Home Tech If life is one giant computer simulation, God is a rubbish player | Dominik Diamond

If life is one giant computer simulation, God is a rubbish player | Dominik Diamond

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Altered Beast video game (arcade version), 1988

IIt’s Easter weekend, when Catholics like me spend hours in church listening to the extended editorial version of a story where we already know the ending. As I sat there recently for the millionth performance of the Passion, I started thinking about how few religious video game characters I’ve ever encountered. It’s interesting that in a world where so many people’s lives are dictated by religious beliefs, there is such a scarcity of religion in games. I mean, you could argue that all games are tributes to Jesus, with their respawns and extra lives, but even I admit that’s a tall order.

The Peggies in Far Cry 5 are a violent mind-control cult; the founders of BioShock Infinite use religion to elevate and justify hatred of foreigners; and you have those crazy things in Fallout that worship atomic bombs. Religion is used almost exclusively as a tool for leaders to get followers to do bad things. (Granted, they may be on to something here.) I think when so many video games are structured in such a way that you’re a lone protagonist facing off against a huge power, religion is a pretty obvious villain.

Altered Beast (arcade version), 1988. Photo: Sega

The most terrifying religious event in video games for me will always take place in Altered Beast. A Roman centurion, who has lived a life of horrific violence, pain, suffering and straight marching, is rudely brought back from the dead and forced by Zeus to do more of it (the game mixed his mythologies). The poor guy probably just wants eternal sleep. Instead, he’s forced to punch and kick all kinds of werebeasts and shiny orbs. He has no choice. He can’t go back. Side scrolling takes care of that.

My eldest daughter and resident Zelda Nut tells me that religion in those games is “nothing but trouble, except for those who worship nature.” On the other hand, she is vegan and works in an animal hospital. On the internet I found impassioned discussions about how Catholic John Marsten was in Red Dead Redemption and “proof” that Doomguy had similar beliefs, which was why he loved hunting demons so much in what was actually called The Exorcist in Space.

My own relationship to religion is complicated. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God when the world is undoubtedly in the toilet. I feel like the excuse that “all bad things happen because of the free will God has given us” is the religious equivalent of an infinite life-deception in a video game; it’s a bit of a hack. Honestly, I would give up free will tomorrow. I’ve had to make way too many decisions in my current life. I much preferred life as a small child, where I was told what to do and taken care of. I honestly think I would be a happy automaton as long as I got eight hours of sleep a night.

What if, as some believe, we are characters in a giant computer simulation? Without going completely into David Icke, I see more and more sense in that every day. It is one of those theories that is simultaneously absurd and confirmed by facts. Think about it: wouldn’t everything make sense if this world were part of a video game played by a truly crappy player? How many times have I messed up decisions when I was in charge in a video game? How many cities have I completely messed up and then abandoned in SimCity? Have you ever seen such ruthless, amoral global leadership outside of a Civilization playthrough?

The answer is clear: God is simply not a very competent player. Don’t tell me it’s a coincidence that the end credits of Altered Beast revealed that it was all just a simulation, too.

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Think of 2001’s Black and White, a video game where you played as a god and all that always went wrong? Yes. Photo: Bullfrog/EA

There is one positive point to the simulation argument. It means that criticism becomes painless. There’s always that selfish fear that I’ll write something that people will hate. This was never a problem in the days before online comment, when I was the only Liberal columnist for the Daily Star for a decade, although I could show you handwritten letters that would make your toes curl if I didn’t include them. had poured. holy water then buried them in lime.

The great thing about simulation theory is that I can write anything and if people don’t like it, that’s fine. It’s not even me who writes it. It’s a supreme being that controls me in Newspaper Columnist Adventure 5. Poor supreme being. It would be the most boring game they have played since Euro Truck Simulator.

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