Turn the Other Cheek

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Turn the Other Cheek

You can enjoy Grand Theft Auto IV and still be a good Christian.

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I have to say I agree. While I'm not a Christian any more, I live in western Michigan, and it's a pretty conservative place. I once had a light-hearted discussion with a man about messianic figures, and then he began listing all the "false Christs" who's name began with "A". Starting with "Anakin Skywalker." I really didn't feel he was a "false Christ" and I didn't feel that he was an allegory, commentary or parody of any religious belief. Sometimes believers feel it necessary to define the world in terms of their beliefs, labeling many things for or against and condemning depictions or characters who believe differently. However, I personally feel that, in taking on the role and values of a fictitious character very different from ourselves, we not only broaden our understanding of the world and people in it, but we can find some relief in expressing urges or impulses that we otherwise keep in check so that we can maintain our morality.

Interesting article, as someone who has dabbled with several religions and gone through periods of justification i think this guys attitude is a breath of fresh air.

The priest of a Church in my home town apparently enjoyed playing Driver, and who could blame him? It was an ace game (partially because the physics were absolutely hilarious)

On topic, the trouble is that many Christians are also conservative, and conservatives in general are critical of new developments, such as the rise of video games in popular entertainment. The problem for Christians is that this attitude will only hasten the decline of Christianity in the West because it put's young people, most of who play video games, off the religion.

A good article, if I do say so myself (though the thought of Tingle as a church usher gives me the heebie-jeebies).

Speaking as a Christian, I don't have a problem with secular games at all. Indeed, games closely based on Christianity and/or the Bible are almost always terrible. When it comes to finding Christian symbolism in games, it really depends on the type of game and the person playing it. The Halo games are a good example of this. The series managed to strike a good balance of providing clever Biblical references without alienating those unfamiliar with the source material. A series like Assassin's Creed however is definitely more enjoyable if you're familiar with the spiritual beliefs and motivations of people in Medieval and Renaissance times.

However, some Christians go too far when it comes to finding the "hidden meaning" in games or restricting themselves from certain games. For example, a friend of mine wasn't allowed to play Mario Party as a kid because it supposedly "encouraged gambling." His parents also wouldn't let him play Paper Mario because there were a few fortune teller NPCs. It's like they couldn't reconcile themselves with the fact that the games were set in an entirely fictional fairy tale setting that had little to no grounding in the real world whatsoever. Unfortunately such people tend to be the most vocal about such things, which results in the labeling of all Christians as close-minded.

The way I see it, your spiritual relationship with your deity of choice (assuming you believe in one) should be on a different level from dealing with secular things. If you feel comfortable enough with your faith to play Saints Row: The Third, then nobody should try to convince you otherwise.

Not sure I have anything that needs to be added. Excellent article. Membership in a church, any church, need not force you to stifle most of society (unless that is a strict tenet of the church, such as Anabaptists), unless that's your own conscious choice.

I have to believe the Almighty has a pretty expansive view of "fun", after all.

Great article! You shouldnt have to justify your entertainment choices, nomatter political or religious beliefs. In most games you take up a role to experience the given scenario from that point of view. I can be disgusted with Kratos' slaughtering of innocents to regain life, but in the game its used to define Kratos' character. By adding "regain life" to this, the game slightly forces you to kill them. You can evaluate this as a simulation of bloodlust, a moral choice, a simple game mechanic or something completely else. Nomatter what you view it as, it has an effect on you. Games have taught me more about my faith than any priest.

My two cents: Being christian isnt the sole thing that define who you are, as many seem to forget. We shouldnt have to justify our every choice because our religious view might contradict the given choice. You still have your political view, emotions, level of rationality, intelligence, urges, etc. Your choices and personality is a mix of everything, and I wish more people could remember that. Would be a lot less arguing around then :D

Nickolai77:

On topic, the trouble is that many Christians are also conservative, and conservatives in general are critical of new developments, such as the rise of video games in popular entertainment. The problem for Christians is that this attitude will only hasten the decline of Christianity in the West because it put's young people, most of who play video games, off the religion.

This. A thousand times this.

It always makes me sad when my religious friends either have to justify their leisure activities to themselves.

Though this article doesn't bring it up specifically, my experience tells me that it's homosexuality, not violence that most religious types have a problem with. I think that most of them would play all the GTA that they want, except the Ballad of Gay Tony.

Very interesting article. I'm glad that you alerted me to the image of Link praying, it definitely puts a new spin on the character.
I couldn't agree more with what you said about the gift of imagination that God gave to humanity. As a both a Christian and a (hopefully) future English Literature student, I've always believed this to be true.

Well, im a Roman Catholic, not a very good one (I only started going to church again because our old priest left, and the new one has mass done in less than 40 minutes... yes, I didnt go to church because it was longer than an hour, I said im not a good Roman Catholic.)

I never feel the need to justify to myself or other people my choices in videogames, largely because "well than, go fuck yourself" is my default response to any insults to my choice in games. As I see it, I paid my dues to the church, and I prefer the worship of God as a one on one deal, not something I have to go to a special building and listen to a certified "mouth of God" to do.

Your overanalyzing things.

I'm a Christian, and my basic summary is that all of this stuff is fantasy and I don't think god created the world purely for misery, and escapism is perfectly okay as long as you understand fantasy as fantasy. Personally I don't even think god has a problem with material where you kill him, or have The Devil as a good guy, in doing so there is usually a clear good vs. evil message within the story, and it comes down to doing the right thing under the circumstances. Simply put I think god would kind of want you to kill him if you could, and he turned out like he is presented in some of those stories.

I'll also go so far as to say that a lot of this stuff which has religious undertones raises some interesting questions about the faith and it's interpetations. Monks and priests spend lifetimes musing over The Bible and questions of faith a LOT like these, it's just that works of fantasy form those questions into more of a story than literal contemplation.

Of course then again I'm not a deeply spiritual Christian. I don't spend a lot of time pondering it. When you get down to it while I was a Baptist, I consider myself a Christian Agnostic, which is to say I believe in the basic tenets of Christianity (God, The Devil, Angels, Demons, and Christ as our savior and conduit/path to god), but I do not believe ANY church has it right, and I do not personally believe The Bible is a direct, mystically preserved, guideline from on high, any more than I believe The Pope is infallible. I respect people who dedicate their lives to spirituality, even those I don't care for, or believe one day will have to die because of it, it's not an easy thing to do. I see The Pope as a great man and leader, but not the literal right hand of god on earth for example.

The bottom line is you can kick back watch some horror movies, play some fantasy games, goof off with some black metal, and all of that and none of it effects you being a Christian. In the end you know it's fantasy and goofing off. It doesn't change who you are, or what you believe. Heck even if you get together and have kinky sex emulating a black mass or fun, or do seances on halloween, or play around with Oujii boards, it's just play, if you still believe in god and that's who you know you follow or want to follow inside, none of that matters.

This is just what I think, in the end when I close my eyes for good, we'll know if I was right, wrong and/or forgiven.

I don't think you need to really work that hard to justify entertainment you know is entertainment.

I don't really have much to add to this, I just wanted to say now much I enjoyed the article. It's nice to hear about other gamers who happen to be Christians as well.

Personally though, I don't have any issues playing any games at all. My faith has never been challenged by the actions I made one pixel take towards another pixel. My brain just doesn't work that way. Even the most immersive engaging video game is just digital coding. And it's a great stress reliever so dealing with my anger and other negative emotions in a digital world allows me to stay positive and peaceful out here in the real world. So for me all games, even the most violent blood and gore fests, have an air of divinity to them.

BrittonPeele:
Turn the Other Cheek

You can enjoy Grand Theft Auto IV and still be a good Christian.

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This article really raises some interesting issues, and that's part of why I love this site.

For one, the Christian community often has this tendency to almost thoughtlessly tie themselves to any remotely-mainstream media that makes references to Christianity. And by "Christianity" I mean "God" -- which could actually be seen as advocating Judaism or Islam, which (historically speaking) come from the same "root God." Basically, they're quick to claim territory, without considering whether that territory has any value.

A lot of times, the mainstream appeal also dilutes the actual Christian parts of the message. When VeggieTales went from videos to TV, they dropped a lot of the Christian trappings. Bible verses? Largely gone. Bible stories? Same deal, even though that was the original point of the whole series.

It's as though the goal is to create a product that people like, and then inform them that (perhaps accidentally) they just watched and enjoyed something *gasp* Christian! It's like some ninja recruitment tactic. And on the other side, you're getting guaranteed approval from those already "on the team," because there's so little in the way of Christian entertainment that no one dares speak out against any offerings.

I've got a problem with shoehorning God into entertainment to make it "fit to consume," but there's even worse hypocrisy in attacking someone's entertainment choices because they don't "glorify God." If we are to take that approach, the only right way to live is the ascetic lifestyle lived by Jesus himself. We do some things that entertain us, too, because we are human.

We just like to be able to point to someone who's just a little less "holy" than ourselves as a way of feeling higher on the spiritual totem pole. If you recall, that attitude was what the apostle Paul railed against more than anything -- believing that slavish obedience to the law actually made you better, when (as Paul held it) the purpose of the law was to reveal how impossible it is to be perfect.

As long as you aren't stealing cars, doing drugs (or prostitutes), or cheering when real people do these things, I don't expect God is warming up a lightning bolt for you while you play Grand Theft Auto.

Therumancer:
I don't think you need to really work that hard to justify entertainment you know is entertainment.

I don't either, which is how I ended the article. If there's a game I want to play, a book I want to read or a movie I want to see, then I play/read/see it, typically without issue. Sometimes I have to put some more thought into it purely because I'm in a position where it could come up (for instance, when all the controversy about The Golden Compass film adaptation was at its peak, I was one of the only people in my church at the time who had read the books and could analyze the religious aspects of them), but usually I digest my own entertainment, and no one around notices or cares.

But I've also been the administrator of a forum for Christian gamers for half a decade, and these issues do come up for a lot more people than you might think. It's easy for you or me to say, "It's fantasy, God doesn't care," and I believe that to be true. But a lot of people don't accept that idea so easily, for a lot of reasons (some of them legitimate).

As a Christian video-game enthusiast myself, I highly enjoyed this article.
I had to often battle with other Christians who would raise questions, or out-right condemn, my favourite past-time because of 'mature' content. One of the popular questions asked of me was 'Do you think Jesus would play that game?'. I always loved that questions, because I would often ask the same question about something they enjoyed (I loved it when it was a girl in a dress..."Do you think Jesus would wear that dress?"). It wasn't until I was a bit more mature in my faith did I start answering that question with: "If Jesus is seriously mad because I play this video game, then we ALL have a lot more to be worried about."

See I'm also a layman theologian. And while at first I did feel I had to justify my being able to play the next GTA, or watch movies I love like 'Kill Bill', as you delve into the Christian faith, you begin to realize that those things don't need any justification from God, only yourself.

Some people might truly be upset about a game like GTA. The answer? Don't play it.
I, on the other hand, have enjoyed that series since it first came out, and look forward to number 5 with great anticipation for Rockstar's knack for great gameplay and storytelling in a sandbox world. The content doesn't bother me, given that it's not real. It doesn't make me want to hurt people, it doesn't make me question my devotion to my faith. It's a game played for fun, and I do like having fun.

So it's encouraging to see an article on here saying, essentially, the same thing. Especially given the amount of atheists on the forums (Which I have no problem with), as well as the vocal anti-theists (Which I DO have a problem with).

So thank you and God bless, Britton Peele, for the great article!

That was a great and interesting read, even for a non-religious like myself. I gotta praise even the slight mention of El Shaddai.

I find it slightly hard to believe that you would have to justify playing certain games because you are a christian, where I grew up I don't think there were any christians that take their religion that seriously.

Having said that, as an ex-art student, anything can be argued about symbolism as long as you're ready to dig really very deep.

What other mediums get criticized like this? Are there any books (aside from the obvious satanic verses and other things) that you aren't allowed to read due to offensive or anti-christian themes?

BrittonPeele:
Turn the Other Cheek

You can enjoy Grand Theft Auto IV and still be a good Christian.

Read Full Article

That was honestly a fantastic read all the way to the end. I'm actually a Christian myself, but knowing how much passion I have for games... I can't help but play them even if they are based around such violence, gore, and dark themes altogether. What amazes me is that you really hit the nail on the subject with The Book of Eli.
Saving the bible from being abused by evil (well, mainly one guy but still) which of course you'd think this movie would be pretty Christian. Truth be told, it's really good but brutal at particular scenes.

Also, I am impressed with the creators of El Shaddai for the game revolves heavily around 'God' but they do it in such a creative way that it appears to be okay, due to the story, the environment, the overall concept of the main character's objective to capture all the fallen angels that should be sealed.
Besides, I would rather be a true Christian in real life but play hardcore video games then try to limit myself in life and end up being a hypocrite. Well done with this article, really spoke to me in truth but also I must say that turning the other cheek in any situation, even in games like Fallout III where you can choose to be good, is really hard. Just depends on how dedicated you really are.

Wait, wait...Gary Gygax was a Christian? I did not know this.

Hello more ammo to defend D&D from the asshole fundimentalists I have to keep running into.

One of my favorite articles a while back was some fundamentalist bible beaters saying that games like Shadow Hearts and anything in the Shin Megami Tensei series should receive a harsher rating for "Satanic content." My favorite was them citing Digital Devil Saga in which you kill God...

image

Geeze the stained glass in church was WAY off.

I tend to agree with your conclusion. In the end it's like the eating food sacrificed to idols thing, if you believe it's going to get between you and God, stop doing it and if you don't think it will, then in something like this, it probably won't.

Although I have to say, I go off random slaughter a bit quicker than I used to and I'm more likely to try and pacifist run a game than earlier. I'm not sure what that's about, maybe I just involve myself in character quicker these days or maybe it's something deeper

Veldt Falsetto:
What other mediums get criticized like this? Are there any books (aside from the obvious satanic verses and other things) that you aren't allowed to read due to offensive or anti-christian themes?

At least in churches etc. I've been involved with, it's not usually that you're "not allowed" to do something, it's more that you're strongly advised that doing it will damage your relationship with God and make you a worse person. It's a pastor or someone else telling you "Do you think God would really want you reading Paradise Lost? Let's look at what the Bible says..." I don't say that as a blanket bash against pastors - I actually know several pastors who do things like play video games frequently and know what they're talking about, or at the very least they educated themselves on a topic before they decide to condemn it. Those pastors earn my respect easier.

Harry Potter was an obvious example of Christians being "against" something for awhile, and it still gets flak sometimes from people who, for lack of a better term, are highly ignorant (you'd think J.K. Rowling coming out and saying, "I'm a Christian" would help people notice the Christian themes in those books, but whatever). His Dark Materials is a more appropriate punching bag (though I vehemently disagree with groups who try to ban it), but I think the awareness of its issues is actually pretty low with the common church member.

Sometimes you'll have something like a Da Vinci Code pop up that gets a lot of Christian groups riled up, and sometimes people who read/watch that content become villainized. Sometimes it's something that is actually harmless (Pokemon, for example, was being attacked at one point; a controversy that spread to other popular franchises at the time like Yu-Gi-Oh). But usually (in my experience) it's more isolated incidents. A lot of times it's not even people like pastors who bring this stuff up - it's holier-than-thou church members who hear you're excited about something called "Diablo" and want to either save your soul or kick you out of the church before you corrupt the youth. Here in America at least, the fear is more often than not a fear of magic (again, like the Harry Potter controversies), while sometimes it's just a fear of anti-theism.

And you know, a lot of the stuff that influenced my article is just the typical stuff wherevideo games are today's folk devil. People seem more inclined to bash Grand Theft Auto than The Sopranos just because the general public still doesn't "get" games, and for some reason they still think games are for kids.

There is a wide spectrum of different types of Christians. You have ultra zealous conservatives, open-to-interpretation liberals, some in the middle, etc. Some of these think the others are way too lax, whereas the opposing side sees the other as overly-anal. There are many branches of Christianity, and many different brands of faith that accompany it. I've spoken with some that believed most people would be saved. Some who said an -incredibly- small % of humans would enter heaven. Some flat out believed a large portion of Christians themselves would go to hell for being far too 'complacent' and 'nonspiritual', 'being too comfortable with materialism'.

I myself prefer liberal Christians because they are much less likely to spew out threats of hellfire and my sinful nature, etc. I have a number of Christians friends and like them very much, having myself grew up in a Christian family.

I think the interesting thing about this article is that it can be extrapolated to that beyond the Christian community. Other members of the older generations -everywhere- seem to be chanting the same sermon about how video games will corrupt the youth. Someone above me mentioned religious conservatives feeling threatened by change. It's pretty much the same story here.

Nickolai77:
The priest of a Church in my home town apparently enjoyed playing Driver, and who could blame him? It was an ace game (partially because the physics were absolutely hilarious)

"He broke my watch!"

You want a great Christian game? Make one with Samson or one of the other Judges. It'd be Serious Sam with swords and sandals.

Honestly I couldn't have said it better myself.

Though I would like to ask what's up with people trying to find a religious connotation for everything. I mean, even megaman could be used as a christ allegory. Some people have no sense of coincidence.

as a Christian gamer I am surprised and pleased to see this article on the escapist, and I think it serves as a good reminder that there are plenty of Christians who aren't insane bible thumping loonies who think video games are evil, for example the associate pastor at my church is a big fan of assassins creed and also one of the best local preachers I've ever heard.

I get that for some people religious themes in games can be really satisfying, but you know, linking a specific religion to a game in such a detailed manner can also hurt the experience of some games. A game like Zelda is inherently about escapism, about being in a different world, with different rules and less constraints. Very broad themes in games like that are of course also present in many religions, but by seeing Link's adventure (and many similar adventures) as nothing more than an allegory for a religious story, you actually degenerate the whole experience in something else. Something that doesn't have to be wrong or inferior, but it does inhibit the possibility that you actually experience something new, that something suprises you or blows you away. After all, all those different creative, imaginative stories get forced into the same mold: the same stories are told over and over again, and the only difference is the paint.

I understand that you personally don't feel the need to do this, but quite some people apparently do, and I think they're really missing out, on things that could even be of positive influence to their view on the world, personality, and all other things faith can have an effect on.

Nonetheless, great job for bringing us this original and different perspective!

I don't think the Escapist should be sponsoring articles that look at the religious aspect of gaming. Speaking only for myself, articles such as this one discuss a completely non-related gaming issue.

First things first: by putting something up in a public place (aka here), you've opened yourself to criticism. You write, others critique. That's how it works, mkay. And religion...well, the interwebs is basically a lions' den for you folks. Don't take what I have to say too personally. I am merely responding to what you posted. I did like the article though.

I'll go for the lowest hanging fruit:

Is my carefree attitude towards gaming hypocritical? I don't think so. I personally worship God by appreciating one of the greatest gifts he could have possibly given humanity: imagination.

Did you know that thought crime = real crime in the bible (Matt. 5:28, Matt 5:22, 1 John 3:15)? So yes, liking video games in which you, as the protagonist, perform actions that are contrary to your faith (eg killing, contract killing, bribery, stealing, perjury, that whole coveting business, not remaining in Jeebus lest you be picked up as a branch and burned, not acknowledging the rights of others to own slaves from different nations, etc - sorry, there goes Skyrim) does make you a hypocrite, and a major one at that. I could, to some extend, respect somebody who refuses to indulge in our fine hobby due to their faith, likewise I could respect somebody who doesn't care in the slightest about religion and still enjoys studying "spiritual" things, whatever they may be. Now hypocrites...*insert hate filled diatribe here*

Consequently I find the mentioning of Silent Hill 2 (my favorite game EVAR incidentally) quite interesting, as the central plot point essentially boils down to whether or not it is morally acceptable to end somebody's suffering by killing them. Isn't there something in that book of yours against murderin'? There's also whole side story with the evil cult, rebirth, witchcraft, and god(ish) killing, though those aren't really present in part deux. As far as a "good spiritual message" is concerned, I don't think this game really has one. It's all various shades of gray, with one somewhat happy ending entailing forgiveness of the murder of Mary (spoiler alert), and three mixed-at-best endings.

(and dear mods or anybody else who may take offense: if a religious article is posted, I should be free to respond however I want - in accordance with the user guidelines, of course.)

I appreciated the article, seeing as it showed that whole ideals of Christians and the influence of our religion on video-games.
However, although I agree about violence and relaistic world settings, I think this should be more a problem of "If a world is created, why shouldn't it have a separate creator?"
I'll make this short in saying that pushing religious and moral themes on separate worlds with separate rules is kind of stupid. One doesn't get mad at Lord of the Rings for the Valar because of the Christian symbolism, but why should they demonize DnD for doing the same thing, but leaving themes and content up to the player?
Frankly, if I write a story set in an alternate universe with original gods, it should not furrow anyone's brow, because no one is going to worship these gods in real life, and if they do, you could just as easily convert them because they're definitely easy to persuade to ways of thinking. Fiction is fiction, and if you're afraid your child will lose their faith because a video-game involves separate faith in it, then you really have no faith in your children.

Not criticizing the article, but I can't resist a few (snide?) comments....

BrittonPeele:
You know, things like Left Behind,

Eugh. As Fred Clark has thoroughly proven, there ain't a lot of Christ in that 'Christian' work.

BrittonPeele:
Veggie Tales

My thoughts of that series are forever tainted by the time I watched the cucumber get molested by the news anchor on CNN Headline News.

(There is no word of a lie in that sentence. But it's a long story.)

BrittonPeele:
and The Passion of the Christ.

...

...

Yeah....

BrittonPeele:
Even if you take tremendous liberties and try to make an action level in the Garden of Gethsemane, where you are tasked with defending Jesus from Roman soldiers as they try to arrest him, the game wouldn't be any fun. It would always end with Jesus healing everybody you cut down and scolding you for living by the sword.

Makes the Crucifixion sound rather preordained, that does. (Judas got rather a bad rap, no? If he hadn't betrayed Jesus there would be no crucifixion and thus no redemption from original sin. But I'm no theologian.)

BrittonPeele:
Heck, if you try hard enough, you can make a lot of things seem spiritual. I mean, a great deal of fantasy is derivative of J.R.R. Tolkien at some point, who was a strong Catholic. So that makes most of the fantasy genre Catholic, right?

Jack Chick railed against the Narnia series as being Satanic. Yeah, the book with lion Jesus sacrificing himself. "Christian" (or any number of religious labels) is a label a good number of critics apply to mean "what I believe is right (including the belief that I'm ALWAYS right)", rather than "things pertaining to belief in the divinity of Jesus". As a label therefore it's useless without knowledge of who applied it.

BrittonPeele:
So you find a lot of Internet posts arguing for Halo as a Christian story,

And everyone is Jesus in Purgatory.

BrittonPeele:
But there's enough wiggle room in the plot for gamers to theorize about the true meaning of Xenogears. They can say things like, "You didn't really kill God, you killed Satan. The Wave Existence was the real God," to which other people say, "But the Wave Existence isn't anything like the God of the Bible." This can go back and forth for a long time.

Take the third option and insist that they couldn't kill God because Captain Kirk already did. Derail debate into an argument trying to wedge Star Trek and Xenogears into a single continuity.

BrittonPeele:
The image meshes with a few other Christian symbols in the early Zelda games, such as the fact that Link's shield had a cross on it

imageSo did the guys in the game Hunchback, but all those shield-bearers did was stab me in the groin for having the temerity to try rescue their prisoner.

It's a simple design that can be depicted with as little as six pixels.

 x
xxx
 x
 x

So it was an easy piece of heraldic filigree for knights of the 8 bit era. Hard to do a winged dragon statant gules on field argent in 8 bit graphics.

BrittonPeele:
and that the Book of Magic was originally named "Bible" in Japan.

Er, yeah. That's Japan for you. They play English a bit fast and loose.

BrittonPeele:
To be fair, this sort of debate and commentary is common with any art form (there's an entire website devoted to listing the religious beliefs of various comic book heroes and villains), and such commentary isn't restricted to spirituality.

Nope, not limited at all. And anyone who mines that hard for symbolism is IMO either desperate or bored or an English teacher.

Nice to see a fellow Christian not shouting how these games be the devil and whatnot. I kind of have a similar issue. I'm a Catholic and my mother is super hard-core Catholic. She can pretty much glance at something and say she doesn't think it's right. She LITERALLY watched me Twilight Princess for about 10 seconds, saw the wolf transform back into Link and said, "I don't like these types of games. Why do you play them?" Um, really? She also hates any FPS(I had to prove Portal wasn't that violent). She knew I played only Mario games when I was younger, which I still play a bunch of, but I think she expected me to play only those games forever. Of course she pulls the whole violent and vulgar argument to which I always reply, "But it's not real." Heck, in practically all my games, you're the good guy! And whenever someone pulls the "Live by the sword, die by the sword," quote, one thought always comes to mind. Sure it's wrong to live by it, but is it wrong to protect by it? After all, that's what your character in many of these games does.

Sylveria:
One of my favorite articles a while back was some fundamentalist bible beaters saying that games like Shadow Hearts and anything in the Shin Megami Tensei series should receive a harsher rating for "Satanic content." My favorite was them citing Digital Devil Saga in which you kill God...

image

Geeze the stained glass in church was WAY off.

Well, in Devil Survivor for DS you can fight against the demons and devils, you can fight against the ANGELS and ultimately God (although this one isn't shown in game), or you can just give the middle finger to the big man and save the mankind without his help.

Or act like a coward and leg it, dooming humanity to an eternal conflict between angels and demons.

Also, in Persona 3, the main hero

And if you played FES

.

I still remember people shouting that playing Diablo 2 was sinful and that the game is made by the devil.

They apparently didn't even read what the game is about, since among the heroes you have even a sacred paladin, and the main objective is killing the prime evils and everything on the way to Hell itself.

That was a great article. I enjoyed the writing a whole lot. It was an interesting read. Thanks for that!

but why should my actions on a virtual world who's single existence should be for entertainment be judge against my persona which has nothing to do with it?

thethingthatlurks:
Did you know that thought crime = real crime in the bible (Matt. 5:28, Matt 5:22, 1 John 3:15)? So yes, liking video games in which you, as the protagonist, perform actions that are contrary to your faith (eg killing, contract killing, bribery, stealing, perjury, that whole coveting business, not remaining in Jeebus lest you be picked up as a branch and burned, not acknowledging the rights of others to own slaves from different nations, etc - sorry, there goes Skyrim) does make you a hypocrite, and a major one at that.

First, I took no offense to your comments, but thanks for stressing that your intent wasn't to lash out :) I welcome the discussion. Isn't that why we're here?

I think you're erroneously taking those verses to mean, "Thinking about sin in any capacity = sin," which isn't the case (though I understand where the confusion comes from). I'll address them verse by verse first, but I believe a more practical answer (from my point of view) will follow.

- Matthew 5:22 ("But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement ...") talks about actual anger toward another person, not make-believe anger in fiction. Now, you could make the case that, say, "Getting angry at Battlefield 3 opponents makes you a sinner!" or something, but that's not really a game-specific case. That's just a case of, "Dude, watch your temper," and you should. I would love to be on a mythical Xbox Live that didn't have thousands of voices screaming profanities and racist/homophobic comments out of sheer anger.

- Matthew 5:28 ("But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.") is an extremely common verse that's brought up often in these types of discussions. And it's true, lust is a real thing that should be avoided by a Christian, and if you find yourself lusting after the pixelated body of Lara Croft to the point where it's an actual problem, you shouldn't play Tomb Raider (the same would go for watching sexual explicit films or shows, obviously). This is a legitimate concern that people bring up, and it's why I believe that personal convictions should play a massive role in deciding what media you do or do not consume ("will watching Chuck make me lust after Yvonne Strahovski, or can I just watch the show and me entertained by it as a form of escapism?")

- 1 John 3:15 ("Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.") again is about literal hatred, not the idea of hatred. This in particular is a verse that can be picked apart from a lot of different angles, and needs a lot of different angles (for example, plenty of "former murderers" throughout the Bible are saved, so you can't take this verse to mean that if you kill someone you're locked out of Heaven forever). I can't recall a time I've felt real, literal hate toward a fictional character, whether in a video game or not. It's fiction. Make believe.

Now, what I think is an even better reply to your statement is this: Stories are very important for a wide variety of reasons, even to religious people. There's a reason Jesus taught in parables so often. The story of the good Samaritan wasn't an actual event - it was a work of fiction used to teach a lesson. The Bible never criticizes fiction or escapism, and when used creatively such things can always teach a good lesson (it doesn't have to be a religious one. I would say GTAIV has plenty of lessons it tries to teach). Granted, there wasn't nearly as much fiction/escapism then as there is now, and it was almost always through oral storytelling (most of the people couldn't even read, after all), but it is still a very important of who we are as humans. All of us love stories. All of us tell stories. Not all of those stories consists of pearly gates and people getting along.

As to the point where I as the protagonist am "doing" actions like lying, murdering, etc. in a video game, I just don't think that's true. In my very little free time I'm an amateur author, but when I kill a character I never think I am literally committing an act of murder. If my protagonist lies, that does not make me a liar. It's the exact same thing in a game. I'm either experiencing the story the creators wanted me to experience (in a linear game like Modern Warfare) or helping shape the story as I see fit (in a non-linear game like Skyrim). But it's all about the story - not real life. In role-playing games I do tend to strive for the "good" path of actions, but that's mostly personal taste. I just didn't want to blow up Megaton, man.

You never want to make the mistake of simplifying things the Bible supposedly says (this is done by both Christians and non-Christians all the time). We're talking about a religion that has been around for thousands of years (especially if you take it back to pre-Christianity days), and we still haven't figured it all out. It's not exactly something you can look at casually and say, "Yep, right here. It says you're a hypocrite."

You probably still disagree with me, but thanks for bringing up an issue that I thought was worth addressing.

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