Questionable Religious Content

(This is another edition of </RANT>, a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)

Ed McMillen recently attempted to get his blood-soaked, hyper-violent action game The Binding of Isaac published on the 3DS and was refused a license by Nintendo. The game, which is available on Steam, features a naked little boy who is trying to escape a mother that wants to kill him in the name of God. The game is full of blood, monstrous creatures, and dark themes, yet Nintendo didn’t have too much of a problem with any of that, by all accounts. Being a violent M-rated game is just fine … but you can’t talk about God.

The reason that Isaac has been refused classification isn’t for the violence, but for “questionable religious content.”

To which I say … oh fuck you.

I’ll tell you right off the bat that I am not a religious person. In fact, I do all I can to avoid that kind of thing, which is pretty hard as a British man living in the middle of Mississippi. Perhaps my being in a state where half the population wants “life” to begin at conception and for miscarriages to be treated as potential murders has embittered me a little toward the Christian set, but I have to say that I am pretty fucking sick of religion being treated with kid gloves. There are some that would want you to believe that wealthy, white, numerous American Christians are somehow “persecuted” in a society where religious lobbyists have the power to influence law, and where a politician can say that the Devil has enslaved the education system and still be considered a credible presidential candidate. You mean to tell me that these people need protection? That they can’t weather a little criticism when they’re currently in control of everything?

That’s the message that Nintendo sends when it refuses to publish a game with the balls to shine a light on a true Biblical story. Let’s remember, folks — that “questionable religious content” comes from widely held religious belief. It couldn’t exist without it. The game is based upon a story in the Hebrew Bible, known itself as The Binding of Isaac, in which God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son on Mount Moriah. In the Biblical story, God eventually pulls a swerve by revealing, “nah, just kidding brah,” and the son then spends the rest of his life happy in the knowledge that his dad tried to murder him. That, my friends, is a fucked up story, and I think Ed McMillen’s game is a fine way of examining out just how fucked it is. It is true that there are many interpretations of the Biblical story, and that it is indeed a troublesome tale for many Christians, but the fact of the matter is that it’s in the Bible, and it deserves to be examined, debated, and talked about. It should especially be pointed out how the Bible does not portray Abraham as a villain at any point, instead only attempting to highlight just how loyal and faithful he is. Never mind the fact that, if a woman drowned her child and claimed God told her to do it, NONE of us would applaud her for having so much faith. Such a woman would quite rightly be condemned. People gloss over so many of the messed up things in the Bible, though, despite how much we’d despise anybody who emulated its more violent, morally dubious, and hateful stuff in real life.

Point is, the Bible was written during a period so utterly alien compared to our own modern world, and yet people still take moral and medical advice from it. A game like The Binding of Isaac simply took a Bible story and applied its message, literally, to a more contemporary setting. By doing so, it exposed just how twisted it actually is. While I won’t deign to speak for what Ed McMillen’s ultimate message was, I still applaud the studio for at least making us think about some of this stuff, no matter what conclusion we come to. The Bible is a source of so much confusion, anger and pain in the world, and everybody has a right to examine why. A videogame is no less valid a means for exploring such a subject than any other medium. Yet, for some reason, games are always excluded — accused of “cheapening” any discussion they attempt to address.

The point is, whatever way you slice it, the hypocrisy of Nintendo is pretty damn evident. The “questionable religious content” is based entirely on actual religious content. It’s an accepted Biblical story with a dark twist, but Nintendo is so frightened of people being offended, or so willing to distance itself from anything that dares to treat religion with anything but reverence, that the game has been barred from the 3DS eShop.

In an even more grotesque twist, a statement by creator Ed McMillen reveals that there’d have been less of a problem if the game were outright blasphemous. Simply making a cheap gag about Jesus doing something silly would be fine, provided it doesn’t make a serious point. Nintendo’s concern is simply that religion, as a real and grounded concept, existed in the game. If it was just God being sick on a homeless person, apparently that would be better. It’s only when a game is trying to make a real point that it becomes a problem, and I find that disturbing. A joke without a motive is okay, but to actually criticize a religion, to throw up legitimate questions about a belief system … that’s off-limits. I don’t like that one bit.

The game industry as a whole sends a really ridiculous message when it backs away from religious commentary. It’s an industry where beheadings, total body disruption, overt sexuality and jokes about poo run rampant, but where everybody gets suddenly very timid and serious whenever religion is brought up. I hate this idea that you can cut off heads, you can shoot old people in the face, but you can’t ever mention a real world religion. That is an absolutely bloody ludicrous position for an industry to be in. If I had to choose between murdering a person or criticizing a Biblical story, I know which one I’d pick as the lesser of two evils. Yet the videogame industry has it the other way around — depictions of extreme violence are acceptable, depictions of religion being imperfect are not.

We had similar bullshit with the last Medal of Honor game, as well. There was a huge stink about the fact that the game’s multiplayer would feature Al Qaeda as a playable team. Oh fuck, videogames have referenced the real world directly! What a terrible fucking crime! The mainstream media got ahold of it, people flung mud and got into a massive uproar, and eventually Al Qaeda was removed from the game … except it actually wasn’t. They just changed the name from Al Qaeda to “Insurgents.” Same content was still there. They looked the same. The environment was the same. They were still Al Qaeda soldiers, but apparently it was alright because they weren’t explicitly called that anymore.

That’s so fucking childish. That is so pathetically infantile. This idea that you can say whatever you want, but you have to be passive-aggressive about it. This idea that a videogame cannot directly reference a religion or a real world event unless it’s using “fictional” names and places, with thinly veiled allegories. If you want to be critical of religion, you have to invent your own fictional one and criticize that so no real religions feel upset. You want to talk about racism, it always has to be between fictional races — aliens and elves (so many fucking elves) — rather than black and white people. You can say what you want, provided you say it in a surreptitiousness, backhanded, thoroughly indirect way.

It’s rare that a videogame has the balls to reference a real religion. Catholicism is brought up in games like Dante’s Inferno and the last big Castlevania, and I’m always impressed when I see it. The thing is, I shouldn’t be impressed by a game that dares to mention a real religion as opposed to an invented one. It shouldn’t be such a big deal, but it still is, because we’re all worried about a social and political majority getting its fragile little feelings hurt.

That’s the kind of scared, kowtowing, ultimately childish attitude that Nintendo encourages by barring “questionable religious content.” What it really means by that is, “content that dared to criticized a real religion, rather than one you made up that’s blatantly based on a real one, but it’s okay because you didn’t explicitly call it that thing.”

Which is just stupid.

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28 Comments on Questionable Religious Content

Ben

On March 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I think Nintendo’s reasoning is sad and old-fashioned, but expected. Being expected doesn’t excuse it, but it does mean I’m not shocked and it makes it hard for me to get up in arms. Additionally, it’s not as though Nintendo’s eShop is the only means of publishing Binding of Isaac on a handheld device. It really is a shame, regardless of reason, that 3DS owners won’t be able to play this game, but there are other routes and I hope Team Meat does the obvious thing and attempts to put it on PSN for the Vita and/or iTunes for the iPad.

ND92

On March 2, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Honestly I just want to play Isaac on something that isn’t flash. I hate the dramatic dip in the clip when things get cluttered.

Would easily shell $20 for it

Clint

On March 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I agree with this entirely, except for one small thing that I take issue with.

“You want to talk about racism, it always has to be between fictional races — aliens and elves (so many ing elves) — rather than black and white people. You can say what you want, provided you say it in a surreptitiousness, backhanded, thoroughly indirect way.”

This does happen a lot; it’s a way of hiding what we really want to talk about it, so that we can be safe. However, much of the best science fiction/fantasy uses this as a way to highlight what they want to talk about rather than veil it. For instance, Ursula K Leguin’s The Left Hand of Darkness takes place on a planet where nobody has a gender and everyone is essentially a hermaphrodite. This allows the reader to examine the place of gender and sexuality in our society from a less biased standpoint. If it was just about a bunch of people in the future who genetically cut off their genitalia or something, it would be easily dismissed as pseudo-utopian trash.

Anyway, other than that I agree! I don’t know why religion tends to hold this special place of “disrespectful to criticise.” I would guess it’s because objective criticism hardly jibes with a faith based tradition…ugh.

Michael

On March 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I’m a first time reader here. First, I want to say that this was a great piece that called attention to something that I have actually been thinking about for a couple days now: What taboos, if any, exist in gaming culture? I can’t believe I missed religion.

Side note: I noticed that the fourth-to-last paragraph had some incomplete sentences. I wasn’t sure if that was intentional for the pacing or whatnot, but I’ll go ahead take my Grammar Nazi hat off now.

Fang Xianfu

On March 5, 2012 at 10:55 am

In fairness, though, if you used some other media to make the same sort of criticism – film, music, book – you’d have a hard time getting support from a large, mainstream beaurocracy, as Nintendo is to the game market. You’d have to use a smaller publisher or go independent. Music and books and film have been addressing this stuff by allegory for years. You could argue that it’s gotten better or worse over time, but I don’t think it’s a feature unique to the video game industry.

That doesn’t make it any less frustrating a state of affairs, but it’s important to establish the scope of the problem if you want to tackle it effectively.

AFM

On March 5, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Um…there were 71 comments here. Where did they all go? What’s going on? I think this site got hacked or something.

Nick

On March 5, 2012 at 7:56 pm

While we’re angry and glossing over the other side’s points –
How is the story of Abraham so much more “ed up” than ripping a growing baby out of a woman? Over and over and over. You bash those who are trying to protect what has been considered “life” for millenia and get outraged that Nintendo doesn’t want to get involved in a holy pissing match. I am loathe to start a flame war, but I just don’t get how you can gloss over a real issue with some bull about miscarriages and get all hot and bothered over Nintendo being Nintendo.

Mark Burnham

On March 5, 2012 at 7:59 pm

@AFM We launched the new Game Front.com homepage today, and in the process we lost some comments, unfortunately.

We’re working on getting them back. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading Game Front!

Lafayette

On March 5, 2012 at 10:05 pm

I think the reason there’s a taboo against serious questions in videogames is that games would be a powerful propaganda medium. The game frames the issue, almost invariably presents the player with a set of false choices, and then railroads the player into acting out one of those choices.

Think of a right-wing game that put the player in a world in which the government was actively infiltrating religious institutions; the player has the choice to join in the infiltration or to hunt down federal agents. Both choices are equally poor, because they depend upon the acceptance of the scenario’s frame, which is ludicrous.

Depending on how the Isaac story is framed, there is clear propaganda potential.

Ed

On March 6, 2012 at 1:36 am

@Nick

Yes, it’s a real issue, but the story of Abraham is demonstrably worse. Why? Well, for starters, everyone can agree that Isaac was a living person at the time. There is no debate. He was not a non-sentient mass of cells, he was not an embryo, he was not a fetilized egg- he was not something that, provided the right circumstances exist and all goes well, will become a human being. He WAS a human being; he was aware of what was happening. God told his dad to kill him, and his dad was cool with it, if probably upset. [Now, to be fair, if God was real and talked to you and ordered it- well, I guess you'd have to? But what a miserable world that would be, and what a monster that would rule it. Luckily, we don't live in that world.]

I don’t think the author is glossing over the debate on abortion. He’s pointing out the underhanded, disingenuous ways these supposed paragons of virtue are using to attack it, with total disregard to the legal chaos it could cause and the ramifications of their actions.

I think it’s one thing to believe a legal act is immoral. I think offering alternatives is a great thing to do. Counseling, etc. By all means, people who are against abortion should do these things. I applaud those that do.

However, when you start screaming at strangers that they’re going to hell and calling them murderers, when you start trying to make something you believe is wrong illegal, despite the fact that it will kill people (again, here we’re talking REAL people, not people-to-be)- and when you do these things in the name of a god you claim is perfect love, WHILE claiming that that very god lives inside of you and has changed you inwardly to be an agent of that love?

Well, I respond the same way the author did to Nintendo.

“Oh, you.”

Ed

On March 6, 2012 at 1:41 am

That aside: the author is missing a point here.

Nintendo is a business. If they put this game out, I’d bet money that Fox News would be loudly hollering about “the new anti-Christian Nintendo game,” which would whip their uninformed viewership into a fury and cause a general ____storm of epic proportions.

That’s bad for business. Nintendo is a business. Their policy makes good sense, just as it makes good sense for other industries, as others have pointed out.

The reality is the majority has the dollars, and pissing them off isn’t the best marketing strategy. I’m not saying I approve, but I certainly understand it.

The big N is a pioneer in a lot of ways that are crucial to the medium. But pushing these boundaries is certainly not one of them, and I have a hard time really blaming them for it.

Sword-Breaker

On March 6, 2012 at 7:33 am

So, until the old comments come up again, let me summarize my thoughts of this article, Nintendo’s stance, and the game itself.

1) Jim’s overall tone was rather hateful and biased against religion, with no grounds to claim some of the things he has written. I would understand if he had written that he respects religion but disagrees with it in some points or if he simply doesn’t have faith, but he himself admitted that he his rather bitter towards Christianity and stays away from religion in general. Freedom of speech is a great thing and I’m all for it, but just because you think religion and faith are wrong doesn’t mean that you’re the only person who is right and thinks this way. You’re talking as if religious people are a minority. Believers and non-believers are two different sides of the argument….nobody is absolutely right. If Jim claimed that he respects religion, I would’ve taken his mocking as a joke. Jokes are okay if they’re within context. Humor and fun is what makes the Internet and the gaming community unique, full of freedom and cool. But he himself claimed that he is rather bitter towards them and claims the Bible is the source of confusion with no grounds. Doesn’t sound like he’s joking to me.

2) Jim claimed that the Bible has many interpretations of the binding of Abraham’s son, but did he ever explain any of them? No. Again, it’s your right to state your opinion, but be prepared to state your grounds too. All he did was twist the story based on how he (assumingly a non-religious person) interpreted it, but how about how people of faith really interpret the story?

3) Occasionally Jim has equated religion to Christianity in this article, while in fact it is not the only religion. There are many others, some of which have common denominators. Did you know that other religions tell the story of Abraham and his son, too? It’s not just a biblical story. And how it is well known among all these religions that this story is a positive message? It has never been about sacrifice, killing, or murder as Jim claims. Abraham and his son are special people with a special rank which had complete faith In God and Abraham heard God. In many religious stories, the act of divine order is key to them, as a test of ultimate faith. Abraham and his son’s story is exactly that; an ultimate test of faith. When he was told to bind his son, he never perceived it as a sacrifice nor he knew why God has ordered such an act. All he knew is that he had complete faith in God without questioning and that it would all turn out well. And it did, hence the divine and angelic intervention which prevented this event, showing the power of God and confirming the moral of the story: faith. If this story was told any other way, the message of faith would not be as effective. If Abraham said no or his son ran away or had doubts in the original tale, the reader would question the authenticity of the tale and actual faith in God. Again, you have the right not to believe in this nor have faith in God. It’s your choice and you have the right to state it. But don’t twist the tale just because you disagree with it. Jim is guilty of twisting the tale of this story by openly mocking it and likening Abraham and his son to humans of today. Does the Bible or any other Holy Book tell us to literally go and sacrifice your sons? No, they do not. Thou shall not kill, right? If sacrifice was true moral of the story, then the Bible and other Holy Books would’ve openly admitted that it’s okay to sacrifice your son or any other human for the sake of God. But this is obviously not true and not present.

4) A lot of games have done religion correctly, including the Castlevania series, the Zelda series, The Xeno series, Dreamfall, and even El Shaddai. They tackled religious material in a very smart, innovative and respectful manner. And that’s a really cool thing. There is a fine line between stating your opinion and disrespecting the other side. There’s also a fine line between free speech and stepping on toes and pintching nerves with little to no merit and grounds. We’re supposed to love and respect each other. Just like Jim, the Binding of Issac is guilty of disrespecting and twisting the tale just for the sake of it. Again, everyone has the right to examine things they don’t understand, but don’t make it like it actually looks grusome just for the sake of it. For all the reasons stated above, Binding of Issac simply falters in examining this take in a respectful manner by changing the story to its liking with no explanation and using graphic content to tell it.

5) I’m not calling to censor or ban The Binding of Issac. The developers can do what they wish. But they should also be wise to expect controversy and take it like men, not whine and create further controversy. Nintendo has every right to refuse the game for reasons stated above…and the developers sadly whined and moaned on twitter just because they couldn’t take that. They know just as Nintendo knows that not all parties will accept this game with open arms, and rightfully so. Again. examining the tale of Abraham and his son is acceptable and encouraged…but disrespecting it and twisting it because you do not understand it is wrong. This game is guilty of doing so and could’ve examined this tale a lot better.

6) If you try to claim that religion can be mocked with no grounds on the basis of free speech, then that’s bias and I’ll explain why. Hate in religion comes from the radicals and extremists that practice it incorrectly, not from religion and the text itself. So if you want to blame or mock anybody, blame these extemists who claim that they represent their respective religion while in actuality they do not, Just like sexuality, sex, and race; religion should be tackled respectively. If a game or any piece of entertainment media comes out and openly has a homophobic or racist character, people will obviously be offended and have every right to especially if it’s tackled incorrectly. The same logic applies to religion too as there are religous people all around the world who mean no harm and practice it correctly. So if you claim that sexuality and race are off limits while religion is not, then you’re biased and may have some religionophobic qualities in you. Loving and respecting others is what all of us should be about. Again, there’s a fine line between free speech and plain disrespect. State your opinion and grounds as much as you want because you have every right to. But if you mock and hate, especially if you have no grounds, then there’s something wrong with you so be prepared to be called out.

JayB

On March 6, 2012 at 8:30 am

Thanks to Sword-Breaker for that incredibly thoughtful breakdown. Unless, of course, it’s the same Sword-Breaker that murdered me without mercy in Tribes this morning. In that case – thank you, still, but please go die.

Sword-Breaker

On March 6, 2012 at 9:40 am

@JayB: your most welcome. Nope, I don’t play Tribes…but that loss must’ve been really bad from the sound of things. :P

sanityfaerie

On March 6, 2012 at 8:32 pm

@swordbreaker – I respect the attitude that you’re taking on this, but the world is not as you seem to think it is. The whole point of free speech is to let people examine, consider, and share ideas even when they are offensive (to some) and possibly incorrect. Similarly, the words, ideas, and stories that you put out in the world are subject to reinterpretation, even if you don’t like the interpretation that people come up with. There is no requirement that anyone else treat your ideas respectfully – particularly if you are not fully examining them yourself. (…and when he says “here is an interesting and valid take on this story, that seems worthy of consideration” and your response is “That’s not what that story is about. This is what that story is about. Your take is wrong, and you shouldn’t expose people to it.” you really *aren’t* fully examining them yourself.)

That having been said, I pretty much have to agree with Ed here – the fact is, Nintendo is doing this because it’s not in their best interest to offend large sections of their potential customer base, and Christians, particularly conservative, fundamentalist Christians, have shown a fair bit of ability at being proactively offended by things like this.

Sword-Breaker

On March 7, 2012 at 4:06 am

@sanityfaerie: fair enough. Sadly, the world is indeed as I don’t think it is. You’re right. I’m not restricting anyone to speak their mind. Like I said, free speech is an awesome thing. But if lines are crossed with hateful people and bitterness (especially if it’s with little to no grounds), be prepared for the opposing party to be just as bitter, upset, and/or offended. The problem I have is when people say, “but they shouldn’t be mad or have no right to be mad”. That’s not true. Again, I’m okay with speaking your mind and most people should be like that, but if you mock me or my beliefs and faith then I have a right to stand my ground as well. Examining respectuflly is fine and encouraged, but my take on the story isn’t just mine alone. The take that’s been put by Jim and this game, just to be clear, is not the beliefs of the people who believe in this tale. Joking is all well and good because it’s fun to not take yourself seriously, but mocking and hate has to be suppressed.

AndyC

On March 7, 2012 at 9:24 am

I’m extremely disappointed that the comment thread on this article was deleted. As mentioned in my previous post (which didn’t survive the mass-cull), the thread of comments in response to this article is extremely telling of the attitudes and differences of opinion that exist on this topic.

Nintendo were taking a ‘safe’ PR route by disallowing the game on their platform, which is ultimately their decision (whether or not the general public think it’s right).

The team of people involved in making those decisions will no doubt have weighed up the possible consequences of releasing a game that some demographics may have found offensive or amoral in some way, and decided that the resulting damage control probably wasn’t worth any monetary or publicity-related gain that may have resulted from having the game available on their device.

With that said, I suspect this thread will continue to grow. As I previously said; the comment thread alone is a good show of why subject matter that may contain religious content (accurate or not) is such a contentious issue, and one that people will endlessly debate over.

Ron Whitaker

On March 7, 2012 at 10:16 am

Hi Andy,

Just wanted to let you know we didn’t intentionally cull the thread. We lost a number of comments when the new site launched. We are currently working to restore those comments. We’ll update you as soon as we have a resolution.

Thanks!

Fennster

On March 7, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Although I understand that Nintendo seems hypocritical, allowing depictions of “extreme violence” while at the same time censoring introspective religious-themed games, its decision makes sense to me.

As Ed said (above), Nintendo is a business. It’s not the company’s place to make a judgement call on religion. Nintendo understands that if it publishes games like this, it is involving itself in a debate and taking a stance on a controversial issue. For obvious reasons, the company is not willing to do this.

Unfortunately, “extreme violence” in itself is not controversial. Heinous, morally-reprehensible, and just plain gross, sure. But not controversial. That’s why it’s “OK” to publish a game where you blow up people’s heads in graphic detail — so long as they aren’t the heads of anyone or any group of people you might read about in the news (nazis excluded)!

The exception to this rule is, as the author noted, when the entire tone of the game is just poking fun — like the Postal series.

I’m not saying that I agree with Nintendo, but its stance on this is totally understandable.

Hephaestus

On March 7, 2012 at 7:40 pm

@Sword-Breaker
1)Why on earth is this your first point? Holy you massive fool, this is an opinion piece. He’s stating his opinion about a current event. Of course there’s a bias. So if your problem is that he seems disrespectful of religion, I encourage you to shut your stupid mouth and deal with it. He is a writer, employed to give his opinion. He doesn’t owe religion any respect solely on the basis of it being religion. The point is, you’re complaining about bias in an opinion piece. I am prepared to call that idiocy.
2) This isn’t relevant to the topic at hand. I am slightly more sympathetic toward this complaint, but you should understand that it is a fairly widely accepted fact that most bible stories have many interpretations. A simple google or wiki search can yield the answers should intrepid readers wish to know more.
3)If you had bothered to research the game at all, and what with it having a free demo online it would have taken literally minutes of googling, you would know it specifically calls out fundamentalist Christianity in the plot. So yeah, he only really talks about the bible’s telling of it.
4)Again, total lack of research. The developer has stated in at least one fairly easy to find interview that the game was based off of his memories of growing up in a born-again christian household. It’s not “twisting it for the sake of twisting it”, you miserable ignoramus. It’s a separate interpretation and guess what, it isn’t flattering. If your faith is so fragile that you find the idea of disparaging remarks toward morally repugnant, then kindly stop talking about faith as if you should represent it. There are, in fact, REAL believers out there, not just tourists whose lives are so sad and dull they cling to religion in lieu of personality.
5) This is a decent complaint. Edmund knew what he was getting into, he knew how absurdly defensive people get about anything religious, he doesn’t have much room to complain. Well done.
6) No. Shut up. You shut your stupid mouth this instant. You don’t get to tell people who they can and cannot criticize. You want people to only mock the craziest members of a religion, well too bad you insufferable child. He was mocking the foundations of the group in an effort to further actual introspection that maybe, just maybe, you might be wrong. And yes, you could make an extremely homophobic game. And yes, people would call for it to be banned. They would be wrong for all of the reasons you are, except they wouldn’t look half as stupid as you because hate crimes against s are a serious problem.

To conclude: I wrote this up because you posted a long comment that was just filled with idiocy and bile, and it didn’t look like anyone was telling you just how ridiculous and awful you sound. I hope you will one day not be terrible at everything, and maybe stop entirely missing the point of an opinion article.

Loonyyy

On March 7, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Great article, just two minor notes: The Medal of Honour game allowed you to play as the Taliban, not Al-Qaeda, and they were renamed if I recall correctly, to Op-For (The standard Opposing Force military jargon, which was also used in a similar matter in Modern Warfare.)

Again, really good piece!

Sword-Breaker

On March 8, 2012 at 6:46 am

@Hephaestus

Hey. What’s with all the name calling? I’m just writing my opinion here. If you don’t like what I write, then fine. It’s your choice. But I didn’t do or write anything that deserves all tha name calling since I never attacked you or anyone else. Oh well, this is the Internet after all. Nothing really new. Just for the record. I have nothing against you because I don’t know you. Anyway, you’ve perhaps understood some of my points wrongly.

1) did I ever say that he’s not entitled to an opinion? He can write whatever he chooses. But I never knew opinion pieces can contain mockery and bitterness with little to no grounds. An opinion piece like this would never be accepted in newspapers or magazines, but we’re in the Internet and this is gaming culture so it gets a free pass in this environment. Mockery and humor with little to no merit is usually reserved for regular columns, not opinion pieces. If I write a so-called opinion piece that states Japanese games just suck or Japanese developers just don’t know how to make games, with no grounds to back my opinion up…just mocking them point blank, then I’m going to be called out as a hateful idiot and rightfully so. Just like what the developer of Fez recently said in GDC and in turn most journalists and commenters called him out for that. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion….I never restricted free speech, but if it’s hateful, then I too have the right to point that out.

2) fair enough. You see some merit in this complaint, but to say that anyone can google what the opinion writer is trying to point out is a weak argument. If anyone resorts to googling what the writer is trying to point out after completing an opinion piece, then it makes it weakly written and not that well researched. If the topic is too big to write about, as this article, then the writer should at least direct his readers to research or read a specific link, book, etc. Jim did not do that when it comes to his points against The Bible and religion in general.

3) fair enough. Thanks for informing me about that, but that still doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t defend this story. The biblical interpretation’s main goal and moral is exactly the same as what my beliefs taught me.

4) like I said the developers can do what they want…but the fact that the developer is (according to you) raised in a Christian household further proves that he just doesn’t know or hasn’t been taught how believers interpret this well-known story. I won’t repeat that again as I’ve already detailed it in the past comment. Non-believers or non-religious people like Jim and many others do not believe this story, hence their focus on sacrifice and murder. Like I said, you’re entitled to that opinion, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the only opinion in existance and it’s absolutely right. Furthermore, this interpretation of Abraham’s story is not what religious people believe in at all. You have a right to say that you do not believe and explain why, but if you mock or twist then I’m free to defend my position and say that’s not what religious people believe in. I choose not to hit below belts and mock non-believers because that’s the way I was brought up. I may disagree with them or choose to try to convince them otherwise, but I still respect their opinion if they feel that way. That’s real free speech right there.

5) even though you wrote this part to mock me and other religious people, I still say that he didn’t know what he was getting into. If he did, he wouldn’t have complained and whined in twitter about not getting accepted into e-shop. Again, I never called to ban or censor this game. I’m just pointing out its flaws in examining the story.

6) mockery isn’t neccessarily the most effective way to prove a point, especially if it’s with little to no grounds as this article has shown. I never said I was absolutely right nor I’m offended if you or anyone else has an opposing argument against my opinions. Repeating myself once more, free speech is awesome, joking and having fun is awesome…but if you choose to conduct yourself in an unprofessional manner than expect backlash and consequences for your words. I never told anyone what they can and can’t criticize. I’m not against criticism for crying out loud! I’m assuming that you were trying to say hate crimes against sex and race are serious problems, right? Absolutely true if so. Well, I have to inform you that hate crimes against religion on people that mean no harm and practice is correctly is just as serious. Again, hate the radicals and extremists that incorrectly represent and practice their religions….but not the whole religion itself as there are people who mean no harm and practice it correctly.

MrImmoli

On March 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm

@Sword-Breaker

Shut the hell up. Apologists like you ing make me sick. Here’s your ing biblical “morals” in practice today.

http://articles.cnn.com/2004-04-03/justice/children.slain_1_deanna-laney-jury-rules-god?_s=PM:LAW

A mother kills two of her three children, for the third “…Aaron’s vision is impaired and he will never be able to live on his own.”
No different than the story of Abraham, but I’m sure you will spew out some bull about why it is okay when Abraham does it, but when someone else does it is immoral. That’s what apologist ers like you do.
Seriously, shut the up, you .

Sword-Breaker

On March 8, 2012 at 7:28 pm

@MrImmoli

Let me try repeating and rephrasing to try to get you to understand. You’re talking as if this one incident in the article applies to all believers, everywhere. You’re generalizing millions of people’s beliefs just because this one incident occurred in one state in the USA. That’s a wrong thing to do. Does this happen everyday worldwide? Is this some sort of epidemic? Do all religious people and believers around the world claim that they hear God telling them to kill? Of course not. Only a few radicals and extremists do that and those are the people that should be condemned for their actions. If that’s your real opinion, then you just hate religion point blank. You’re entitled to free speech, however hateful it is judging by the censored curses in your response, but that doesn’t always necessarily make you look like a respectful or good person.

And yes, she is insane and immoral. And you’re assuming that she’s Christian even though the article itself doesn’t state her beliefs or religion. All it says is that God told her to do it, which is indeed insane. Believing in God doesn’t make you Christian by default. Anyone can believe in God, and many religions base that faith under their own respective umbrellas.

And even if she was Christian, if she ever claimed that she was just mimicking what is being told to her from the Bible, then that means she’s of weak faith and/or she wasn’t taught of the correct moral of Abraham’s story. That’s why you shouldn’t compare this woman’s actions to Abraham’s story. If you claim to be Christian and you truly believe that the moral of Abraham’s story is sacrifice and murder, that the Bible literally allows you to kill your sons just because Abraham did it, then logically you shouldn’t claim to be Christian anymore. Why would anyone belong to a religion which contradicts itself according to your logic? Apply that to the developers of Binding of Issac, who say (according to one interview) that they’ve been raised in a Christian household, but that doesn’t mean that they necessarily truly believe in Christianity or that they were taught correctly since their version of the story in their game contradicts the biblical version and other religion’s opinions along. Again, to believers (not just Christians, some other religions too) sacrifice and murder has never been the moral of Abraham and his son’s story, hence the long explanation of how it should be told from some religion’s points of view in my previous comment. If you don’t believe it, fine by me as I’m not forcing you to…but you’re not the only one with this opinion and you shouldn’t put words in religious people’s mouths and claim that they all condone sacrifice and murder of sons.

Mordd

On March 10, 2012 at 1:37 am

Have to say I agree with pretty much all your comments in the article, congrats on having the balls to say it like you see it and not mincing words with what is so wrong with this decision, this is an article everyone should read!

Given

On March 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Let’s take a look at some of the arguments being made in the comments (read: go further off topic).

Argument A:
Let us assume I am an atheist. I see a story on the news about a Christian woman who, upon discovering her infant son is blind, hears the voice of God, who says, “Your son is blind. He will never be happy. It would be better if he were dead.” The mother kills her son, and I surmise that Christians are irrational and/or insane, and therefore worthy of my scorn.

Argument B:
Let us assume I am a Christian. I see a story on the news about an atheist woman who, upon discovering her infant son is blind, hears a voice from within, that says, “My son is blind, He will never be happy. It would be better if he were dead.” The mother kills her son, and I surmise that atheists are irrational and/or insane, and therefore worthy of my scorn.

Argument C:
Let us assume I am an agnostic. I see a story on the news about a woman who kills her blind son. I surmise that this woman is irrational and/or insane, and therefore worthy of my scorn.

Which of these three arguments is the most logical?

Bonus question: Did the woman’s belief system have any bearing on whether or not her actions were justified?

Thain

On March 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Only tangentially related, but worth mentioning: NOA’s general policy has, for a very long time, been that they do not allow ANY content that explicitly references an actual religion, whether that reference be positive, negative, or neutral. This is why, among other things, churches in American versions of RPGs typically did not have a cross or other recognizable religious symbol, even when their Japanese counterparts did. (found this out as a Christian kid who called Nintendo Power to ask why there weren’t more Christian games available for my Super Nintendo – I had a bit of a pathetic childhood).

When NOA says that a game has “questionable religious content,” my understanding is that they aren’t actually passing a judgment on the subject matter…they’re simply saying they do not allow games that make reference to actual religions.

As much as I think playing BoI on my 3DS would kick ass, I can understand NOA’s position, given that the Nintendo platform is and always has been the one most heavily marketed as family-friendly. When your primary demographic doesn’t give you their own money, you don’t want them asking mommy and daddy controversial questions that might lead to a forcible direction toward a new hobby.