Thursday, March 22, 2012

Religion in Videogames

Videogames made in part the person I am today. And part of the person I am today is someone who can't be considered a religious person. This happens because I learned an important lesson when young that many videogames try to teach you. That you must be careful with religion.

Many of us have played games were a religious group is one of the main opposing forces against the gamer's character, usually in the figure of a shady cleric who knows their system of belief to be fake but keep it as a way to enforce control over the people. And that was an important lesson to me. I must not blindly trust something just because of faith. It does not make you a better person to be religious. Not all you are told is necessarily truth. The funny thing, games also made me learn the opposite.

It is a little paradoxical to see games teaching you that religion can be something to be wary of, while you live in a world where magic is real, and that fantastic things occurs everyday. The message it left in me is that the problem does not lies in faith and believing in the fantastical, but using others faith as a tool for shady people to manipulate innocents in following their desires.

But they also show us many characters who have great faith and are great people, who use the teachings and believes not for personal gain, but to make the world better. They have faith in powers beyond, but don't just lay still waiting for those powers to help, but believe that those powers will help them to help themselves.

There is no problem in religion itself. Most of them have very good moral codes that if people really followed would make the world a better place. The problem arises from the ones using religion trying to justify their evil acts as the will of god (or gods) and try to manipulate people to follow their own agendas, even when many of those 'clerics' aren't faithful, just people using religion as a mean to personal gain.

Religion is usually a touchy subject. That is why we don't have games based on stories from the Bible or many other contemporary religions. The fear of attracting unwanted attention make many people avoid touching those subjects because the fear of the backslash is too big.

Religious people are not necessarily stupid zealots or dangerous individuals. Neither is many of their leaders. I am, again, not saying that being religious or having a faith is a bad thing. But games made me very cautious about it, to never follow blindly and to always question the whys. And also they made me learn that there is things I don't understand. That there is people who use faith and people who are used by it. And people whose faith help them to be better people.

So, I think games and gamers must not be afraid  to talk about religion, but also they need to be fair with it and treat it with dues respect. Maybe one day we will see great games based on religion. But an open mind is needed to it.

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