November 18, 2008
Playing Gods: ‘Vengeance is Yours!’
Playing Gods: The Board Game of Divine Domination is a supreme riff on Risk. A satire on religious-inspired violence, the game comes with playing pieces that include Jesus wielding a deadly, club-sized cross; Buddha with a machine gun; and a turbaned man with a bomb and a dagger. The goal of the game is to force people to worship you.
The game was introduced in September at DragonCon, the annual pop culture, fantasy and science fiction convention in Atlanta, where it caught on with “religious folks with a sense of humor” as well as skeptics, says its creator, Ben Radford, 38, of Rio Rancho, N.M., managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine.
Radford says “much of the world’s violence is rooted in religion,” so he thought directly mocking various images of God and religious followers would “make more social commentary” and “pierce the pretensions of extremist religious zealotry with humor.”
Players can choose among the five figurines or make one for themselves with stickers for a “god” who resembles Oprah, a stein of beer or Satan or add a word label such as Islam, technology, even “the Almighty Dollar.”
Says Radford, “I didn’t want to leave out a Muslim figure just because it might be offensive. The game is satire. But I went out of my way to be innocuous. The figure is not named. It could be any Muslim leader.
Maybe it could be any Muslim leader, but USA Today reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman describes the figurine as “vaguely hinting at Mohammed”—whatever that means.
The funny thing is this isn’t the first game based on religion. A few video games, including one that promotes killing Muslims, have hit the market. But this one is certainly unique in that it is both satire and an equal-opportunity derider.
Jeffrey Weiss at the DMN religion blog connects Playing Gods with the Jesus vs. Santa battle royal that launched the “South Park” phenomenon. The five-minute short, which was created as an office video card for the holidays and in which all the kids sound like Cartmen, is after the jump. WARNING: It is incredibly offensive and hilarious.