Hi, I’m new to these forums, and I very much enjoy several CoG games, probably Choice of Broadsides most of all.
As I was playing Heroes Rise: The Hero Project, I noticed a few things about the game’s portrayal of the Meek that suggested that they were inspired by Christians. The Meek are clearly unsympathetic in the story, and I wondered to what extent this game favoured anti-Christian attitudes or negative stereotypes of Christians.
I recognize the legitimacy of artistic license, together with the fact that some Christians display behaviour similar to that of the Meek. Nevertheless, the lack of nuance in the portrayal of the Meek may tend to produce a reductive, negative picture of Christians.
Let me elaborate: The Meek’s slogan, “The meek shall inherit the earth,” is very close to the third of Jesus’ Beatitudes from the sermon on the mount, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5). The Beatitudes are often described as being at the heart of Jesus’ preaching, with a focus on love and compassion. Heroes Rise seems to be set in the future of our universe: if so, the Meek are almost certainly drawing on that beatitude for their inspiration. There are significant differences between the Meek and Christianity: the Meek movement is at least partly a political movement, and they have a special text that outsiders are not permitted to read. Nevertheless, it seems clear that they are intended to be reminiscent of Christians, with references to a deacon, incense and rituals.
The Meek are characterized by false humility (Inherit’s “Help those whose lot is fuller than yours, for those with less do more”) and apparent unwillingness to engage in rational debate (labelling objections as misinterpretations, but then not responding). The Meek (from the MC’s perspective) are consistently described as bigoted, even when they raise somewhat reasonable points, such as recalling that the MC’s parents accidentally killed someone with their powers. The Meek leadership plots with Mayor Victon to arrange for apparently mandatory Infini-power registration and therapy/dampening. The Crush seems to be portrayed positively when he walks away from the Meek debate after saying “You Meek people fear and hate Powered people and would like nothing more than to see us all murdered—but you hide that dark truth with smiles and rhetoric.”
The Meek seem intended to be reminiscent of Christians who are opposed to same-sex marriage. Inherit speaks about the MC’s “lifestyle choices,” and the MC can respond “Since when is being Powered a lifestyle choice?” Taken altogether, is it too strong to say that this game paints a suggestive picture, a stereotype that Christians opposed to same-sex marriage are irrational bigots who behind pleasant smiles have a hate-filled hidden agenda? Perhaps it is too strong, though there is a lack of nuance in the portrayal of any Meek characters that would counterbalance that picture. (Summit is an interesting anomaly who doesn’t directly fit the parallel, though his character is not well developed.)
My point is not that it’s wrong to have the Meek leaders be bad guys, and not that Christians should never be portrayed as bigots. My point is that the portrayal of the Meek seems Christian enough that they might well represent Christians (especially those opposed to same-sex marriage) to the reader, but that the portrayal results in a reductive and inaccurate stereotype. There is no reference to the rest of the teachings of Jesus or the Beatitudes, and the Meek seems to be a cult that requires donations. Most of all, everyone from the Meek seems to be painted with the same brush: dangerous and deceptive (or perhaps deluded). The scene with Stage Show, The Bear, GG, and Null showed an appreciation for nuance and the complexity of different positions. I wish there had been at least the possibility of genuine human interaction with a Meek character, or hints of complexity in the Meek position.