SMITE and Religion in Games


So, this past weekend I started playing in the SMITE beta. If you havn’t heard of it, it’s basically LoL/DOTA except with a 3rd person view, skill shots for everything including auto attack, and generally tends to be faster paced. I’m certainly enjoying the game, even though it does need a lot of work if it wants to stand up to other MOBA games and have a pro-gaming league, but that’s a talk for another day…

So, I’m of the opinion that gaming can be just as much of an art form as a painting,a book, or a movie and should be able to talk about religion just the same.

Therefore, when I saw this I got a little bit scared. Not going to lie, they had a good point about the scantily clad representation of Kali shown above (though I don’t know how Kali is normally represented in Hinduism, and going as far as calling the representation that of a “porn star” is only done to spark controversy). Elsewhere however, it’s suggested that Hi-Rez should completely remove Hindu Deities from SMITE.

Here is Hi-Rez’s response on their forums for SMITE

SMITE is a creative work of art, with playable deities inspired by compelling literature from around the world. The gods included in SMITE are currently drawn from five pantheons. Over time we will add new pantheons and new gods that fit the theme and gameplay of SMITE.

In the case of Hinduism, we recognize and respect that there are active followers of that tradition. Hinduism is in fact the world’s oldest existing religion, and currently the world’s third largest religion with over 1 billion followers.

Closer to home, our Hi-Rez Studios team includes Indians and many with great respect for the Hindu tradition. Personally, I have visited Hindu sites within India on three separate occasions – including a visit to Hardiwar/Hardwar (one of the holiest sites) to participate in very moving Hindu rituals around the Ganges river.

SMITE is entertainment, not theology. But we have chosen to include lore about each deity. We believe our inclusion of deities, and representative lore, exposes players to diverse traditions. Some players may be inspired to learn even more about new traditions and cultures, as has been the case for our dev-team in researching each new god.

In the case of Hinduism we have had our in-game lore reviewed by Hindu advocacy groups and academics, and have incorporated improvement suggestions from that community.

-HiRezTodd

Hi-Rez, my respect for you just went up so high.

More on SMITE and this particular topic will probably come soon enough.
-key

Credit:
The Kali picture is from the Smite Wiki here
Thanks to Tsuru on the SMITE forums for compiling those first to links here

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