Doom, Bayonetta… When video games were accused of being satanic

Game News Doom, Bayonetta… When video games were accused of being satanic

Is Doom satanic? Do video games invite young people to make pacts with the devil? As absurd as they are, here are real questions being asked at the dawn of the 21st century in some North American media. Small return to the time the video game underwent the satanic panic on the one hand of puritan America.

In the flood of collective fears that consumed the American population in the 80s and 90s, there is the satanic panic, driven by disturbing media representations, the sect of Manson, or even the advent of the work I’Exorcist. However, the demon of author Will Peter Blatty seems to terrorize Puritan society much less than those who have to be butchered in the FPS Doom. It is not the first game subject to scandals: Death Race, Night Trap and Mortal Kombat suffered a slew of them long before it, but it is the victim of sad shortcuts. We are in 1999 when the young authors of the Columbine massacre in a Colorado school, labeled as big fans of the title, inadvertently shape him a terrible reputation with part of public opinion and certain Church leaders who are going to catalog the bane video game. A time when Hillary Clinton would soon utter: “We need to treat violent video games like we treat tobacco, alcohol and pornography.”

Doom (id software), 1993.

Walking down the video game aisle of your software store is a lot like visiting the hall of horrors at a wax museum.”, observes the journalist Steven L. Kent in a research paper which he baptizes “Why do so many games feature violence and evil imagery?” for CNN in 1997. The answers of external speakers to this question, however sewn with white thread, seem to want to temper the fears: “I don’t think anyone at Id worships demons“says Chris Charla, editor of the once popular magazine Next Generation. Ten years ago, it was the game Dungeons & Dragons that was accused of encouraging demon worship. Some seem to see the hand of the devil in any human creation, probably the same ones who manage to unearth satanic symbols in the Walt Disney logo.


“I have a feeling the devil has a new tool”

In 2010, a conservative Philadelphia newspaper, The Bulletin, warns against “the rise in satanic-themed video games that target God and Christianity, invite players to make deals with the devil, and elevate Satan to hero status. The massively relayed article criticizes in particular the ESRB, an American classification body, for not classifying titles according to their religious imagery: “few of them mention the overt satanic content of the games“. Lance Christian, a 32-year-old Christian testifies there, saying he fears the influence of Satan on his favorite hobby: “Jhave a feeling that the devil has a new tool in the age of technology, and that the majority of adults in positions of responsibility are left in the dark”. And to list the most satanic works that he is, according to him: Deception: Invitation to Darkness, Nocturne and Shadow Hears on PS2, or Dragon Age: Origins. ‘Darksiders, Bayonetta and Guitar Hero are not left out either. It is difficult for the model Christian to take up a hobby that he thinks is tainted by the devil. A problem that also shakes a reverend, Ralph Bagley, who therefore entrusts himself with a very special mission to extricate himself from this malaise: to introduce the word of God into the “dark satanic arena” of the video game industry. His project is told in the columns of New York Times in 2005.

Darksiders and Bayonetta

Doom, Bayonetta… When video games were accused of being satanicDoom, Bayonetta… When video games were accused of being satanic

I was one of the guys who played Pong. When I became a Christian in 1992, I still wanted to play, but it was hard when the best games available were Doom and Quake, satanic games, you know? If I went to church on Sunday and came home to play a video game, I felt a little guilty. I tried to find other Christian games, but there were none. Absolutely nothing. I’m the kind of guy who, when I see something undone, wants to do it himself.

So Bagley is developing his own video game, “Catechumen“, baptized after an ancient term used to designate a convert. It recounts the rescue of persecuted Christians in ancient Rome and is said to have sold some 80,000 copies. He also founded his studio, N’Lightning Software (today now inactive).”We take the earth back from Satan“, he proclaims with pride. And he is not the only one: a certain Peter Fokos has meanwhile mortgaged his house and liquidated his retirement fund to open his own Christian development studio, Digital Praise. At a time when Christian pop represents 7% of the total pop music market, Christian video games could find their audience just as much, suggests the NY Times. But you have to struggle with very tight budgets. Eternal War: Shadows of Light is an example of its kind. Developed by the Two Guys Software studio, it simply adds its own characters to an already existing framework, that of Quakepopular game from id Software, the makers of Doom. Rather funny. The player embodies the angel Michael, called to Earth to save a desperate teenager who is contemplating suicide. The idea is generally to illustrate the virtues assimilated in religion, without necessarily ruling out the notion of violence; “you don’t have to go back to the Bible to remember that Christianity does not shrink from violence if the goal, even in a fantasy setting, is right”, notes the NY Times. Productions of this genre continue to come out in dribs and drabs today, so you can find the entire list on Wikipedia.


“I consider Eve one of the most satanic games there is”

So here it is, in the end, everyone can find their little happiness in the video game. But what can those who claim to be Satanists play at? Do they confine themselves to productions that borrow their imagery? Doom is it actually satanic-friendly for them ? In 2017, a Kotaku journalist, Cecilia D’Anastasio, made contact with Citizen V, a young man very fond of the survival title ARK: Survival Evolved. However, it is not so much his way of taming the Triceratops or hatching pterodons that really interests him, but rather his membership in the Church of Satan, an organization founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey, author of the Satanic Bible.. From life to the screen, he conscientiously transposes the precepts he draws from it, centered around a creed: “Responsibility for managers“.”Anyone worth my time, enriching my life and bringing something to the table, these are the people worth taking a detour to.“. In this paper named “Satanists Say Video Games Help Them Practice Their Religion”, Citizen V says he ignores low-level players who come empty-handed and instead reaches out to the most worthy to whom he likes to entrust all kinds of tasks.

Doom, Bayonetta… When video games were accused of being satanic

Reverend Raul of the Church of Satan, also asked, highlights three principles of Satanism that are good to appreciate in video games: indulgence, meritocracy, but also what he calls “environments totals”, described as “literal pleasure domes and places of amusement and pleasure“. It could be anything from abundant fertile land on Ark to a session of VR porn. Raul’s little slice of heaven is EVE Online, where he can rampage up the scams without shame. He flourishes there as a self-proclaimed master of espionage. He enjoys breaking into factions, picking up notable information and relaying it to his allies in the process;”I consider Eve one of the most satanic games there is, because you have tremendous power as an individual.

You gain sovereignty over part of the universe. It is a battle for the control of space, the expansion of influence. It exercises parts of my philosophy that seem sound to me.

Doom, Bayonetta… When video games were accused of being satanicDoom, Bayonetta… When video games were accused of being satanic

John H. Shaw, another reverend of the Church of Satan, prefers to line his pockets on Grand Theft Auto V.”it’s satanic“, he asserts to Cecilia D’Anastasio. “You get better cars, more money, you’re more successful, you buy houses“. But, and Doom then? is it satanist or not? The DOOM Series Is Horror Science Fiction That Has Nothing To Do With Satanism, declares without hesitation Reverend Raul for the Fandom site. In fact, the organization does not believe in the Devil in its purest traditional sense, but rather sees him as a vehicle of values ​​including pride and individuality: “Satan is a symbol, not a literal deity, who represents the ultimate blasphemy: self-worship”. That seems clearer.

Yes, there are plenty of demons, pentagrams, and references to a hellish dimension, but this is the standard horror game genre. That doesn’t mean Satanists can’t enjoy the game, both in terms of horror aesthetics and, more importantly, competition. We have members of the Church of Satan who are professional gamers. We can’t wait to see DOOM Eternal…

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