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  1. #1
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    Religion in games

    I've been thinking about this for awhile and decided to start a thread on it.

    Many of the games I play have religion/spirituality as some integral piece of the overall universe. The Elder Scrolls games, f'ex, have the Nine Divines, the Aedra, and the Daedra. Dragon Age has its Chantry, and Mass Effect has as many religious practices as there are species with which to interact...including a form of pantheism:

    The pantheistic mainstream asari religion is siari, which translates roughly as "All is one." The faithful agree on certain core truths: the universe is a consciousness, every life within it is an aspect of the greater whole, and death is a merging of one's spiritual energy back into greater universal consciousness. Siarists don't specifically believe in reincarnation; they believe in spiritual energy returning to the universal consciousness upon death will eventually be used to fill new mortal vessels.
    - Mass Effect Wiki

    I know there are individuals whose paths are influenced by fiction. My question, for all you gamers out there, is this: do you take the religious/spiritual aspects of a game into consideration while playing? Has a game ever affected your personal path in any way?

    I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
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    Re: Religion in games

    Quote Originally Posted by veggiewolf View Post
    I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
    I have many feels about religion in video games, and fiction in general.

    Sometimes it's handled okay, othertimes you can really tell it was just thrown in because they wanted to add dimension to a game or thought it "should" be in there.

    That's what I really like about Mass Effect, in how there are a variety of different religions in the different races (and how some have been abandoned in favour of others, like the drell adopting the "asari philosophies" or the Enkindler religion). Sometimes it makes me cringe a bit (the asari goddess "Athame" -- really?), but overall I am incredibly fascinated by the religious beliefs we found out about in the second game, like the quarians faith in their ancestors (and how thats waned a bit since they've been wandering the stars), or the turian's animist tendencies (at one point I want to incorporate "By the Spirits!" into my vocab).

    Do you take the religious/spiritual aspects of a game into consideration while playing?
    If I haven't answered that above... yes, totally. Going back to the Mass Effect example, especially how they worshipped before contact with the Citadel and galactic community, and how that's changed after contact.

    Has a game ever affected your personal path in any way?
    So far, no. My personal path is/was much more influenced by literature than video games, if only because, I guess, there is more freedom an author can have than developers with video games (which I think boils down to money and trying to market to as wide of an audience as possible).
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    Re: Religion in games

    Quote Originally Posted by veggiewolf View Post
    I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
    OMGs this is one of my favourite topics ever! I could go on and on (but I will try and keep this to a reasonable length).

    Do you take the religious/spiritual aspects of a game into consideration while playing?
    I'm currently playing Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and the game starts you off by getting you to choose a patron god or goddess (the different races have different deities to choose from) which basically gives you stat bonuses. You can also choose to be beholden to no god, which gives you an experience bonus. I'm playing a dokkalfar mage so I chose the goddess Lyria as my patron (goddess of fate and magic, gives a mana bonus of 5% and a mana regen bonus of +5%). Religion in Amalur doesn't appear to be as in your face as say. Dragon Age, but it is there, and they do some interesting things with it.

    For instance, there's an early quest involving a missionary order that worships the god Mitharu and doesn't allow women to be ordained. After doing a quest for that order, you can talk to a sister who asserts that Mitharu is female and that the order has an ancient ordination tome that proves that women are allowed to enter the order. (She wants you to get it for her, obviously.)

    I've also come across a town where the leader is a priestess of Lyria and have had a run in with members of Belen's Testament (who are basically necromancers). The Almain (one of the non-elven races) seem to be inspired by the Norse. Their worldview is very Order vs. Chaos and they worship gods like Njordir and Thyrdon (gods of the sea and war respectively).

    I don't tend to think of my characters as particularly religious (in Dragon Age I had great fun flipping off the Chantry), but I thought of my Skyrim character as a sensible worshiper of Dibella who just so happened to keep getting duped into helping Daedric Princes (srsly, you tell Molag Bal, Lord of Domination, that you aren't going to do as he says while he has you trapped). She married a priestess of Dibella and "evangelized" for the Temple of Mara. The quest "The Book of Love" really made me think about how love comes in many forms. I know it sounds corny, but it did.

    Has a game ever affected your personal path in any way?
    The Temple of Mara quest I just mentioned is one that affected me, but I actually had a bit of an epiphany in Oblivion with Hircine's quest. There's a bit of dialogue at the end where he says:

    "Yes, hunter, make your offering. Did you taste its flesh and drink its blood? Never waste the spoils of a kill. You've pleased me, hunter. Take my token, and wear it well. Hereafter, take your prey, and whisper my name."

    At that moment, I felt like I was better able to relate to deities of the hunt despite never actually hunting before. Hircine isn't a particularly nice Daedric Prince (though he isn't the worst) but hunting isn't particularly "nice" (or always clean) either.

    Okay, back to Skyrim. I have to be honest and say that the trek up the mountain to meet the Greybeards felt like a pilgrimage to me. I left my horse at the foot of the mountain and went there on foot (only noticing after I arrived that my character was barefoot lol, good thing the game doesn't take that into account) while "From Past to Present" was playing (and then "Seven Thousand Steps") was just....wow...

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    Re: Religion in games

    Quote Originally Posted by veggiewolf View Post
    I know there are individuals whose paths are influenced by fiction. My question, for all you gamers out there, is this: do you take the religious/spiritual aspects of a game into consideration while playing? Has a game ever affected your personal path in any way?

    I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
    I'm a huge fan of computer games, and I really enjoy games that include religious aspects (especially if they also include housing). In any game where I really identify with my character, I'll consider their religious ideology as part of my gameplay because it is more fun for me to immerse myself like that.

    I have always loved elder scrolls games. I love the lore there, and the way that the characters in the game essentially worship several groups of beings. I also love that the games have housing and lots of neat things you can pick up. I always enjoy building up an altar or ritual space in my house.

    I also like playing the various D&D based computer games. I will admit, I started out with D&D as a pen and paper game, so I was exposed to the depth of their religious system early on. It always fascinated me, the number and variety of their deities, how their priests worship and even the difference between priest and lay people attitudes towards gods. I don't think I've ever made a character for a D&D game where the god (or gods) that my character primarily worshiped wasn't a big consideration of the type of character I was playing.

    I haven't much been influenced in my personal practice by video game religion, however, pen and paper roleplaying games have sparked routes of research for me that have led to a broadening of my path. Most prominently being the rpg books made by White Wolf. They have a lot of quasi-real world information, and as I was roleplaying before I started my path, the first exposure I had to some concepts was through games.

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    Re: Religion in games

    Quote Originally Posted by veggiewolf View Post
    I know there are individuals whose paths are influenced by fiction. My question, for all you gamers out there, is this: do you take the religious/spiritual aspects of a game into consideration while playing? Has a game ever affected your personal path in any way?
    I have not played enough computer RPGs to have an opinion. They bore me. I have played tabletop RPGs (like D&D) a lot over the years, most as GM. I make up religions for the campaign settings I create but I've never considered them "real" enough to have any effect on my own religious views -- more likely my religious views influence the religions I create for these games.
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    Re: Religion in games

    Quote Originally Posted by veggiewolf View Post
    I know there are individuals whose paths are influenced by fiction. My question, for all you gamers out there, is this: do you take the religious/spiritual aspects of a game into consideration while playing? Has a game ever affected your personal path in any way?
    I'm more of a tabletopper, although I do delve into computer games now and again.

    Personally, I've not really taken directly from a game, although I know people that have. I know several people who've worked with the Warhammer pantheon. (Mostly Tzeentch and Slaanesh. Khorne and Nurgle are much rarer, for reasons obvious to anybody familiar with the Warhammer world).

    For myself, it's more that I see things in a game that gel with my own ways of thinking. I've not done much with it, but the Unknown Armies version of magic is probably my favourite version I've seen in a game. And, with Ars Magica, the House Tytalus worldview meshes nicely with mine; the idea that personal growth happens through conflict, the concept that the main struggle is between individuality and societal rules etc. With that, I've been known to describe myself as "Tytalus". But I held those views before I'd even heard of Ars Magica. It just gave me a snappy descriptor.
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    Re: Religion in games

    Quote Originally Posted by veggiewolf View Post
    I've been thinking about this for awhile and decided to start a thread on it.

    Many of the games I play have religion/spirituality as some integral piece of the overall universe. The Elder Scrolls games, f'ex, have the Nine Divines, the Aedra, and the Daedra. Dragon Age has its Chantry, and Mass Effect has as many religious practices as there are species with which to interact...including a form of pantheism:

    - Mass Effect Wiki

    I know there are individuals whose paths are influenced by fiction. My question, for all you gamers out there, is this: do you take the religious/spiritual aspects of a game into consideration while playing? Has a game ever affected your personal path in any way?

    I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
    Religion affecting gameplay isn't restricted to RPGs. Some in the RTS genre have religion as an important factor. The Total War series comes to mind, specifically from Rome: Total War - Barbarian Invasion onwards. The religion of a settlement heavily affects the overall mood of the population in it. In Barbarian Invasion there are 3 religions: Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Paganism. The religion of a region is affected by the faction in control, the religious infrastructure, and the religion of neighbouring regions.

    Conquering regions belonging to another faction is made significantly more complex by the possibility of religious revolts.

    Some buildings for each religion also give access to powerful unique units.
    Last edited by A Disgruntled Scotsman; 10 Mar 2012 at 05:34 PM. Reason: Forgot to add something.
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    Re: Religion in games

    Quote Originally Posted by veggiewolf View Post
    I know there are individuals whose paths are influenced by fiction. My question, for all you gamers out there, is this: do you take the religious/spiritual aspects of a game into consideration while playing? Has a game ever affected your personal path in any way?
    I am not a gamer, but my oldest son became interest in tarot because it was in a video game he enjoyed. Personally, I had never been inclined to look into tarot, but if my kid was going to a tarot workshop, so was I. I recognized the usefulness of the tool and now I have two decks -- so, I don't even play video games and it changed my path, though not any of my fundamental beliefs.


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