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BadgertonStudios

Religons in games

23 posts in this topic

Hey GameDev,

My co workers/friends and I have been working on a game concept for a little while now. It is a strategy/rpg/construction and management game. We have lots of ideas, both great and not so great.

One idea we have is introducing religion to the game. Religion would play a huge political and economical role in the game. Alliances can be forged or broken due to the religion your character may follow. It can play a role in what items and services you have access to in certain parts of the game world.  We were going to use the ideologies of the 3 main religions (to us anyways) in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Is this a good idea? would we be hunted down for using actual religions in a game?

Thoughts anyone?

Cheers

Edited by BadgertonStudios
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No matter how hard you work into getting the game as neutral as possible, you will get attention for it, the bad kind of attention.

 

So only do it if you're willing to stick with the idea through everything that could happen about it.

 

Those are my 2 cents.

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I would spend the time to come up with three different religions that have no basis in the real world, like in the Elder Scrolls series. That is unless your game is based in the real world.

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If you're going to use actual religions, you should choose a wider variety. The three you have picked are all monotheistic and abrahamic. Try and get three that are not so close together. Like one each from abrahamic, indian, and maybe either chinese folk and/or from a new religious group. You'll also have to do research into each religion you choose. Not very deep, but enough that you can make sure not to offend anyone and promote each religion in a positive light. 

 

But honestly, I would either pick more than three real religions to keep from excluding anyone, or make up your own.

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I hate religion in games. I hate appeasing all these Gods. It's a pain. I love the Pharaoh game, but it's simply annoying the lengths you have to go through to please all the Gods. I'd rather gather resources & build things that are pure economic in nature.

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I agree with creating your own religions. Think of how Pagan religions were largely eradicated by the Catholic religions. This kind of struggle of the earth-worshipping vs. monotheistic religion already has a great set up as the earth lovers and druids battling the seemingly more imperialistic monotheistic religion. Then, of course, you could find a 3rd of a completely contrasting style.
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Religion would play a huge political and economical role in the game. Alliances can be forged or broken due to the religion your character may follow. We were going to use the ideologies of the 3 main religions (to us anyways) in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
That's exactly what "Medieval II: Total War" did, and it fit in well with their gameplay. AFAIK, there was no controversy, though maybe that's just because they were lucky and no nutters noticed their game...

Whether it will work like it did in Medieval depends on your setting and presentation.
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Whatever you do, if you do this, please just take the time to properly research these religions and talk to actively practicing Jews, Christians, and Muslims so you can at least try to give some accurate representation to the religions.

 

Also be aware that each religion is pretty divided (so to speak), so if you only focus on learning about one branch of Judaism/Christianity/Islam you're only getting a fraction of the story. Just be sure to take the time to get this right if you do it.

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Also, if you go down this route, ensure you're not heavily pushing any beliefs (inadvertently or otherwise) on the player, that is, keep it objective. For instance, being agnostic, I would not mind playing a Jew (or whoever) if a religion and its ideology is just used as a context and backstory (it could be educational!) but if the game forces me to perform religious acts like praying or whatever, I would get very irritated. Then again, it depends on your target audience, of course.

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[quote name='BadgertonStudios' timestamp='1358221429' post='5021654']
Is this a good idea? would we be hunted down for using actual religions in a game?
[/quote]

 

Religion is a pretty tough topic in certain parts of the world (US, middle east), so it might draw a lot of attention of all kinds there.

 

Since religious (and others, really) fundamentalists usually act irrational, there's no good way to predict what might happen.

 

Anyway, I suggest you watch these 2 videos to get a feeling on what's a good approach to the topic from a game design perspective:

http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/religion-in-games-part-1

http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/religion-in-games-part-2

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Is this a good idea? would we be hunted down for using actual religions in a game?

 

 

Religion is a pretty tough topic in certain parts of the world (US, middle east), so it might draw a lot of attention of all kinds there.

 

Since religious (and others, really) fundamentalists usually act irrational, there's no good way to predict what might happen.

 

Anyway, I suggest you watch these 2 videos to get a feeling on what's a good approach to the topic from a game design perspective:

http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/religion-in-games-part-1

http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/religion-in-games-part-2

Kudos for the Extra Credits!

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I'm on the make your own up. Not from the ground up anyways. You could take the basic outline of your chosen religions and just give them a different name. That way the players pick what feels right to them and not a certain religion base on how others view it in the real world.

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If you borrowed the religious elements strictly from history, then there's probably nothing wrong with it as it already happened.  For example, if you picked a Crusader class, you will automatically be a Christian.  But if you come up with your own views of what they are, or what the bonuses are for each religion (I don't know, something arbitrary like +25% wisdom for Christianity but +25% gold for Islam), then get ready for furious lashes from people. People will start complaining why religion A/B gets such bonus and attention while history proved otherwise, bla bla bla (pointless religious debate).

 

It's just better to come up with your own religions.

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I can think of many games that incorporate religion.

 

  • Crusader Kings does this; in particular, your relationship with the papacy (the pope and the church he runs) weighs very heavily into your ability to negotiate with other nations; very true to the time period. You might give it a spin; it's a frequent Steam sale candidate;
  • I recall Final Fantasy Tactics doing a very Three Muskateers kind of thing with religion (where the religious group was the power behind the throne and also corrupted by demons);
  • Fallout (the first one) had a cult in it you could choose to join/infiltrate and either destroy or support;
  • all of the DnD-based games have their gods in them, and in the Forgotten Realms setting, those deities have very real influence on the game world;
  • the new MOBA Smite allows you to play as deities from a great many pantheons (which lead to some criticism as they're using depictions of one or more deities from contemporary religions);
  • the Ultima series (in particular, U4 where you become their literal messiah, and U7's Serpent Isle xpac). Ultima's a very interesting case study (if rough to play now as it hasn't aged well) because your character becomes the Avatar by exemplifying the virtues of their philosophy (Ultima 4), confronts what happens when a philosophy is carried to its extremes (Ultima 5), then consorts with literal Gods of the universe to save it (Serpent Isle).

 

Religion is a very big influence on culture throughout history, as well as made-up cultures in books, movies, etc. I definitely support making up your own instead of using existing ones. (As you may have determined already, incorporating religion - especially real world ones - can constrain your audience by potentially alienating some groups; something to keep in mind.)

 

Give serious consideration to not only the how but the why: i.e. what function does religion serve in your game? Does supporting a given sect help with negotiation? Grant (or forbid you) certain powers and abilities? Does it add to the depth and richness of your game's back story? I think it's a good idea, but I wouldn't do it lightly. <3

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So this is something like a guild (or faction) system. You join on faction, so they can give you missions and stuff (saw this in some old space simulator games).  I would suggest to avoid using real names of the religions, pick some other names for them and change small details so people that are against certain religion can't detect this so easily. If you don't than there is a risk you get bad kind of attention (like TheChubu said), last thing you want is someone starting religious flame war around your game.

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They added religion to Civ 5 in the latest expansion too.

I like how they implemented it.

The symbols and names are taken from real world religion, but its just a name, everything about the religion is customizable from a list of perks. (2-3 at creation, and 2 more later on)

You can also change the name.

It made me feel more like the religion is my own, and made me care more about it. (In my current game they worship the great Spagetti Monster, and the religious dogmas is mostly about having fun and being happy :) )

It then spreads independent of borders through influence and missionaries, and gives you all kinds of nice bonuses, including units, if you build a strong one.

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Religion in civ games was from the start or at least civ 2 if i am not mistaken. All it does is gives some sort of benefit to you civilization, so it is not exactly a religion, but on the other hand you can build tamples for that religion.

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In addendum, I finally got around to watching the videos linked by Rattenhirn above; definitely applicable.

Edited by serratemplar
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I would like to thank you all for answering and thank Rattenhirn for the links.

 

Upon reading my prior post I realize I did not explain it to well.  What I meant was using the Ideologies of these religions in the game.  So Islam would not be called Islam, but a person familiar with the religion would have no doubt it is based on Islam.  We have multiple people who practice these religions on the team as well as contacts such as religious historians and scholars/judges.  We do not plan to be racist and favor any of these religions,  but they will each have there own perks in different areas.  

For example,  if you are in the eastern part of the game world and you don't follow or practice the religion in that part of the world, items from merchant shops will have a heftier tax yet in the part of the world where the religion you follow is dominant you basically can get these items for "cost" price.  It will also be a key part of developing land and armies.  You can only have certain amount of your troops in certain areas. i.e.  unlimited in the christian parts of the world and only 1% in the Islamic or Jewish parts of the world (unless an alliance has been made)

 

And no you will NOT have to go through the acts of worship or anything.  You may go to religious places to ask a priest for a boon for a sum of money but that's about it.

 

If you guys need any more details or anything just let me know.  We plan to put the game plot and such on here but this would not be the correct thread to post it.

 

EDIT: I should also add that each religion will take you in to a different path of the game, as well as open quests and missions and places that only people of a certain religion can access.  Each religion plays an important role in the game plot and none are a negative role.  

 

Thanks guys smile.png

Edited by BadgertonStudios
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If you're not using the actual names of the religions then, while you may still get a reaction (if your parallels are transparent enough), it won't be big enough to matter. I say go for it. 

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Religion as more of a support than a driving force. I like the idea. Sort of like an exalted faction?

 

You can't really be a part of an opposing faction, but if you're buddies with one then you can at least gain small benifits (on top of the ones you recieve from your main choice of course). Am I in the ballpark?

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Yes Kenji you are close.  There will be faction wars against other factions but there will be teams or guild like systems that one can join on top of the religion.  The game is planned to be a CORPG with lobbies for characters to interact and such.  But this is a long way down the road :)

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Are the religious factions independent of (and possibly opposed to) the guilds? Or do the religions overlap/contain one or more guilds each? This brings to mind Crusader Kings (and real history) where the game could easily become not a war between kingdoms but a war between religions (the Catholics, "heretical" orthodoxies, and Islam when the Crusades came about) where the religious leaders themselves were effectively in control of each kingdom.

 

Or is religion just back story or the justification for various classes to have magic powers? smile.png

 

ADDENDUM (after seeing your most recent post): so does each religion have a control structure (a group of leaders) attached to it? Or do you mean to eschew that part?

Edited by serratemplar
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The guild leaders will have the option to affiliate themselves with religion if they want to.  The religious leaders have a HUGE impact on the story.  What will that be? We shall see ;)  As for the control structure, the countries will have kings and such and religions will have Head priests and such but a religious leader wont lead a nation.

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