Religion's Presence in Video Games

They Give «Another Life» to Players, Says Writer Francisco Molina

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BARCELONA, Spain, JUNE 13, 2003 ( Religion seems to be more evident in video games, says a Web watcher who suggests a way to handle the phenomenon.

Writer Francisco Molina delved into the topic in an article for the Internet Observation Service, a Spanish-language publication that analyzes the Web’s novelties in light of Catholic values.

«At the risk of generalizing too much, video games … do not go against religion, but take advantage of it,» Molina said. «All the elements of man in relation to his parents or to transcendence — culture, love, violence, history, sex, etc. — are also found in video games.»

What is different from real life is that in the video games the player always has another opportunity to realize his desires, he counts on «another life,» Molina said.

The religious element in video games follows certain predetermined schemes, according to the writer.

«God — message — messengers — believers — salvation,» he said. «Starting from this scheme, the question, then is: Who is God? What is the message? Who is the messenger? Who are the believers? And — this is the aim — what salvation do they offer?»

«There are games that have a direct or indirect relation with religion — for example, Matrix, whose character Neo has all the characteristics of a new messiah. In this game, superstition, pseudo-religion and futurism are mixed,» said Molina, a regular contributor to the Internet Observation Service.

The author gave other examples, such as video game Black & White, in which the underlying question is: What would you do if you were God? Would you be good, just, or vengeful?

Molina said: «One of the most complete video games is Heavy Gear, whose religious structure is very weighty in the game. Examples of details: God is the Peaceful Spirit; Thor Hutchison is the leader of the Revisionist Church; the Dorothean Order consists of warrior monks; Norlight is a follower of the Revisionist Church, etc. In this video, it is not clear what kind of salvation they offer.»

The solution to these games, Molina said, is not to try to prohibit them. «All the video games, without exception, which have been prohibited have been the most requested,» he noted.

The alternative, he suggests, is to «apply the imagination and design in creating video games with credible and attractive contents for young people, while at the same time persuading the promoters not to apply merely commercial philosophies.»

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