July 20, 2010

Judging art via the artist

“What are your religious beliefs?” I’ve gotten this question a few times now from a small number of people who’ve played the Telepath RPG: Servants of God demo. Some of them are just curious fans looking for hints as to the direction the game is going. Others have skin in the game, so to speak–people with definite, already-formed ideas about religion and the existence of God who are trying to decide ahead of time if they’re going to like what I have to say with TSoG.

So far, I’ve given them all the same answer: “I’m not saying.”

Telling fans my personal religious beliefs would undermine much of the point of playing TSoG–it would color the way that people experience the game. People would be tempted to substitute what I personally believe for the things that the game actually presents the player. I don’t want that.

I don’t want players mentally categorizing my game before they’ve played it, based on what I think. The game must speak for itself. That’s the job of an artist. If I’ve done my work correctly, the player should be able to discern the message of TSoG without reference to anything I’ve said or done outside the game.

Aside from which, we should not rush to judge a work before we have experienced it, based solely on whether our beliefs are similar to the author’s. Atheists can appreciate the works of Michelangelo; Baptists can appreciate  the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley; objectivists can enjoy playing Bioshock. And positively anyone can enjoy Telepath RPG: Servants of God.