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GeneralJist

Why there no "Religion" Simulators?

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So, Something that's been on my  mind recently is why there are numerous games that explore religious philosophy, yet none, that I'm aware of, of actual games that try and simulate a religious lifestyle.

 

Also, I was in Catholic mass a few months ago, and I was thinking to myself, this would be a terrible game.

 

It seems in our time, there are numerous simulations who try to give an experience, so the player can learn a specific skill or better understand a specific career.

 

And yet, nothing like this has ever really been conceived of, let alone attempted.

 

Games have the powerful potential to get people to think and experience the perspectives of others, not just their own development, yet with all these people claiming their religious rights are under attack, and fewer and fewer young people subscribing to the mainstream religions, I wonder why we don't have some Mega church leader commission a religious simulation to try and provide virtual community and try to convert the younger generation to their religion.

 

Could it be because Religion is such a spiritual intangible thing, that its power can't be used through modern technology?

We have games that try and simulate and go into most other aspects of human experience.

Would a religious simulation be called brain washing by most people?

Is there something about religions that just aren't "Fun"?

Why is this not also gameified?

 

What you guys think?

 

PS. I don't actually think making anything like a religious simulation wold  be a good idea. Maybe a history of religions... maybe... hmmmm

Edited by GeneralJist

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I think Civilization V does a good job at exploring the global impact of religions. Another example would be Black & White, showing religions effect on primitive cultures.

 

On a personal level, many RPGs explore various aspect of the religious lifestyle. For example Leliana's or Cassandra's story in the Dragon Age series, especially part 3.

 

In addition, there are many games that deal with aspects of religion via satire, which can be very entertaining indeed.

 

I don't think it would work as core gameplay element though.

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I've had a few game ideas in the game ideas folder that are themed as religious -- that is, you are playing as a religious person, like a monk or priest, or someone with those sorts of options available to them.  But they aren't games where the general practice of religion is part of the gameplay loop, not in a realistic sense.  

 

I can picture a game about religious practice where that practice is heavily instrumentalized, like you're participating in some ancient mystery religion and have to perform intricate daily rituals to move up in the hierarchy.  Like a religious-themed Harvest Moon or Rune Factory.  This could be fun, I think, but it also probably wouldn't simulate how most religious people feel about their religious practice.  That is to say, the instrumentalization of religious practice in service of a gameplay loop turns it into something else, so that it no longer really simulates the experience of religion.

 

On the other side of things, there could be games where you are actually running a religion, developing it, spreading it, or managing the church itself.  There's a forthcoming game whose name I never remember, by a former member of the Civ dev team I think, where you're doing something like this.

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I wonder why we don't have some Mega church leader commission a religious simulation to try and provide virtual community and try to convert the younger generation to their religion.

How do you simulate God? Religion without God makes no sense smile.png You don't convert anyone to a "religion" since religion is merely a tool. It's like talking about marriage while avoiding the topic of sex smile.png Such simulation would have nearly zero efficiency as a tool to convert people in my opinion.

 

That's being said about a strict simulation of a religion game. But if religion is only a part of the game, it's another story.

I made one game with the strong Church (historical, year 1300), my focus was on the structure (curia, rites, bishops, parishes, conclave) and political implications (bonuses to kingdoms with good religious coverage) while avoiding imposing spirituality (clergy players just "do clergy duties" which is a totally abstract action and one can imagine oneself what exactly it is). I also imposed some simple roleplaying rules on clergy players (it's MMO), especially the Pope and Patriarch. It worked surprisingly well, I was having a blast observing clearly atheist players playing as priest and following by their own choice a proper code of conduct according to their clergy status and the period smile.png When I designed the game I was expecting some problems of the ideological nature, but there was none! Everyone accepted the theme and naturally followed the spirit of the era.

 

EDIT: since it's within the scope of the topic and there is not that many games that cover this topic I will drop the link: http://europe1300.eu/

(note that while it's a quite decent religion simulation of the period, I don't think it has that much marketing value (it caters to history freaks), so as a designer I don't necessarily advice following similiar route...)

Edited by Acharis

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How do you simulate God? Religion without God makes no sense smile.png You don't convert anyone to a "religion" since religion is merely a tool. It's like talking about marriage while avoiding the topic of sex smile.png Such simulation would have nearly zero efficiency as a tool to convert people in my opinion.
 

Personally I think religions are a system of ritual magic first, and only secondarily a mythological system that explains why the rituals have magical power and what invisible or far-away forces are causing things like weather and instances of good or bad luck.  (And then in distant third place, a philosophy.)  The mythological system doesn't have to revolve around a single god, though it's probably true that beliefs or stories that focus on a single god are more efficient at converting people than, say, animistic systems.

Edited by sunandshadow

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why there are numerous games that explore religious philosophy, yet none, that I'm aware of, of actual games that try and simulate a religious lifestyle.

 

Is there something about religions that just aren't "Fun"?

 

What part of a religious lifestyle would be fun to highlight? It sounds like you're not talking about a game that focuses on fighting and war, but includes a bit of religion in it (like paladins, crusaders, or a small piece in an empire building game). Your description sounds more like The Sims, + an option to go to church. Adding that option to the Sims doesn't have much appeal to me, but I suppose with all the other minute details of suburban life, it wouldn't be out of place. Maybe there's a mod that includes it?

 

In my game Lich, you play as an evil necromancer, so of course your enemies are clerics and paladins. Of course, those are going to take on a bit of a christian feel to them, as paladins tend to be inspired by a christian crusader. I want it to have more of an escapism feel to it though, so I think it'll be better to make it a fictional religion with it's own religious symbol. Even with fictional religious groups in the game, my focus will be on making it fun, not on realistically portraying and commenting on religion.

 

Congratulations! You executed "pray" successfully. It was not effective.

hahaha. Omg, I almost missed that.

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So, Something that's been on my  mind recently is why there are numerous games that explore religious philosophy, yet none, that I'm aware of, of actual games that try and simulate a religious lifestyle.

 

Also, I was in Catholic mass a few months ago, and I was thinking to myself, this would be a terrible game.

 

It seems in our time, there are numerous simulations who try to give an experience, so the player can learn a specific skill or better understand a specific career.

 

And yet, nothing like this has ever really been conceived of, let alone attempted.

 

How about The Shivah: http://www.wadjeteyegames.com/games/the-shivah/

 

It's a narrative game, so it's not really Rabbi Simulator 2013, but nonetheless it's a virtual experience of being a rabbi.

Edited by valrus

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But generally a religious person would probably not think that their religion could be gamified in a respectful way, while a non-religious person has little motive to want to play as a religious character, so who would the audience be?

What part of a religious lifestyle would be fun to highlight?

 

Maybe these two aspects would be interesting, in terms of theme and mechanics, even to a non-religious person or a person of a different religion:

 

(1) Becoming a figure of respect in a community, and having your advice and decisions be influential within it.  Like being a new parish priest visiting your parishioners or a monk doing alms-rounds, and giving advice and support to the people you meet along the way.  And having their lives changed, for better or worse, depending on your responses to them, and in turn growing in respect and prestige.  This has three good game ingredients, offering the player a fantasy persona of competence and respect, offering a narrative of growth, and having player choices make a mark on the world.

 

(2) Having a strict religious/moral code (like non-violence) that is complicated or threatened by events in the game.  Doing self-imposed no-kill, non-violent, vegetarian, etc. runs are no new thing in games, and some games have mechanical acknowledgment of these, like having the character suffer an alignment penalty.  I can't off the top of my head think of a game where this is thematically and mechanically central to the game, but I wouldn't be surprised if one existed.  Anyway, that's one of the interesting things about religious practice, and one that's interesting to "try on" during role-play even if you don't yourself subscribe to that religion or code.

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