Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
Hindus are upset at an online video action game SMITE being created by a Georgia (USA) developer in which the players assume the direct control of some Hindu gods.
Its current list of Hindu gods includes: Kali, Vamana and Agni. A scantily clad image of Hindu goddess Kali is posted on the SMITE page of the company (Hi-Rez Studios) website.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged Alpharetta headquartered developer Hi-Rez Studios to immediately remove the Hindu gods from the game as it trivialized the highly revered deities of Hinduism.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that in a video game set-up, the player would control the movements of goddess Kali and other Hindu deities, while in reality the devotees put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities.
Rajan Zed argued that reimagining Hindu scriptures and deities for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. Controlling and manipulating goddess Kali and other Hindu deities with a joystick/ button/keyboard/mouse was denigration. Goddess Kali and other Hindu deities were meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and not meant to be reduced to just a “character” in a video game to be used in combat in the virtual battleground.
Zed pointed out that Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. Hindu tradition encouraged peaceful debates, won on their intellectual merit. But faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as these games left lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people, Zed added.
Hindus welcomed entertainment industry to immerse in Hinduism but taking it seriously and respectfully and not for refashioning Hinduism concepts and symbols for mercantile greed. Hindus would gladly provide genuine entertainment industry seekers the resources they needed for their study and research regarding Hinduism, Rajan Zed stated.
Hinduism has about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. No faith, larger or smaller, should be plundered, Zed noted.
Website of online video game developer Hi-Rez Studios describes this video game SMITE as an “online battleground between mythical gods” in which players choose from a selection of gods.
Upon release, SMITE will be a free-to-play game but gods will be priced, ranging between $2-$4. SMITE Beta, currently a Closed Beta, began on May 31 last and its full release is claimed within eight months. Before its general release, it will be “balanced and polished” with the help of Beta community, allowing users to play it early and provide feedback. Besides Hindu gods, other gods listed are: Greek, Norse, Chinese and Egyptian. It can be pre-ordered now.
Hi-Rez Studios, established in 2005 to provide online interactive entertainment, has already released “Global Agenda” and “Tribes” titles and is now developing SMITE. SMITE “tutorial video” was released on June 20. Erez Goren and Todd Harris are Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer respectively.
Goddess Kali, who personifies Shakti or divine energy and considered the goddess of time and change, is widely worshipped in Hinduism. Vamana is the fifth avatar of Vishnu (the “preserver” in the Hindu triad with Brahma and Shiva as the aspect of the Supreme, who had ten incarnations to establish dharma). Agni is one of the most significant Vedic deities, second most frequently invoked in Rig-Veda. Moksh (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.