The Universal Society of Hinduism is asking PAX organizers to keep Smite out of the convention.
Hi-Rez Studios' Smite is a multiplayer fighting game featuring gods from various pantheons going at each other in divine, one-on-one combat. It won't actually be out for awhile yet, but in the meantime the Hi-Rez guys are making the rounds of various gaming conventions, drumming up publicity while giving gamers a chance to try it out.
The game isn't going over very well with Hindus, however, thanks to the presence of Hindu deities Kali, Vamana and Agni as playable characters. Rajan Zed, the head of the Universal Society of Hinduism, asked Hi-Rez in June to remove the Hindu characters from the game and then, when that went nowhere, called on QuakeCon to drop it from the lineup, which also went ignored. But he's keeping up the fight, and has now asked organizers to keep the game from being played or distributed at this weekend's PAX Prime.
Hi-Rez will reportedly have Smite playable on 50 stations at PAX, Zed said in a statement, and will be offering it for sale at "promotional pricing." But as one of the largest gaming events in North America, with a number of very high-profile sponsors, Zed said that PAX "should show responsibility and respect the feelings of upset Hindus."
"Goddess Kali and other Hindu deities were meant to be worshiped in temples and home shrines and not meant to be reduced to just a 'character' in a video game to be used in combat in the virtual battleground," he said. "Videogame makers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as these games left lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people."
It's understandable that Zed wouldn't really be down with the whole "gaming culture" thing, but the odds of PAX keeping a game off the floor out of sensitivity to cultural issues are very long indeed. Far more likely is that we'll end up with PAX apparel covered in images of Kali sporting four dicks instead of four arms.
PAX Prime 2012 runs from August 31 to September 2 in Seattle.