#3) Most of the Religions Perreault Discusses are Fake
The games he looked at were “Mass Effect 2″, “Final Fantasy XIII”, “Assassin’s Creed”, “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” and “Elder Scrolls: Oblivion”. So, basically, of the five games, three of them don’t feature any religion that actually, you know, exists aside from probably a few people on a message board who call themselves soulbonded Tamriel citizens or something.
#4) The Remaining Two Games Focus on Catholicism
This isn’t exactly new in media: odds are pretty good that if a mainstream piece of entertainment focuses on Christianity, it’ll probably be Catholicism. There are lots of reasons for this; the Catholic Church has a lot of pretty art; it has a lot of detailed mythology about demons, saints, and the like, both real and of…questionable historical veracity; quite a few creative types were raised Catholic; and it has a fairly messy two millennia of history to dig through to find screenplay hooks, not to mention recent controversies.
Whether this is good, bad, or indifferent is something media ethicists and religious leaders have been arguing about for roughly two centuries. It’s only a key point for us nerds because, frankly, a lot of people campaigning against video games still care whether a person is Catholic or Protestant. But that said…
#5) It’s Not Like The History of Religion Isn’t Violent
This is really the key thing. Should we focus on this exclusively? No. Despite what R/Atheism may want, that’s a simplistic view of religion at best. At the same time, though, why should games ignore or sweep it under the rug, especially when it’s only a handful of games in a huge and diverse medium?
In short, Perrault’s survey is interesting, but not, perhaps, the best way to discuss how games handle larger cultural issues.
image courtesy EA and Visceral Games