess).

So in closing, can we keep this on topic, i know the escapists has a disproportional representation of the non-religious societal demographic, but don't let that allow this thread to devolve into a divisive flame war. Doesn't matter what you life creed is, atheist or theist, don't hate, just talk.

You mean like how Aeris sacrifices herself so she can be one with the stream so later on in the game she can save people during the apocalypse? Granted she didn't kill herself but neither did Christ...some one else did it to them.

The best religious character is that grizzly old Ray from the Call of Juarez games. The first game at least, the second game is a prequel. Anyway - Ray in CoJ is a preacher, a pretty bad ass preacher, he has a bible, and recites from it. It's pretty cold to recite a phrase from the bible with your gun in your other hand, then shoot someone in the face Samuel L Jackson style. Bad ass in a bad mood, what an excellent and unique character to play... he makes Max Pain look relatively effeminate in comparison.

Now rambling about the Call of Juarez games...and how awesome they are:
Both the CoJ games (don't count the third game) are great IMO, I know several critics would disagree, and I know that a lot of people will have dismissed those games because of review scores etc. But really, they have the best plot of any game I've ever played. Seriously, there's atonement, revenge, jealousy, deception, tragedy... everything that makes a good spaghetti western - the games have that 'Dollars' trilogy feel to them. I don't even notice the plot in most games, but something about Juarez gripped me - so well written and developed, I don't think the reviewers really appreciated the story behind it all. I never bother with cut scenes or cinematics - with the first 2 Juarez games I was glued to the fricken screen.
I would encourage anyone to chance a few bucks on these games, play the second game first, and then play the first game - that's what I did and it seemed to make a lot of sense, not sure if playing the first game first would have the same impact. They have excellent mechanics - although they might not be big free-roaming monsters like Red Dead Redemption, if you want a gritty plot, like spaghetti westerns, and like the idea of playing as a bible toting bad ass beligerant old bastard (who doesn't!), then spend the few bucks!. I don't know anyone else who has even given these games a chance, makes me sad.

 

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