In response to “The Devil and the Game Designer” from The Escapist Forum: So… that was basically a page worth of ‘in games we have generic ‘good’ guys and generic ‘bad’ guys’?
I didn’t really see the point to all that at all. Obviously it feels more wrong to shoot a cop than a demon, aside from the “you’re killing a human not a monster character” we associate the police force as something inherently good or positive in the real world, whilst monsters are not.
You’re also treading light ground with Halo. You seem to forget that it’s less about killing demons and more about a religious war. It’s more akin to the catholic crusade against the muslims and saracens(?). The Covenant believe humanity for whatever reason is evil and must be purged as dictated by their prophets. They believe they are the holy and righteous ones. We are the demons to them. In fact, in Halo 1 and 2, i believe the grunts and elites even refer to you, the Master Chief, as a ‘Demon’.
Aside from Bowser, the Doom games and a few other key ‘lookit this game focuses on the big bad being Satan and you are a 100% good character with no character development!’ there is no real representation of ‘God, angel, mortal, Satan’ because we’ve moved past that now. We have character development, plot exposition and the ability to make a choice between right or wrong. Are the Krogans ‘demons’? If you disagree and support the removal of the genophage, are you a demon for siding with what can be inherently perceived as ‘demons’, or are you more an ‘angel’ for your tolerance and kindness towards an otherwise stereotyped and possibly misunderstood race of aggressors?
Eh, it’s the other way ’round. It’s much easier to create a game in which you say, look these are the bad guys, these are the good guys. Let’s have them fight. So any setting in which these differences are obvious is going to work. Angels and devils work? Sure. So do Nazis and non-Nazis. Of course it’s possible to use theology as a strong groundwork for a true story – someone up there mentioned Shin Megami Tensei, and second hand accounts lead me to include Disgaea as an example – but I’d say most of the time this duality is just used as an easy way to create a duality. Of course, since people nowadays confuse ‘pressing moral issues’ with ‘you are the bad guy’ it works just as well the other way ’round. No John, you are the demons.
By the way, good vs. evil is actually very rare if you take a look at all religions, especially pagan ones. If you look at Greek, Norse, Celtic mitology, the good guys are pretty much assholes and the bad guys are murderous assholes. Hell, Loki is the closest thing Norse myths have to a devil and he’s on the good guys’ side half the time.
You are an other world being that is ‘all powerful’ and ‘all knowing’ and control the fates of the characters in this world. And you will always swoop in and save the character and bring him to the final cutscene/credits/’heaven’/etc.
Unfortunately, while a nice enough idea, this does not work. You are not all knowing or all powerful (otherwise there would be no difficult puzzles, and you’d never need a re-try to beat a boss), and while you control your character or party, you have to play it the game’s way. Very rarely can you change the game to accomodate what you want to do, you have to follow the predetermined path or story laid out by the game designer.
To follow the metaphor, the game designer IS the god – the creator of the world, who has mapped out the player’s destiny (while sandbox games may give the impression of free will, to actually finish the game will require following the pre-planned story to the end, changing only minor details) and has decided what will happen and when. If the player fails, the designer is the one who has programmed the helping hand that lets us get back on our feet and resume play. Likewise, if we play through the game and earn redemption for our character, it is only by the grace of the game’s makers, who could just have easily made the ending a bleak twist wherein the protagonist ultimately fails and is cast down.
In this metaphor, we are just the facilitators of a greater design. I suppose we would be the equivalent of a guardian angel, guiding our characters through the story that has already been laid down for us.
It’s true that us godless fellows have picked up a concept of Heaven and Hell through osmosis, but do they mean the same things to us as they would to a pious man? Usually, they don’t. You’d have a hard time finding consensus on what Paradise and Perdition mean, even among those of a single faith – primal psychological crap is like that.
In response to “How to Shoot Real Demons” from The Escapist Forum: This was a nicely-handled article on a potentially touchy subject. I appreciated the alternative explanations of symbolism provided, as there are followers who aren’t always trying to find something to beat down through a literal interpretation spiced with their own unfounded feelings.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” — Ephesians 6:12
(And no, I don’t think Paul is talking about Obama, either.)