172: Heathens by Design

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While I do think that it might be a little over-thinking on the author's part, it makes for interesting over-thinking nonetheless.

I mean, who knows? It's kind of fun to imagine that every game ever made sent subliminal messages into the player persuading him/her that "God is bad".

Of course, that wouldn't be a good thing at all.

I'm also kind of disappointed that whenever there's an article on religion, there is absolutely no mention of Buddhism, Hinduism, or other major religions. It wouldn't fit in this particular article, but just something I noticed (all by myself).

The Mario universe, at least, HAS a God. And it's not the player.

It's Rosalina.

Think about it. She lives in space (the Comet Observatory), the people of the Mushroom Kingdom associate her return with a celestial holy day, she appears to be immortal (the comet returns "every 100 years," so she's at least a few hundred years old and yet she still looks even younger than Peach), and she raises the components of the universe (the Lumas, which when grown up become planets, stars and entire galaxies) to adulthood, and they all call her their "mama." Entire galaxies call her their "mama."

She's the mother figure to the entire universe.

So no, the Mario universe is not anti-theistic, it's exactly the opposite. It confirms that there IS a God, a God we can see and talk to, if we can get there.

(anyone who can identify where this theory comes from wins... um, I'll think of a prize later)

In regards to this article: I agree with the consensus that it's grasping at straws. This anti-theistic message of these universes won't be found unless you're really determined to find it.

hey Sylocat, dont forget the 7 star spirits of the first paper mario.

if Mario does something in somes of his games, is help the gods of his world.

thats like saying we live in an atheist world, how often does god interfere with our puny lives? well i guess i see ur point on rts's but on shooters you are in a mortal body, god isnt a thought, he could be there or not, he simply doesnt control the parameters of the game itself...

The author makes a few very good points about game design, when you think about it and don't wank each other about imagined slights to your chosen opiate of the masses. It really more about two very basic design concepts every game developer really needs to keep in mind:

1. The player must not be invincible (it's called God-mode for a reason). Most developers get that, because it's really a natural thing. The feeling of accomplishment in games comes directly and in large part from overcoming adversity and reaching your goal. Whether that it solving a really difficult puzzle, making that one extra level in your favourite MMORPG or defeating the boss enemy of Generic Doom Clone 2000, it comes down to playing by the game's rules and beating it anyway. The abilities of the player MUST be limited in the context of the game, or it is simply not fun to play. While cheating and experimenting can be fun, in the long run it is always the sense of accomplishment that keeps a player going for more.

2. There mustn't be an external force dictating arbitrary rules. The player must always have the feeling of being in control of his own actions, not that he is at the mercy of plot devices. If there are limitations to the players abilities, they should be consistent and predictable without feeling forced. This is something many developers do not get (Oblivion's level adjustment comes to mind). Whenever a game forces the player to do something he would rather not do, or prevents him from doing something that common sense dictates his character SHOULD be able to do - sometimes known as the "Cutscene Stupidity Syndrome" - the player gets frustrated. Frustrating the player is a very bad idea, because a frustrated player will want to move on and do something that's actually fun.

Whether you agree with the authors view on religion or not, both of these are very astute observations. A game must tread a thin line between limiting a player too much and making him feel too powerful. A "theistic" game world, with a literal omnipotent God that could actively intervene and randomly make you win or lose the game would be seriously boring to play.

Sure, you can have gods (with a lower-case "g") in games, but they would have to be just as impotent as the player - actually even more so, because everything that's really important NEEDS to be done by the player, to keep up the feeling of accomplishment. In this sense, all (fun) games are implicitly atheist, or at least have non-interventionist deities.

games like mario and metal gear do not state that there is a god, but do not give any statment of non existance. and it could be argued that lives,continues,save points,new game,etc. are god's intervention.

as for other "god" games they rarely intend to simulate the effects of the christian/jewish/muslim god. most are based off of roman,greek, and norse gods.
all had inhuman power but were hardly omnipresent and omnipotent. infact many of the gods (especially in norse mythology) died,were affected by sins and pleasures like humans.
god does not only refer to a specific being, but someone who holds power that is beyond human potential.

>.> and athiesm is the belief that there is no god. if your playing a game where you fight gods, u have to admit they exist otherwise the game would be empty by your reasoning. (plus athiesm was really more directed to the one god theory anyhow)

i wouldn't call myself religious, but having you call a game that does or doesn't shout "god exists!" athiest goes too far. "the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence".
however i wont tell u to stop, cuz its part of free choice =P

Well first of all, God would not step in and beat metal gear...he'd let them run over the earth and destory it. And when the human being that got off his ass did the gear kicking Snake failed to the Sheeple will praise god for being saved...not that god allowed the metal gear to be made, rampage over the earth and kill billions.

That's right, Religion doesn't work in games because God doesn't work outside of FAITH.
God is only praised when good things happen, but hes also the one that allows the bad to happen.
If god didn't like magic and witches and other religions to exist he would put a end to them, Why we don't lob fireballs and magic missiles at each other.

Kill god...Ok, let touch on this. Why not kill a lazy god that demands butt kissing, but never even stops the evil of the world. His followers turn into insaine murders for his will, he don't care.
Look at let's say Disgea there are minor gods. Order and Chaos...and of course the almighty lets the good guy get stomped as normal. Could he have save trillions of lives across countless worlds? Did he need a army of heroes to balls up because he couldn't after those deaths?

Seriously most gods are hateful, vengeful, murderous, just like people. And then all of a sudden they take a angel with no free will force it to rebel. Make it challenge god (guess who made the angel and manipulates all) And ohh big surprise Angel loses, becomes devil to put the worlds blame on. While the puppet master God smiles as his approval rating soars. And still he let's the African death squads feed 3 year old girls to wood chippers.

Faith is nice... And it's good. But almost ever religion is so messed up in it's own preaching if it were a movie, it would fail and sell the props to "Power rangers in Biblical times" to recoup.

And If I'm wrong, god can show up next to me in the form of a pink Cochobo and tell me my wrongs. And big surpises for the 700,000th time he didn't show. Big surprise.

It's a game. And Civ isn't a god sim as if it were a god sim. The player would do nothing, watch the game. Watch his people praise him. Watch his people beg them to save them from evil... and not do a single thing about it. Maybe make a burning bush, give the civ's the players laws and watch them ignore your will anyway.

I disagree that just because "you are the only who can kill that Metal Gear or save the princess" that this shows that games "don't believe in God." First of all, if games tried to believe in God like you say they have to in order to really believe, the game would be broken becase the player could just run to a bottomless pit and jump off, and then God would step in and save the day. Do you really believe that? I'm a Christian and I have made of plenty of mistakes and lost plenty of fights or games in my life and God didn't come running down from heaven to fix it. Personally I don't think of games as believing in God or not. There are very few games where He's mentioned at all, because games are about telling stories. When a game is telling a story it isn't an accurate representation of the universe we live in any more than a book or TV show. Characters in books or on TV fail all the time and no miracle saves them. They are stories that don't mention a God or deity for the same reason they don't delve into insanely deep backstory for every minor character or backstory, it isn't relevant to the story. Just like God has allowed a ton of real people to die in tragedies that were not natural causes and hasn't come down to save them, but many still believe in him, he doesn't save mario every time he dies, that doesn't mean mario is an atheist...

I don't see how God never riding down on a chariot and blasting Bowser into oblivion means that there is no God in Mario...
I'm pretty sure God never smote Hitler during WWII or gave a super magical power up to the men and women who died trying to save others from the falling twin towers. People, even extraordinarily religious people, act of their own volition all the time in their "God filled" universes and never once does he throw them an upgrade to their shields or lay waste to their enemies for them.
Though your opinion is valid (I can neither prove nor disprove God's involvement with Mario) your argument is incredibly flawed.

I know I'm way late to the party on this but don't you think your grasping at straws here, most of this makes no sense at all.

Baby Tea:
For instance, if Kratos REALLY was trying to kill God, then God could just will Kratos to die, or be non-existent. End of story.

It can be easy to see why someone would make that mistake. 'Our' God doesn't ever take the direct approach either.

God: I dislike how this guy is treating my followers... Hmmm, I think I will murder all the first born children in his country.

Really? I thought The Escapist was trying to be a fun, yet intellectual place for gamers to come. This is just trite silliness. No one cares.

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