When the concept of video games was first created, it was merely considered a simple way of entertaining children; games like Super Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog, and many others were not designed to have a higher purpose than that. On the other hand, today games are proper works of art, with incredible work going into designing the characters, impeccable gameplay, but also the music and the storyline. Entire teams of people are dedicated to making all of this a unified whole, which provides the user with the optimal experience as well as comfort. The backstories and universes in which these games were placed are getting more and more complex; therefore, it is no wonder that some of them enable their users to contemplate serious life questions, moral choices, but even religion and spirituality. In that sense, games are becoming true works of art, just like books, films, and theater plays. Here are some games which explore the concept of religion and spirituality.
The Assassin’s Creed series have toyed with this concept from the very first game, which was set in the Holy Land during the Crusades. This was a very good way to depict the political, military, and religious struggles at the time, mostly between Christian and Muslim people. Even in the later games, the players are presented with two organizations fighting for world peace, out of which no single one is morally superior or impeccable, and it is up to the individual player to make a moral and spiritual decision and choose a side, even if it means sacrificing some of their ideals.
This game may not be an obvious choice, but it certainly invokes some religious and spiritual problems which the player needs to contemplate. The protagonist of the game is a good policeman, whose wife and daughter were murdered by drug dealers; later he is framed for a murder he did not commit, and so on. The spiritual symbolism in this game arises from the fact that Max Payne remains on the ‘good’ side, regardless of the difficulties that may befall him, which is a lesson in itself that any spiritual or religious person should take seriously. Doing the right thing and acting morally in spite of hardships is a very significant step for anyone who wishes to be in contact with their spiritual side.
Legend of Zelda
While this may not appear to be religious or spiritual at first glance, this game plays on the Jewish and Christian ideas of free will and predestination. While these two concepts seem different, they are successfully united in this game. There are specific tasks and puzzles that the players need to perform in order to get to the end of the game. However, the players have the absolute freedom to approach these in any way that they see fit; this space of possibility allows the players to make their own plans, try, fail, and approach their mission the way that they consider to be best. Therefore, this game presents a very powerful metaphor of life and the way that people approach it every day. Free will might be a concept familiar to us, but we often forget about it if we are not reminded of it precisely by games like these.