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The entertainment medium that is video games has grown over the past few decades, not only in graphics, hardware, and mechanics but also in story telling and narrative. Video games, to some, are still seen as a medium for players no older than 18, but those that think so fail to realize that the average video game age is 35 (so says the Entertainment Software Administration).
One of the most notable improvements in the video game market has been in the storytelling. Video games have become more mature, and more controversial not only in graphics and language, but in the stories they tell. Sex, violence, racism, current events, there have been many lines video games have crossed. However, relgion is a topic that still has yet to resonate with video gamers.
Religion in today's society is a very personal topic for many. For the majority of us who have grown up in a household where religion was a large part of out lives, there is little room for debate or contrary discussion. This topic has come to my mind after playing Mass Effect 2, in which Shepard speaks with Thane Krios, a drell assassin, during one of their many space travels. Shepard struggles with the concept of Thane's "religion" that the body and soul are not one entity, but seperated. In the profession Thane chose, he felt that he was absolved of his crimes because of that philosophy. In all of his killings, he felt that his body was merely a tool to be used, similarly to a gun (in saying that it is not the gun that does the killing). The mere act of pulling the trigger Thane feels is not controlled by his soul, but who is "ordering the hit" so to speak.
One can brush this aside as an "off the wall religion" or a non-debatable excuse to commit murder, but Thane's character is a genuinely and deeply spiritual character. Does Shepard, with his own religious beliefs, have the right to judge Thane based on his own personal beliefs? It is a common philosophy of drells to follow the same path, would Shepard go as far to say that all drell are psychopathic murderers with no conscious? Thane wasn't the only one with conflicting religious beliefs either; he commanded an entire crew of different species. Most, if not all, had conflicting religious beliefs. Despite the obvious differences for which none could find common ground on, they were tasked with a mission to literally "save the galaxy."
In don't feel that the narrative was given enough focus by reviewers, bloggers or journalists. If there is, indeed life in outer space somewhere, it begs the debate over whether: there is a God, that maybe God is bigger than what any of us can imagine, or that the God we do know is not the only one out there in the universe.
In Assassins Creed 2 religion is depicted in a not so positive light. (SPOILERS AHEAD) In a time period where religion prospered through art, worship, architecture, and scientific breakthroughs, our hero comes to realize a truth so epic that if brought forward to the common man could destroy any notion of what we all thought life and religion really was.
We were all taught from when we were young that there is a God and that God had men on earth write a Holy Bible with God's teachings, lessons and revelations. However, in the end of the game we come to realize that the "teachings" and "lifestyle" that is Christianity (or any worldly religion for that matter) was all a control device spearheaded by the Templars and Illuninati to the people that live on this earth, by that concealing a greater truth. In that, we were all created not in God's image, but from something entirely different.
Facing that greater truth, how would someone who has been told their entire life that "there is a God, and he created everything" is all a lie? How about you, the gamer? Watching this, would you believe any shred of it, or would you shrug it off as "just another video game."
With these two points presented in a relatively "young medium," it is not meant to insult or disclaim any religion in today's world. In dealing with other religious beliefs, and maybe discovering the possibility that religion in of itself is a lie, can be an overwhelming concept to wrap your head around. Even a game like Dante's Inferno, which is religious-based, cannot be proven as "accurate" by anyone. Religion is a hot topic these days, especially when it comes to talking about conflicting religions, but I feel that more dialogue between these "conflicts" and the presentation of other forms of religion (or lack thereof) is a welcome addition into what is still thought of as a hobby for kids.
Some may say that these kinds of topics and narratives can be damaging to one's psyche. Shepard said it best in Mass Effect 2 that "everyone is entitled to believe in what they want to believe. I cannot argue against that, even if I don't understand it." If these kinds of topics scare you, you need to first find out what it is you truly believe, and stand firmly behind it. Then, no one can convince you otherwise.