Is A Religious Act In Video Games Even An "Act" At All?
Here's the premise-
At the start of Bioshock Infinite, the main character is forced to submit to a Baptism-like ritual before he can access the floating city of Columbia. It's part of the storyline, of course.
Now, we learn of the story of Christian gamer Breen Malmberg, who found this to be offensive and demanded a refund, which he did receive from Valve (he purchased the game via the PC service, Steam).
"As baptism of the Holy spirit is at the center of Christianity--of which I am a devout believer--I am basically being forced to make a choice between committing extreme blasphemy by my actions in choosing to accept this 'choice' or forced to quit playing the game before it even really starts.
Of course I cannot hold true to my beliefs and also commit this act, so I am therefor[e] forced to not play the game."
Before I react, I would like to add a very important disclaimer: In no way do I wish to diminish any discomfort this individual may have experienced. Nor do I want to insult an entire faith or cast aspersions on the importance of their sacred rituals. I have nothing against religion. But once we have that established, I have to ask-
Commit what act? Are you actually doing anything? It's fake, my friend. It's not real. You're not "doing" a thing. That's a bunch of pretty pixels on a video screen; they are not an extension of you or any human being on earth. It's fiction, fantasy; i.e., not real. Does this also mean he wouldn't be able to read the script...? What if this was depicted in a book in the exact same fashion; would he ask for a refund from Barnes and Noble? What if it was in a painting in a museum? Would he ask for a refund of his admission?
I apologize if this sounds cold and distant, but this doesn't make any sense to me. Because you pressed a button on a controller and an image someone else created moved in a certain way that has no bearing on reality, that's "blasphemous?" The philosophy of this entire situation is just off. Malmberg's remarks make it sound as if he were forced to "do" something to play a game. ...but you're not "doing" anything. You are, in fact, playing. Playing is a fiction and not to be identified with on a serious level. This is interaction, obviously, but it's virtual. Aka, not real.
Related Game(s): Bioshock Infinite
4/17/2013 9:26:13 PM Ben Dutka