Show This to Anyone Who Tells You That Games Can’t Teach You Anything
Earlier today, I received an e-mail from an independent game developer who was just trying to promote his game.
The game is called Devtheism. Curious enough to grab my attention, the developer describes his game as “A short story-driven game about respecting other people’s beliefs.” Even more curious about a short game that claimed to tackle such a broad and impacting topic, I downloaded it and gave it a spin.
Devtheism pits you as a young man, living in a video game world created by “the developers.” For the sake of the world in which the game takes place, the developers are essentially gods, the creators of the land and the people. If it didn’t click in your mind just yet, this faux religion of “Devtheism” is literally about believing in the existence and blessings of the developers. Anyhow, Devtheism revolves around a boy who believes in the existence of the developers but is confronted by others who would mock and ridicule him for his beliefs. Consequently the young boy goes on a journey for proof of the developers’ existences that he can present to nonbelievers.
Set in this video game world, much of the game’s talk revolves around the language of the video game community: deities are known as developers and much of the game’s dialogue is inspired by people talking about forum gossip and other internet-like communications.
Devtheism is an incredibly unorthodox game, to say the least, but one with a short, albeit powerful message: respect others’ beliefs and opinions. If nothing else, the developer, Mohammad Fahmi, is making commentary on how needlessly harsh and critical the gaming community is. People are quick to judge others, belittling them as though they were fools and their existences meaningless just because they made such a heinous and contemptuous claim as one console being superior to another.
While I don’t write this as a game review, I did want to make note of certain aspects of Devtheism. Being created by a foreign developer, there is some confusing wording throughout the game. Certain sentences may not use entirely proper grammar, and you may raise an eyebrow at the way something was phrased. However, none of the writing is so broken as to render it incomprehensible. You can definitely understand the meaning of every sentence; it just may not be entirely grammatically sound. That is okay.
And more importantly, as mentioned above, this game is incredibly brief. It will take you 30 minutes to play through from start to finish. There is no real sense of gameplay; there is no combat, no real exploration, and only one little sidequest. Still, this game was never meant to be a game in the traditional sense of the word. Your objective in the game, as both a gamer and a human being, is to interact with the game’s NPCs and help your protagonist as he struggles with his beliefs. Along the way, players will be reminded of what it means to have their own beliefs and to believe in them even when others disagree with you, effectively making them reflect on their own actions. Indeed, the game makes it an important point to hammer in that it is okay if others disagree with you. Though in doing so it does take a brief liberty by poking a few sticks at those on the internet who tend to flame and criticize over simple, insignificant things.
As you may have guessed by the 30 minute playtime, the game is not extensive. The message of this game is not one that you deal with for so long that it becomes hammered into your very soul. Players will not be bogged or mired down by the trials and tribulations of characters trying to maintain their beliefs. It is not a huge game nor is it an overly ambitious one. However, the game is just long enough to make you ponder over its message and maybe even make you think about how you interact with others and their beliefs, thoughts, and opinions, both inside and out of the video game industry. Maybe after giving this a quick playthrough, you’ll be more cognizant of some of the petty and harmful judgments that run rampant in our culture. Who knows, maybe this is a step towards increased tolerance and less criticism in the community?
If you would like some more information on Devtheism, I encourage everyone to take a look at Fahmi’s blog where he explains the game in detail. You can find that blog and two download links toward the bottom of the page right here. The game only takes 30 minutes (maximum) to play, so if you can spare a half-hour, I think it’s a game totally worth experiencing and reflecting upon.