Hinduism in Video Games

Did you know that there are computer and video games based on Hindu mythology? Actually, they are pretty much all the Ramayana, cause who can resist that action-packed story? :) Most are for kids and I’m disappointed that there aren’t way more!

Hinduism at About.com has an article highlighting a few flash games: http://hinduism.about.com/library/weekly/aa092300a.htm

This free games site has a Ramayana game too: http://www.f-r-e-e-games.com/Games-Adventure/Game-Ramayana.htm

There’s even a Facebook app game based on The Ramayana! Or, at least, there used to be. Their page doesn’t seem to be directing anywhere right now. What a shame!  https://apps.facebook.com/ramayanatheepic/

Somehow Hindu mythology-based games don’t seem to be gaining traction. I’m not sure why. We see a lot of video games with influences from Roman and Norse stories. Why not Indian stories? Yet games that people try to get going disappear!

This blogger’s friend asks an excellent question: “an Indian colleague asked me why so many Christian themes emerged in video games when rich narratives from other faiths do not?”

Oh, maybe this is why. Apparently Sony came out with a game based on Hanuman and someone took offense and demanded it be withdrawn. It seems it is still being sold, but only in India. And the same guy campaigned against the game Asura’s Wrath, which the blogger uses as an example of a game with Hindu mythology elements. Does Asrua’s Wrath still exist?  Ah, looks like it does. He’s also against a game called Smite, a battle arena game with characters of Gods from several religions.

I can understand a concern about the portrayal of Hindu deities in a respectful way, but at the same time having a sense of humor about it helps Hinduism’s message spread a lot further. The Gods love games, drama, plays, and merriment. What could be more perfect than them getting to be characters in computer and video games?

Mahabharata: The Dawn of Kaliyuga looked promising, yet the last news I can find of it is from 2007. So disappointing! It sounds like it would be really cool. There’s also supposed to be a Ramayan 3392 A.D. MMO though it’s hard to tell if it ever actually came out.

Some students had a really unique idea for a non-violent first person shooter!

 “We had Vedic abilities: astrology, Ayurvedic healing, breathing (meditation), herbalism, Gandharva Veda music, architecture (which let you purify demonic areas) and yagyas (rituals). During the game, you could acquire the siddhis of clairvoyance, levitation, invisibility, shrinking and strength. Your aim was to achieve pure consciousness by cleansing your six chakras in ascending order. But your current karma (depicted as a gray pall over your character’s silhouette), if it covered any chakras, prevented you from cleansing them. So you had to remove karma by completing quests before you could purify yourself.” -http://www.joystiq.com/2006/10/18/a-non-violent-first-person-hindu-shooter-using-the-unreal-engine/

Wow, that sounds totally awesome. I would play that game! But it was beyond the ability of those students to bring it to fruition. Hey, that was seven years ago! How about trying again?

It seems that this MMO features Devas and Asuras, but uses Hindu myths as a backdrop only and has no actual stories based on them.

Perhaps it is easier to get Indian-themed video games when you’re actually in India, though some say they aren’t very popular even there.

Video games are a fantastic medium for modern story telling and it’s a real missed opportunity to share stories and ideas from Hinduism with not only our own children, but a wider world.

 

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Ambaa

    I know what you mean. Most of my friends are role-players! :)

    My personal take on it would be that if you’re doing research and trying to learn the depth about the Gods, plus you’re doing it as a personal game in private with your friends, then I think you’re okay.

    If you were, say, video taping your game and posting it on YouTube, then you’d run the risk of people taking it badly.

  • Sachin_333

    Hi Mr.Notyou,

    I know you’re trying to make a video game but shouldn’t religion be left out of it? As a Hindu, I am not mad or anything but I am confused when you say, “I consider myself a Monotheist and find Hinduisms ideals very enlightening and compatible with my spiritual beliefs.”

    I’m assuming you are Christian when you call yourself a, “Monotheist.” Would you like it someone put Jesus Christ in a video game? Just because you won’t like someone putting a god from your religion into a video game does not mean you have to do it with another religion.

    My good man, I am not trying to criticize you but I just want to point out the double standards (if there are any). Hinduism is a peaceful religion, you don’t see Hindus trying to convert people. We just like to keep to ourselves and let everything “co-exist peacefully.” Please keep Hinduism out of your game.

    I don’t think its right parodying our Gods. Anyhow, you have a good day sir and I wish you all the best in your game!

    Yours Sincerely,
    Sachin

    • Mr.Notyou

      That is a very good point sir. To be fair I asked this question before I had done extensive research upon Hinduism. From what I decided I could never demote the majesty of Hinduism. And by Monotheist I suppose I could say I’m Christian, but my belief follows that the ‘top’ God, (I think the term I’m looking for in Hinduism is Brahaman) shows himself to the world in various ways. I tended to take more pagan deities for the more characteristic appeals and well spiritually I tended to disagree with them. Hinduism isn’t really common knowledge here and so I almost wanted to just chalk it up in the same regard. However I stopped as research tells me how it all really coexists. For many poly theistic religions I intended on taking the standpoint of Percy Jackson or something along the lines. I should also note when I intended to have a game revolving mytholoigcal tales, I inteded to keep as true to the morals and guidlines of the stories,(I.e. Asura’s wrath) if I hadn’t then theres no reason to claim any ties to a myth.There’s just something about the stories of myths that has such a primal power to it story wise, and I learn from each thing I read. I do not wish to offend any one or any Gods, for I may very well be wrong in what I believe. HOWEVER from researching Hinduism since I posted that rather rude comment, I hold it in the highest of esteems. Your beliefs just make more sense then most and I would now defend its degradation as much as I would defend Christianity. I apologies again for how rude my prior comment was. As for not trying to convert people, I wish people of Christianity (and for that matter all religions) would take notes from the Hindu’s. As a note to defend my past self I never intended to parody any faith because that defeats the purpose of tying a game to a faith anyways. I should point out though that it was a game like smite (A bland game in hindsight) using Hindu Gods among characters from what are now considered pagan pantheons. That struck me as I never considered Hinduism as in the same category even back then. So I decided to research and that lead me here and further. So do not worry I will never parody Hinduism, and as a sign of respect will not include them as anything less then they deserve.

  • Sachin_333

    Dear Guest,

    Christianity and Hinduism parallel to each other. Jesus and Krishna have similar stories.

    Their parents were shepherds, there faiths were foretold, Christ died by nails, and Krishna died by an arrow.

    If you research all the religions they all share the stories. Hinduism even has its own version of Adam and Eve. However, in the Hindu version, they are not called “Adam” and “Eve.”

    I encourage you to research the similarities while picking out the truth from lies.


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