Hindu follower blasts new video game by Hi-Rez

(Hi-Rez Studios)

(Hi-Rez Studios)

(Updated 11:16 a.m.)

A Nevada-based Hindu devotee has launched a personal crusade against an Alpharetta online video game developer over its newest battleground offering, which the follower says insults Hindu deities and their millions of followers.

Rajan Zed, who identifies himself as president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said Hi-Rez Studios’ new game SMITE trivializes his religion by putting players with “joysticks, buttons, keyboards and mouses” in control of “mythical” Hindu gods and goddesses.

In a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chief Operating Officer Todd Harris on Thursday defended the inclusion of the deities in Hi-Rez’ newest game. He said the company hasn’t spoken to Zed about his concerns, nor has Zed reached out to the company.

“SMITE includes deities inspired from a diverse and ever expanding set of pantheons, including Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, and Norse. Hinduism, being one of the world’s oldest, largest and most diverse traditions, also provides inspiration toward deities in our game,” Harris said.

“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.”

Harris added that “going forward SMITE will include even more deities, not fewer.”

The Hindu deities Kali, Vamana, Agni and Moksh are among the deities represented on SMITE.

The company describes SMITE as a free-to-play, multiplayer online battle arena with gods competing against enemy gods. The game is played by two teams, who control the deities.

“In reality, the devotees put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities” and not the other way around, Zed said in a widely-distributed statement.

Zed’s effort is gaining attention as far away as India. The Times of India and Punjab News Express have picked up his story.

Kaushal Tripathi, president of the India American Cultural Society of metro Atlanta, said he tries to be open-minded when it comes to video games given his background in software development.

Game creators, however, must be sensitive to feelings about religion when using deities, Tripathi said.

“Hopefully, the creators of the game understand the feelings of people,” Tripathi said. “ Religion is a very sensitive thing. You are walking a  fine line.”

Privately-held Hi-Rez was started in 2005 by Erez Goren and Harris. Goren, Hi-Rez’ chief executive officer, co-founded Atlanta-based Radiant Systems, a provider of checkout terminal hardware and software for the hospitality and retail industry. Harris worked as director of product development at Radiant Systems, which is now a part of NCR Corp.

Hi-Rez released its first game, Global Agenda, in 2010 and this past April, it released its second game, Tribes: Ascend. Harris said no released date has been announced for SMITE. He said “tens of thousands of people” are playing the game online in closed Beta testing every day.

“The waiting list to play is over 200,000 and growing daily at a double digit percentage,” Harris told the AJC.

19 comments Add your comment

Old Scratch

June 28th, 2012
4:40 pm

Don’t have a cow, Rajan, all mythologies are equally fake.

wondering

June 28th, 2012
4:46 pm

How tacky of both sides.

Voice of Reason

June 28th, 2012
4:51 pm

OMG!

STFU!

Zed’s 15 minutes of fame should have been over 20 minutes ago.

AnythingForMoney

June 28th, 2012
4:56 pm

Interesting that Goren did not include Christian, Jewish or Muslim religious figures. The Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, and Norse deities that he mentions are basically mythological figures that no one prays to today. That is not the case with the Hindu gods – They are worshipped by over a billion people today and this is extremely offensive.

ND

June 28th, 2012
4:59 pm

As a Hindu, as long as I can use Kali’s multiple arms to strangle Jesus and Mohammed, there is no problem. Somehow I doubt that this game allows me to do that.

Tom

June 28th, 2012
5:00 pm

They’re ALL mythological figures, AFM.

Darren

June 28th, 2012
5:02 pm

When is the “Jesus Expansion Pack” going to be ready?

Fan

June 28th, 2012
5:42 pm

Lighten up, Francis. It’s just a game.

Rumbo

June 28th, 2012
5:42 pm

They may upgrade to include Jesus, but don’t look for Mo. Them guys take their fairy tales seriously and will be coming after somebody.

Fan

June 28th, 2012
5:43 pm

Zed, isn’t that Superman’s nemesis? Oh wait, that’s Zod… Nevermind

matt

June 28th, 2012
5:55 pm

Low-Cost Marketing Level: Genius

Flying Spaghetti Monster

June 28th, 2012
6:21 pm

My day has come at last…Be warned….bra ha ha ha ha

Not So Fast

June 28th, 2012
7:04 pm

I can’t speak as to the Egyptian, Norse or Greek deities but I can tell you that the Chinese deities are still prayed to. One visit to Taiwan would show you the number of active temples where many people still go to pray, light incense and worship. With that cleared up, it is just a video game! Is this really all we have to worry about?

But if you want my advice don’t put any Muslim images on your game. As Rumbo said them guys are serious!

Homer

June 29th, 2012
12:53 pm

I can’t wait for the video game that pits a doubting Thomas against 11 devout apostles and Jesus Christ himself. You could have some great fun with Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath, and the wandering Jews. Go for it.

Kanz

July 1st, 2012
4:57 am

This is absolutely unacceptable. Smite and Hi-Rez have to be a little more sensible than that. They are playing with fire here. Insulting Hinduism like this doesn’t make any sense what so ever, business or otherwise. They obviously lacked the guts to incorporate Christian or Jewish or Muslim religious figures, so they went for a softer target. Ones who might not create to much problem or noise for their comfort. Shameful….!!!!

Lowkey

July 1st, 2012
5:53 pm

I can tell you with certainty that the Norse, Greek, Egyptian deities still have followers and are actively honored. I also think that this is disrespectful of all involved. I’m not seeing Allah, Jehovah or Jesus being depicted with the same disrespect that the other gods are enduring.

BigOil

July 2nd, 2012
11:50 am

As a Hindu I am ok with this, as long as Jesus is included in the game, so we can get a chance to pummel him.

Default Settings 2.0

July 3rd, 2012
8:52 am

Yeah, but will it finally teach the landing portion of flight school.

Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

July 3rd, 2012
3:04 pm

[...] today.”The Border House looks at the controversy surrounding the upcoming game SMITE, and the protests from Hindu activist Rajan Zed over the depiction and ability to control their gods and goddesses, most notably Kali, in the game. [...]