Chain World

The 2011 Game Design Challenge: “Games as Religion”.

Jason RohrerAnd Jason Rohrer said:

Let There Be Chain World.

And Lo! There was Chain World — !

Rohrer turned out to be the only one of the three competitors who really addressed the theme [of religion] head-on.

How do you make a videogame that, in some sense, is a religion, especially if you’re an atheist? Rohrer began by defining the sort of spiritual practice that interested him, which had to do with the physical mysteries of everyday human experience. Rohrer spoke about his late grandfather, a colorful man who served as mayor of a small town in Ohio and left behind a legacy that soon turned into legends — the house he had built and the interstate whose path he had altered, forcing it to swerve around his town. (“It’s like my grandfather’s dogleg,” Rohrer said, putting up a slide of a bend in I-77.) In Rohrer’s family, these physical places had been turned into shrines of a sort. “We become like gods to those who come after us,” Rohrer told the crowd.

He wanted his game to encourage players to contemplate the monuments of those gods, which meant that he needed an environment where you could build things for future players to stumble across and ponder. He put up a slide of Minecraft, which is like an adventure game crossed with an inexhaustible virtual Lego set …. Chain World, Rohrer explained, was a mod, a customized version of Minecraft and a set of scripts that govern how it’s played. And here was the cool part: It all lived on a single USB memory stick.

Rohrer then dug the hand-painted stick out of his jeans pocket. “This is the only one in the world!” he said. “And here are the rules, the canon law of Chain World.” He outlined his commandments. Erect no signs — your creations must speak for themselves. Play until you die exactly once –no do-overs or restarts. (Zombies and spiders occasionally blink into existence to harry players as they build and explore.) Never talk about what you saw or did. Then pass the memory stick on to “someone who expresses interest.” Rohrer said that he had been player one, the first to leave a mark on Chain World …. “So, someone in the audience is going to get to be player … two,” Rohrer said, holding the stick out …

Chain World Videogame Was Supposed to be a Religion — not a Holy War by Jason Fagone @ Wired magazine

Via Slashdot.

Games and Religion

Brahman D20Games are about rules — codes of conduct — governing the behavior of individual players and relationships between players.

Religions are about rules — codes of conduct — governing the behavior of individual people and relationships between people.

So why are there so few games involving religion? Michael Thompson of Ars Technica explores the paradox:

Mark Twain once observed that, “Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion— several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight.” Twain was right: religion, no matter what religion, is something that multitudes of people believe in, but no two people seem to believe in exactly the same thing. As a result, any religious content included in games is going to be interpreted on a very personal level by anyone who considers themselves devout.

… Maybe that’s why making religious games is so tough: by including anything that’s that goes even remotely beyond basic concepts or happens to be even a bit controversial, developers risk the ire a lot of people who could easily be offended enough to boycott the title. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll be seeing any religious content in the near future, though the possibility of storylines with serious spiritual themes remains.

Michael Thompson @ Ars Technica

Vias Slashdot.