Can games be Satanic?
- Purusharth S Tomar (Puru)
DEVELOPING THE BACKGROUND
Donald Rumsfeld, an American politician and businessman once said, "There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know." I really appreciate the part where Rumsfeld talks about "known unknowns," and that we do know that we don't know many things, rather most things (in my opinion). I believe that we could have known or understood those so-called unknown things better, provided there were enough resources, or technology available, and I agree that we are developing the resources each day in order to get answers to the million questions about the world, after all, we are humans - the curious beings and we strive for knowledge.
To often get answers, we take help from others. "Others" depends on the type of question that we have. For instance, when we were young and we needed answer to the question, "Who is stronger between a lion and a tiger?," we took help from our parents. The parents, if they our religious, they often take help of priest to understand the religion better, and in turn, the priest takes help from the religious texts. What I am trying to imply, that overall we take help of some or the other person / thing to get a cure for our curiosity.
Now consider the following question which pertains more to what we are going to talk about in the rest of the article, "Can some games be Satanic?" Duh! "games and satanic?" if that is what comes in your mind right now, you are at the right place! However, to get a some clarity about our question, we need to have a proper definition of games and satanic, and the definitions are as follows :-
Game: A game is a rule-based formal system with a variable and quantifiable outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome, the player feels attached to the outcome, and the consequences of the activity are optional and negotiable (Juul 5).
Satanic: having to do with Satan, or something / someone supremely wicked.
Now that we have absorbed the two definitions, let's look back at our question, "Can some games be satanic?, " or "Can some games be supremely wicked?," or "Can some games have something to with Satan?," or finally "Can a rule-based formal system called games really be a way of summoning demons from hell?" The final question helps to build the thesis for our paper.
The games like Ouija Board, Charlie Charlie, One Man Hide & Seek and a ton others that have been characterized as demonic by many people are no different than other thrill games. Calling them demonic is just a way of tackling the inability to answer some of the questions that come up with those games. The unanswered questions could be answered using scientific / psychological evidence, and in some cases by further research.
Clearing the controversy that may arise through the thesis
It may appear from my thesis that my argument could contradict many of the religious and social groups' beliefs. For example, the explanation of Satan and hell by some religious groups. However, I respect other person's ideology, and want to make it explicitly clear that I am not going to question other groups' credibility. They could be right in their own way, and I am just providing my own perception about the subject while acknowledging their point of view too.
An instance of this is: some groups have provided their own explanation for Charlie Charlie, one of the games that I am going to talk about later. I am not trying to prove them wrong by saying that what they are saying is absolute piece of garbage, but I am just trying to propagate my own understanding about the game by presenting my research and providing some evidence / proof to keep my point.
About Charlie Charlie
Charlie Charlie, although a game that took step in English world until recently, is thought to have its origins from Spain as the "Juego de la Lapicera" or the pen-game (Baverstock). The game is especially popular at sleepover parties. The game gained much controversy when many people started recording their videos while playing their and posting their 'freaking-out' reactions. Among other controversies the game was also tagged as demonic by some people, so much so, some schools even banned their students from playing the game in the school premises (Baverstock).
How to play Charlie Charlie?
To play Charlie Charlie, you need a paper and two pencils. On the paper you make two axes such that they make four quadrants. In two of the four quadrants, you write yes, and in the other two, you'll write no. Make sure that yes and no are not adjacent to each other. After you have finished this, you are going to keep one of the pencils on the paper such it is aligned with one of the axes. Next, you place the other pencil on top of the first pencil, so that it is balanced on top and such that it is aligned with the second axes and is perpendicular to the first pencil. Now comes the interesting part! You ask a question to the pencil, example, "Charlie Charlie, are you here?," and surprise, the top pencil will move!
An insight from logic (This is real fun)
Let's for once assume that the work has been done by Charlie, and he's the one attending to your questions. When you ask him, "Do you want to play with me?" and he replies, "Yes," let's say he does want to play with you, and if he replies, "No," let's say he's some bad, rude and lazy demon who just eats pizza and does nothing. However, through logic, we know that if he's responding to you he does know English.
Let's for some fun now change yes and no on the paper to something more interesting, say we choose "Charlie is a loser," "Charlie doesn't speak English," "Charlie fails all his classes," and "Charlie does not exist." On playing Charlie Charlie now, I get the weird response that I was expecting. The pencil rotated to "Charlie is a loser." Does this even make sense? I leave the question of existence of Charlie to my readers!
An insight from Physics
This whole phenomenon which people regard as some demon named Charlie coming from hell to move the pencil can simply be falsified by providing scientific evidence using some basic Physics skills that even a lay man would have easily figured out given that he did try to falsify it. To understand the scientific proof, we need to be aware of Newton's First Law of motion.
Newton's First Law of motion says, "An object will continue to be in a state of rest or uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force." When we place one pencil on top of the other as in the picture, we try to place it in such a manner that all the forces acting on it cancel each other, such that there is no net external force acting on it, thereby making the top pencil be in a state of mechanical equilibrium. Later when we "ask" it a question (where "ask" equals blow air from mouth) like, "Charlie Charlie are you here?" or "Do you want to play?," it moves. Well, guess what! Here's when the Newton's Second Law of motion comes into play which we all know as F = ma. When the pencil's mechanical equilibrium position is disturbed, it rotates since there is an external torque.
Let's try to dig deeper by understanding why it rotates with just a simple blow of air. To understand this better, we need to know the concept of center of mass. The center of mass is defined as a point representing the mean position of a body or system. The system in our case consists of the two pencils, and center of mass is the point of their intersection. A fun fact about center of mass is that if you put the axis of rotation through the center of mass, it is the easiest to rotate the system. In other words, since in our case, the pencil was rotating about its center of mass it could be rotated with just a minor blow of air (torque).
Summing it up, this whole process is governed by simple laws of Newtonian Mechanics which clearly explain that the mechanical equilibrium state of the pencil can be easily disturbed with just a even bit of fluctuation in the surrounding. It's proves that the phenomenon that we see is a mere consequence of us speaking, blowing air, and not some Charlie trying to charm you by giving you answers.
Why even care about the issue if it's not real?
Even though I have tried my best to convince people about the reality of what's happening with the pencil, yet there exist many who believe, "Science does not answer everything." For example, Fernando Betancourt, a priest says, "[Players] are opening the door to the devil, Satan comes here to destroy and kill, and through this game that is exactly what he is going to do to our children" (Baverstock).
Although the adults may be influenced that it's nothing demonic going in there, but it would pretty hard to convince young minds about this. In fact, the younger generation has already suffered a psychological trauma due to the game, for example, four Columbian high school students were hospitalized after playing the game due to 'mass hysteria' (Baverstock).
Thus, since there are people - mostly youngsters who have suffered and are suffering due to the unscientific and unrealistic reasons given by some groups, the issue has to be given an importance so that people do not get threatened by the harmless game, but get a positive experience after trying it.
OUIJA BOARD GAME
Unlike Charlie Charlie which came to the English speaking world recently, Ouija board game dates back to 1800s. The game was commercially introduced by a business man named Elijah Bond in 1890. And since then, the game has come a long way. The game has had several movies based on it, like different films around the world with name "Ouija, " that came in the years 2003, 2007, 2014 and 2015.
The game is a flat board based game which has letters from A to Z, digits from 0 to 9, yes and no written on it. Other characteristic feature is its planchette, which is a small heart shaped plastic or wood that is supposed to slide on the board to give different combinations of the letters and numbers, in order to produce different words, meaningful or meaningless, or yes and no, as an answer to a yes-no type question.
How to play the game
Playing the game is simple, you need at least two players, who keep their fingers on the planchette, and chant a mantra. The mantra can be any mantra created by you. The mantra that I was told by my friends when they were teaching me to play the game was, "Come, oh holy spirit, come." But literally, you can give a try to any mantra. Be creative. (And guys, even this mantra works, "I am hungry. Give me some pizza.") After you have chanted the mantra the planchette starts to move. How the planchette moves differs from game to game, and players to players, but when it starts to move the game has begun. You can ask any question from the so-called spirit, and it will give away the answers to you by moving the planchette.
For those of you who do not want to waste money on this and buy a board. You can just draw one out on a piece of paper, use any coin as your planchette and play the game.
Criticisms earned by the game
Since its creation, various groups, like Roman Catholics have criticized it. Catholic Answers, a Christian apologetics organization went on to state that, "The Ouija board is far from harmless, as it is a form of divination (seeking information from supernatural sources)" (Ellis 65). Religious criticism has also expressed beliefs that the Ouija board reveals information which should only be in God's hands, and thus it is a tool of Satan (Zyromski).
But how does it really work? Is it Satan?
The Ouija phenomenon is considered by the scientific community to be the result of ideomotor response (Shermer 127-129).
The planchette is guided by unconscious muscular exertions like those responsible for table movement. Nonetheless, in both cases, the illusion that the object (table or planchette) is moving under its own control is often extremely powerful and sufficient to convince many people that spirits are truly at work... The unconscious muscle movements responsible for the moving tables and Ouija board phenomena seen at séances are examples of a class of phenomena due to what psychologists call a dissociative state. A dissociative state is one in which consciousness is somehow divided or cut off from some aspects of the individual's normal cognitive, motor, or sensory functions. (Hines 47)
In my opinion, ideomotor response can be understood in an alternate way. Consider keeping your hand on fire. (Do not try this!) You cannot do that for long a time. Your muscles react by giving a reflexive or automatic response to your action, and you move your hand away from the fire immediately. This in turn is similar to what happens when you play Ouija Board. Due to ideomotor effect, even though it may seem to you that you are not moving your hand, however, your brain automatically unconsciously alerts your hand muscles to move the planchette in different directions.
OTHER GAMES (VICTIMS)
Charlie Charlie and Ouija Board are not the only games that have been blamed of Satanism. There exist tons and tons of games which have had to go through these. Among other games that you might have heard of are - One Man Hide & Seek, Elevator to Hell, Midnight game etc.
Now let's take a jump to our favorite world of games (well, at least mine) - video game world! To start this small topic that we are going to cover in this paper, let's talk about this You Tube channel names, Truthneversleeps. The guy handling the channel has made a video on illuminati, Satan and what not! He calls the whole video game industry satanic. He has not spared even a single major video game company. He calls Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario's creator, the company Nintendo, Play Station, X Box, Sony, Microsoft, Oculus and every other thing related to video games luciferian. He says Call of Duty, Max Payne, GTA, Super Mario, Pac Man games had some satanic agenda. He goes on to talk about the shape of video game consoles, their color, design and how you can relate that to Satanism (Truthneversleeps). And sadly, I am sure through the way he was speaking he would have convinced any lay man that demons control this video game system and the people playing it.
But, guys, that's the main point. Never believe tricksters like these blindly. As rude as that may sound, but I seriously think the guy in the video seriously has some major problems. Even though I do not like the video, I would recommend you watching it, just to laugh it off, and judge the insanity involved in it.
In games like Super Mario, Max Payne, Call of Duty, we role play a good person. We fight bad people to win the game. When we finally win the game, we prove that good wins over evil. If the games were satanic, as the person describes in the video, why on the earth would it enlighten us with such a powerful positive message? Again, my only main point is - think, don't just follow blindly.
If you are reading this I want to congratulate you that you have reached almost the end of the essay. As much as I am happy to see that you liked the paper enough to read it till the end, I am also content that my first research paper turned out to be interesting enough for the readers.
Some people like to have thrill experience and often try the games that can give them that. The same analogy of this is can be applied to the roller-coasters. When the roller-coaster climbs a great height and attains an enormous speed upon sliding down the people in the ride enjoy it even more. People trust their lives with the roller-coasters. They believe in the laws of nature behind it, and that they are not going to be killed by it. Even though they scream and shout during their ride, they ride it again and again.
But remember! My purpose of writing the essay and you reading it, would get defeated if next time you get scared of some fake spirit or demon after / while playing Ouija Board, Charlie Charlie, or any other similar game. Saying not being scared does not mean you shouldn't get thrilled. After all, these are thrill games! Also, you may get as thrilled as you want, but some part of the thrill should also be of curiosity as to why it is the way it is. You should never come up to any conclusion, like the "game is demonic," or "game is cursed" etc without trying to get a clear justification. You should take help of Science and every other resource available, like trying the books from the library, of course Mr. Google etc. Never forget, "Ability to find the answers is more important than ability to know the answers," as said by a famous Indian writer, Amit Kalantri.
Baverstock, Alasdair. "Children Hospitalised with Mass Hysteria, 'mysterious Bruises' and a 'Mexican Demon': How a Video in the Dominican Republic Spawned the 'satanic' Charlie Charlie Game Sending Teenagers into a Panic across the World." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 10 June 2015. Web. 16 Nov 2016.
Ellis, Bill. Raising the Devil: Satanism, New Religions, and the Media. Print. 17 Nov. 2016.
Hines, Terence. Pseudoscience and the Paranormal: A Critical Examination of the Evidence. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1988. Print. 16 Nov. 2016.
Juul, Jesper. "The Game, the Player, the World: Looking for a Heart of Gameness." The Game, the Player, the World: Looking for a Heart of Gameness. 2003. Web. 30 Aug. 2016.
Shermer, Michael. The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2002. Print. 11 Nov. 2016.
Truthneversleeps. ILLUMINAT VIDEO GAMES EXPOSED NINTENDO,PS,XBOX ONE,SEGA BUSTED. YouTube. 7 Mar. 2015. Web. 17Nov. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsBgp3DwQhE>;
Zyromski. "Facts for Teaching about Halloween." Catechist Magazine. Oct. 2016. Print. 17 Nov. 2016.