Finished Gat Out Of Hell so I’ll talk about it from an atheist perspective.There will be some spoilers, but as these these games are basically shooting lots of bullets, or maybe even giant sharks, at a never-ending parade of bad guys, there’s not much to spoil. The Saint’s Row games have become progressively more ludicrous. More ludicrous equals more fun, and this one takes the mayhem to Hell with a plot that is no deeper than the titular hero taking over New Hades district by district until he can punch the Father of Lies in the face.
Playing a game with the devil as the antagonist reminded me of the moral panic the mention of such things once used to engender in the 80s. That amazing decade which birthed not only Miami Vice and New Romanticism, but also the equally slothful cousin of video games – RPGs. If you’re too young to remember, a little over thirty years ago D&D was linked to Satanism, and some schools even banned its playing. References to demons and angels were removed from later source books, in an attempt to pacify moral crusaders who thought children were being given a one way ticket to Hell, by sitting around a table and killing imaginary monsters by rolling dice.
Fast forward three decades, and now I can sit in the comfort of my gaming chair and shoot Satan with twin Uzis that have a never ending supply of exploding bullets. How the times have changed.
And how the times have also changed since Jesus was in short pants. As an atheist, games about the supernatural are a great way to display the more difficult to swallow aspects of a belief in the supernatural. The way Johnny Gat and his cast of amusingly violent friends so casually accept the existence of the supernatural, that demons and Satan are real, mirrors how in the Bible no one is surprised about the existence of the supernatural. Sure, people are in awe that they’ve been chosen, or that mute guy is possessed by a demon, or that the Nile will be so teeming with frogs that they’ll come into the palace’s bedrooms. But no one is truly surprised by it like we would be. These events are accepted as not so out of the ordinary by people. After all, in the case of the frogs the Pharaoh’s magicians lay claim to a similar power.
So when Johnny Gat nonchalantly pulls a gun on Satan, he’s acting no different to the Pharaoh who is equally dismissive of Moses’s god. Neither are impressed by the supernatural because there’s nothing super about it; to them it’s just natural. So if you’re a theist, you might want to consider what you think of as reality. If you can honestly say that we live in a world where demons, angels, and magic are things just as real as a zebra, then okay, more power to you.
Bill Maher has something to say on the absence of the supernatural in our everyday lives:
I’m sure I’ve shown this one before, but it really is so good that I’m going to post it again. I’m not sure which is funnier, Maher’s comedic timing of ‘motherfucker’, or Scalia’s reason of ‘wilier’. The devil may well be in the details, but I kind of doubt it. Maybe if you think about it honestly, you do too.