Do Video Games Disrespect Religion?
BioShock: Infinite

Faith is defined as the ability to believe in something without actual proof. Followers of various religions hope that there is something greater out there, and that good things will happen to them when they die. They believe in beings or powers more mightier than they could ever fathom being themselves. It is widely accepted that around 84% of the world follows some kind of religion. With such high numbers of people following varying forms of faith, why is the subject not covered very often in video games? Why aren't more developers brave enough to delve into the realm of religion?

The answer to the first question I have posed there probably seems glaringly obvious. Religion is a very tricky subject, when it comes to representing it. You have to walk the line between being respectful, educated, entertaining, and many other points. If you're not careful with your representation of religion, you could come out of the other end of development with something that is hurtful, ignorant, or offensive. Rather than bringing in customers with their choice of subject, developers could turn even more potential players away. So it makes sense that many of them just steer clear of religion entirely. Those that too usually only dip their toes in the water in order to retain some level of middle ground-ness. Even further, there are plenty of developers who have tried and found themselves banned or otherwise shunned. Like the bizarre case of LittleBigPlanet including songs that had passages from the Qur'an within them.

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The second question I have posed is quite a bit more complex. Most developers steer clear of subjects like religion for fear of alienating potential audiences. But when, if ever, will that subside? I'd be very interested in projects that looked at different aspects of religion. That was one reason why The Project at Eden's Gate in Far Cry 5 fascinated me so much. Here is a very outsider's perspective of a fanatical religion. Had we have been able to delve deeper into the religion itself, the game would have been more rich for it. Or take BioShock Infinite for example, which, according to some, made some attempts to comment on Christianity.

Any video game that is brave enough to include religion would absolutely get my money. I'm not religious myself, but the concept of faith and the people who follow religion are very intriguing to me. I'd wager that there's a great many other people out there who would be interested as well. At the very least, the 16% of the world's population that doesn't follow a religion may be okay with it. As far as the other 84% are concerned, if they took the time to be a little more open-minded about things, they might find that they'd learn something. A video game that features a religion different than your own would possibly teach you some things you didn't know before. Even further, maybe it would expand your world view. That's a high bar expectation, that I don't expect to be true necessarily, but you just never know.

BioShock: Infinite

Still, there remains the problem of people finding their religion's inclusion in video games as sacrilegious, or offensive. This is not something that can be changed overnight, and there isn't really an overarching campaign that could be started to alter it. The change really comes from within. People who follow a religion could be more accepting of seeing parts of it represented in video games, but that breaks from some of the very rules they have chosen to follow. A certain give and take must ensue before religion's inclusion in video games can become more commonplace. It doesn't just take the developers being brave enough to include it, it takes the consumers being receptive enough to give it a try.

I know all of this makes the possibility of religion in video games seem like a very easy shift to make. I understand that it's extremely complex, but religions change ever so slightly over time. Some are more accepting of different kinds of people than they maybe were hundreds of years ago. This makes me believe that we could include religion in video games into the future, it will just be a very long uphill battle. What do you think? Should video games start including depictions of religion, or gameplay that includes following a real life faith? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

April Marie
April Marie
@Legiodith

Contributing Writer
Date: 05/29/2018

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