Escapist Podcast: 089: Religion in BioShock, David Jaffe and Playing Nice

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089: Religion in BioShock, David Jaffe and Playing Nice

This week, we talk about one person's reaction to an early scene in BioShock Infinite, David Jaffe's recent proposal for game journalism, and why we all need to try to be a little more nice to each other.

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I want to know the accounting behind a video game.

Susan, google "naked volleyball". First result's a website "Dedicated to outdoor volleyball at Southern California nudist clubs."

Agreed, though--that is a weird choice of things to do naked.

Edit: Also, equating religion with sexual orientation or gender identity strikes me as a poor comparison--the former is either a choice or typically taught to you by parents, the latter is (at least to the best of my knowledge) not a choice and not taught. Both may be things that people consider parts of their identity, but it seems like you run a risk of unintentionally alienating or offending people by putting it that way. I'm not trying to be a jerk about that, and I'm sorry if I come off as such.

This sound's weird, but I actually had to check if the escapist had add's. I just don't notice them anymore, so I don't really get why you would use add blockers. The only add's that annoy me are the one's with sound... Those may just disappear into the deepest pit of hell to continue they're wailing there. But still, even those you can easily just ignore after a while.

Didn't you guys answers the game you don't click with last week?

On the ad's, I have been watching the back catalogue of Feed Dump and I think I've watched the Iron Man 3 ad about 50 times now and yes it gets real annoying but I'm still going to watch them because I like the idea of you guys eating.

The first time I spoke with a member of the escapist it was over ads because I was using ad blocker because I got a really nasty virus from an ad once. She understood where I was coming from and suggested I become a pubclub member so they can still get some sort of revenue stream off my page views.
And I agreed. Being an accountant and all, I quickly realized that the $20 a year they get from me is not really enough, kinda wish there was some sort of donation box as well.

bravetoaster:
Susan, google "naked volleyball". First result's a website "Dedicated to outdoor volleyball at Southern California nudist clubs."

Agreed, though--that is a weird choice of things to do naked.

Edit: Also, equating religion with sexual orientation or gender identity strikes me as a poor comparison--the former is either a choice or typically taught to you by parents, the latter is (at least to the best of my knowledge) not a choice and not taught. Both may be things that people consider parts of their identity, but it seems like you run a risk of unintentionally alienating or offending people by putting it that way. I'm not trying to be a jerk about that, and I'm sorry if I come off as such.

Oh, of course. I was just trying to illustrate that readers are more likely to come to the defense of, say, someone being harassed for sexual preference or race than they are for someone being mocked for being devout. It wasn't an ideal analogy at all - just trying to say that it seems that it's typically open season on anyone who admits to being religious.

I disagree with religion being a choice. To me a choice is what shirt to wear today. Beliefs and religion are a fundamental part of who someone is that can change and evolve over time, but it is never as simple as deciding I believe or don't believe this today. It is a series of choices and how you were raised, just like economic status. I mean you wouldn't insult someone for beif middle class would you, and that is just as much of a choice as being Hindu.

I can see why that baptism would matter more to him than something like killing people. I can divorce myself from the fact that Booker is killing and over throwing tons of people, because he is not any religion. But the idea that a person can go through a baptism, and fake faith, just to get into this city to do his job, is beyond my own outlook in the world. That to me is more sacrilegious then the mass murder.

I think on the view point of why Geek/Nerd culture can attack religion the way they do, Ms. Lashani hit it on the head. The world has decreed we can laugh at stupid people, and we place stupidity in the metaphorical stocks and throw tomatoes at them. Look at things like Jersey Shore, or Ridiculousness, or like Wipeout. This comes into the Nerd culture where we can laugh at the person in class who doesn't understand complex differentials because to us they are stupid. Nerds tend to look at religion as stupid, there for we can laugh at them, and tell them how stupid they are.

I don't think the religion-bashing is a product of "stupidity," because if the religion in question was Islam, with the exception of a very, very, VERY small minority, you would not hear anyone in the gaming community attack it. For me, I think it comes down to politics more than anything else. From numerous polls on The Escapist and elsewhere, gamers are very much on the left side of things, a very liberal community. And if you haven't noticed, liberals (generally speaking) aren't very accepting of Christianity/Catholicism where at the same time they'll fall all over themselves to stick up for and apologize for other religions (especially Islam) at the drop of a hat.

I picked up Ad Blocker a few months ago for issues I was having with other sites and then kind of just forget about it. But this and the article from Ben Kuchera have reminded me what I'm doing and the effect it has. And for that, I would like to sincerely apologize. There's no excuse, especially for a site I've been getting so much enjoyment from for the last few years. I know its not much, but I have just renewed my club membership, and plan to keep it active for as long as I'm on this site. Thanks for the great work you all do.

I think the underdog ideal doesn't help. I mean many religions can be seen as the rich established team in the mighty ducks and many gamers/geeks/ect feel like we are the underdog team. So we support other underdog teams and rally against any big established teams even if it makes no sense to do so.

Fanatical game supporters is also a good chunk of the reasons. Add on any bad experiences people have had with a religion or group. Bam a nice mix of explosive personalities.

Also many of the logical people will avoid the conflict as they have no issue with his choice and don't feel like entering a yelling match with the internet. The only way to win is not to play when it comes to internet yelling matches.

On the subject of adblock (I'm a pubclub member FYI) there are things you need to understand, I don't know the average age of your audience, but people in their early to mid 30s have been online for 10-20 years now, we saw the very very worst of the advertising industry online, we saw the growth of popups, popunders, flash, gifs, etc, etc, etc, etc. some of us we'll never tolerate advertisements again, the well has been poisoned, our goodwill is gone, blame the people who ruined it, don't blame the people who were pushed into avoiding all advertisement online, don't just complain about how we're selfish (as I said I give you money every year, three years running now), you need to woo us back, and complaining wont do that.

Most people don't know how to debate, to hear an argument and try to argument back (if possible), or to respect issues that cannot be discussed (for whatever reason).

About the religious dude, I can respect his reasons, I can debate if he is right or not, but I don't see any reason for being angry with the whole act...

I don't run addblock on the escapist and I rarely get anything more than a banner at the top and an add at the bottom.

The Escapist Staff:
089: Religion in BioShock, David Jaffe and Playing Nice

This week, we talk about one person's reaction to an early scene in BioShock Infinite, David Jaffe's recent proposal for game journalism, and why we all need to try to be a little more nice to each other.

Watch Video

Good, even great, writers need editors for the same reason Adam Sandler and Robin Williams need someone else in the director's chair. When they're left to their own devices, with no one to say No, they tend toward the overly ridiculous and the stupid. When someone is there to focus their energy, you get Oscar-worthy stuff.

LysanderNemoinis:
I don't think the religion-bashing is a product of "stupidity," because if the religion in question was Islam, with the exception of a very, very, VERY small minority, you would not hear anyone in the gaming community attack it. For me, I think it comes down to politics more than anything else. From numerous polls on The Escapist and elsewhere, gamers are very much on the left side of things, a very liberal community. And if you haven't noticed, liberals (generally speaking) aren't very accepting of Christianity/Catholicism where at the same time they'll fall all over themselves to stick up for and apologize for other religions (especially Islam) at the drop of a hat.

Interesting and valid point. Hadn't considered that, but you're definitely not wrong.

tkioz:
On the subject of adblock (I'm a pubclub member FYI) there are things you need to understand, I don't know the average age of your audience, but people in their early to mid 30s have been online for 10-20 years now, we saw the very very worst of the advertising industry online, we saw the growth of popups, popunders, flash, gifs, etc, etc, etc, etc. some of us we'll never tolerate advertisements again, the well has been poisoned, our goodwill is gone, blame the people who ruined it, don't blame the people who were pushed into avoiding all advertisement online, don't just complain about how we're selfish (as I said I give you money every year, three years running now), you need to woo us back, and complaining wont do that.

We never said you were selfish. In fact, I spent a lot of time saying I understand exactly why people use Ad Block.

Susan Arendt:
Interesting and valid point. Hadn't considered that, but you're definitely not wrong.

Honestly, from where I sit, the most likely reason (though there will truly be as many different reasons as there are people) is going to be simple "us vs them" mentality.

In general, the kind of people who embrace gaming and embrace the gaming community, tend to be the kind of people who reject faith, for whatever reason. It's definitely not a rule, but most gamers are at least to the point of agnosticism, and a significant portion (I doubt it's a majority, but it's probably the single largest group) are outright atheists.

When you get a group like that, people that don't fall under that banner become easy targets. Much like how racial segregation allows/drives racial hatreds to fester. Gamers, generally, are not religious, and even if they are, they don't generally discuss religion among each other. As a consequence, it tends to breed a... distaste? for religious thought and a dismissal of it as superstitious nonsense.

Is that necessarily fair? No. But the thing is, gamers are just people. We're going to suffer from the same flaws and facets that every other group of people suffer from. We're not magically immune to it because it's us. Generalization, xenophobia, and the promotion of one's group at the expense of others' are all incredibly common traits throughout human history. Is it really so surprising that we would express our own versions of such?

Now, I don't want to come across as if I'm supporting it, because I'm not. When that shit happens, we need to call attention to it and try to stop it.

But we also need to recognize that we're all only human, and we're largely no better, or even substantially different (at the core), than any other group of humans out there. Fifty thousand years of evolution have hardwired us to be a tribal people. We instinctively have our "us" (generally defined by the monkeysphere, though I'm unsure of the technical term for such) and our "them" (everyone else), and we will always prefer "us" over "them".

If we ever want to change that, it will take a substantial amount of work, and it may not even be possible without changing the pieces that drive our most basic desires and instincts.

Audio editing bothers me to no end in TV shows.

I love NCIS and Abby is my favorite, but when it comes to audio? Dear God, no. I love it when she says something like, "I ran this through the audio software I create and....", and I'm sitting there and thinking, "Hey, it's Protools. I love that software!"

As for the amount of hate that's been around as of late, I've actually gotten to the point where I specifically say something positive, or stated cautionary optimism in a thread since it's gotten to the point of ridiculousness. Not that I'm expecting that the people leaving comments will be more positive, but I just think that not everything deserves to be filled with "witty" hate fueled comments.

My only real problem with the dude who returned Bioshock due to religious reasons were that they were completely silly ones. I mean I was raised as a Catholic, and even though I'm no longer Christian myself I don't see how anyone would find the baptism scene as being akin to "Spitting in God's Eye" - ESPECIALLY if you actually play the game because if you really sit down and think about things the over all themes of the game and how they're explored are really pro-Christian.

They might not seem like it at first - and you have to really sit down a think about Booker and Comstock and how everything eventually turns out, but when you think about it - its actually portraying the themes behind Christianity in a really positive light while showing how "religious" men can still entirely miss point.

What pisses me off about about certain religious people is if I say that there's no proof that any Gods exist, I'm treated like a freak. There's something wrong with me because I want proof, but the person who says that there is an all powerful God that created everything, but provides no proof are the "normal" ones. That drives me crazy.

It would be like saying all the people that go missing on earth are actually taken by creatures that live underground, but saying you need proof of that makes you the freak or the abnormal one.

I have no problem with anyone who wants to believe in things without proof that they exist, but don't treat me like I'm the weird one for wanting evidence. That's all I'm asking.

Let's say that I was a racist (which I'm not). Let's assume that I take great offense at BS:I presenting racism in a greatly negative tone. Let's say that I would be infuriated by the fact that a member of a racist group, in this game, clearly deserves being mauled to death with a circle saw/wrist hook.

Would I be justified in receiving a refund because I feel insulted by this?

If not, then why does Christianity deserve special consideration in this regard?

AkaDad:
What pisses me off about about certain religious people is if I say that there's no proof that any Gods exist, I'm treated like a freak. There's something wrong with me because I want proof, but the person who says that there is an all powerful God that created everything, but provides no proof are the "normal" ones. That drives me crazy.

It would be like saying all the people that go missing on earth are actually taken by creatures that live underground, but saying you need proof of that makes you the freak or the abnormal one.

I have no problem with anyone who wants to believe in things without proof that they exist, but don't treat me like I'm the weird one for wanting evidence. That's all I'm asking.

Actualy having a proof is kinda the opposite of believe. And since god is about believing, wanting a proof of him is actualy kinda wierd. :-D I'm not trying to judge, just saying, I don't see a logic in finding a proof for believe. To be clear, I don't think you're freak 'cause you don't belive in god, that's your choice (or believe), just wanting a proof is a bit strange from my point of view.
And it's like asking you, where is your proof, that god doesn't exist. It is both about believe, so there can't be no proof, there can be some circumstantial evidence, but no proof. And most of all it's a touchy subject, I mean, it's not that polite to question someone's religion, well unless they ask you about it. :-) (I mean, Jehovah's witnesses are asking for it, when they come knocking) :-D

Pepsik:

AkaDad:
What pisses me off about about certain religious people is if I say that there's no proof that any Gods exist, I'm treated like a freak. There's something wrong with me because I want proof, but the person who says that there is an all powerful God that created everything, but provides no proof are the "normal" ones. That drives me crazy.

It would be like saying all the people that go missing on earth are actually taken by creatures that live underground, but saying you need proof of that makes you the freak or the abnormal one.

I have no problem with anyone who wants to believe in things without proof that they exist, but don't treat me like I'm the weird one for wanting evidence. That's all I'm asking.

Actualy having a proof is kinda the opposite of believe. And since god is about believing, wanting a proof of him is actualy kinda wierd. :-D I'm not trying to judge, just saying, I don't see a logic in finding a proof for believe. To be clear, I don't think you're freak 'cause you don't belive in god, that's your choice (or believe), just wanting a proof is a bit strange from my point of view.
And it's like asking you, where is your proof, that god doesn't exist. It is both about believe, so there can't be no proof, there can be some circumstantial evidence, but no proof. And most of all it's a touchy subject, I mean, it's not that polite to question someone's religion, well unless they ask you about it. :-) (I mean, Jehovah's witnesses are asking for it, when they come knocking) :-D

Let me put it another way. If the vast majority of people in your country said we should be able to arrest and jail people for murder without any proof or evidence and anyone who wants proof is a freak, that's what it's like to be an atheist.

In America anyone who says they don't believe in God can't get elected to office. There's something incredibly wrong with that and it's maddening to me.

Ha! Take this, I'm using an ingenious system to block ads, and I'm flaunting it at you. Look at it, look at it now!!!
It's the best.
image

In other news, I think you guys didn't really discuss the main point (or at least the interesting proposition) in what Jaffe was saying, the idea of what size an audience would be needed to sustain a writer and the potential for good writing that would come from financial security. I feel that by spending more time talking about his silly salary figure and lack of editorial (which really where peripheral to the idea) and the arguments over it. You are just adding fuel to the flames?

I wonder, and have a question for you, at what point do you think that it is not productive to talk about the silly arguments that happen and instead discuss the issue? Is it better to ignore the unproductive arguments and bickering, or do you feel the need to report the vitriol?

Love the podcat, keep up the good work.

Deactivated adblock for this site after your discussion :)

cynicalsaint1:
My only real problem with the dude who returned Bioshock due to religious reasons were that they were completely silly ones. I mean I was raised as a Catholic, and even though I'm no longer Christian myself I don't see how anyone would find the baptism scene as being akin to "Spitting in God's Eye" - ESPECIALLY if you actually play the game because if you really sit down and think about things the over all themes of the game and how they're explored are really pro-Christian.

They might not seem like it at first - and you have to really sit down a think about Booker and Comstock and how everything eventually turns out, but when you think about it - its actually portraying the themes behind Christianity in a really positive light while showing how "religious" men can still entirely miss point.

I don't think it is silly. Getting baptized is strictly a religious act unlike the other major sacrament, marriage. Also baptism is a sacrament, a major sign that you are devoted to be Christian. I completely understand why someone would or could offended by that but not offended by all the killing.

bdcjacko:

cynicalsaint1:
My only real problem with the dude who returned Bioshock due to religious reasons were that they were completely silly ones. I mean I was raised as a Catholic, and even though I'm no longer Christian myself I don't see how anyone would find the baptism scene as being akin to "Spitting in God's Eye" - ESPECIALLY if you actually play the game because if you really sit down and think about things the over all themes of the game and how they're explored are really pro-Christian.

They might not seem like it at first - and you have to really sit down a think about Booker and Comstock and how everything eventually turns out, but when you think about it - its actually portraying the themes behind Christianity in a really positive light while showing how "religious" men can still entirely miss point.

I don't think it is silly. Getting baptized is strictly a religious act unlike the other major sacrament, marriage. Also baptism is a sacrament, a major sign that you are devoted to be Christian. I completely understand why someone would or could offended by that but not offended by all the killing.

Not to mention, the whole scene is done in first person. You don't really get to see -Booker- get baptised, you get to see yourself be baptised.

There is also the fact that it is the only way to progress the game, so if you don't want to dealt with a baptisement under false pretenses in first person, you are stuck. So I can see why the person would have quit the game.

Susan Arendt:

Oh, of course. I was just trying to illustrate that readers are more likely to come to the defense of, say, someone being harassed for sexual preference or race than they are for someone being mocked for being devout. It wasn't an ideal analogy at all - just trying to say that it seems that it's typically open season on anyone who admits to being religious.

If I had to wager a guess, I'd say it's because Christianity has a hold over secular life, which ties into another comment I had. Someone on the cast was saying "For every loud christian, there are ten others in a soup kitchen that doesn't hate you for your gender, skin color, or sexuality" and to this I say... then why is gay marriage still banned?

Predominately, the nation votes with their religious beliefs in mind. Gay marriage is banned for what reason? The religious reason.

Many of the loud gamers, seem to be atheist, and as stated above, their lives are being directed and controlled by nonsecular laws and beliefs.

it's interesting to hear susan talk about the role of the editor, I heard the exact same thing from my animation teacher in school this morning, if you work in any sort of large team based industry like journalism or animation or film, you need someone there who can bounce ideas and perspectives back and forth with you if something's not working quite right, "How about this?" is probably one of the best questions you can be asked if you're struggling with a paragraph or a scene.

I don't block ads, but by the same token, if I have to watch the same ad 5 times (once before every video on the site), I make a mental note to never buy their stuff. Sometimes. I just turn the sound off, or cover the ad with another window and look at that. When I hear the sound of the actual thing I want to watch starting, I go back to the Escapist window.

I don't use ad-block because I support the work you guys do here and I want to see you guys continue to do that. I hope others understand it.

To take religion seriously, to be devout, you have to constantly and without interruption take things seriously, that have no foothold whatsoever in the plane of physics and science. That notion can and ultimately will come into conflict with similar concepts, as introduced in video games.

While a typical gamer will simply suspend his disbelief for a time and open his mind to the joys and wonders, he very much knows that fairy tales are fairy tales. The religious person however will, unless he lacks the witts to do so, very much notice the conceptual similarities in those tales. The following problem emerges:
Suspending his disbelief for one, but not the other makes him a hypocrite, as it means clearly applying double standarts.
Suspending his disbelief for both will put his devotion to his religion in question.
Suspending ones own disbelief therefore is not an option. Embracing the narative of a fictional Story can and sometimes will therefore become an attack on ones own religios identity.

So one of them has to go, and obviously thats the video game, as it is not part of the religious persons identity.

Those ideas dont crash in an empty space, they come into conflict in the form off people. Most gamers have very much a kneejerk reaction when it comes to religious people, because for reasons mentioned above, we, as a community with similar interests, came into conflict with them.

Really appreciate what you said Susan about the knee jerk reaction to Christians. I'm protestant Christian; the kind of Christian that thinks Fox News is the most hilariously dumb thing on the face of the planet, believes in evolution, supports gay marriage, and is Pro-choice, but still Christian and a man of faith.

It's always really bothered me, particularly on this site which I otherwise love, how fast people are to paint religious people as idiots and mindless sheep who all belong to the "God hates gays" and "Believe or go to hell" type. Myself, and many many other Christians, utterly despise the kind of stereotypes the fringe element has made and always try be a counter example, but often in gaming communities it really feels like a losing battle. Thanks for making me feel a little better and not so much the odd one out.

Getting a little to sappy here so any-who great podcast as always, love having something to listen to during my Friday commute.

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