Religion and online games do not traditionally go hand in hand. The media tend to paint all gamers as slightly creepy young men who hide in their mother’s basements shooting mythical creatures or innocent bystanders. While many online games are of the science fiction or fantasy genre, there is a growing number of developers adding religion as the selling point.
This movement began with puzzles and quizzes that anyone could download and play. These puzzles helped one study the tenets of one’s beliefs and also could entice children to learn sacred texts. Still in downloadable form, sites also encouraged “family-friendly” fare like chess, checkers and trivia. These suited many, but online games usually mean games people can play with each other over the internet in real time.
So the developers adjusted. Most online games that take a positive view of religion have a Christian perspective. There are games designed to resemble an archeological dig. The goal may be to find a lost treasure like the Holy Grail, or to compile the texts into biblical canon. These games help the player search through the Bible and solve action puzzles without violence.
They were still not quite the action-adventure that others were finding in their online games. Teenagers wanted to experience the interactivity and challenge of sword and sorcery without the sorcery. Once again the developers went back to their design teams. Games used the “Armor of God” as a theme. The user begins in street clothes and as he or she winds through the levels of the game, the player gains the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shield of faith and a sword which is the Word of God. Now players could support their religious beliefs and even show them off to their friends while experiencing the thrill of online games.
Few other religions have moved onto the internet. Some of them are still experimenting with downloadable features like coloring books or puzzles. Others have religious tenets that discourage the behavior. While Christians could work around the witchcraft and sorcery of traditional games, it is harder to design one where the object of the game cannot be seen. Islam, for example, prohibits the image of The Prophet being shown, especially in such a disrespectful forum.
One need not leave one’s religion in order to play online games. It is possible to respect one’s beliefs and still have fun.