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You have founded the new religion Christianity in the holy city of Moscow."

So reads a notification on the side of my screen while I'm playing Civilization V: Gods and Kings. It represents a moment in my kingdom when my hodge-podge of chosen ...

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James Stevenson

December 19, 2012  10:21pm

Richard, what have you learned from this game that would be a message to Christians living in the USA today? Should there be political activism and an alignment with a particular party? I was intrigued with two statements that you made; "when religion is introduced in the context of a power struggle, its teachings are diluted" and "religion, when misused for the sake of attaining power can be downright villainous". Were these conclusions reached by playing the game or conclusions from an external source that were validated by the game, or just your own philosophy?

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December 19, 2012  9:18pm

Wonderful article Richard Clark. My Dutch civ was just laid waste last night by Alexander The Great. Despite my successful spread of Elementalism, he paid off nearby City States to join him to wipe me off the map. I think the problems with incorporating religion into a game with a goal is the abstraction that occurs — reducing 'spirit' to rational material data to be processed by the computer AI. And I disagree with you — all games have a 'goal' whether it is to win or to have fun. There's a motivation on the player' part to have a particular experience which is pleasurable in some aspect. In Civ V, the goal is rooted in the ration-material perspective at the core of the Western Mind and thus everything including religion and culture is treated as a technology. Civ can't calculate spirit, no game can because spirt is not calculable. That is also why the best games are not with the computer AI, but with other humans playing fromwith their spirit. I do love Civ V for its purposed comparison of religions in their earthy effect as it is a reminder that the uniqueness of the Christ I worship can not be encapsulated into text or computer syntax or any language of rationality nor physical body nor historic deed. Computers are, like our bodies and this World, portals of sense to and from spirit. Even in the best designed games that stimulate our desire for the Divine bliss, they are little else but machines and in being so, show that we are so much more.

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