Different ways religion is portrayed in video games
Four decades removed from the golden age of arcade games, video games have changed a lot. Video games have been able to tell more engaging stories than ever before with advancing technology.
With this, religion has found its way to be represented in games, whether it’s based on real-world religions or a fictional representation of religion. Here are three game series and one standalone game that represent religion in various ways.
Sid Meier’s Civilization
Originally released in 1991, this classic PC turn-based strategy game puts the player in control of a civilization, for example America or France, to guide them throughout history. Religion is a tool in this game either to enhance your civilization or as a way to win, depending on the civilization.
Players can create their own religion or choose a default name based on real-world religions like Hinduism or Judaism.
Once players have their religion, they compete with other civilizations to have theirs be the most influential and followed religion in the world. Players can choose their bonuses earned from religion. Tithes will grant you extra money or military units can be acquired using faith, as examples.
The Elder Scrolls
The Elder Scrolls series has fully developed lore for its fictional faiths. Faith is prominent in several parts of the Elder Scrolls series. There are several deities with history behind them, conflicts arising from whom characters worship, storylines involving religion and even mods expanding religion in the game.
Players don’t have to touch or learn the lore behind religion in the long-running action role-playing game series. But if they choose to, they can dive deep into learning about how religion helps guide the Elder Scrolls’ world of Tamriel.
In this game, the player is an unknown god terraforming the land and sea to help guide a tribe seeking knowledge across the land. Rituals, totem worship and dividing the ocean like Moses did to the Red Sea in Exodus are featured in the game.
Random natural disasters get in the way of the tribe completing their journey to seek out knowledge. Only the player, being the game’s “god,” can help save the tribe during these tsunamis or volcanic eruptions.
God of War
The longtime PlayStation series is overt with how it draws from religion to shape the game. The game is heavily inspired by Greek mythology.
The protagonist Kratos is the God of War after killing Ares, and he is the son of Zeus. The setting is Ancient Greece for the beginning of the series. Athena, Hercules and Hades all make appearances in the games.
The latest game, released in 2018, draws from Norse mythology instead of Greek mythology. However, Greek mythology elements still remain in the series.