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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 48 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Three games about religion  (Read 65034 times)
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 17707

« Reply #45 on: July 20, 2011, 06:18:36 AM »

Now I want to playtest Ophite with Callan, Gareth, and Morgan.

Maybe all the intense religion talk is obscuring what I mean by that, but part of the point of that game is simply to relax, and let goofy or satiric or personal material ebb and flow, made even stronger and more entertaining by the fact that it's all grounded in something both nebulous and strongly-placed in individual identity.

You know, without having to designate "this upcoming scene will have a conflict in it," or "when your character's primary trait is invoked, take a black token," or anything liket that.

Best, Ron

Posts: 415

« Reply #46 on: July 20, 2011, 06:52:39 AM »

Ron wrote:

It floors me how often, among gamers, when I ask about initial religious upbringing, they say "Oh, none really," and then go on, sometimes requiring prompting, to describe actual and concrete observance just as you did. Fairly or unfairly, I'm pointing at your post and saying, "There. Right there. That's what I'm talking about," every time I refer to the slippery, evasive way that gamers seem to respond to this issue.

I have a few comments on this because it seems to be an important part of the discussion. If I am derailing feel free to throw it on another track.

Let me go ahead and take religion out of it for a second. What I am about to describe is a common conversation among Indie and Non-Mainstream (which is not always Indie) gamers that I have had over the years.

Me: "So did you ever play D&D?"
IG/NMG: "No... I mean not much.... some.... with my brothers.... and my high school friends.... and there was one campaign in college."
Me: "One you played in?"
IG/NMG: "Uh no one that I ran..."

obviously paraphrasing here but do you see the similarity?  I have had similar chats with people who were MAC users back in the day when MAC ws for rich nerds and if you had an Apple or MAC you were looked at like you had two heads. Heck now its almost the opposite. "You don't have an iPhone? tsk tsk."*

There is a shame factor, an almost pathological need to prove to your new peers that you are no longer "one of them". We are looking at it as a religious (or anit-religious) phenomena when in fact its a phenomena on a larger scale.  We generally have a go at religion and Christianity here in the west because it is the paradigm in which we have been raised. Does not matter whether the founding fathers intended it (some suggest they did not) but we do in fact live in a nation that preaches, but clearly rarely follows, some form of Christian beliefs.  

So in my mind it is a shame factor. We look upon the things we grew up with and often rebelled against, with a childish view. For me personally I do not hate The Church or any religion. I may think some have dubious origins but honestly, I could care less. It isn't my business. I proudly played every version (except the early early) version of D&D.  I even (god or gods or Einstein save me) played Torg once. And I would do so again.... (okay maybe not Torg but). Yet I know I too have fallen into the same shame-trap when it comes to religion and other things from time to time. Trying to prove to my peers that its in the past and they can accept me into their new group with open arms.

So I guess after all this blah blah blah I am saying that while I think the phenomena is a real one, I don't think it is specific to religion and in fact believe it to be more of the cycle of love/rejection we humans have with many cultural icons.

*There have been studies that suggest the behavior of those who are Mac fans is cult like and they get the same emotional impact as those who attend church.

Callan S.

Posts: 4268

« Reply #47 on: July 20, 2011, 03:57:39 PM »

it's all grounded in something both nebulous and strongly-placed in individual identity.

In terms of religion and gameplay, I think a rewarding approach would be: whether the religion is strongly placed in individual identity is instead a question play hinges around, rather than being predetermined as being the case.

C Luke Mula

Posts: 8

« Reply #48 on: July 20, 2011, 04:59:53 PM »

In terms of religion and gameplay, I think a rewarding approach would be: whether the religion is strongly placed in individual identity is instead a question play hinges around, rather than being predetermined as being the case.

I was under the impression that the ophite game is about this kind of question, or it is at least designed to make those questions a possible focus of play if the players want it to be. The only exception is probably the Ophian, whose identification with his religion seems to be pretty strong from the start.

Posts: 99

« Reply #49 on: August 07, 2011, 06:49:29 PM »

Ha! I was having some similar thoughts back in January and posted 'em to my blog, though mainly my gist was "why isn't religion (and its impact on human cultures) more evident in existing RPGs?"


For the record, I am a lifelong Roman Catholic, and while I've certainly supplemented my personal doctrine with much New Agey philosophy, and a rather open (or heretical) mind, I still consider myself a member of that religion.

Interestingly, most of the kids I grew up gaming with were Roman Catholic (kids from my Catholic elementary school) and none of our parents had any problems allowing us to indulge ourselves in fantasy role-playing games. My mother purchased me my first RPG (the Tom Moldvay Basic D&D set circa 1981) at my request for my 8th or 9th birthday. Even when there was a bunch of anti-D&D propaganda, our parents never considered that noise anything more than nonsense...they'd looked at our books, and didn't seem to have any problem with the presence of demons and devils and such in our books. It was, after all, only a game.

As such, I never grew up with any shame or stigma attached to role-playing from my religious perspective. All the shame and self-loathing came from other sources.
; )

When I later met kids from non-Catholic, Christian backgrounds, they sometimes tried to tell me things like how D&D was a tool of the devil, etc. and this never did endear me much to their denominations. I even had one non-Catholic friend whose mother stopped allowing him to play RPGs entirely after their family became Born Again Christians, which really left a bad taste in my mouth (it was like they suddenly went crazy!).  As an adult, I have studied and understand much more about the differences in individual religions and feel that I am much more accepting of individual...um..."foibles" in all belief systems. So long as they're helping folks to be better human beings, that's cool with me.

Right now, part of my interest in RPGs in what they can do (as games) to be more than simple entertainment (in terms of building community, connecting with others, and teaching "good" things).

Oh, one more thing...my old D&D games as a kid with my Catholic friends (male and female)? They were some of the raunchiest, despicable, and evil games I've ever played...as well as being some of the most intimate and story-drifted RPGs I've ever experienced. All in good fun.
: )

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