Christians Shouldn't Play Video Games

Opinions run rampant in the video game industry, be it in journalism or the development teams themselves. There is a lot to be said about what can be considered "offensive" these days and what isn't, but at the end of the day it is a human right to be offended, and no one can take that away from you. I don't plan on talking about every hot-button topic that could trigger the slightest debate, rather I want to talk about something I just heard on IGN Podcast Beyond, Episode #305.

I was not aware of this, but throughout the development cycle of Bioshock: Infinite, one of the staff left due to religious reasons. Ken Levine spoke later on the topic, and it was concluded that the part of the game that bothered the staff member was near the end, where Booker is being baptized. As a Christian, I was not offended by this, but I can understand where this guy was coming from. It was blasphemous, to say the least, however in the context of the story it was conveyed in such a way that it's not as if it was gratuitous. There was a point to be made. Exceptionalism is the driving force of this game, as the citizens of this city in the clouds believe that Columbia is the new America, the better America. As America was built on Christian fundamentals, they still hold most of that true, but as Comstock found this new land they began to worship him in a way. The baptism scene is sure a disturbing one, but not one that could be easily taken out of the game in an attempt to stop from offending someone.

For Christians, certain storytelling devices such as this need to be studied and watched carefully instead of dismissed as simply "offensive." There is even a concept album by the band Zao called "The Funeral of God," which at face value could be seen as satanic and tossed aside. However, the album is by a Christian hardcore band, telling the fictional story of what could happen if God became fed up with humanity, stepping away and leaving them to their own devices. In the album, the world becomes war-torn and is left on the brink of self-destruction before man discovers what they have done to themselves, and wait for God's return. The concept album "Cancer" by Showbread tells the story of a fictitious band who has risen to fame in a totalitarian-like America after being very pro-government, and quickly fall due to their true rebellious message being deciphered.

Movies, music, and video games are not black and white. There is a meaning to story that can only be seen when we get the entire picture. Some stories are so convoluted you need to talk to someone else about them. We can't just play Doom and say, "it's evil because you're killing everything," or, "it's good because you're killing demons."

Well, maybe you can say that about Doom. There wasn't that much story there to begin with.

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Edited by OllyOxenFree

In b4 lock/delete.

Edited by JasonR86

It's well within that person's right to do that and people should respect her conviction. At least I do. That said, as a Christian, it didn't bother me at all.

Online
Edited by Video_Game_King

Wait, why was the baptism at the end of the game offensive? Is there some detail missing, or was it the army of Elizabeths drowning Booker?

Edited by Blu3V3nom07

I'm really looking forward to Doom 4, y'all.

Edited by punkxblaze

Christianity, like any faith should be, is a very personal thing, not a blanket classification. Likewise, what does and does not offend someone is also a very personal thing. I'm not Christian, myself, though I was brought up religious, but I know plenty of people who are and are not offended by most content in video games, as it's a far cry from someone actually dumping on their personal beliefs in a targeted fashion. Even Bioshock Infinite, though it could initially be seen as a critique of Christianity/Religion, isn't that at all so much as it's a critique on the mis-use of religion to do horrible things.

Edit: @blu3v3nom07 HNNNNGGGGGGG

Edited by Rainbowkisses

I'm not entirely sure what the main point of this post is? I think it's that people should look deeper into things before taking offense to them, but doesn't that apply to every ideology though? Your title is confusing and possibly misleading.

Edited by Fredchuckdave

The issue with Bioshock Infinite isn't that it criticizes religion, it is the heavy handedness with which it does so. However the concept of Determinism utilized by the game is much more compatible with God than without (i.e. there is some sort of Fate). That said trying to categorize Christianity in any way shape or form in a handful of paragraphs is a fool's errand.

Posted by ToTheNines

I'm really looking forward to Doom 4, y'all.

hahaha!

Posted by Quarters

I don't...I feel like the topic title and the topic point are on two different wave lengths. It isn't that Christians shouldn't play games(I'm a Christian), but that they should examine the points that games make. Some games can actually have quasi-decent Christian undertones, such as Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood and the original Call of Juarez together. While they have language and violence and such, there's actually a pretty Christian story of redemption in there for Ray and the relationship with his brothers/nephew. And it isn't the only one, either. Dante's Inferno, though having some issues, also had some good messages within it.

Posted by SMTDante89

Well, guess I'm setting all of my games on fire.

Posted by Hailinel

All I'll say is that I would be very interested to hear a devout Christian's opinion on Shin Megami Tensei II, given that YHVH is the final boss.

Edited by Breadfan

Edited by gaminghooligan

If someone is offended by something religion related they have every right to feel that way and everyone who doesn't share their opinion has a right to do so as well. I felt like everything in Columbia, like you said above, had become a monument to Comstock who used Christianity/Nationalism (maybe not the best word for this?) as a way to gain a following. The baptism as Booker enters Columbia felt more like something done to please the prophet Comstock and less about accepting God into one's life. I'm an atheist myself, but the baptism of a good friend I witnessed seemed more about the person choosing to accept Christ/God into his heart. The Columbian baptism felt more like conformity, doing what was necessary to prove loyalty to Comstock and Columbia.

Edited by believer258

In b4 lock/delete.

The only reason for locking or deleting this thread would be posts like yours or @blu3v3nom07's or @breadfan's. I assumed this was going to be a troll or stupid thread, but came in here and got a decently written blog with an agreeable point.

But on topic, I don't actually have much to say. Does anyone know what, exactly, the offensive detail was? I mean, yeah, the game criticized blind fanaticism, but I don't necessarily think that's meant to be offensive to a religion overall.

Posted by erhard

America was built on Enlightenment ideals.

Posted by chiablo

Having been raised in a Mormon household, I could see someone getting very easily offended at the imagery in Bioshock Infinite if they misunderstood what is happening. It's a legitimate concern for gaming companies to have a tolerant approach when it comes to religious representation in a video game. I thought the team who made Bioshock Infinite did a fantastic job by treating Nationalism as a sort of religious ideal instead of actual religious symbolism. Anyone who actually gets offended at this is reading too far into it and should learn to mellow out.

But then again... Religious extremists tends to label anything that is popular as sinful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDRHFtQIZCA

Posted by leebmx

Your title makes it seem as if your blog is going to be way more stupid, unreasonable and sensational than it actually is. Ever thought of working for Kotaku? ;)

Also, what was the guy's problem with the baptism - just that they showed one, or something else? I can't see how it is particularly offensive. I thought it was supposed to depict how out of control and cultish Columbia had become. I never saw it as a slight against Christians.

Posted by DrxLecter

As America was built on Christian fundamentals

NO NO NO NO NO. This is and has always been a secular country... stop trying to claim it for your deity.

Edited by Tireyo

Whatever.

Edited by Dagbiker

I do not believe in God. I do not believe he wrote the bible. but...

I believe in the stories of the bible. In the teachings. David and Goliath is not about David and Goliath, it is about the weak utilizing strategy to overcome their foes.

Adam and Eve is not about forsaking god but about ignorance and how blisful it can be, and about regret. Same with Kane and Able

That guy believed in what he did, he wanted to make a game he could be proud of. He did not force his ideals on anyone else. He walked away.

Edit: also one mans belief is not all mens beleife just because one christian band sings a song dose not mean that all Christians stand for what they sing about. Just as your fathers crimes, or your skin color, or your sex dose not affect your ideals.

Edited by BaneFireLord

Please stop using fringe cases to classify entire groups, internet at large.

Edited by MetalGearSunny

You're acting like Christians are the only religious group that can get offended by content in a game/movie/song. Also the fact that you're grouping every Christian into one giant umbrella is sickening. One of my best friends is a Christian and he loves video games to death. He loves the shit out of Doom. He probably wouldn't get super uptight about going to hell in a video game or whatever.

There won't be any intelligent discussion in this thread because there wasn't any intelligent discussion in the first place.

Posted by themangalist

I can already see hardcore atheists ready to bury the OP.

On topic though, I never took the baptism moment in Bioshock Infinite as anti-Christian, more like a ritual to earning a new life and forgetting the past being misused. It could be anything really, but I see where the criticism might be coming from.

Posted by GERALTITUDE

thread title =! op text

...that's all I got..

Edited by MetalGearSunny

Also, in an interview with Gamespot, Levine said that he realized that he kinda underwrote Comstock after talking to the guy who left. Other than the Baptism, you don't see why he does the things he does. It makes that aspect feel unearned in a way.

Edited by bushpusherr

As America was built on Christian fundamentals

No it wasn't.

Edited by Lyisa

The issue of being offended at something in a game probably more has to do with expectation. Non-religious people probably aren't offended by anything in Bioshock Infinite because they have no association with what would make it offensive. (I'm in that boat, I didn't find anything offensive)

So in the case of violence in the game that is the expectation because video games are violent, the games box says its violent and bloody. People getting offended over the violence in the game would be really weird because as far as violence in it nothing is super radically different than what you see in other violent games.

And one last point: not every game is designed to be played by everyone. Bioshock Infinite is one of those games that, while it got a lot of attention, not everyone is going to play and enjoy. I thought segments of the game were tedious and dull. Some people would find segments of the game offensive. People who find violence offensive probably won't ever play the game. All of that is okay, trying to argue down what people find things offensive (either as misplaced, contradictory, or backwards) is futile, if not overbearing and egotistical.

Edit: I would like to note that a lot of this is off of what was said in the IGN podcast.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@lyisa said:

Non-religious people probably aren't offended by anything in Bioshock Infinite because they have no association with what would make it offensive. (I'm in that boat, I didn't find anything offensive)

I dunno, man. As an atheist, I found that "Press X to Comfort Elizabeth" moment pretty offensive.

Posted by Belegorm

I rarely get offended by portrayals of Christianity in games; more like I bang my head on the table out of annoyance because these portrayals usually don't reflect actual Christianity very well and can be misleading.

Also don't forget Christians aren't the only people who can get offended based on their beliefs.

Posted by MariachiMacabre

@ssdelorean said:
As America was built on Christian fundamentals

NO NO NO NO NO. This is and has always been a secular country... stop trying to claim it for your deity.

@ssdelorean said:

As America was built on Christian fundamentals

No it wasn't.

Both of these.

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Mohammedan] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Treaty of Tripoli. Written by John Adams.

I have no issue with religion except when it pushes it's ideals upon people who do not follow that religion. That's wrong and it should not be tolerated. The United States was never meant to be a Christian nation. Please do not claim otherwise.

Posted by JayEH

Before the release of the game, I was scared that the game would just be a constant attack on Christian values. I was concerned to get in the game but was glad to hear when the reviews started to come out that wasn't the case. When you play the game, you find out Infinite isn't attacking Christianity at all, Comstock is his own god and the people of Columbia worship him.

Personally, I wasn't offended by anything in the game. I listened to that IGN thing and I think it's stupid how they basically saying "Well, you're shooting a lot of people so I don't see how a Christian can't complain about that". If we're looking strictly at Infinite, you're not just mowing down people for no reason, I'm actually pretty sure you start that game killing people in self defense once they realize you're the false shepard.

Edited by ll_Exile_ll

@video_game_king said:

Wait, why was the baptism at the end of the game offensive? Is there some detail missing, or was it the army of Elizabeths drowning Booker?

As I understand it, the reason people were offended is because the "good" version of Booker is the one who rejected the baptism, basically rejecting god, while the evil version of him is the one that accepted the baptism.

Edited by McGhee

My experience was always that since Christian beliefs don't line up with reality and they take a lot of energy to maintain (if you've got any brains, that is), there will be a constant internal conflict going on. - Your beliefs versus anything contrary to them. So when you see good people that you have some close connection to doing something that causes that conflict in your mind, you can either run away or confront these realities. Most people just run away.

Posted by Hunter5024

Far be it from me to decide when someone should or should not be offended, but I disagree with people who consider that scene a condemnation of religion. Mostly because both interpretations of Booker are pretty much scumbags. He sold his daughter yo.

Posted by TruthTellah

@ssdelorean: Your title is misguided, and it easily distracts from your more level point of "People should give things a real look before dismissing them."

As a Christian, I haven't found a game yet that offended me because of my faith. I've found games that offend me due to bigotry or unnecessary exploitation of sex and violence, but I am under no false perspective that every game will be made by someone who shares similar religious beliefs as I have. I can understand why some are more offended by certain things than I am, but I would not happen to agree with them.

Everyone should play videogames if they want to play videogames.

Posted by laserbolts

Is it wrong that I read the title then proceeded to skip reading the thread completely and came to the conclusion that nothing here was worth reading?

Posted by TruthTellah

Is it wrong that I read the title then proceeded to skip reading the thread completely and came to the conclusion that nothing here was worth reading?

Maybe? I mean, his title is misleading garbage, but his post itself isn't bad.

Edited by BigJeffrey

PC people should not play games, get to upset over nothing

Online
Posted by Kraznor

Isn't there an easy hypocrisy to point out here in that the person got offended the game depicted a religious ceremony incorrectly but the bodycount in this game is in the triple or quadruple digits? Just how easy it is for a religious person to rationalize horrific violence being used in a game but can't get behind "blasphemy", which is a relative term governed by every individuals perception of the rules they choose to abide by to govern their behavior, seems to undermine that person's credibility to me. I mean, you ultimately choose which precepts in your religion you value most but there IS a commandment that says "Thou Shalt Not Kill" but there isn't exactly a "thou shalt not satirically depict baptism for any reason". That's how I felt about it back when this story first came out (this isn't exactly timely), and it still stands as my first question to anyone crying foul over the baptism sequence.

And I agree with everyone saying the title makes this sound more intriguing than it actually is.

Edited by Seppli

Seeing how all religion is but an organized effort to shape the little part of god each and every one of us has responsibilty for, I don't see how not playing videogames would benefit oneself, or the world. A lot would have to change before I'd consider not wasting my time with such things, and spend it more productively. Until then, it's time well wasted in my book.

If you're afraid to subject yourself to other opinions and teachings than your own, if your belief can't withstand a simple questioning, or even some pop cultural absurdness, then it's not really something worth protecting. Faith doesn't need protecting, it protects you. Ignorance however only seems protective, but all it does is keep you small.

Edited by SpaceInsomniac

@kraznor said:

Isn't there an easy hypocrisy to point out here in that the person got offended the game depicted a religious ceremony incorrectly but the bodycount in this game is in the triple or quadruple digits?

...

I mean, you ultimately choose which precepts in your religion you value most but there IS a commandment that says "Thou Shalt Not Kill" but there isn't exactly a "thou shalt not satirically depict baptism for any reason". That's how I felt about it back when this story first came out (this isn't exactly timely), and it still stands as my first question to anyone crying foul over the baptism sequence.

And I agree with everyone saying the title makes this sound more intriguing than it actually is.

You're not actually religious, are you? I am, and I'd have no issues whatsoever about killing someone who was trying to kill me. I don't think many religious people would. In the Bible, whenever an invading army is attacking a faithful group of people, I don't recall God ever getting upset with them for fighting back, instead of allowing themselves to be slaughtered.

Anyhow, here's what I said about the subject when the game was first released:

And that might be the main issue that I have with the plot. The story asks me to accept that the protagonist is deeply troubled by the horrific racist and hateful genocide that he participated in, and then when his sins are washed clean and he has the chance to start again, he does so by creating a horrifically racist and hateful society.

I'd say it felt more like an error in logic, rather than something that truly offended me. Besides, Glen Beck's website supported the game, so that has to count for something, right? That's a really fun thread, btw. You should check it out.

Edited by Brodehouse

@spaceinsomniac: God not only justifies defending against invaders, he actually commands the faithful to invade several tribes of heretics. And his commands for what to do with the spoils of war are... more similar to Dr. Doom than Jesus Christ. Until Jesus Christ shows up, God/Jehovah/whatever-you'd-prefer never falls on the side of pacifism. And then Christianity was only super-pacifist in the early years... once my Frankish ancestors took it up, their influence made Christianity take on a decidedly militant bent. Sorry, Europe/everywhere.

For my part, I had way more problems with the abuse of causality and character motivation in BioShock Infinite than I did with how they applied theology.

And adding my voice to the chorus of @mariachimacabre, @bushpusherr, @drxlecter ... America was specifically set up as a secular nation primarily to avoid the last 300 years of war that wracked Europe regarding the Reformation. They had watched monarchies and ruling parties rise and collapse due to religious schisms, and most of the more intellectual of the Founding Fathers were dyed-in-the-wool Deists, which for it's time would be almost indistinguishable from atheism (today we'd say it would be more of an agnostic perspective). Thomas Jefferson wrote a version of the New Testament in which all the supernatural acts and claims of divinity by Jesus Christ were omitted, called The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. Thomas Paine himself was about as extreme (and militant) of an atheist as they had in the late 18th century. They didn't believe morals came from a creator God, and they didn't base either the Articles or the Constitution on any religious doctrine.

Edited by TheManWithNoPlan

I'm a Christian and I wasn't offended in the slightest by anything in Bioshock Infinite.

Posted by joshwent

As an atheist, I deeply feel that your thread title has nothing to do with your post.

Posted by Dagbiker

@ssdelorean said:
As America was built on Christian fundamentals

NO NO NO NO NO. This is and has always been a secular country... stop trying to claim it for your deity.

OH CRAP, Really, I must have fallen into the 250 year long trap of that whole freedom of religion thing.

Posted by DarthOrange

Spoilers you fucking dick hole. :(

Posted by Aterons

I'm agnostic but I stopped playing Bioshock infinite because I was offended by how shitty and drawn out the combat was, I can literally point out shooters 20 years older with better control and a more satisfying fell when shooting.

The blasted console bro-dudes killed the FPS genre in my eyes and Bioschok is a perfect example of that.

Posted by Nardak

According to bible marriage is a sacred and unbroken thing.

How does that stuff play out in real life?

Edited by DrxLecter

@dagbiker said:
@drxlecter said:

@ssdelorean said:
As America was built on Christian fundamentals

NO NO NO NO NO. This is and has always been a secular country... stop trying to claim it for your deity.

OH CRAP, Really, I must have fallen into the 250 year long trap of that whole freedom of religion thing.

This is what freedom of religion means... you are free to practice what you wish, and anyone else is. having a secular country means that the state does not have a state religion and our laws and ideals are not based on one. They are two different ideas. We are not Iran with religious leaders. I really hope you were joking, it is quite sad that people don't understand this distinction.

Edited by Hunkulese

@video_game_king: I'd imagine it was offensive because the turning point in Booker's life that turned him into an evil sob was getting baptized.

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