So I'm avid gamer, have been for years, even once was a video game reviewer and journalist for a fairly mainstream gaming website, and there is one thing I've noticed about atheism and gaming:

They are almost never paired together.

There are many games that tackle religious subject matter, from either their being a negative spin on religion and being viewed as zealots and cults, or as the hero being some divine lightning rod, doing the bidding of a higher power.

I can't, however, recall many games that have atheist characters, put science and religion against each other via it's story and characters or just all around have a world that actively denies the existence of a god.

So, if you have any theories or ideas relating to some games of a non-theist nature, let's hear them!

Tags: Gaming, atheism, games, video

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You need to check out Assassin's Creed. It will definitely get your juices flowing. Mass Effect is pretty entertaining too from a non-theist point of view.
Well, there are plenty of games that don't even deal with any religion or religious debate on anything at all, but my point was that I have yet to play a game that makes atheism part of a character's makeup or something that effects the story of the game.
Good topic to discuss. I'm an avid gamer too. Started as a kid with D&D and Avalon Hill war games. I've really enjoyed seeing the development of video games from Pong and artillery duel on my brother's Apple II to Battle for Wesnoth and Civilization on my IPod Touch. 

Of course for most fantasy games there is a supernatural element involved in explaining how the magic system works and why there are undead and demons and other monsters inhabiting the world for the players to fight. I always got kick out of it when my theist classmates would tell me I would go to hell for practicing witchcraft when I played a magic user or cleric. As a genre then, pretty much all fantasy games are going to have such supernatural elements. 

My other favorite genre is WW II, which really has nothing to do with theism in the games. 

Then there is the civilization series, which deals with religion and advances and usefulness to society in an interesting way. I particularly like using a fundamentalist government and waves of cheap fanatics to overwhelm opponents.

Given the economic factors involved in game development, and the majority of theists in the U.S., its not very likely that we will see any athiest themed games soon, if ever. 

Out of curiosity, what do you think could be an interesting plot for an atheist themed game?
Well, considering how awesome paranoia is as a plot device in gaming, particularly in something like a survival horror, I could easily see something along the lines of The Firm, but with a religious conspiracy at hand to fight against. It doesn't necessarily have to be something that is trying to promote atheism through gaming, it just could be an interesting thing to see. Unsheathing the mystery requires you to reveal the falsehoods spread to the denizens of a town or organization that they are so beholden to, shaking the foundations of the people involved.

The leader you're up against could be the seen as by the folks you are trying to educate as the right hand of god or something. Pick your poison, add generic villain subplot routine here, you get the idea. =)

I dunno, that is just one possible way. Even something as simple as scientific research in a game, dealing with evolution or the big bang or other things that are not so popular with theism. There are so many things that I've come to take for granted as being just facts in my life that people I know view as just being in my life regularly because I am an atheist that I probably could come up with more if I wasn't so used to just being me.

Also, the game could have no extra lives, you die once and that's it. You know, to go along with our lack of a limbo, heaven or hell.

If you haven't played Dead Space, that is one game you should not pass up, especially if you enjoy survival horror. The game definitely has the undertones of a religion=cult motif. I actually played the game when I was still a theist and didn't see it but now that I am an atheist it's as plain as day. People like to compare the game's religion, unitology, to scientology and Visceral Games has repeatedly denied these accusations. However, I now more or less see all religions in the same light now that I'm an atheist and I wonder if Visceral does too. I see a lot of connections between Christianity and Unitology. Before playing the game you might actually want to view the animated comic which serves as its prequel. In this comic many of the main characters are athiests and are the only ones (to my knowledge) that are unaffected by the Marker - an alien artifact which makes the Unitologists suffer dementia and go on killing sprees. Seems to me that their religious fervor leaves them vulnerable to that sort of thing.

 

Definitely check it out. I'm a big fan of the Dead Space universe and if you'd ever like to discuss it with me I'd be happy to! :)

Dead Space is amazing. I never really pegged everyone that wasn't a unitologist as an atheist, but I could totally see that. I have yet to beat the first (it got damn fucking hard) but I did beat extraction and am more than halfway through the second game. Definitely one of the best game series ever made.
It isn't specifically revealed that any of the characters in the game are atheists, but like I said the protagonists of the animated comic are confirmed to be and I wonder if there aren't implications behind that. Isaac doesn't have a speaking role in the first game, but he talks in number 2, and while again it's never specifically mentioned, there's no reason he couldn't be an atheist judging by his general disposition. I leave the possibility open.

I wish I remembered which game it was (never played it myself), but there was an old Japanese game on the Super Nintendo where at the end, you kill God. If I remember correctly, Nintendo changed the ending for the American release.

 

Out of the games I've played, the one that comes the closest to atheism is Breath of Fire II (great game, by the way). In it, the world has started to embrace the church of St. Eva (a.k.a. Christianity). As the game progresses, you start to realize that the church is actually extremely evil and a lot of the supporters of the church won't see it because they can't face the possibility that their religioin is wrong. There's a particularly memorable scene where you have to fight against this paladin who is really a good guy that wants to help you, but he's not ready to turn against his religion.

 

Another game, although not nearly as blatantly anti-Christianity, is Final Fantasy VII. While the game doesn't really get into much religion, the villain is named JENOVAH, which is strikingly similar to the name of a particular God who I will not mention because I don't really want to be stoned by women dressed as men.

 

However, it is true that neither of these games actually had a character that was specifically atheistic.

I know this isn't exactly what you are looking for, but there is the God Fighters series made by You-tuber DarkMatter2525. Its not an actual video game but it is a very creative series consisting of religious icons and some famous atheists on you-tube.

 

God Fighter #1

God Fighter #2

God Fighter #3

Another game that may not immediately come to mind but actually was my inspiration at a young age to give up on false hopes is FFX. (Final Fantasy X)

 

I don't want to reveal story details but the game's religion, Yevon, was fairly...realistic and there are some dark things hidden within it. Again, you have to superimpose Yevon over Christianity or whatever religion you like to make it an "atheist's game," but that's probably all we'll get for a good while.

Dragon Age actually gives your character conversational options that seem atheistic and "The Maker" is a seriously absentee god of a deistic bent at best if we are to believe he exists in the context of the game at all.  If you have Leliana and Morrigan in your party, they will eventually banter about religion with Morrigan taking an atheistic approach and Leliana expressing the theistic view.  Alistair says a few blasphemous things that utterly surprised me out of nowhere.  One was something about doubting the statues of Andraste (the savior figure in the religion) actually look like her, speculating that she could have bucked teeth or be ugly and they'd never know.

Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines also has religious themes and an atheistic sounding character in the form of Beckett.  Beckett is basically a historian trying to work out how vampires came to exist. He scoffs at the religious terms and explanations others use and asserts that the only reason vampires accept such explanations is they are still clinging to the religions they believed as humans.  Aside from the religious terms the vampires use to explain their origins the only other overtly religious material is a cult of diseased vampires that use *very* religious terms and phrases to explain their goals.  I'm sure the game's designers did that to highlight the wrongness of what they were saying, but I found it darkly humorous.  Sadly this game is rather badly bugged, but the most recent unoffical patch takes care of that issue handily.

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