Upcoming free-to-play game by Hi-Rez Studios, SMITE, is being protested against by Hindu groups. The game portrays Hindu Goddess Kali in a slutty, femme-fatale kind of way. SMITE is a team-based competitive game, much like DoTA or League of Legends, where players can select one out of many different mythical gods as a character and battle it out against each other in teams of five. The game features other Hindu gods and goddesses such as Vamana and Agni.
Other religious groups, such as Catholics, Jews and Buddhists have come out in support of the Hindus who are upset with the game. Roman Catholic leader from Nevada, USA, Father Charles T Durante, Jewish leader prominent in western USA Rabbi Elizabeth W Beyer and distinguished Buddhist leader from Nevada, USA, Reverend Jikai’ Phil Bryan have issued separate statements which critize Hi-Rez’s game. Reverend Bryan has reportedly said, “Shame on the game-makers for denigrating these Supreme Beings”.
On its website, the Hindu Jagruti Manch says, “This game has portrayed Hindu Goddess Kali Mata in very bad manner, with appearance as a combat porn-star. Kali Mata is highly revered Hindu Goddess and more than one billion Hindus worship her. Also it is a grave insult of Hindu Deities as Deities are not objects to be used for online games.”
From what I have seen of the game, the religious groups seem to be over exaggerating. Yes, the character is scantily clad, much like female characters in almost every game aimed towards the typical teenage male demographic, sadly, but she looks nowhere near as bad as some actual depictions of the goddess wearing nothing but skulls around her neck to cover her breasts.
Hindu Goddess Kali as depicted in SMITE.
Hi-Rez COO Todd Harris said this about the situation, “In fact, given Hinduism's concept of a single truth with multiple physical manifestations, one could validly interpret ALL the gods within Smite to be Hindu. And all gods outside of Smite as well. Ponder that for a minute. Anyway, going forward Smite will include even more deities, not fewer.“
President of Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, said that he’s urging Hi-Rez to reconsider their portrayal of these gods and that they should be removed from the game, especially Kali. Zed has called the portrayal “pornographic style”.
“Video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith-related subjects and no faith, larger or smaller, should be trampled. As these games left lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people; such inappropriate depictions would create more misunderstandings about Hinduism, which was already a highly misunderstood religion in the West,” Zed's official press statement reads.
SMITE is more or less a MOBA game, which stands for multiplayer online battle arena, where two teams of players duke it out with the characters of their choice in an arena that typically has three ‘lanes’ with towers for both teams. Players progress by slowly destroying the towers that lead up to the enemy team’s base with a structure that has to be destroyed. The team that destroys the enemy team’s main structure wins the game, no matter how much into the lead the other team may be in terms of kills.
SMITE is in closed beta at the moment. Those interested can register for an invitation on their page. The game will be free-to-play for the PC when it’s out.