About a week ago, USA Today (online only) had a short piece about Playing Gods. The item was fairly even handed, though I noted that the professor of religion who’s quoted as saying the game is “too stupid to go far” is a guy named Carl Raschke. I’d never heard of him, but apparently he wrote a book on Satanic conspiracies. Here’s what the book review on Skepticfiles.org says about him: “Despite Raschke’s position as a professor of religious studies at the University of Denver, the text is bursting with sloppy research and fuzzy thinking. Howling errors and half truths leap off every page. Raschke messes up even the simplest facts.” This is the best USA Today could dig up? I don’t mind intelligent, informed criticism, but to have this clown denigrating my game is like being lectured about critical thinking by George W. Bush.
I have gotten some other interesting messages. Past readers may recall a woman who ordered Playing Gods to help teach her home-schooled daughter the catechism. I wrote to her telling her that my game was a satire, but she wanted it anyway. I didn’t expect to hear from her again, but 2 days ago I got a handwritten note: “Your game is everything that I hoped it would be.” Hmm. I suspect she’s using the game as an example of what influences to avoid, but whatever: Non olet (reference to earlier blog; dig it up!).
I also got an e-mail from a guy named Jim who works as Hasbro. Yes, the makers of GI Joe (or at least one of the employees) took note of Playing Gods, and wanted to order the Limited Edition figurines. We wrote “I wish we [Hasbro] would come out with playing pieces that cool!” Yeah, I wanna see Swivel Battle Arm Jesus, complete with a spiked cross, explosive bible, and 15 points of articulation! Nice compliment, though.
Speaking of feedback, a few days ago I also got an e-mail from some guy named Justin. He asked why I wouldn’t use Mohammed’s name: “It is cowardice, or just preferential treatment?” he asked. (Face Camera 1, smile broadly.) Actually, Justin—and thanks for writing in, always great to hear from the peanut gallery—You seem to have made an error. In fact, as you’d see if you took the time to look at the game, NONE of the gods are named in the rules or game. Mohammed is not mentioned, neither is Jesus, Buddha, Kali, or Moses. Players can choose to call the pieces whatever they like. The game is intended to entertain, not incite violence. Justin, if you feel strongly about the issue of naming Muslim prophets, I invite you to create your own art or project and do so. I’m putting myself at enough risk as it is, and this tool wants to call me a coward for not going out of my way to insult Muslims? Fuck you.