Let us start this out with a belief there is some entity far more amazing than myself. I know this is a difficult task, but since it is conceivably possible, though unlikely, let us assume this is the reality. And we shall call this being "God." When this God is silent he is doing great deeds. When he speaks to someone, (or at least when they claim he does), innocent people die. (Wow...I actually kind of like this God fellow.) And then, just to make the mix more fun, we will take the people that follow this God and splinter them into three general groups. Each group worships him, but we will toss in a couple of humans and mix that all up so each group has a reason to hate the other group. And now we have the reality of the world we are living in now. And as I begin to see it slowly start slipping this way, I must ask you all...
Should God be in video games?
As a worshiper of myself, I feel I am able to get a unique perspective on this issue and so I will offer a little food for thought on it. And perhaps together we can find an answer to this conundrum.
1) Will God in video games just cause more problems?
God is a pretty powerful guy. I mean, just to create me...ok and you people also, he had hundreds of gigantic stars fart out gasses that made smaller and heavier stars that eventually made the building blocks that are me. I can't even get my dog to fart on command, so this is a pretty awesome feat in and of itself. And on the human level, each group wants to claim that they are fully and completely connected to this power. But add to this things like God being a jealous God, one group claiming to be the chosen people of this God, others claiming human prophets came to Earth to give God's instructions and then it even splinters down to magical glowing tablets dug up by some hipster farmer. It is believed that in the end, only one of these groups will be right and the rest shall suffer for eternity. And you just have to hope you pick the right one. With this in mind, consider what would happen if each group decided to go balls out and jump into video games.
First off, games would be far different. They would have religious propaganda trying to draw you into their version of faith. And if one did good, the others would try to top it while doing everything in their power to make it look bad, eventually leading to one group screaming about false birth certificates. It might start out as fun little banter back and forth between the different faiths, but eventually intolerance would arise. Personally, I think this is an awesome idea. Three religious groups wanting to kill the crap out of one another via an internet connection. And all it would take would be the right person in marketing to make a mint off of it. To get what I am after, just consider this potential video game title:
Halo: Afterlife Evolved
This one little online game could potentially save millions of lives. Why go out and suicide bomb Dr. Goldberg over there when you can blast a hole in his son's character and teabag him for the next half an hour. The message given is still the same, and there is less mess to clean up. It's a win/win situation. Not sure who the West Bank should belong to? How about a little game of Dance Dance Resurrection? The winner not only gets the title to the land, but is raised to sainthood level with the title of "Saint of Sweet-Ass Moves" upon canonization. Recruitment would be a lot more interesting too. Imagine the trivia game "You Don't Know Jesus!" Or, for the more aggressive religions, how about "Mohammad Combat." Even the consoles could get in on the fun with things like the Crossbox 360 and the Nintendo Wiisdom. So far it seems that God really would clear up some issues if he were to cast his glorious light on our favorite hobby.
2) Would God games actually be fun?
Honestly, we already have games like Dante's Inferno that have a religious theme to them that are fun to play. But you could easily do a little bit of change to what is already out there and have some pretty awesome games with God as the centerpiece. Borderlands could become Baalzebublands and you wouldn't have to alter it much. But think of what you could make if you did do some big changes. Think of this...you are of the Catholic faith and you are captured by Iranians and sentenced to death by firing squad. Not only do you have to escape your fate, but you have to get back home from behind enemy lines. And the name of the game? Saint's Row. If this is a little too mature for your target audience and you want a good game for children with a religious taste to it, how about Pope-e-mon? Want to wipe out unholy zombies in God's name? How about Resident Apocalypse?
Yes, it seems like putting God into video games can be entertaining as well as a better way to solve pressing issues between the groups.
3) Do we really want God in our games?
This is the real issue when it comes down to it. Many will say yes and many will say no, each giving a good argument for why. But to truly answer this, we need to get a good understanding of why video games were made in the first place. Video games were made as a way to escape the real world for a little while and let the stress and frustration of the day have a safe place to drain into. Before video games you had booze and wife beatings.Today you can just have your character get drunk and beat his pixelated wife senseless and never have to spend a moment behind bars. Especially if you have invested enough points in your run skill.
And it is this very reason, and the only really honest reason, why God needs to leave the video games alone. The belief in God is a serious matter. And everyone sees their God just a little differently than the person sitting in the pulpit next to them. And even those that are not religious scholars can nit pick to one another over such tiny, minute details that the meaning of the text becomes secondary to the letters it is composed of. And if God were given free reign in our video games, no matter how fun they seemed at first, eventually it would end up a big, black ball of anger and confusion. Even if fundamentally everyone was on the same page, it could get pretty ugly. Just look at the people who believe in Jesus. Is everyone who worships Jesus called Jesusians? No. Those who worship Jesus are splintered into dozens of different aspects, and not all of them get along. And unfortunately, no matter how good your intentions are, the same would begin to happen in the games we run to for a little escapism. And then our beloved video games would have to be renamed video arguments because games are enjoyable and arguments are not.
When it comes down to it, I am going to give you a line that I've heard, in varying ways, throughout my life and leave you with this thought. If God wanted himself in video games, he would already be there. I just think God is happy you are enjoying yourself and not out being a dick to people. And for those of you who read this and strongly feel God should be present in our video games, chew on this: God said "Let there be light!" and there was light. Video Games are made from light. So honestly, god doesn't have to be popping up on your screen saying "Hi there! Remember to brush your teeth!" Because his essence is already there and because of that, in His eyes, all is good.
Still...I would love to play Pope-e-mon.
(A shout of thanks to www.somethingawful.com for the cover pic!)