Escape From Mount Stupid: Religion

Danny details the times religion has been used in games, and wonders whether the industry's portrayal of Islam is enforcing negative cultural stereotypes.

Cards on the table, I don't believe in a deity. If I'm totally honest it's not that I don't believe a god exists; I just don't believe your god exists. But my belief, regardless of whatever facts I think I have to back it up, is no more or less true than somebody else's devout faith.

Atheists and people of faith have a common ground; it's called common sense. You don't need to be secular to view the universe, and you don't need to be religious to be spiritual. They also have another thing in common: bastards.

Extreme religious groups actively make the world a less cool place to live. Whether it's Islamic extremists detonating themselves, fundamentalist Christians gunning down doctors, or neighbours in Northern Ireland throwing stones at each other over different interpretations of the same book, these people hijack religion to enforce their own cultural beliefs, and it's our misinterpretation of this reality that creates the divide between those with faith and those without.

It's also the reason games have largely avoided tackling religion, though it's one of the most interesting aspects of life. Some games, such as Mass Effect and BioShock, have done a great job of utilising it in interesting ways, but we still haven't reached the point where Islam can be portrayed without a suicide bomb.

I believe ignoring an entire culture out of some fear of offending their faith is a fantastic way of promoting intolerance. I wouldn't fancy it if every Irish game character was an IRA soldier. I hate the IRA, but far worse would be the cultural misrepresentation it carries. When the only Islamic people we see in games are extremists, as an industry we are collectively saying "Muslims are terrorists." That is not acceptable.

Finally, I want to say a special thanks to my friend Tamoor who agreed to be interviewed for this episode. We met through the GameSpot community a few years ago, and I'm very proud to call him one of my best friends today. He's also one of the great unsung journalists in our little industry. Follow him on Twitter at @tamoorh.

You can watch the site version of this episode right here, or subscribe to the show on YouTube.

Written By

Long time community member. Creator of video nonsense. Apologies in advance.dannyodwyer.tumblr.com@dannyodwyer

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Discussion

14 comments
nagarond
nagarond

Some people in America still don't believe in evolution despite the copious amounts of evidence? I'm flabbergasted!

 

No, I'm not really flabbergasted but I find it backwards. even in my country evolution is accepted as fact (of course scientific facts are subject to change or else they would not be scientific).

 

I'm not going to point fingers at any religion because there's no point. The concept of faith has unfortunately made sure that any position against religion is unsustainable due to the static nature of the concept of faith, this concept that stagnates thinking is unmovable and almost impossible to shake. Choosing to NOT believe in god is something of an epiphany ironically, it kind of hits you, or it doesn't.

bakagami
bakagami

Danny must not remember Shiny's Messiah

gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

Whether we are muslims or jews or christians all those in this page have one thing in common:we all love gaming.

Sholman
Sholman

I think if a game company wants to focus on a particular group of people (Jews, Musmils, Christians, heck, maybe even priests!), then I think it's perfectly fine to illustrate and incorporate that particular group's beliefs in their game. Why not, right? If they want to then go ahead. But I think the reason why many game companies don't really incorporate religion is because of money, because by appealing to most of the general public they'll most likely get more profit. But, it is just a game, not a terrorist or propaganda movement, so I would recommend to just try and connect with the game as much as possible and have fun. You might even find a few different religious views interesting.

forcefactor13
forcefactor13

I don't know if you read these, Danny, but thanks. 

bakagami
bakagami

 @nagarond that's true, but you can't say that everyone in your country believes in evolution either.  It may seem like there are a lot of holdouts here but it is really just a very small but vocal minority and many of those are invested in creationism for other reasons

bakagami
bakagami

 @FlameBeast4000  @nagarond that's pretty much what I've been saying, I know lots of christians but I don't know a single one that will try to argue that their ancestors used to hang out with the dinosaurs

bakagami
bakagami

 @FlameBeast4000  @nagarond go back & read it again, I nvr said anything about believing in god, I'm talking about the flat earthers that say the world is only 6000 yrs old and Darwinism is "a lie from the pit of hell"