This is kind of another example of video games problematizing religion. A while ago, I posted an article that discussed this very subject and kinda talked about why I didn’t like it. It does in fact kinda suck that a religious person like myself, can’t ever seem to play a game that might show a religion in a positive light. I don’t necessarily mind the violence, but even in a game like Dante’s Inferno, the church was only portrayed as a corrupt and religious guilt was a major theme. I mean, at least it had redemption, but it was done in such a lazy and non-engaging way.
The reason I bring this up is because this game is based on the story of the tower of Babel, which comes from the book of Genesis about how man gathered and tried to build a tower to the Heavens and eventually was made by God to all speak different languages, thus being unable to work together. Some interpretations are that it is to merely explain the origins of the different languages amongst people, and others are that it was to punish the arrogance of man (reading the Bible is actually a lot of work, I have realized this after taking a class on just the book of Genesis alone). My problem with this game is that it takes that concept, and attaches it to a negative view of God, describing Him as a tyrant.
I get that it’s an interpretation and that there are people who believe that God might be evil (it’s called dystheism) and I respect the beliefs of those people. Personally, I believe that everyone’s faith, whether it be in God, Karma, or the lack of anything like that, is one of the most important thing a person can have. It defines, in part, who they are and their motivation for doing the stuff they do. It’s just, I worried that there might be a kind of acceptable target placed on some beliefs that kind of creates this double standard. For example, it’s totally fine that so many games feature anti-church, anti-Christian sentiments, even amongst Christians, because I think it is just so prevalent, while an anti-Atheism message would probably get people up in arms. Take Heavy Rain for example. One of the suspects is a clearly disturbed, but religious man. His living room/house was covered wall to wall in Crucifixes. The religious nut is kind of a staple trope in most murder/suspense pieces and so most people probably didn’t think much of it (I know I didn’t at first), but what if the nut was portrayed as an atheist or agnostic? What would people’s reactions to that be if there even was one?
And while we’re on the subject, why is this kind of overall religious stereotyping even acceptable? I remember watching the first season of Glee and (spoiler) Quinn’s dad was a fundamentalist Christian who watched Glen Beck (strike one), kicked out his own daughter for getting knocked up (strike two) and then was later having an off-screen affair (strike three), basically making him unabashedly, evil. Quinn herself had this has her whole gimmick in season 1 was that she was a religious and a hypocrite. (Although, I heard there was a Catholic character later in Glee…but I didn’t get that far).
Also, it’s not that I’m saying we should ignore the history, as I will admit that religion has been the source of things like war and persecution before. But like all major conflicts it was mostly a political and power thing. Religion is a powerful thing, I think my favorite representation of that is in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dam, where the Arch Deacon is shown as a caring and pious man while Frollo showed the inner torment of how piety can be turned to wickedness. It was honestly the movie that made me more aware of my actions, and to catch myself if I ever tried to justify something I did that was wrong with my faith.
In the terms of video games though, while there are some cases, I still find it extremely rare. I think Skyrim did a nice job of creating believable and diverse religious organizations including ones that fell close to my ideals, such as the Temple of Mara. Earlier Fire Emblems also had a clerics and priests live up to their name, such as Lucius in the first US game and Renault as an atoner (although I guess that would be the guilt thing huh? Well, it was a lot nicer on the brain since the other two church characters weren’t). But beyond that, I can’t think of any other game that had either a balance or overtly positive view on a church that kept them somewhat relevant.
I just don’t think it would kill game developers from perhaps thinking a little worldly.
Note: After writing all of this, I discovered that Babel Rising originated as an app game…doesn’t change much of my argument but it did inspire me to do a google search to see if this issue had already been addressed. While the game does look like a fine strategy game, I was a little surprised to see no immediate articles addressing this topic. Maybe the game doesn’t have any notoriety or maybe because the anti-Christian subject matter is just so commonplace now.