Recently, Hi-Rez Studios decided to feature three Hindu gods, Kali, Vamana, and Agni in their upcoming online game SMITE. The game is described as "online battleground between mythical gods", and it allows players to pick their god to engage in virtual combat. When a Hindu, Rajan Zed, expressed his concern (1) that Hindu religious icons should not be used in such insensitive manner, it was met with a flippant response from Hi-Rez COO, Todd Harris (2)
According to their comments, the developer doesn't see the difference between a faith that is practiced by a large portion of humanity, and those ancient religions that are no longer in vogue. As for the canned response that Hinduism's concept of a single truth may somehow be used interpret all gods within and outside the game, a quote from Hindu scriptures should clarify that the context of the thought is within the Hindu universe (3).
Also, there is no shortage figures in other faiths being practiced today who could have been inspiration for in-game “gods”. But, Hi-Rez has taken a calculated risk by not offending members of other faiths who would be far more aggressive in their protests, and therefore their selection strategy seems to be that of a bully who picks on a victim that would offer least resistance.
This isn't a free speech issue as no threats of violence, litigation, or edicts are being used to compel the developer. The only request was that they exercise good judgment and decency, and not go out of their way to be insensitive to Hindu beliefs. Unfortunately, misery or failure of others has become a form of entertainment whether on radio, TV, internet, or in games, and companies like to court controversy or offend certain groups because it helps them make a quick buck. We respectfully urge all fair-minded gamers to take a stand against such bigotry, and boycott SMITE.
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3. They hail Him as Indra, as Mitra, as Varuna, as Agni, also as that divine and noble-winged Garutman. It is of One Existence that the wise ones speak in diverse ways, whether as Agni, or as Yama, or as Matarisvan (Rigveda 1.164.46 )