How to Properly portray religion and faith in game fictional or otherwise


I’m taking comparative religion right now which is only scratching the surface of the vastness that is indeed faith and religion. And occurs to me than most games with a fictional religion or otherwise that’s not true religion well with its complexity philosophical perspectives metaphysics. To the active devotions rituals and what drives people to go down the different paths. And our society we grew up with lazy dogma and religions purging themselves of the core identity and mystic traditions. So I understand how It not appealing to people. So how should we show me games outside of the DND cleric, dragon age is a pretty good job of showing the political aspects but with the Catholic Church like structure. That’s only one asked. How can we expand This give me lives in a proper share instead of the two extremes of being saintly or or deeply corrupted.

Religion how to show with all it complexities

Yeah, Dragon Age is a good example of fictional religions. Game of Thrones has quite a few. I think the best way to keep some kind of balance between the two extremes of saintly and corrupt is through the followers.

Just like in real religions, people who follow a fantasy religion should all have different agendas and interpretations. Some people will calmly and rationally attempt to convert people to their own way of thinking, others will hate and possibly even want to kill anybody that disagrees with them. Some people will dedicate their lives to helping others in the name of religion, others will try to use religion as a way to extort money from vulnerable people. Basically, take all the best and worst sides of religion that can be found throughout history and apply them to your own fantasy religion. :blush:


I’ll echo everyone’s sentiments about Dragon Age. It portrayed the medieval era Catholic Church with some additions, and was pretty obvious about it too. I think it was done in a respectful manner, taking care to highlight different aspects of the religion in a balanced way. The followers of any religion are still human, and humans are still a flawed species. Saints and heathens everywhere! lol

On the other hand, one example that I think was executed poorly was the way the Meek were portrayed in the Heroes Rise series. I love the original series (err…I’ll just ‘no comment’ on the season 2 stuff), but I do think it’s blatantly obvious that the author had an enormous negative bias towards Christianity. Now, some people might think that it was just being anti-extremist religion (certainly it was), but when there are so many obvious allusions to specific Bible verses, ‘unholy’ trinities, etc… Maybe it’s just me, but I find it distasteful. If you’re going to base your fictional religion so overtly after a real life example, portraying the whole group as a bunch of closeted violent psychos is just…smh.


That’s some good advice fighting at the problem with a lot of mediums today we’re just not raised with it. At least in an intellectual healthy way. Intern people give these deadly lazy stereotypes in video game. One of the things Dragon age did really well is the world was flawed there is sexism it wasn’t in your face but it was there in cultures. Which is ironic because their equivalency of the pope is a woman.

And the thing is we don’t see religions similar to Hinduism Taoism or Buddhism it’s because some of them are very hard for a western Minds to grasp and we would be doing him a disservice if we can try unless we grew up with it or have we studied are ourselves. Or Christianity we now mostly in our mind of these TV evangelicals. But nothing about it metaphysics mysticism or it’s real tradition. The Eastern religions were able to hold on at least for a very long time I’m there mysticism well that’s getting even destroy with globalism. So when we have a game that takes place in a medieval like setting or let’s say ancient China or fedual Japan. To do that setting service you’re going to have to understand not just religion but the traditions the text the commentary the different schools of thought in theology. FYI I totally agree with both of you. It was going to be a religion of fictional setting I would look closely at the theology and traditions of old-world historical religions.


Don’t get me started on Dragon Age. Da:I’s handling of religion was so off putting that it has almost turned me entirely off the series, because I no longer trust the writers. Ugh, but since I am now talking fantasy and fantasy religion.

If you make a religion that is almost like an real life religion, but not entirely then remember that almost and where the difference lays. Don’t suddenly start to change the rules and the way it works later in the story because you have forgotten that there actually is an pretty big difference. And remember that it is not your real world religions and so the followers are not going to react the same.

If you are writing fantasy and have more than one religion don’t treat one of the religion as more real than the rest.

If you have a plot centered on your almost real religion, then have the guts to go through with it, both the ugly and the pretty. Don’t chicken out and make the plot twist about some other religion, because you don’t want plot twist about the more real world religion.

I… didn’t like Da:I much. :sweat:


Well that’s the thing my friend if it doesn’t feel like it could’ve been a real world religion. And what I mean is that if it missing all the messiness of schisms different interpretation of doctrine some violent ugly moments with along with the beautiful and sublime. You are not doing right. Religion is organize spirituality if it’s done right it’s supposed to really transform you intern of the transformation will make you a better person. Which hardly happens but one had 1 million of those followers will become the transform. Siddhartha The prince in the palace and Buddha under the Bo tree very different people.

And then a gradual process of spiritually if not ethically transforming becoming stronger both to reason and believe. Is terribly hard to Protray properly. Let alone in gaming but I love to see you tr let alone in gaming but I love to see it tried.


I feels like whenever someone say religion, most people would think about the big ones: Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam. All of the above are focused on philosophical ideas and morality. But there are so many more smaller religion that doesn’t put as much focus on those aspect, instead they’re simply about the relationship between humans and the world around us. Take Shintoism or the bear worship of the Ainu for example, both of them focuses more on the natural world around them. The Ainu doesn’t care about doing the good thing, ascending to heaven or whatever. To them the divine is whatever provided them the mean to live (bear, fish, etc…). So to portray faith and religion in your work, ask yourself what the faith is about? What is the relationship between the worshippers and the divine? What is important to the people practicing this religion? How do someone worship the divine in this religion? Once you answered these questions (and a few more) you would have a much clearer idea about that religion and you would have a much better chance of portraying it


Those are more like based religion. And they said this interesting with similar perspective of not really a separation with spirituality but it’s just like a house with many doors or in some form of cosmic womb. They perceive reality in symbolism. And many of these cultures have an oral tradition with their faith so the living tradition intern they perceive the divinty in reality. When you think of those basic religions every act is holy. The rituals are for keeping balance. They do have taboos which are incredibly important in they’re taking their actions. What did you have this incredible perspective of the metaphysics but it’s also very fragile and it’s incredibly local. Even with these old tribal religions you can see how they were expanded upon in the major historical ones. Shintoism is indeed an organize religion but it returns a lot of the old tribal roots. Back when the emperor was a living aspect of the land and the link to the original ancestor.

They don’t necessarily have gods but there are spirits in many things. But the idea itself is not so radical from creation itself is just an aspect of the divine. That everything with the divine and reality it’s just an illusion. With everyone having their own way of breaking free.


A proper way to portray religion is elusive, considering how mercurial both faith and religion are, between the religions and even from believer to believer the values and concept changes.

Although, in my opinion… (dangerous words with certain subjects.) The best way to portray it is if you show one extreme you should shine light on the other. To look at Buddhism; my personal favourite.

It is a wonderful way to perceive the world, understand it and be at peace with it yourself though that’s not nearly the entirety of it. On the other side of it the religion isolates itself and remains resistant to change and rigid in its hierarchy; its biggest problem ‘in my opinion’ is how it seems separate from the world around it (the temples and the monks).

All that said showcasing the virtues and failings should be at the heart of any showcase of religion. Though in equal measure, a tricky balancing act or risk a crusade.


We had lovely discussion about Buddhism in class about the Four Noble Truths an 8 fold path is recurring thing you see in religion in different forms. The interesting thing we noticed it not saying don’t do this it’s recommending you should do. Off of the Schism after siddhartha’s death, Weather Wisdom our compassion should be the guiding Focus. Of course you can see similarities starkly of how it spread with Christianity 200 later. Of course you can say religions are trying to do all the same thing allow us to become something better. But it’s like eggs you can have it in so many different way but it’s still eggs. :smile:


I haven’t played Dragon Age, but I’ve written a game in which the character is a priest (the name of the story published by Hosted Games is The Path of Light). It is a fictional religion and I really wanted to highlight the positives religion brings to people with only a hint of dogmas. The MC would fight with a sword, exorcise, heal, and help the fellow villagers in their struggles of the heart. His girlfriend has the habit of turning into a violent she-devil. Often times I want to go back to this story.

There is a bit of that in Twin Flames where one of the MCs is a newly appointed Abbot who, with the help of his lover, has to build a bridge between the protectors of the forest and the woodcutters.


It depends on what kind of believe system you want to generate, how big of a role and influence it plays in the community , how it shapes their perspective, … what might be more interesting than simply religion might be a general philosophy or way of thinking of a people group, which truely makes them a nation. But both aspects go hand in hand often. The questions you oughtta ask are:

  1. How do they perceive and view the world around them ? Magical, dangerous, …
  2. How do they view men and their surroundings (animals, plants, nature, specific region that shaped them through harshness or abundance, …) ?
  3. How do they view themselves compared to the world and others ? Superior, equal ?
  4. How do they perceive time ?
  5. What’s the notion of mortality and relationship with death ?
  6. What would be taboo and why? Aspects from their collective history and daily life often shape this decision.
  7. What kind of believe system, dogmatic or liberal ? Individual or flock mentality ? More established, a pantheon or animistic ?
  8. The notions of good and evil.
  9. What role plays the divine ?
  10. What kind of divine ?
  11. Bound to the past (ancestors) and reclusivenes or to the future and ambition ?


I think that religion can get complicated with all the different ideologies for the same religion and the violent and non-violent sects. I think it would be really hard to show the positive and negatives of a religion without giving a whole “religion sucks” vibe. I wouldn’t play Russian roulette, even if the gun only had one bullet. Criticisms of the religion also have to be non-secular like Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis; He was a Christian and didn’t hate Christians, but he wanted reformation.

You have to consider the reader’s knowledge and acceptance of religion. It probably would seem foolish to most people if you have to wear purple socks on Friday or else you go to hell or something like that. The book Death and the Kings Horseman is kind of a situation where religion and British ideology(I don’t know the right term for this?) can’t co-exist.

I’ve seen religion handled well when it focuses on mundane rituals. In the tv show Inuyasha, Kikyo was a priestess and it was important in her role as a character, but it didn’t make the character unrelateable.

I think more of a focus on cultural values rather than religious values would be easier to write, as @TheNobleOne said.


@TheNobleOne make some wonderful points. I still personally believe Religion is great in the sense the same way government is it’s a necessity it still brings out the best in humanity along with its worst. Government does the same exact thing except bring order. You would have to think gradually show perspective of the relation to the protagonists. When the church the caliphate add The temple etc. is doing its best to shining beacon of the example of humanity it will show wonderful combination of compassion wisdom and intellectual might. At its worse but we know how it is at worst.

If you’re going to make up for religion you have to honestly look at real life relations see how they grew up with her different theological debates schisms how did the organize what influence organization how did the geographical locations of political factors affect the growth of theology who are there saints gods etc. who are the great writers sage Etc. how much of it is involved in secular affairs. And how did the people interpret their relationship with the divine of the divine itself. What drives them to. To emulate compassion define redemption to purge themselves of you desire all desire to reach enlightenment. To Sumit yourself to that God to be filled with only but their love so you can see how they love the world and turn you love everyone.

Because that’s the thing is making a believable religion is hard you have to add the good with the bad. You have to add the corrupting Influence that power bring to organize religion have to show the deep-seated hatred that and then will kill each other over at doctrinal disputes.


When it comes to AAA games I think dragon age there’s a fairly good job.