A Confession regarding Dead or Alive 5

My original title for this article was “Should A Christian Play DoA 5?”, and my original draft was an elaborate attempt to explain why we should not play DoA 5 based on Christian principles.

I cannot, in good conscience, publish that article.  That’s because a couple of weeks ago, in a moment of weakness, I bought and played DoA 5.  And God forgive me, I really enjoyed playing it.

Self-Justification – I needed an “accessible” fighting game

Many years ago, I was an avid fighting gamer, especially on the arcade cabinets.  I remembered spending much time on games such as Street Fighter 2, Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, KOF 97-99, Dark Stalkers, Super Gem Fighter, Soul Edge, Virtual On, and the  entire Marvel-Capcom series from X-Men to the first Marvel VS Capcom.  since then, I’ve never really played any fighting games the past 10 years or so, and have been itching to re-discover the joy of fighting games. However, when I looked up recent fighting games such as the latest KOF, Soul Caliber 5, Virtual Fighter 5, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and the Blazblue series, they all seemed really difficult to break into.  Enter DoA 5, which boasted not just to be accessible to beginners, but also to have much “cinematic entertainment”, which sounded very attractive to me.  Yeah, I was aware of the sleazy reputation of the game, but the screenshots didn’t look too bad…or at least that was what I told myself.

Denial – It’s a game with many merits

And so I bought a copy of DoA 5 and played through the entire story campaign.  I was surprised – it was a much better game than I expected.  First, I enjoyed the story, cut-scenes and all  Sure, it was kinda wacky at times, but the fighting sequences made sense in the flow of the story, and by fighting game standards, this was a fantastic narrative, with genuine drama and plot twists.  Second, these were some of the most beautiful character models I have seen. You could tell much dedication and craftsmanship was put into creating and animating both the male and female characters.  Third, I appreciated the depth and ingenuity of the fighting mechanics, and how the “triangle system” is both intuitive yet challenging.  I also appreciated the way the game guides beginners to learn more and more complex fighting mechanics over time.  Lastly, the game was just really fun.  The game just felt fun, even when button mashing.  The moves (especially the complex throws) looked really awesome.  The stages were well designed and environment interactions added to the sense of tension of the battles.  The cinematics of the Power Blows felt really effective and really added to the enjoyment of the game.

I genuinely believed these were the most beautiful character models I’ve ever seen.

Doubt – Okay so maybe it is kinda creepy

After a while, two issues started to make me feel uncomfortable: first (and unsurprisingly), the animations of some of the female characters appear to serve no purpose other than to titillate, that is, to incite lust. Second, and more disturbingly, I realized that after you’ve lost your match and while your character is in his/her losing pose, you are free to rotate and pan the camera to look at your character from various angles, often while your character is still panting and groaning.  [The camera can similarly be controlled for the winning pose as well, but the allowed time window to do so is short.]  Given that many of the female characters wear revealing costumes – this really felt creepy and voyeuristic.

Temptation – Playing With Fire

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

(1 Corinthians 6:18-20 ESV)

The Bible appears to be disproportionately harsh to sexual sins compared to other sins.  As explained by Tim Challis, this is because sex is intimately tied to marriage, a covenant relationship between a man and a woman, which in turn is intimately tied to the relationship between Christ and the church.  It is for this reason that Hosea compared Israel to a prostitute who had whored herself in her unfaithfulness towards God. Thus, it should not surprise us that the Bible gives clear imperatives for us to be wary of the the temptation to sin sexually.  In particular, we are not just to resist from such temptations, but to flee from situations which might tempt us to lust (Matt 5:27-30).  Situations like playing DoA 5.

No Excuse – For the Love of Women

People are tempted differently, and it’s true some might not be tempted to lust while playing DoA 5 (e.g. female gamers).  Even so, there are two very good reasons why none of us should play DoA 5, and in particular, none of us should buy DoA 5. [I repent.]  First, we should not be willing participants, endorsing an endeavor to tempt male gamers to lust and sin (in the same way that none of us should be supporting the porn industry).  Second, we should not be encouraging or supporting Team Ninja (financially or otherwise) to continue in their objectification women as sex objects.  Given the opportunity to do so, we should be vocal about this.

We are called as Christians to love, in God glorifying ways, all people and this includes loving all women.  The objectification of women as sex objects (and prevalence of such objectification in mass media) do affect and influence the thoughts of Christen men and boys who consume such media.  As a result, they regard and treat women, including their sisters-in-Christ, in ways which are ungodly and unloving.  I know, because I used to be one of such men too.  We need to remember that all women are made in the image of God, and and reflect who God is.  They deserve better than this.  We should have done better than this.

This is an actual in-game screenshot.

I should have done better than this.

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