Feb. 29, 2012 at 2:43 PM ET
Organized religion has always had its critics, but a relatively recent and rather curious source is video games. A recent study conducted by the University of Missouri claims games today "problematize religion by closely tying it in with violence."
The research, as Kotaku reports, was conducted by doctoral student Greg Perreault, who cites five modern games: "Assassin's Creed," "Mass Effect 2," "Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion," "Final Fantasy XIII," and "Castlevania: Lords of Shadow." Each heavily incorporates religion in their storylines.
In addition to emphasizing violent aspects of religion, every game "created a of problem that the main character must overcome, whether it is a direct confrontation with religious zealots or being haunted by religious guilt."
The study also argues such a connection "should have been anticipated." As narratives in games become more sophisticated, it was only a matter of time before they touched upon heavier subject matter such as religion, with its violent past that includes the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, much of the Old Testament, and the list goes on.
Yet Perreault doesn't believe game creators are purposefully bashing religion. After all, "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.”
Matthew Hawkins is an NYC-based game journalist who has also written for EGM, GameSetWatch, Gamasutra, Giant Robot, and numerous others. He also self-publishes his own game culture zine, is part of Attract Mode, and co-hosts The Fangamer Podcast. You can keep tabs on him via Twitter, or his personal home-base, FORT90.com.