Playing as Jesus in SMITE

A new MOBA game lets players play as various deities. Mike Perna shares how he’d feel if the game let him play as Jesus.

Written by Mike Perna / Published on June 30, 2014

I have had a love affair with all things ancient myth and lore from a young age. I clamored for stories of old gods and mighty heroes, wearing down my copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology until the words started to fade from the pages. So when Hi-Rez Studios announced that they were going to be tossing their hat into the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) with a game called Smite featuring gods and legendary heroes from across a multitude of ancient pantheons, I was automatically intrigued. That interest only grew as I looked into the game’s development and the response from early players. A question lodged itself in the back of my mind as it came time to select which god I would play. What if they put my God in the game? Would I be okay with that?

"I know I wouldn’t be happy about him being there. Not because I would be outraged by the decision or his presence there, but because he just doesn’t fit."
As far as the game play was concerned, it had proven to be a unique experience compared to other MOBAS. There are a host of game modes for people who are not impressed by the three lane combat that defines the genre. It plays more like a third-person shooter than the usual hurricane of mouse clicking. Instead of taking valuable time away from the action, there are auto-buy and auto-level options that take the pressure off of the character’s progression. It was everything I wanted it to be, but that was not what solidified the experience for me.

As I browsed the collection of gods available to me, I was downright giddy. The idea that I could play as Fenrir – the wolf destined to devour Odin at Ragnarok; Apollo – god of music and poetry whose chariot was the light of the sun; Osiris – guardian of the afterlife, son of the earth and sky, and so many more enthralled me. I selected every available character, ravenously clicking the “lore” tab on each to learn more about gods I had never heard of – gods like Hun Batz, the howler monkey god of the Mayan pantheon, or Au Kuong, Dragon King of the East (though later I would find he is actually Ao Guang in the original Chinese). While I was in-between matches, I became that young man again – clutching my well-loved mythology book.

It was when I played as the various Hindu gods and goddesses that I was given pause. The first of these was Kali, the Hindu goddess of time, change, and destruction. I remember reading books about Kali, but my knowledge was limited to a strange mixture of encyclopedic entries and Indiana Jones movie references. My hands quickly typed her name into Google to learn more, and, oddly enough, an article about the game was in the search results. In the early beta of the game, Hi-Rez had to deal with a number of complaints from Hindu players. They had issues regarding the depiction of the goddess, as well as the other Hindu deities in the game. The studio assured them that they had taken some creative license, but that they took great care to build from the texts available to them.

Smite 3

It was right about this time that I started seeing comments on every forum. “I can’t wait until they put Jesus in the game.”

The initial thought left a bad taste in my mouth, but I began to think about it from another angle. If they tried, would he fit? Would it even BE him? For the most part the gods they’ve chosen to add to the game do not seem out of place in a battle of this nature. They are trickster gods like Hun Batz or Loki, warrior gods like Ares, or depicted in their mythos as acting however they see fit. Their actions would be brushed off with a phrase like “as the gods will.” Likewise, they often appear in myths described as being unapproachable in power or appearing as mortal to deceive someone. None of this describes Christ. He is powerful, yet approachable. He became mortal not to deceive us, but to be with us. And while He did not shy away from harsh words or strong actions when they were warranted, He was gentle and offered grace to even the most unlovable.

Smite 2

I honestly don’t know if I’d stop playing the game if they made Jesus a character. I do know that I wouldn’t play him, and I know I wouldn’t be happy about him being there. Not because I would be outraged by the decision or his presence there, but because he just doesn’t fit. If they tried to make him – he’d be something, but he wouldn’t be Jesus.

I am reminded of another time when one of Jesus’ followers felt compelled to rush to his aid. The garden air was cool in the late evening. It was a time of sleep and rest in the heart of the high holy days. But there were those lying in wait to capture Jesus and cast him out as traitor. When one of Christ’s own followers attacked a servant that had come with the soldiers, it was Christ who reminded the young man of who he truly is. “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?”

Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, is infinitely more capable of defending himself than I am. I will leave him to it. And if they ever do choose to put him in the game, I’ll spend those energies wondering how I can demonstrate the real thing to those who have only met the caricature.

About the Author:

Mike Perna is a storyteller and player of great games. He is the founder of InnRoads Ministries and cohost of the Game Store Prophets podcast. email: Twitter: @mikethebard / @innroads

  • Michael Morejon

    I like the way you ended this article. I also saw this game, was pretty interesting how they put all those gods in there. Some hindu’s were actually complaining because of them using their gods in there.

    “I’ll spend those energies wondering how I can demonstrate the real thing to those who have only met the caricature.”

  • regret223

    jesus doesnt exist,calm your tits. If they would add him, they would change him to fit the game

  • Wooper

    I think all gods of all religions should be in this game. To exclude any is unfair, both to the religions excluded and to the religions included.

  • Chrisanto Dongon

    so what if jesus is in the game smite its cool everybody has sin even the one whose speak jesus in game is bad no way dude i love jesus is not just one god i worshiped dude… i die not to believe god. theys so many folklore and god nah… its cool world .just have fun if jesus is in the in game the ii blow my mind is wooooooooooooh ::D

  • Asura Path

    But the reasons are more related with the followers, more than excluding certain religion. I mean, imagine if they’d put Muhammad…it will be an outrage. Also, the other reason to include certain gods is for gameplay reasons…what skills would Jesus have in game?

  • Shickz

    To say that is very biased, rude, and unfair to others. Christianity adds up to one-third of the religious population in the world and by adding Jesus Christ into the game will cause further frustration with the religious Smite community. First of all, the developer wants to implement abilities that have the power to kill others, in the same sense, Jesus Christ is a savior, not a killer. Second, to parallel the idea of implementing this would be like implementing Mohammed into the game. no one knows who/what he looks like and causes great disturbance in the Islamic religion with the portrayal of this type of God/Prophet. Last of all, to Atheist’s this idea doesn’t seem too bad, but to Christian’s and Catholic’s, this idea is very offensive and is not at all a good portrayal of Jesus Christ and therefore should not be implemented into the game.

  • Brian Sparr

    Special pleading. “All these other gods are fine, but of course MINE shouldn’t be in it because they won’t represent him accurately”. As for it not being a good representation of Jesus due to the inherent violence in the game, I would argue that you might not think it’s good but it would be far more accurate than you seem to think. Even without making the case that Jesus is supposedly God in human form and therefore directly responsible for all of the extremely capricious smiting in the OT, Jesus himself did plenty of things that wouldn’t be out of place in a combat-centric game. He seemed to be fairly proficient with a whip in John 2:15. There are multiple mentions of people being sent into the “outer darkness” where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. I vaguely remember something about Jesus causing a fig tree to wither because it didn’t have fruit when he was hungry (it was out of season). I don’t know why people hold onto this myth of Jesus being merely a pacifistic healer. On the other hand, games like this actually require healers. So why exactly does Jesus not belong in this game, other than the special pleading because he’s yours?

  • Åoli

    Why should anyone care if your sensibilities are offended by something that doesn’t concern you? What you’re doing is no different to people who complain about movie adaptations not meeting their exact interpretation of the book. You are trying to exert control over a creative project that you have not legitimate right to impose yourself upon. It has nothing to do with you, so grow up and if you don’t like the idea of Jesus in a game… walk away. No one is forcing you to play. You don’t own the rights to Jesus’ image so you have no say in how he is used as a character.

    I’m tired of everyone treating the religious with kid gloves and censoring the entire world to avoid hurting your precious feelings. Don’t you understand that any time anyone panders to your sensitive faith they are belittling you and treating you like a child?

    Jesus will probably never feature in Smite, I actually agree with the OP that he doesn’t suit the game, but whenever he does pop up as a character in whatever, please see the light and don’t whine about it like a toddler tasting sour milk. You are under no obligation to accept every depiction of Jesus as gospel, and you have no right to impose your own views on the work of others.

  • Matt Kenney

    Adding in the Abrahamic God wouldn’t work from a gameplay standpoint. All of the gods in the game were powerful but not immortal in their original texts, but how would HiRes begin to balance the All-Powerful Omnipotent Abrahamic God? the one that can smite entire cities with fireballs, and flood the entire planet because he was displeased with mankind. It would be impossible to include as a fair and balanced character

  • Alexis Polenne

    I wouldn’t mind seeing the Abrahamic God in the game. I mean, if one can beat Super Sayajin God Super Sayajin Goku with caracters like Krilin or Yamsha, beating an “omnipotent” god with a non-omnipotent one wouldn’t be THAT hard to picture.

    Besides, one might ask about either this Abrahamic god (whichever form we’re talking about) is that omnipotent.

    And even if this god doesn’t shows up, there’s still lots of cool characters from this mythology to use. Well, some of those are more Christian than Abrahamic. Some of the Angels are actually pretty badasses, fighting daemons and dragons and monsters and stuff like that. I for one, as a French, would actually love to play Joan of Arc. Since Rama is actually a mortal man (within which Vishnu is) having a female warrior (who is now a saint btw) woulnd’t be too hard either.
    Plus of course, all the demons we could have too! If bad guys like Loki, Ymir, Ravana or Bakasura are playable, Lilith, Satan or other stuff like that.

    And overall, if balance is what people wants, then just throw in others suprem gods. I mean, how would result a battle between Yahweh/Jehova and Ahura-Mazda, or Bondye, or Make-Make, or Ometecuhtli or… You get the picture. When speaking of gods, I believe “omnipotent” or “suprem” is quickly irrevelant.

    (But yeah, Jesus wouldn’t work. He was far too much “love each others” and stuff)

  • Matt Kenney

    That Dragon Ball Z comparison brings up a good point, but those non-story mode fights don’t really stick with the show. It’s just one player vs another and doesn’t really take the character’s power level into account. On the other hand, the god profiles on Smite seem to stick pretty well with how the original religions depicted them and I think that’s what would cause the Abrahamic God to fail as a character. If they were to stick with the source material, he would be all-knowing and all-powerful which, like I said, wouldn’t work from a gameplay perspective. I definitely wouldn’t be against it, but I don’t think there is a good way to make him a fair character while also staying true to the source like they did with the other gods. Now having some of the angels or other characters I think would be pretty cool. But I don’t think having Satan as a playable character would go over to well. Could you imagine the shitstorm that would cause from people like Westboro if they ever caught wind of that? XD

  • Chris Swan

    passive – if he is kill after short delay he revives him self with 30% or 50% of his health back. (3 min cool down)

    Q- Healing touch he can use this ability to heal him self or an ally for up to 30% of their missing health. when he heals it also damages him for 10% of his max health

    W- an ability where he removes all debuffs *besides stuns)* from his ally.

    E- an ability that has a passive an an active when activated jesus receives 20% reduced dmg while off he ignores up to 20 dmg from basic attacks

    R- healing rays Jesus makes a payer and after a short delay his whole team is healed for 40% of there max health.

    none of his abilities scale with magic or physical expect maybe his Q for magical but as with these hes mostly going to be a support tank chara.