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Pat Robertson: “Virtual Sin” is as bad as real sin

I must be a genocidal maniac for having murdered so many video game characters. I must also be a racecar expert, and a canny businessman, and an expert marksman, a seasoned space traveller and terrestrial archaeologist, and an athelete extraordinaire, with superpowers of all stripes, and an endless series of chances at getting things just exactly right in my life.

I will say this for Pat: he’s right that playing video games cut me off from God. I have previously told you that my childhood was steeped in video games, and that one of the major video games was Final Fantasy, which included a number of mythological figures treated in the same category as mythological figures from the Bible. That was formative for me. I realized that they were in fact the same category, and it helped me free myself from the shackles of belief in a non-existent supernatural entity.

If video games helped loose me from those bonds, I feel as though it is my duty on this planet to create video games and loose others from those bonds. Though, I am keenly aware that my experience is unlikely to be anything like universal, I do have to admit that I do have a pull toward creating games. I don’t have anything like the time it would take, or financial freedom to quit my day job, though.

What would you folks like to see in a video game that could theoretically help kids deconvert?

Comments

  1. Aliasalpha says

    How about a Please God simulator? No matter what happens you’ll eventually fail. It’ll be even harder than Dark Souls since at least that game is fair

  2. stever says

    He’s way behind. Catholic priests have been guilt-bombing horny teenagers with “Thinking about it just as sinful as doing it!” for generations.

  3. grumpyoldfart says

    What would you folks like to see in a video game that could theoretically help kids deconvert?

    The player starts off as an acolyte and works through the various levels – deacon, preacher, bishop, archbishop – until he or she becomes the Pope and gains control of the Government.

    From there, the “Pope” must control the other players with Dark Ages, Crusades and Inquistions (points gained for inventing painful new torture machines) and finally a period of fundamentalism that brings about the second Dark Age.

    [At any time during the game any player can stab, strangle, poison, or arrest the legitimate Pope and take over the position for themselves - and it is permissible to have as many as three different Popes at the same time.]

    The game is over when the Pope is once again ruling over a society of uneducated, fearful, peasants with an average life span of less than 35 years.

  4. bahrfeldt says

    So, if you are viewing or thinking about masturbation, fornication, adultery, gay sex, etc. you might as well go for it, you have already committed the damnable sin. No difference in the eyes of the lawd. Same with robbery, assault, rape and murder. No more Law & Order for me.

  5. left0ver1under says

    I must be a genocidal maniac for having murdered so many video game characters.

    Pat Robertson must be a genocidal maniac for having murdered so many people in Sierra Leone – the people murdered by his business partner in blood diamonds, convicted war criminal Charles Taylor.

    In recent news, Taylor’s sentence of 50 years was upheld. Too bad Robertson and others who participated aren’t facing the same fate.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-24279323

  6. left0ver1under says

    Regarding “virtual mass murder”, in 2008 two economists showed a correlation between violent movies in theatres and a short-term reduction in violence. Their implication is that violent movies are an outlet for agression, a better outlet than taking it out on other people.

    http://www.nber.org/papers/w13718

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18045578

    I wouldn’t doubt the same is true of first person shooters and other video games, that playing games actually pacifies people. I sometimes play FPS to take out my frustrations on pixels, to avoid taking it out on other people – including those who might be the source of the frustration.

  7. Great American Satan says

    My dude depicts characters in his comic not taking religion or the religious seriously – treating religion as an eccentricity. He’s doing early work on a video game as well, probably not out for a few years. He also says evil god plots are fun, like the one in Final Fantasy Tactics?

    I’d like to see what I call the Abrahamic pantheon depicted in the same light as the Egyptian and Norse pantheons. If you can summon a “Thor” in a video game, why can’t you summon a “Jesus”? I understand some Japanese games have done just this, but I can’t remember any specific titles.

  8. rikitiki says

    For me, it wasn’t video games (hell, I remember the first Atari) but Dungeons & Dragons — once you get your hands on a copy of “Dieties & Demigods” and actually read it your religion starts to erode. And when it comes to violence, there’s nothing so fun as playing an evil character. I’ve done things virtually that would disgust me in the real world.

  9. Callinectes says

    The worst thing I ever did in a videogame was turn an orphanage into a brothel, evicting all the orphans onto the streets where they erected a sad little shanty-town in the shadow of lecherous opulence. It was horrible. There aren’t many games that let me play evil with standards. Take over the world with a virus bomb, sure. But child abuse? That’s the sort of crime that villain teams police amongst themselves.

  10. Aliasalpha says

    Am I correct in thinking that orphanage to brothel thing was in Fable 3? There’s no game that embodies the stupid saint vs moustache twirling villain quite so well

  11. says

    Funny, recently I played through ME3 a fourth time, and this time I decided to try and be the renegade so I could see the other endings. As often as I could, I took the unempathetic choice, left people to die, stabbed innocents, was really awful. I managed to get myself to a place where I was about 75% red on the morality metre (red for bad, blue for good), but I never finished, because I was almost nauseated by the way I was treating the people I was encountering. I don’t need any Ludovico’s technique, apparently, I’m perfectly capable of policing my own morality with nausea. :)

  12. says

    Agreed. Any time i’d play Dark Side on a Star Wars game like KOTOR, i’d wind up feeling so bad about the things i was doing to these fictional characters. One of them would say something like, “What’s happened to you? Why are you doing this?!” and i would actually say, “I’m sorry!” out loud…

    As for the OP, it’s just another way for them to dangle that Orwellian Thoughtcrime idea and cause another source of guilt to bring people crawling into church…

  13. says

    I think a video game that required thinking through several possibilities and sorting them into plausibilities would be fun and challenging. Stress not only scientific thinking, but philosophy and logic. An FPS/puzzle game, maybe? Do it like Fallout so that the player has the freedom to do what they want, but progress higher the closer they get to “reality.” Or an MMORPG that poses seriously difficult questions that require an army of philosopher warriors to decipher? Maybe you could even set it in a Star Trek universe of an early Vulcan race mastering the ways of their famous logic and science.

    I think by focusing on critical thinking, your objective will be met better than with deconversion in mind. If you pump someone up with some serious brain ‘roids from a game you build, and they still choose to believe in a god, you’ve still improved the world. Like Dennet says, any religion that can survive the harsh daylight of inquiry deserves to remain a part of civilization. But I think, by and large, more critical thinking = less religion.

  14. Yellow Thursday says

    I’m currently playing a LE character in an evil D&D campaign. The DM is allowing his twin 8-year-olds to play CN characters in the game. So far the evil aspects of the other player characters haven’t manifested in any significant way, but I wonder what affect that will have on the twins. I must remember to mention how my character worships the goddess Hecate when the kids are around, just to plant that little seed of questioning in them.

  15. sinned34 says

    Of course they’d think that “virtual” sin is the equivalent of “real” sin – they believe that “virtual” goodness (prayer) is the same as “real” goodness (feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, visiting the imprisoned, etc).

  16. says

    simon@14: I’m glad I’m not the only one. KOTOR was the same thing. I tried to play it as a Sith, but I just didn’t enjoy being evil.

    I’m okay with that about myself. I know I can do what I need to when the crapspackle* starts IRL.

    * crapspackle: the wall treatment you get after the shit hits the fan.

  17. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    I must be super-extra evil then, I always play Sith/Renegade in Bioware RPGs (I mean come-on, Force Lightning yeah!). Well, on the first play-through anyway. And just last night I got the achievement for wasting over 100,000 peons in Dynasty Warriors 8 (simple hack-and-slash type game, the enemy hordes are basically just a distraction). And I’ve been playing DW games for over a decade, that makes me one of the most terrible mass-murderers in history.

    The Black & While games helped with my deconversion. You play as a god, powered by the prayers of your people. I’d always start out trying to help and impress them to get em to worship, but it never took long before I got upset and started chucking fireballs to get em terrified and praying.

  18. erudito87 says

    The logic of these republican retards is a joke; so they oppose virtual violence where no one is hurt but are FOR real guns that kills real people and have been responsible for massacres at schools around the usa?

  19. John Horstman says

    I’m a big fan of deconstructions: start with the premise that a particular god actually exists as described by a given religious sect, and then generate a game world consistent with that premise. The vast differences between that world and reality are a great way to demonstrate that the premise is flawed. Plus magic is cool, so that makes for a fun game.

  20. John Horstman says

    One could throw a feminist/anti-racist/etc. twist on it and have a game that shows what it’s like to be a member of a marginalized group in a society steeped in (always ethnocentrist, generally patriarchal) religion.

  21. Snoof says

    GreatAmericanSatan @ 9

    If you can summon a “Thor” in a video game, why can’t you summon a “Jesus”? I understand some Japanese games have done just this, but I can’t remember any specific titles.

    A number of games from the Shin Megami Tensei series (basically Pokemon with mythological creatures) have God as the final boss, or as an optional one. They generally also have various Abrahamic archangels and demons available as enemies and teammates, too.

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