Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Bible as an Online Video Game

I certainly hope this is being taken seriously by its creators, and honestly it's about time someone seriously considers the stories of the Bible as a rich source of video game material.  Sure, it's a hot topic rife with controversy.  But if some literary allegory about ancient figures is more taboo than stealing cop cars and shooting hookers then your society is broken.

Penny Arcade chimed in on the topic as well and raised some good points.  Namely that the stories provide an absolute ton of rich content for adventure, not to mention that the characters have a lot of room available for depth.  Even the most pivotal and important characters have wide gaps in the story which can be filled with all kinds of interesting adventures.

Naturally, I'm already a fan of the subject matter.  And I would be lying if I said I wouldn't enjoy holding any kind of small tactical advantage over the average douchebag gamer as a result of my familiarity with the subject matter.  (Where's your precious flying spaghetti monster now, mofo?  *unloads a full clip of sanctification on opponent*)

The subject has come up before, actually.  I remember a discussion about this very topic on Slashdot many moons ago.  And, in usual Slashdot style, I was engaged in a pseudo-argument by some random windbag.  And, let me assure you, nothing brings them out like a discussion even tangentially related to religious beliefs.  Seriously, it's textbook Pavlovian behavior.  My wife is the same way.  Mention anything that can, in 4 degrees or fewer, be in any way linked to anything remotely religious and expect to get a diatribe about the evils of religion.  And of course by "religion" they invariably mean "American Christianity."  It's difficult for some people to separate the two.

Anyway, what basically happened was I made some random point on the topic.  Something about how I like the idea and how the Bible has a ton of content that can be used for video games.  Then someone randomly added to the conversation by stating his views on how God isn't real and none of the stories in the Bible actually happened and how even the events that inspired it were historically insignificant, being confined to that little corner of the world.  And, of course, that we're all idiots for following ancient superstitions.

First of all, -1 Offtopic.  Nobody cares about your religious beliefs, we're talking about a video game.  (And, yes, unshakable faith in the absence of a god is, by definition, faith.  It's a religious belief.  Deal with it.)  But more to the point... what was the point?  Was he insinuating that only historically significant events can qualify for video game material?  Please, explain to me the historical significance of Mario and Luigi.

And even still... "historically insignificant"?  The Bible?  Whatever this guy's been huffing, he may want to lay off for a bit.  I can see where he was trying to go with that, being stories of random little prophets and comparatively small-time kings (except the king in Esther, which may very well be my favorite Bible story, who was likely Xerxes or some Persian king of that period and very much not small-time) and tribal skirmishes otherwise unnoticed by the more developed societies surrounding them.

But then it was written down, and boy howdy did it become significant.  Wars and empires, kings and heroes, for thousands of years they have risen and fallen under the weight of the Bible's pages.  Granted, I see as the great irony the fact that western Christianity has traditionally been a Roman institution and not necessarily a Christian institution.  Thanks Constantine, you simultaneously put Christianity on the map and forever altered it to suit your own views.  But that institution has been far from "historically insignificant."

I guess this guy had his own religious beliefs on history.  Again, the irony is delicious.  It's one thing to not believe in God, it's another thing entirely to plug your ears and shout "la la la..." whenever the subject of history rears what you consider to be its distasteful head.  Yes, pretend the whole of human history and all the colorful religions that have decorated it never happened.  That'll lead to true progress.  Science be praised!

Now, here's hoping this turns out to be an interesting online game.  Again, tons of stories from which to choose.  And, as Tycho from Penny Arcade also pointed out, it's conveniently all public domain.  No licensing, no lawsuits, and a time-tested brand with proven earning potential.  I've heard it referred to as a niche market.  Are millions of devout followers considered a niche?  Well, those millions of people are historically insignificant, so their brand loyalty doesn't matter.  Right?

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