Back a million years ago, during the innocent, bucolic days of E3, I reported on some Christian protesters outside the convention center, upset about EA's upcoming Dante's Inferno video game. In my original post, I considered the idea that the protest might be some viral marketing, but dismissed it as a silly idea. After all, religion is, by its nature, sacred, and mocking it to sell a dumb video game seems incredibly tasteless and amateurish, even for a video game marketing company. I was wrong.
Turns out the Christian protesters pointing people to a poorly designed website and giving out flyers reading "Our high score is in Heaven... and we hope you'll join us on the leaderboard" and "Turn in your PlayStation for a PrayStation" were part of a marketing campaign for EA's Dante's Inferno. Note to self: Always believe your most cynical instincts.
But there's another layer to the story: Real Christian bloggers are now angry at EA for using fake Christians to hype its video game.
Margaret Cabaniss of InsideCatholic posts:
"It's been clear for a while now that the entertainment industry views Christians on the whole as priggish, thin-skinned fun-killers. (That swipe about our Web design skills might be most hurtful of all.)
The institutional acknowledgment that these kinds of protests are the best possible publicity for their target is something Christians might want to bear in mind when the next Dan Brown film rolls around."
Gamers of all varieties will buy this product if its, well, actually a good game. So instead of engaging in a shamelessly anti-Christian stunt to promote your poor excuse of a product, maybe you ought to work on making this game, you know, something better than a blatant God of War rip-off and make it, ya know, something worthwhile?
Vake Xeacons, a commenter on GamePolitics, sums up the story thusly:
I turn the other cheek as much as possible, but real protests make us look bad enough. EA's fake one was humiliating. I'm with the bloggers; starting a war, then blaming it on us.
I agree wholeheartedly with all of these reactions to EA's tasteless stunt, and I can't believe I was personally fooled. I should have realized that the protesters were fake, if only because no one outside of the game-obsessed community has actually heard of a video game based on Dante's Inferno, let alone care about it.
As a follower of the Great Elder Gods Cthulhu and Azathoth (the Crawling Chaos), I can relate to Christians' offense at EA. My religion is constantly mocked for being imaginary, but when the stars align and Cthulhu rises from his undersea city and causes the earth to flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom, I'll be the one laughing... until I am eaten by His Great and Terrible Mouth.
Feel free to leave comments below, people. Everyone loves to discuss religion on a Friday!