Rajan Zed, President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, has issued another statement against Hi-Rez Studios' upcoming massively online battle arena (MOBA) game, SMITE. This time the group is asking the organizers of QuakeCon (which starts this Thursday in the great state of Texas) to remove the game from its competition line-up. From the statement, as reported by Kotaku:
"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."
While it is highly unlikely that organizers of QuakeCon will remove the game from its line-up of competitive games, the statement continues to point out the opposition by several religious groups to the way that certain deities important to the Hindu faith are represented in the game.
The Kotaku report also points out that another Hindu advocacy group, the Hindu American Foundation, has been discussing the issue directly with Hi-Rez Studios. Speaking to Kotaku, spokesperson Sheetal Shah said that that they have played the beta for the game, and continue to "strongly oppose" the way Hindu deities are portrayed.
"In particular, we felt Kali's imagery, victory dance, and death scene were disrespectful. Despite our request, Hi-Rez choose to keep them in," said Shah. "But we do credit Todd's [Harris, COO of Hi-Rez] genuine effort to work with us and to incorporate our suggestions to ensure the representation of the three deities (and Bakasura) are accurate. We also provided a number of online Hinduism resources that Hi-Rez has agreed to post on their user forum to help disseminate accurate information about Hinduism. As per my last conversation with Todd, I believe Kali's current victory and death scenes will be altered to be more respectful of a Goddess that is worshiped by millions of Hindus."
Ultimately Shah says that his organization is still distressed that Hindu deities are included in SMITE while other important religious figures from the world's most popular faiths are not. He did acknowledge that Hi-Rez has "actively worked" with the group to "disseminate accurate information on Hinduism."
Source: Kotaku by way of UnchartedNES.