Episode 30 – Saved Game

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TOPIC: Faith and Religion in Games

GUESTS:
Christian Sheppard, Animator at Junction Point
Caleb Zart, Animator at Raven Software
Paul Robbins, Animator at Insomniac Games

With both Rick and Ryan off experiencing the true meaning of turkey, I recruited the ghosts of jobs past to help me out this episode.  And even though there is a common adage about talking politics and religion being the best way to lose friends, I’ve found the exact opposite to be the case with these three.  So while I know people can be wary of discussing religion, I think it is a great area that can be explored when crafting more serious, fully realized games.

So after we give our definitions of religion and faith, we speak about their history in games as well as their potential.  We ask if games should have a religious or spiritual agenda, and what is our moral responsibility as game developers.  We also wonder what it would take to create a digital soul for a game character.

So give it a listen, and let us know what you think.  We tried our best to touch on most major beliefs so as not to alienate or anger anyone too much.  Unless you are addicted to WoW, in which case I’m pretty sure I alienated you something good.

Download link (right-click and save as)

Show Notes
Christian was previously on episode 21
Super 3D Noah’s Ark is the Doom clone I mentioned
Mass We Pray commercial by Dante’s Inferno marketing
Extra Credit expands on Mass Effect 2 ethical dilema
Gamer Dad post entitled Game with God
Left Behind: Eternal Forces
This Charles Schultz picture wasn’t mentioned during the show, but I came across it today and it just seemed fitting

4 COMMENTS

  1. I enjoyed this episode and I’m glad that guys decided to tackle this subject.
    I would like to see more games present religion or cultural belief in more of a matter-of-fact kind of manner. Not preachy or damning, but here’s a slice of this religion, whadya think? The example that comes to mind is “Grim Fandango” where an Aztec belief was the backdrop of the game and not the focus. I can’t think of a modern game that’s told from an Islam perspective, but I think that would be really educational and cool if it was done well.

    • Thanks Gareth! Glad you enjoyed it

      I definitely agree that if someone could make an Islamic focused narrative it could go a long way towards educating or at least promoting understanding of the culture and beliefs. I can’t think of a game that had someone that was Islamic if they weren’t being conveyed as a terrorist. Maybe in a fighting game, but not in any substantial way.

      Of course, there aren’t many games with characters that are of nationalities that are often associated with Islam, so I have a feeling we need to bridge the ethnicity bridge on that issue before we will get to the religion. But two birds with one stone could really create an instantly recognizable and unique character for the medium.

  2. I haven’t stumbled upon this topic before, in gaming I mean, so it certainly was an interesting episode, even for a non-religious person like myself.

    I especially liked the bit where you guys talked about animating scenes that were against your beliefs and ethics. Animating the hanging sequence, and watching some reference footage for that… damn. I honestly don’t know if I would be up for that. Especially that made me really think what would be my limits. And I really appreciate, that you made me think about this matter. I think you have really nailed it, when you get some random dude think about things and put stuff into perspective. Kudos for that!

  3. Seriously Tomi, that is about the greatest comment I could ever ask for. Getting people to think about something they haven’t before or getting them to think about something in a new way is why we do this.

    Thanks for listening and posting!

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