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Kirby: Gaming your way to greater good
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Would your particular brand of faith (or lack thereof) make for a popular video game? Is "Fast Offerings: Rise of the Deacons" the next best-seller among electronic gamers?

Probably not. But the question still stands. According to a recent study reported in ScienceDaily , "many video games have begun incorporating religion as a key aspect to plot points and story lines."

Don't get too excited. This isn't about bringing gamers to Jesus but rather about battling religious crazies, or using religious guilt as a motivation to hack nonbelievers (evil-doers) into odd bits. In any case, religion is strongly associated with the violence in the games.

Greg Perreault, a doctoral student in the University of Missouri School of Journalism, studied the matter and found that a number of new video games equate religion with violence/conflict in the story line.

"It doesn't appear that game developers are trying to purposefully bash organized religion in these games," Perreault said. "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, conflict and violence. Wow, who would have thought these things were related?

Seriously, if violence is good enough for the scriptures, shouldn't it be good enough for the video game industry, too?

Given the popularity of video gaming, incorporating religious conflict into a game's narrative does seem like a good way to reinforce important gospel points.

Unfortunately, keeping the Sabbath holy isn't fraught with the sort of conflict that pulls people into the story enough that they'll stop bathing or going to work. You have to ramp it up a bit.

What about "The Sabbath Day: Closing Time" where the game's objective is to enter a supermarket on Sunday with the Sword of Righteousness and chop Sabbath violators to death? Cleanse an entire mall and advance to the next level.

You wouldn't think Relief Society would make a good video game. It might if you added conflict in the form of casserole-playing violence. What LDS family wouldn't want "World of Ward-craft" in its video game library?

Some might decry the violence in regular video games, but would they if it was faith-promoting violence? Biblical violence? You know, good violence?

What better way to get the point of chastity across to technology-obsessed teenagers today than by letting them play "Rock On: Stoning Harlots" all hours of the night?

Drowning Pharaoh's men. Sodom and Gomorrah. Noah's Ark. All of these have valid gospel messages that are being missed by today's youth because attention spans can't hang onto the way it's written in the Bible.

Not with "Holy Jumping Jericho." Take the role of Joshua. Can you earn enough obedience points by killing every living thing in a city?

"Baptism for the Undead" would be a hit. So, too, would "Super Moroni Brothers," "Moral Kombat" and "Halo VI: This Time it's For God."

Read the Book of Revelation again and tell me that wasn't John seeing into the future and writing a script for a video game. Deformed beasts, plagues, dragons, fire — all it needs is a game controller.

With just a bit of creative effort, we can take a medium many believe is undermining the spirituality of this generation and turn it to good. Or not.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/notpatbagley.

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