It has long been noted that video games often contain graphic content including violence, gore, drug use and sexuality, but a new study points out another trend: the vilification of organized religion.
Greg Perreault, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, examined five recent video games with religious-themed storylines — “Mass Effect 2,” “Final Fantasy 13,” “Assassin’s Creed,” “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” and “Elder Scrolls: Oblivion” — and found that each associated religion with violence.
“In most of these games there was a heavy emphasis on a ‘Knights Templar’ and crusader motifs,” Perreault said. “Not only was the violent side of religion emphasized, but in each of these games religion created a problem that the main character must overcome, whether it is a direct confrontation with religious zealots or being haunted by religious guilt.”
The researcher said that he did not believe the game developers are intentionally vilifying religion.
“It doesn’t appear that game developers are trying to purposefully bash organized religion in these games,” Perreault said. “I believe they are only using religion to create stimulating plot points in their story lines. If you look at video games across the board, most of them involve violence in some fashion because violence is conflict and conflict is exciting. Religion appears to get tied in with violence because that makes for a compelling narrative.”
Perreault presented his findings at the Center for Media Religion and Culture Conference on Digital Religion.