The Implementation of Religion in Video Games

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Video games contain elements and themes transcending the light fare many people think permeate throughout gaming systems. When people, mostly non-gamers, hear about video games, they automatically associate it with “kid’s stuff” and can’t see the real messages and undertones video games can carry. One of the undertones presenting itself in some video games is religion. Religion is a sensitive topic to talk about with friends, and even perhaps family. However, one of the top-selling franchises of all time deals heavily with religion and how it effects our view of the world and the vast universe in

An alien from Halo activating a religious weapon.

A member of The Covenant (alien culture) activating a religious weapon.

which we inhabit. I am talking about the franchise led by Spartan 117, Halo. The Halo storyline deals with an alien culture clashing with a human culture. What are they both vying for? A weapon. Well, the humans see the object as a weapon. The alien culture, however, views the object as a religious item, mystical and heavenly powerful. The entire franchise grapples with the concept of religion, even when it comes to Master Chief himself (a super soldier). Halo isn’t the only video game using religion in its storyline. The epic RPG series The Elder Scrolls spouts numerous examples of religion, gods, and even the Devil. The most recent installment in the series, Skyrim, features numerous references to religion. Many religious deities appear throughout the game, interfering in your destined path and giving you the option to complete quests for them. The Dragon God of Time, Akatosh, represents a sense of invincibility. He serves as a protector image in the game. The God Sanguine, on the other hand, is the Daedric Prince of Debauchery. As you can see, these are just two examples of the overflowing gods and deities in Skyrim. Many quests in RPG’s involve the player choosing a side when it comes to beliefs. Fallout 3 serves as an excellent example of this. In Fallout 3, a city exists in which a dormant nuclear bomb is lying in the middle of the city. A cult has sprouted around the concept of the bomb, and they believe the bomb to

These "children" are disciples of the nuclear bomb.

The “Church” in which this cult convenes in Megaton.

be an all-powerful object. They revere it like we revere God (or whatever power you believe in, if you do). The player has the option to keep the bomb as is and keep the religious order happy. Or , they can detonate the bomb, as it could go off at any moment. Crushing a group of people’s religious views is an excruciating choice, “real” or not. Video games deal with issues we struggle with on a daily basis. Maybe by playing through situations like those listed above, we can get clearer insight into ourselves. Either way, video games aren’t just “for the kiddies” anymore.