Is This the Least-Christian Video Game Ever? (Assassin’s Creed, Part 1)

Assassin's Creed Logo.jpg

So. Assassin’s Creed.

Don’t get me wrong. Assassin’s Creed is one of my favorite video game franchises. I’ve played a few of the games, read up on the lore and backstories. Heck, I even watched the movie. (Which I thought wasn’t that bad, really. I wouldn’t have seen it in theaters, but it was good enough to watch anyway.)

Now, you’ve read the title, and you’re probably wondering what long rant I have prepared against these games.

To be honest, I really don’t have a rant. The reason I call it “the least-Christian video game” is because you play as a man (or woman), running around and stabbing people who work for a global organization that rallies under a cross: the Templars.

In fact, the first game does little to hide the fact that you’re going against “Christians,” as you’re fighting the Templars during the Crusades—when the Templars were very clearly affiliated with the church.

This sparked some curiosity in me, as I delved deeper into the affiliations of the Assassins and the Templars in the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

Here’s the summary of what I’ve found:

The Templars, in this universe, are not grounded in Christianity (or any religion for that matter), rather they were endorsed by the church and hired by the church during the Crusades. In this universe, they seek to control the world and the people in it, and bring peace through that intense control.

The Assassins, on the flip-side, are not grounded in any religion either. They seek peace as the Templars do, but they choose to go about different means. While the Templars seek to control humanity through humanity’s blind faith, the Assassins seek to bring down those who would abuse power, thus maintaining peace.

Basically, the games are less about Assassins vs. Templars, and more about Free Will vs. Slavery-disguised-as-Legalism.

So, not too bad when you dig deeper. But I had to ask, “What is the Assassin’s Creed?” The games are named after it, so it must be important. (At the time, I had only played III and Black Flag, and hadn’t seen the movie.)

Then, I watched the movie.

The eponymous Assassin’s Creed: “Nothing is true; everything is permitted.”

Well, okay.

I’m gonna need another week to unpack that.

 

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

 

Due to Spoiler-Watch, This Post Has No Title

Spoiler-Free Synopsis of Doctor Who, Season 10, Episode 11, “World Enough and Time”:
Gravity warps time. That means if you’re on one end of a spaceship next to a black hole, minutes could pass for you while years pass on the other end. When Bill gets taken to a hospital at the other end where people who have been “upgraded” beg for death, she knows the Doctor is coming for her. But he may be too late.
Oh, and the Doctor has turned Missy loose. That’s bound to end well.

Because of the press and the Internet, I don’t know what’s safe and what’s spoiler. I’m going to err on the side of caution, so I’ll have to be vague about some parts. But wow. Wow. Wow! This episode was intense and creepy and funny and touching and Meta. I loved it.
There was always going to be a day when watching Missy sit in therapy sessions wasn’t going to be entertaining anymore. The Doctor was going to have to let her out eventually. The situation he chose just happened to go sideways…or upside down? No, it was just time that went wibbly-wobbly. But that’s beside the point.
Before things went wrong, the Doctor’s explanation of why he wanted to help Missy was wonderful. This is a side of the Last of the Time Lords we haven’t gotten to see for a while. We got glimpses of it in, well, the episode called “The Last of the Time Lords.” But this time there’s real hope for Missy and the Doctor, traveling the universe side by side.
The Doctor says the young Master was his “man crush.” Notice he didn’t say “I was attracted to him in a non-heterosexual way.” Man crushes are somewhere in the vicinity of platonic admiration and creepy obsession, several steps away from sinful dude-on-dude action. Even if it was like that, they’re both aliens, so it doesn’t count. See my first post on the subject. Moving on!
This was definitely the creepiest episode of Doctor Who I’ve seen in a while. But it also had some of Moffat’s clever jokes that I love so much. And I continue to marvel at the show’s portrayal of Bill’s relationship with the Doctor: not blindly following but still caring deeply.
Next Saturday can’t get here soon enough.
8.5/10 awesome burglar masks.

Solving Sherlock: A Character Analysis

Thanks to Sherlock and other adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, many people imagine Sherlock Holmes as a brilliant detective but also a cocky jerk. In the books, the Original Holmes was more of a goofball who certainly didn’t seem egotistical. Why do so many adaptations increase his ego and decrease his EQ and social skills? I stumbled on the answer by trying to empathize with OG Holmes.

I relate to Sherlock Holmes a lot. I know I have Asperger’s Syndrome, and I’m pretty sure Holmes is also on the autism spectrum: specialized interests, logic over emotion, etc. Unfortunately, the diagnosis wasn’t around in the 19th century. Readers couldn’t use it to classify the character simply, Doyle couldn’t use it to better grasp what he was writing about, and Holmes couldn’t use it to understand himself.
When I first found out I had Asperger’s, I wasn’t sure what to think because I didn’t want to be different “in a bad way.” I soon realized that it’s actually very nice to know that I’m not crazy and I can explain and compensate for my eccentricities. OG Holmes didn’t have this benefit. When I put myself in his shoes, I can see why he would hesitate to call himself extraordinary, even when everyone around him told him he was. It’s kind of silly how many times he assures people that what he does is nothing special. In my “head canon,” I think he’s trying to assure himself that he isn’t a weirdo.
On the other hand, when Steven Moffat’s Sherlock adapted the scene where a guy says “I thought you did something clever, but when you explain it, it’s pretty simple,” Benedict Cumberbatch’s version gets really annoyed. That’s in character for that version, because modern Sherlock Holmes is proud of his own cleverness. But I think that’s a consequence of us applying a modern mindset to a classic character.
Even in the Robert Downey, Jr., version set in the late 1800s, Sherlock Holmes considers himself special because we the audience recognize that he’s special. In much the same way, Sherlock’s recreational drug use is more of a problem in adaptations. It makes for, I think, a better character, with understandable vices and personal flaws to overcome.
The moral of this story: you are extraordinary. Your eccentricities make you awesome. Own it.

E3 2017 in Retrospect

Well, I said I wanted to do something about E3, except, well, now I don’t really know what to talk about here. That said, I’m just going down a list of games that caught my attention and giving my thoughts on them.

 

From EA Games:

Star Wars: Battlefront II: I grew up with the old Battlefront. I’d just like to make that clear. When I finally got Battlefront II to work on my computer, it was staggeringly better. That said, if EA updates their Battlefront remake the way the older games did, then maybe the new Battlefront II will be something worth playing.

Then again, I still play Battlefront II (the older one). I know people who put down the new Battlefront after only a few months.

 

From Bethesda:

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Ah, Wolfenstein. The more story-based entry of Id Software’s three first-person shooters. The franchise has interested me mainly with its concept: the Allied Forces lost World War II, and now Germany controls the entire world. Sure, it used to just be about running around and shooting Nazis, but it’s come so far and grown up.

I may do something on this series at some point, probably alongside Id’s other two FPS’s: Doom and Quake.

All of whom are now owned by Bethesda now. Not Id Software. Are they still around?

[Googles it.]

They were bought by ZeniMax who gave the rights to Bethesda. That makes sense.

 

From Nintendo:

[Pours a cup of coffee, drinks it slowly.]

Nintendo. What are you doing?

I mean, I’m glad that you’re taking initiative with getting games on the Switch. That’s good. It’ll keep it from becoming another WiiU.

But after this year’s E3, I can’t help but think…really?

ARMS, you pulled off well.

Splatoon, you pulled off well.

Earth Bound was strange, but I could accept it. In fact, most of your IP’s are that way. You specialize in “silly.”

[Sips coffee.]

But why are you doing a crossover between Mario and Rabbids?

I saw the release and stared at it for a good two minutes, just trying to process…why Rabbids? I thought we were done with them back in 2010.

I won’t say you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, but…actually, I’m going to say it. You’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. That or there’s a Rabbids fandom that I don’t know about.

[Sets down coffee.]

Despite this, Nintendo had some decent releases at E3 this year, as always. More stuff for Mario Odyssey, a couple other upcoming games, and even some new stuff from Pokemon.

Oh, and a couple Metroid games, but I stopped liking that franchise years ago.

 

And that’s about it for E3 2017.

 

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

A “Live” Doctor Who Review

I forgot to watch Doctor Who until tonight (Monday), so I’m changing things up. Rather than spending time in reflection, I’m writing this “live” while I watch the episode. So here are my disjointed but spoiler-free thoughts on “The Eaters of Light.”

I’ve said it before: this season is really good at episode openers.
Bill has graduated to “thinking she knows more than the Doctor about something.” This is significant but appropriate progress for her character.
Random druid-barbarian princess. Talking crows. Last week’s episode seemed very British; this one’s very Scottish. I like it.
Bill is such a nerd; she’s a fangirl, I just realized. Love of learning new things. Clever as a whip. Gay. All she needs is a Tumblr.
Another parallel to last week: deserters from the Roman legion. The difference is these so-called cowards turn back into noble heroes when there’s a girl to protect.
Bill finally got her big “separated from the Doctor” plot. The Doctor went MIA a couple episodes ago, but at least Bill was at home on Earth. This is an important step for her.
2nd-century Romans are just as quick to accept LGBTQWXYZ+’s as 21st-century guys. Good from a secular perspective; not-so-good from a Christian perspective. I’ve said that before too.
Believing in the Doctor wholeheartedly means Bill can give a heck of a speech based on him and his philosophies, kind of like Martha Jones at the end of Season 3.
Also, Bill is more accepting of the fact that where the Doctor goes, there is trouble, and where there is trouble, people die. That’s more character development.
The Doctor slowly getting better at interacting with humans has meant less applying his own inner darkness to the fights around him, either as a weapon or a tool. The 12th Doctor is especially good at that; remember That Speech in the Zygon episode? This episode gives him another chance to be inspiring yet terrifying as only the Doctor can.
I still love Missy’s therapy. The Doctor says her problem is, despite her understanding of the universe, she can’t hear the music. That was the fault of the Drums, until recently. Now I really believe there’s hope for her. Of course, the thing with feathers was never guaranteed a long life.
9 out of 10 exploding bags of popcorn.

Didn’t have time to reflect on a Christian moral this time. Anyone else notice one? Let’s Connect!
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog

First Person Shooters and the Bible

“What are your thoughts on whether first person shooter games are good or bad biblically, in regards to shooting people and seeing blood (this happened over CSGO)?” – elliot5445
Thank you for your question! I think my co-blogger is better qualified to discuss video games (and you’re welcome to weigh in, Isaac), but I’ll give it a…shot.

As I’ve mentioned once before, video games – especially first-person shooters – aren’t really my thing, not because I have problem with them as a Christian, just because I’m bad at them. As a result, this post required research, both into what CSGO is (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive), and what conclusions we can draw from the Bible about seeing blood and shooting people.
Guns are, of course, not mentioned in the Bible, but killing is. God told people to kill people quite a lot, especially when His people were trying to get into the land God had promised them. He actually said “Don’t leave anyone alive, or else they’ll lead you astray with their pagan ways.”
Many first-person shooters are about war. War is the sort of killing that God is usually okay with; senseless murder is the problem. The key is context. In the fictional universe inside your video game cartridge, God doesn’t exist and therefore doesn’t have an opinion on whether a line of code should go to fake war and kill fake people. It’s up to you to determine if the killing is senseless.
The next issue is blood, gore, and the realism of the violence. Even from a non-Christian standpoint, the worry is that real people will act out the realistic violence they are making fake but realistic people do to fake but realistic people.
We’re not supposed to set vile things before our eyes (Psalm 101:3). Do you define a fake soldier shooting a fake enemy soldier as “vile”? If you or the people you trust say yes, then sure, stay away. But do you consider a woman putting a tent spike through an enemy’s head as “vile?” How about a guy’s long hair becoming a makeshift gallows? How about someone being whipped repeatedly, wearing a crown made of thorns, and getting nails through his hands and ankles? The Bible includes realistic and vivid imagery of death. Something to think about.
Those are my thoughts, disjointed though they may be. Again, Isaac, feel free to comment if you like.

Ask us more questions and they will be answered. Let’s Connect!

Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog

Guardians of the…Mentor Archetype?

[Note: because of the subject at hand, this is a slightly longer post than usual. However, because I want to write about Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 so I can move on to other things (like this year’s E3, an anime review or two, and some stuff about Christian culture), I’m going to unpack a lot here.]

Baby Groot
“This button will start the blog post.” “I am Groot.” “Wait, no!” [photo credit: YouTube.]
So, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 has been out for over a month now. I was able to talk about Wonder Woman without going into deep spoilers, but Guardians 2?

This is why I waited so long to do the review. Because of the ad campaigns, and what I knew about it going in, I didn’t know what counted as a spoiler or not.

Ergo, I’m opening this review with a big ol’ SPOILER WARNING.

I mean, we’re talking Ego the Living Planet sized SPOILER WARNING.

Speaking of whom, Guardians 2 opens with Star Lord, or Peter Quill, and his motley crew doing what they did in the first movie: save lives while committing crimes under the table. Of course, this doesn’t last long before they get an entire planet’s army on their tail.

To their surprise, the Guardians are bailed out by Star Lord’s birth-father, who turns out to be Ego the Living Planet.

Now, I’m not familiar with the comics, but this felt like it came out of nowhere. After a quick Google search, some of the comics had a different character—named J’son—as Star Lord’s father. Not Ego. As such, it comes across as a means to incorporate Ego the Living Planet into the MCU.

Now, bear in mind, I’m not complaining. I’m just saying that it felt like an odd choice when I first heard it. “So, Star Lord’s mystery father is…a planet? Okay.”

In fact, I’m almost glad that they changed it to Ego. It gave Guardians 2 the chance to play with the theme of Mentors and Fathers. And by “plays with,” I mean it takes the theme, deconstructs it, and reverse-engineers it in a dozen different ways.

So, to cover as much ground as I can in as little time, I’m breaking one of the blog-post rules with this…[inhales deeply]

Star Lord starts to kindle a relationship with Ego, only to learn that Ego had selfish intentions for bringing Star Lord back into his life; Star Lord also continues his relationship with Yondu, and eventually realizes that despite his almost-abusive tendencies (which were implied, but never shown, oddly), he was a better father for Star Lord than Ego could have ever been; Gamora gets more screentime with her sister, Nebula, and their relationship develops when Nebula reveals that her father, Thanos, was abusive to her, but not to Gamora, which led Nebula to be better than her sister, showing that by being a bad father and showing favoritism can destroy one’s children; Rocket and Groot have an oddly father-raising-toddler vibe, but it’s played for comedy; and (to my surprise) Drax of all people got some heart-to-heart time with a new character, Mantis, and he starts to accept her as his substitute daughter.

[Catches breath.]

Basically, every single member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy learns what it’s like to be a dad or to have a dad.

And I’m not complaining. The writers of Guardians 2 did a good job with this, and because of it, it’s probably my Number 1 favorite superhero movie, if not Number 2—this and Guardians 1 keep flipping between the two slots.

Though I do find it interesting how this trend is beginning to unfold in other superhero movies.

Sure, by the nature of character archetypes and the typical Hero’s Journey, there are always Mentors, fatherly figures, and people influencing the Hero. But now there seems to be an emphasis on the Heroes becoming the Mentors. Logan was billed as an older Wolverine mentoring the younger, less-experienced X-23. Spider-Man: Homecoming looks like it will play into Peter Parker’s relationship with Tony Stark, who already got six movies of development.

Long story short, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 was a good movie. I enjoyed it, at least, and it was a pretty refreshing addition to not just the MCU, but superhero movies in general.

Other things I liked: toddler Groot was downright adorable. I liked what they did with Yondu, even though I’m not the biggest fan of Michael Rooker. The side villains—even though I can’t remember their name—were well-written. Also, two words: TAZER FACE!

Things I didn’t like: I wasn’t that fond of Drax, to be honest. I mean, he got good development in this movie, but he seems like he’s still there solely for comic relief, while providing little for the team. Also, the language felt a little…strong at times. It felt like everyone got in a swear. Even Groot. Somehow.

Baby Groot 2
Also, this scene. I liked this scene. [photo credit: Screenrant.]
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@Isaac_Trenti

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