Today Braxwolf released a post that sparked a great deal of thought throughout the section of the blogosphere that we occupy. The post regarded how Braxwolf and his beliefs are affected by the video game hobby. It struck a bit of chord with me.
I am a Catholic. That is how I identify (buzzword alert). I never went to mass as a child, but I started taking religious classes, once I reached grade school, on Wednesday nights. Churches were something I had only seen from the outside until 3rd grade. I happened to miss a class on week when my class went on a field trip across the street to the church. I had never been in one and through a fit as only a skinny white boy can when I found out I missed it. I got my way and had a private tour of the church. I later learned it was the same church my Aunt and Uncle had been married in.
It felt magical. Dark hardwood pews for countless rows. The stations of the cross adorned the walls. The organ on the back balcony was gorgeous. And at the sides of the altar were the first statues I can remember seeing.
Since that day, every time I attend mass, I get a special feeling when I leave. I feel peaceful. Mass is one of the few activities that silences the thoughts in my head.
When I got married, my wife and I had a catholic ceremony. While we talked through most of it out of nervous energy, it remains my most cherished memory. We had friends and family, sitting in a 110 year old church in the middle of July on a bright sunny day and without air conditioning, celebrating our union in holy matrimony regardless of their faith.
My wife does not agree with many of the social stances the church holds. We don’t attend mass. But I hold my belief that there is a god and wants nothing but the best for me.
So how does this relate to video games and media in general. I have never studied the bible, but I have a weird interest in catholic and christian beliefs and how they relate to fiction and different interpretations. I have played games like Darksiders and Diablo because of the relationship they have, however loosely they fit, with the gospel. I watch ancient aliens for different points of view that, while I don’t agree with, are interesting all the same.
Braxwolf specifically mentioned Bioshock Infinite as a title he stopped playing. Very early in the game, before you kill anyone or have any idea what is going on, you are forced into a baptism. Not only is the scene very similar to the Christian baptism, but even the church you walk through, and the dress of those there, makes you feel like the game is a cross away from removing your sin. For me this was not a big deal. My desire to see where the writers had the game going far out weighed any offense I felt. After all, I was walking in a city that floated in the sky in 1912.
I don’t get offended by creative works like this. I am interested in the story. Other little things do poke me the wrong way though. Something as simple as calling Easter Zombie Jesus Day, or obvious cracks on believers such as the Flying Spaghetti Monster bother me. My wife likes to point out that many religious holidays follow the pagan schedule. Each time she does, I have to work hard to not be disappointed in her for the lack of faith.
Faith is something has really grown with me, and as it has, I have looked back on my life. Luckily, there is not much that I have done that I regret. But one thing that I helped with pokes at me consistently. In 2003, as the Iraq War was beginning, I was stationed at a small but very important base on the island of Bahrain. It is a small island in the middle of the Persian Gulf. I worked, alongside my podcast partner Ervik, in the satellite communications department. We were responsible for keeping all the ships at sea and the marines on the ground connected to the internet, phone lines, and to the pentagon with targeting data. The first night of bombing in Baghdad was obviously a big deal for us. One the ships, an older destroyer, went offline. I was one of the few who had training on a new system by Cisco that was part of their connection. I don’t remember details but I do remember being instrumental in getting the ship back online. I feel primarily responsible for that. I have no clue what happened next, did their missiles kill someone? I just don’t know.
I apologize that this is a bit rambly, but there has been little that as inspired me to write lately. There is more that I could write about faith and video games, but Braxwolf’s article covered it more eloquently than I possibly could. I have many of the same views. So please if you haven’t go read it. Its the most thought provoking thing I have read in a long long time.