Study Says Videogames "Problematize" Religion as Violent

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kouriichi:
""problematize" organized religion by equating it with violence in their stories."

Yeaaaaah...... Hate to break it to you, but i can name half a dozen verses off the top of my head that are nothing but violence, rape and mass murder.

Lets just go with Psalm 137 :D
"Joyful is the one who takes, and dashes his children against the stone."
See, i was raised christian, and forced to read the bible several times. Of course, i quickly learned the bible is more fucked up then ripping a dudes spine out in Mortal Kombat, and refused to go to Brainwash Scho-..... I mean Sunday School. :3 Honest.

Maybe when a real Doctor of something says something, it will be worth listening to. Not a Doctoral Student, who says something which was probably PURPOSELY controversial with so little truth to it.

"OHHHH! Forgive video gaming and its sins for PROPERLY showing what religion is, and has been capable of." - Me :D Just now.

I can't seem to recall the correct verse but in Deuteronomy in the Old testament there is detailed instructions on how to rape and marry a woman against her will.

If while at war with another people, and you see among the captives a woman that you desire. You must shave her head, paint her nails, and give her a month to grieve, after that you "may enter into her and if she gives you pleasure you may take her as your wife. However if she did not bring any pleasure to you then you may set her free to go where she wishes for she has been humiliated."

it's pretty funny their are also verses that say the sun orbits around the earth.
"The earth is fixed at (or near) the center of the universe. The sun and other planets travel around it. That is what the Bible plainly says [Ps. 93:1, Ps. 19:1-6, Joshua 10:12-14] and what the evidence indicates. " Source

Andy Chalk:
Study Says Videogames "Problematize" Religion as Violent

I <3 you for putting "problematize" in quotes every single time it appears. Gratuitous use of that word has driven me nuts for a very long time. It all started back in the day when one of my friends was an undergrad and taking some class or other for her Modern Culture and Media major and working on an analysis paper of some sort. I think everyone in the class was in the beginning of their third year by that point, so they'd had some time to become familiar with the academic terminology and whatnot.

Anyway, I proofread/edited my friend's paper to help her out, and the unnecessary use of that word several times in half a dozen pages jumped out at me because "normal" people never, ever use it. Just out of curiosity I looked at a couple others of hers and some by other people in the same class. Without exception, every single one contained the word "problematize", generally for no good reason, and usually more than once. You do not need to try to insert a fancy word (half the time incorrectly) when something more straightforward would get your point across even better and to more people. Academic writing makes me want to problematize someone in the kidney.

Too...tired...to be...snide.

Anyways, of the games listed, at least two of them deal with very real religious conflicts that are/were intensely violent, and therefore should be praised instead of criticized. Of the remainder, I've never played Final Fantasy 13 and therefore don't know what he's talking about, and I honestly have no concept of what terrible religious conflict there is in Oblivion. If he had said Skyrim on the other hand, I could see what he was talking about.

Also:

"Religion appears to get tied in with violence because that makes for a compelling narrative."

That explains so many problems in real life.

Damn, apparently I'm not that tired...

EDIT: Also, "problematize"?

Haha, now comes the horde of angry gamers saying it's simply untrue that it's been "problematized" because religion is the most evil thing in the world.

Only, while there are crimes that religious organization are certainly guilty of, there are plenty of positive things that come out of organized religion, but I suppose we can all ignore this. I mean, there is the crusades, the Catholic/Protestant war in Ireland, the Spanish Inquisition, hate crimes against black people/asian people/jewish people/white people, etc/etc. It can go on forever. The only thing that people fail to realize is that these things exist because of social problems outside of religion, and since religion is such a big part of everyone's lives at any given point in time, it gets the finger pointed at it. It's not usually religion that is guilty of these things, it's usually people within that religion that guilty.

But, as the paper said, it is the focal point of many games. He is not incorrect in that. But, religion is not the cause of all the worlds ills like many would like to think.

If you point out a group of games with violent Knights Templar you will have a study in which all the games you study have violent Knights Templar in them.

It is like when the big 'violence in video games' freakout happened and you would read reports like: "Researches study the games: Modern Warfare, Grand Theft Auto, Battlefield, Warcraft, and Age of Empires and found violence in all of these games." I could have told you that!

Where are games like Minecraft or Audiosurf in his list of studied games?

It's always video games that keep getting criticism for things like this, and yet movies and books continue to do this and mostly get no criticism at all.

Sandytimeman:

kouriichi:
""problematize" organized religion by equating it with violence in their stories."

Yeaaaaah...... Hate to break it to you, but i can name half a dozen verses off the top of my head that are nothing but violence, rape and mass murder.

Lets just go with Psalm 137 :D
"Joyful is the one who takes, and dashes his children against the stone."
See, i was raised christian, and forced to read the bible several times. Of course, i quickly learned the bible is more fucked up then ripping a dudes spine out in Mortal Kombat, and refused to go to Brainwash Scho-..... I mean Sunday School. :3 Honest.

Maybe when a real Doctor of something says something, it will be worth listening to. Not a Doctoral Student, who says something which was probably PURPOSELY controversial with so little truth to it.

"OHHHH! Forgive video gaming and its sins for PROPERLY showing what religion is, and has been capable of." - Me :D Just now.

I can't seem to recall the correct verse but in Deuteronomy in the Old testament there is detailed instructions on how to rape and marry a woman against her will.

If while at war with another people, and you see among the captives a woman that you desire. You must shave her head, paint her nails, and give her a month to grieve, after that you "may enter into her and if she gives you pleasure you may take her as your wife. However if she did not bring any pleasure to you then you may set her free to go where she wishes for she has been humiliated."

it's pretty funny their are also verses that say the sun orbits around the earth.
"The earth is fixed at (or near) the center of the universe. The sun and other planets travel around it. That is what the Bible plainly says [Ps. 93:1, Ps. 19:1-6, Joshua 10:12-14] and what the evidence indicates. " Source

I do believe it was "If you rape an unmarried woman, you must pay the father 50 coin and marry her, never to devorce" xD And yes, it was Deuteronomy.

The bible and its "teachings" are far worse then anything modern media has ever depicted. Everything it condemns, it tells stories of. Video Games only touch the violent side of religion, because thats the only one they CAN touch without having mobs of angry parents burning down the corporate office.

So this thread is EXACTLY why you cant have an open-minded discussion about religion. Ill just point that out real quick, because if a thread even mentions religion, its all 'OUT OF CONTEXT QUOTE', 'RAGE AGAINST CHRISTIANITY', when the topic doesn't even have a motive to talk about religion specifically.

On topic though... I agree with a few people, its a pretty pointless study. Yes, religion is used as a plot in some games today (open sandbox worlds usually have at least 1 crazy religion/cult), so its not surprising. Also, this doesn't seem to have any real world uses... so why is it needed?

GrandmaFunk:

He didn't say anything that's controversial, anti-gaming or pro-religion.

He didn't really take a stance at all. It made his entire argument seem more like a pointless observation than anything else.

that doesn't really change the fact that if you go back in history some of the bloodiest conflicts were caused by religion

"A University of Missouri doctoral student says many modern videogames "problematize" organized religion by equating it with violence in their stories."

If you want to equate religion to violence don't play video games just open the nearest history book!

kouriichi:
Gee, thanks random student who is unnamed for some reason that probably isnt, "my study was a waste of time, and was a good excuse to just play video games for a month"! :D

/facepalm

"...according to Greg Perreault, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. "

Problematize: To problematize means to show that something is an issue or make something into an issue.

Maybe looking at some games where Religion isn't an issue might help?

Even something as sacrilegious(?) as The Binding of Isaac does have a relatively positive view of Christianity...if not Christian Ideology.

(Think about it. Isaac/Eve/Cain/Maggy all overcome demonic obstacles to confront their inner demons and defeat Legion and their possessed Matriach. While there's blasphemy, there's never anything counter to Biblical word. In fact, siding with the Devil often cripples you)

For a clearer example; Any Cleric/Shaman in MMOs, Aion, Dark Souls, Journey to the West.

Perreault looked at Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy 13, Assassin's Creed, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in his research and found that all of them tied religion to violence. "In most of these games there was a heavy emphasis on a 'Knights Templar' and crusader motifs,"

OK, ME2 is Sci-Fi and irreligious, Final Fantasy has always been a Gaian religion, Assassin's Creed is the Crusades, Castlevania is fighting the Undead, and Oblivion is standard MMO fare. The Knights Templar are a popular fixation of conspiracy theory and are as likened to religion as The Da Vinci Code is.

"Not only was the violent side of religion emphasized, but in each of these games religion created a problem that the main character must overcome, whether it is a direct confrontation with religious zealots or being haunted by religious guilt."

TBF, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and a number of other prophets also did that.

Off the top of my head; throwing the money lenders from the temple, Tibetan calls to arms and Jyhads - I'd struggle to find a religion that didn't justify aggression against opposing zealots in specific circumstances, or that didn't teach by forbiddance rituals.

Well... they do make good narratives. The Tales games being my favorite having them be sometimes good sometimes bad sometimes both because it's not always black and white.

But it's not really a symptom of just videogames but a lot of different entertainment sources. I'm fine with it though. Religion has kinda had it coming.

Does anybody else realize just how the comments above such as "Well duh religion is violent", "religion is racist", "religion is a pox upon society" kind of tie in to the point the student was trying to make.

As a game designer and a catholic I actually agree with him quite a lot. It's hard to find a plot line in a video game that has a religion where that religion isn't all that's wrong with the world. Think about it, who are the good characters of faith in video games? You know the people who are supposed to set a positive role model for faith? The only two I could think of were Yuna from FFX and Ashley Williams from Mass Effect. The role models in video games for people of faith are someone who was tricked into following a lie through her naivety(Yuna) and someone who, while capable, is not the sharpest tool in the shed (Ashley).

Seriously I feel like the internet has been unwittingly and unintentionally indoctrinated into this belief that religion is evil. Extra Creditz made the point that if game designers, out of sloth/laziness, portrayed all Arabs as extremists/terrorists that it would feed into the gamer cultural psych. Using that same point, if all game plots portray religion as an violent, bigoted, narcissistic entity couldn't that feed into the gamer cultural psych?

Gamers aren't immune to being indoctrinated in this manner; nobody is.

Draconalis:

He didn't really take a stance at all. It made his entire argument seem more like a pointless observation than anything else.

His general stance is presumably something along the lines of "their narratives have become more detailed and nuanced over the years".

as for his "entire argument"...how the fuck would you know what his ENTIRE argument is? the articles only gives a very brief summary and a few react quotes.

Baresark:
It's not usually religion that is guilty of these things, it's usually people within that religion that guilty.

Without it's people, religion is nothing.

GrandmaFunk:
as for his "entire argument"...how the fuck would you know what his ENTIRE argument is? the articles only gives a very brief summary and a few react quotes.

Point. When I stated entire, I meant everything I had read within the confines of this article.

well there are many cases of good religion depicted. the eight divines in skyrim are a good example, where praying to them and all grants you bonuses. hell if you do the chores of Mara you get her blessing n shit. its easy to remember the exciting violence and forget the dull routine of the rest of the game. i mean who remembers when a religion does a good thing? nope, just when its violent. i am not religious in any way, i just say it the way it is.

Baresark:
Haha, now comes the horde of angry gamers saying it's simply untrue that it's been "problematized" because religion is the most evil thing in the world.

Only, while there are crimes that religious organization are certainly guilty of, there are plenty of positive things that come out of organized religion, but I suppose we can all ignore this. I mean, there is the crusades, the Catholic/Protestant war in Ireland, the Spanish Inquisition, hate crimes against black people/asian people/jewish people/white people, etc/etc. It can go on forever. The only thing that people fail to realize is that these things exist because of social problems outside of religion, and since religion is such a big part of everyone's lives at any given point in time, it gets the finger pointed at it. It's not usually religion that is guilty of these things, it's usually people within that religion that guilty.

But, as the paper said, it is the focal point of many games. He is not incorrect in that. But, religion is not the cause of all the worlds ills like many would like to think.

Because if it's only people representing a religion who use it to inflict harm that doesn't reflect at all on religion itself. The various world religions represent the largest and most stubborn cults of superiority. They are fictions invented to make the members feel superior to everybody else, just the same as nationalism. It's a propaganda tool to make people feel part of a larger group so that they can be manipulated more easily.

Look at war time propaganda, even now. Both sides leverage religion over the conflicts in Iraq and Afganistan - listen to some of the shit George Bush said about the War on Terror, think about the demonising of Islam (not all that difficult in combination with extremist terrorism admittedly). It's been this way forever:

Why did Egypt have a totalistarian with the power to force people to waste their lives building giant triangles in the Desert?

His people thought he was a god.

Why did the feudal system work?

The peasant believed that their king ruled with God's will. It was God's will that they were ruled over by an upper class whilst they had essentially no prospect at all of moving up in the world.

The vast majority of large injustices that I can think of can be attributed to religion or more widely to people making shit up to protray their group as superior to everyone else. It should be stamped out.

There's my angry gamer rant :)

As to the article, it's not exactly controvertial it's just a funny that he seems unaware of just how much large scale evil religion has inflicted on the world.

draythefingerless:
well there are many cases of good religion depicted. the eight divines in skyrim are a good example, where praying to them and all grants you bonuses. hell if you do the chores of Mara you get her blessing n shit. its easy to remember the exciting violence and forget the dull routine of the rest of the game. i mean who remembers when a religion does a good thing? nope, just when its violent. i am not religious in any way, i just say it the way it is.

Except that the 8 divines were originally 9. The central plot of Skyrim is the Thallmars control of the religious beliefs of the empire is causing Skyrim to revolt.

I.e. the belief in a god is causing a war :\

Jinxey:
Does anybody else realize just how the comments above such as "Well duh religion is violent", "religion is racist", "religion is a pox upon society" kind of tie in to the point the student was trying to make.

As a game designer and a catholic I actually agree with him quite a lot. It's hard to find a plot line in a video game that has a religion where that religion isn't all that's wrong with the world. Think about it, who are the good characters of faith in video games? You know the people who are supposed to set a positive role model for faith? The only two I could think of were Yuna from FFX and Ashley Williams from Mass Effect. The role models in video games for people of faith are someone who was tricked into following a lie through her naivety(Yuna) and someone who, while capable, is not the sharpest tool in the shed (Ashley).

Seriously I feel like the internet has been unwittingly and unintentionally indoctrinated into this belief that religion is evil. Extra Creditz made the point that if game designers, at of sloth/laziness, portrayed all Arabs as extremists/terrorists that it would feed into the gamer cultural psych. Using that same point, if all game plots portray religion as an violent, bigoted, narcissistic entity couldn't that feed into the gamer cultural psych?

Gamers aren't immune to being indoctrinated in this manner; nobody is.

some of it is pointed in the wrong direction but some of it is justified so not all of is indoctrination

It's been said and supported several times already that religion - that being irrational faith in higher supernatural power - is apparently a lazy writing trope to give motivation to antagonists in both games and films.

But at least religions EXIST!

Rationally, we should not fight and kill each other, and for the games where you are not playing a sociopath (i.e. not GTA where one is supposed to revel in escapist criminality) we need an antagonist who is highly irrational or beyond ability to reason with. Take a look at other motivations seen in video games:
-mass insanity by virus, i.e. zombie genre
-World War 3, total war
-Apocalypse scenario; collapse of civilisation
-Space Nazis
-Alien invasion
-ACTUAL gods; i.e. God of War, Tomb Raider

None of these are real. Or if plausible (Aliens invasion, world war 3) are not remotely current issues. Yet in the 21st century today the spectre of religious fanaticism haunts us.

And religion is one of the most prevalent source of irrational reasoning in modern society that will discard and reject such much of provable science and logical reasoning to serve their dogma. Why? Because they dogma allows them to think they have an incredible power: IMMORTALITY. To live in heaven, forever. But the worst part of this... they must die to get this.

That is the delusions that drove 19 people to hijack multiple airliners and crash them it into a building for their personal benefit... that they will go to heaven for an eternity of pleasure and those they have scape-goated their issues on will burn and be tortured in hell for all eternity.

That is why I think you could argue that having the antagonist be motivated by religious fanaticism is a profound and relevant motivation to drive the story and events forward. It's certainly not lazy, it takes more effort than "suddenly, zombie virus" or "suddenly, end of the world".

TheFPSisDead:
Who is the violent religious sect in Mass Effect 2???

Mass effect did kinda have a strong religious theme to it. like Samara Code. or you can just look at the reapers every time they indoctrinated someone they start calling them gods of destruction and such. and even the collectors keep going around kidnapping people saying "prepare these people for Ascension" so yeah there's your Religious theme.

TizzytheTormentor:
Considering that 50% of wars are fought over religious beliefs, this is a moot statement.
Funny considering that murder is the most deplorable act according to the bible and people are more than happy to spill buckets of blood in his name.

RaNDM G:

Nevermind the centuries of warfare, racism, intolerance, and bigotry spurred on by religious leaders. Videogames are the real problem.

These concepts are based on historical fact. It's kind of hard not to ignore that stuff when telling a story.

Okay, first of all, the student wasn't trying to defend religion, he was analyzing how religion is portrayed in video games. If you read it carefully you'll see that what he's saying is pretty reasonable. Don't be so reactionary.

As far a criticizing religion goes, I'm sympathetic, but I think people sometimes go a bit overboard. So here are a couple of things to consider:

1) Christianity is not Religion. It is one type of religion.

2) 'Religion' is extremely hard to define and the people who study religion consider all sorts of unconventional things as at least religious, if not religions: fly fishing, football, hell, even Scientism (the pop-culture worship of science). Thus...

3) Religion is not inherently irrational. There are many, many different types of religions, some fairly rational, others not.

4) The thought that human beings are inherently rational and non-violent but are made irrational and violent by religion is highly suspect because...

5) Religion is a sociological phenomenon that emerges out of human nature, and is common to almost all cultures in one form or another. (How can something opposed to human nature arise out of human nature?)

6) The vast majority of wars are fought over resources and power, though religion is often used as an excuse.

7) The primary way in which religion is a cause of violence is that it acts as a polarizing influence: a way to distinguish 'Us' from 'Them'.

8) Religion is not the only polarizing agent. Race and nationality also do the trick.

So a few general 'do's and 'don't's:

DO... Criticize specific religious doctrines and practices for provoking violence.
DON'T... Make out religion to be the sole source of war and violence.

DO... Criticize specific religious doctrines and practices for being irrational.
DON'T... Make out religion to be the sole source of irrationality.

I'm saying this generally; as far as I can tell no one here has explicitly made the proscribed broad claims about religion.

some of it is pointed in the wrong direction but some of it is justified so not all of is indoctrination

The issue is not whether or not a particular developer intended to portray religion as evil, but what happens if all developers portray religion as evil?

Jinxey:

draythefingerless:
well there are many cases of good religion depicted. the eight divines in skyrim are a good example, where praying to them and all grants you bonuses. hell if you do the chores of Mara you get her blessing n shit. its easy to remember the exciting violence and forget the dull routine of the rest of the game. i mean who remembers when a religion does a good thing? nope, just when its violent. i am not religious in any way, i just say it the way it is.

Except that the 8 divines were originally 9. The central plot of Skyrim is the Thallmars control of the religious beliefs of the empire is causing Skyrim to revolt.

I.e. the belief in a god is causing a war :\

yes but thalmor are all around supposed to be evil guys because they are parallel to nazis. and since talos is human, they find it inferior to them. its barely to do with religion, more on the fact that the thalmor find themselves superior to other races. talos is just an excuse. the 8 divines themselves are fine as a religion and everyone is happy with them. the daedra on the other hand....thats no no religion for you.

DrLoveNKiss:
If you point out a group of games with violent Knights Templar you will have a study in which all the games you study have violent Knights Templar in them.

It is like when the big 'violence in video games' freakout happened and you would read reports like: "Researches study the games: Modern Warfare, Grand Theft Auto, Battlefield, Warcraft, and Age of Empires and found violence in all of these games." I could have told you that!

Where are games like Minecraft or Audiosurf in his list of studied games?

Do those games have overt portrayals of religion in them?

Not all games present religion, the researcher just picked a handful of some of the most popular games that do. I have to agree with him: religion is almost invariably associated with violence, even when the games aren't explicitly blaming the religion for causing the violence, or promoting it. Heck, even Father Grigori makes biblical puns whilst shooting zombies. Or bishops on the battlefield of a chessboard.

It is fairly rare to see a religion promote peace in a game and extremely rare for a game to depict a religion as exclusively peaceful. I guess Okami has a couple, and there are those priests in Age of Empires (whom everyone has to kill first).

"Study Says Videogames Lack Good Villain Motivations".

At first I was like "Ugh"
Then I was like "Meh"

To be fair to the guy, he's not trying to be all "VIDEO GAMES ARE EEEEVIL AND THEY ARE EVIL ON PURPOSE AND WE MUST PROTEST THEM FOR THEY ARE BAD!"
Though I would say that it's not just games... I mean, Doctor Who had a whole religious military bit (though they were ostensibly good guys there)
I'd also argue that there are plenty of non-violent religious themes in video games, especially RPGs. I mean, they're often tied into the combat, but it's usually not a matter of organized religious violence.

I am glad the violent side of religion is being emphasised, it is so often defended and the history of actual events excused by apologist actors.

On the presentation of religious actors, I do worry that it will become quite predictable and eventually stale in the medium for them all to be cast in the negative, as villains, templars, evil clerics. I don't mind a Cadfael character once in a while, or an honest religion actor--something you do see in Dark Souls, but the clerics aren't all honest devotion to the good. The frequent reading of religion in game is quite close to Dostoevsky in The Grand Inquisitor, and that is worth a read (and is also quite short and easy to find) to better appreciate the organised church as totalitarian vehicle idea.

This just in: it took a doctoral student to find that water is wet!

Draconalis:

GrandmaFunk:

He didn't say anything that's controversial, anti-gaming or pro-religion.

He didn't really take a stance at all. It made his entire argument seem more like a pointless observation than anything else.

This.

Yes...it's problematic that religion is being equated to violence in video games because religion in real life is totally non-violent.

*reads up on the crusades, the third reich, the spanish inquisition, the salem witch trials, the war on terror, the troubles, the taiping rebellion, and several other wars/slaughters*

Ohhhhhhh.........

Religion
Weapons
Politics

All three are fine on their own, but if you mix any two of them, you're going to have big problems. Mixing all three is a REALLY big problem

If you notice, all games feature a mix of two or three of those subjects. But yea, religion is an issue in many games because while people can debate and change their mind about political issues, the religious can't consider anything but their beliefs an option.

Treblaine:
I will say the central tenement of Christianity (at least) is based on violence; that is you don't follow their dogma then you will be horribly tortured for all eternity.

You've been reading too much Dante and too little Bible to be able to speak on this matter with authority.

Oh sure, it's VIDEO GAMES that are the problem.

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