Is religion being demonised in video games?

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Guy Perreault, a doctoral student in journalism at the University of Missouri, has recently published a paper investigating the portrayal of religion in video games and whether or not there is an agenda to be anti-religion in the industry.

The games he investigated aren’t the ones I instantly thought off when thinking about religion in games but I guess that goes to his point. The games in question are Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy 13, Assassin’s Creed, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.

In all of the games he found that religion was depicted as a problem and linked it heavily with violence.

Now with Assassin’s Creed it’s obviously set in the time of the crusades and whether you believe religion is saving the planet or not it’s hard to defend the crusades and the barbaric behaviour of the church during that time.

However the rest (barring Oblivion) are all set in a fantasy world and therefore religion could have been portrayed in any manner they wished and yet in all of them religion doesn’t come out smelling like roses.

In his own words

“In most of these games there was a heavy emphasis on a “Knights Templar” and crusader motifs,” Perreault said. “Not only was the violent side of religion emphasized, but in each of these games religion created a of problem that the main character must overcome, whether it is a direct confrontation with religious zealots or being haunted by religious guilt.”

Now it’s a stretch to say religion shouldn’t be used in this way as there are thousands of incidents of religious violence permeating our history but at the same time religion has been credited with a lot of good and peaceful experiences which aren’t being seen in as many games.

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However in the end he didn’t find any proof of an organised campaign against religion and completed his paper with

“It doesn’t appear that game developers are trying to purposefully bash organized religion in these games,” Perreault said. “I believe they are only using religion to create stimulating plot points in their story lines. If you look at video games across the board, most of them involve violence in some fashion because violence is conflict and conflict is exciting. Religion appears to get tied in with violence because that makes for a compelling narrative.”

So what do you think, are you religious and offended by the constant violence linked to religion in games or are you non-religious and believe the violence is properly attributed to organised religions across the universe.

Or do you not care about either side would rather discuss politics instead?

*Please note we have some very religious members in our community and some militant atheists, open discussion is encouraged but insults are not

Last Updated: February 28, 2012

Gavin Mannion

I for one welcome our future robotic overlords

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