Stupid News: Hindu leader demands gods be removed from SMITE
Religion in games is always a sticky subject. You make one reference to one god or deity in the wrong way and a whole swath of worshipers end up losing their collective minds all at once. Such is the case with this next story. It seems a certain Hindu leader, Rajan Zed (no relation to Dr. Zed from Borderlands), who just happens to be the President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, has demanded that Hi-Rez studios remove any and all references and images of Hindu gods from their upcoming MOBA, SMITE.
The gods in question are Kali, Vamana, and Agni.
It seems Mr. Zed’s argument is that any type of video game or entertainment reference that doesn’t respect the religious framwork of those gods lessens the importance of said gods.
“Hindus welcomed [the] entertainment industry to immerse in Hinduism but it is important to take it seriously and respectfully and not for refashioning Hinduism concepts and symbols for mercantile greed,” said Zed. “Hindus will gladly provide genuine entertainment industry seekers the resources they need for their study and research regarding Hinduism.”
While I understand and appreciate Mr. Zed’s sentiment, I can’t see Hi-Rez being too concerned with the thought of acquiescing to his demand. Mr. Zed may not like how Hi-Rez interprets his religion’s deities, but Hi-Rez has every right to use those gods in a game that deals with playing as…wait for it…a GOD. More importantly, we live in a country that defends both religious and creative expression. And in cases like this, while Mr. Zed would probably argue otherwise, you can’t have it both ways: you can’t defend creative and religious self expression one minute and decry it the next when someone comes along and interprets an idea in a way you don’t like.
In short, Hi-Rez and Mr. Zed should both keep doing what they’re doing. In fact, I think the discussion is a good one to have. Should gods really be off the table? Are there more sensitive ways to portray religious figures? Or does that even need to be addressed? But what shouldn’t come from this is the removal of key deities from a game simply because someone doesn’t like the content. Furthermore, I would surmise that the decision to use gods in a video game such as SMITE is one that was made with a lot of thought and care in mind, as is the case with a lot of video games. To Zed’s defense, it may not be the most accurate or sympathetic representation of a religious deity. But it’s entertainment. It doesn’t have to be. And Mr. Zed, you have the freedom not to play it. That’s your right as much as it is Hi-Rez’s right to make the game they want to make.
In fact, I think SMITE might be missing one key god: Buddy Christ. I mean, wouldn’t you love to see that GOD lay a heavenly smack down on an enemy god with two-thumbs up of pure awesome?
SMITE is currently in closed beta.
You can pre-order the game and get into the beta HERE
SOURCE: Gamepolitics and Times of India