Table of Contents
- History for the Common Man
- What Matters with the Templars
- Painting Stripes
- I Don’t Believe You
- Appendix: Other Templar Details
Today, if you make a war game about the Allies fighting Hitler and Nazi Germany, it’s considered acceptable and, depending on game-play, fun. But if you were to make a game about, say, Jews forming a plot against Winston Churchill, even though everyone on the planet knows it was a fake and was purported as such, there would be an outcry. However, if you make a game about rogues fighting a sketchy but very popular Christian organization, regardless of the era they are from, not the slightest complaining seems to occur. In fact, depending on how it’s presented and what claims you make about the historicity, many “Christians” may even buy it! Without going into too much detail, recall the Da Vinci Code – a farce but based off of pictures like the Last Supper where the apostle John (young and thus often depicted without a beard) is mistaken for Mary Magdalene!
Historicity is never an important feature in games. With the exception of realism fanatics, most game creators and gamers don’t care, as long as things seem real enough. Assassin’s Creed is one such game. The game play of Assassin’s Creed is nothing short of Grand Theft Auto: murder, stealing (though in this, pick-pocketing instead of using a gun), and defying authority, all in the name of “freedom” to attract yea ol’ blind patriot / idealistic consumer. The creators of Assassin’s Creed are no longer hiding this tactic – they’ve created a sequel game centered on the Revolutionary War whose story is based on the foundation lain by previous games.
The protagonist of the game (the character the gamer plays):
Real friendly looking, no? /sarcasm
The protagonist and “good guys” of this game are the Assassins Brotherhood, although notably there is corruption and stupidity in their ranks. The “bad guys” are a prominent military Christian group of the time period: the Templars. Most of the Templars are supposedly trying to take over the world and the Assassins are trying to stop them.
In 1961, Albert Bandura performed an experiment using bobo dolls to study how children learn by observation. Then in the 2000s, there were studies on how children were becoming tolerant of violence through video games. The so called “evidence” and articles opposing these studies were written by wishful thinkers who probably didn’t consider the bobo doll effect or felt they had something to lose if children were not allowed to play games with extreme violence. Perhaps they were afraid laws would be designed that would prevent them as adults from showing such games to kids since the manufacturers didn’t seem the least bit concerned about a dropping market and, after all, the average gamer age was “over 30”, said one blogger.
The point here is that the violence was tolerated. People have become so tolerant that, like a frog in slowly boiling water, they have become apathetic to the point where it could kill them.
Notably, people, even grown ups, learn from the media they surround themselves with. If you read the New York Times, you’re likely to feel sympathetic towards the Democratic Party. If you sit in a chess room day in and day out, you’re liable to think most people are analytically-minded (except maybe you and a handful of others that come in as onlookers). Thus, it is quite possible for people to learn various facts and details from video games, whether such facts are true or not.
Game companies and gamers are, as I mentioned, are not concerned with authentic historicity. The latter prefer a good story while the former just hope their product makes money. Hence, while many games are an obvious mixture of fact and fiction, not the slightest effort is made in distinguishing those things during the game, where people are learning the most. Hence, a great deal of information, both correct and incorrect, slips through. In fact, the most subtle lie is not a tidbit of information or random detail or date you find along the way, nor is it necessarily the focal point or main objective of the game (which is usually the most obvious invention). The most subtle lie of Assassin’s Creed that slips into your mind is the nature of the two sides involved in the conflict: the “assassins” and the “Templars”.
History for the Common Man
I am no expert on history, but much knowledge of history is not required for this discussion. In fact, little knowledge of history, especially this particular period in history, is actually beneficial for then we can view these things in the same lighting as a modern consumer and thus infer the observations he would make.
Thus, with little knowledge of history, we comment on how the modern consumer views the Templars. First, he seems them as the enemy in a game. As soon as you are introduced to a game, the first things you learn about, aside from the controls, are 1) what the main objective is and 2) who the enemies are. If the enemies just so happen to be the N.S.A., you might quickly put the controller down (although sadly I do know of people who would keep playing). However, if the enemies are, say, some group you are unaware of, historical or not, your first instinct is to defend yourself and to consider the other group as composed of assailants. Thus, with limited knowledge of history, you are an easy target for video games that wish for you to associate a negative viewpoint with a particular crowd.
What Matters with the Templars
The Templars (Knights Templar) were originally a poor group of nine men who sought to defend travelers in the Holy Land during the Crusades. They acquired their name from being knights of the temple, and they lived a monastic life. Eventually, the group became huge and rich, attracting the eyes of the jealous King of France who utilized the aura of secrecy of the group to bring it to its eventual demise and disbanding. Oh, and the manipulated Pope was involved and so goes the story. etc. etc.
… Most of that information is completely irrelevant for our purposes, but history gives us a couple of important details.
First, the Knights Templar was Christian and quite devoted in their Christianity as attested to by their monastic life and practices. They were highly respected in their time, being gracious to the people and feared by their enemies. They were so well respected that the Pope had all of their land made church property and tax exempt so the knights could, as I would say, rest at ease with respect to financial matters (a nice thing when you start out living off alms like they did). As a military order, they established a code to live by, a noble one in line with Christian doctrines.
All in all , the point is, they are associated with Christianity for the time; noble, trustworthy, honorable Christianity.
The second important piece of info about about the Knights Templar was that they group was rich. That made it an easy target for jealousy and corruption, and it’s quite likely there was some of that going on. Notably, the longer a group persists, the more distant it may become from its original purpose, for better or worse.
Regardless of the background or actual state of the organization at the time of their downfall, the Templars are a representation of noble Christianity from the time period. At the very least, they are representative of Christian soldiers, no matter how much or how little they may have met that standard in real life.
With their sketchy background and overwhelming popularity during the Middle Ages, they make for a convenient villain for the time period… despite how historically inaccurate or absurd it may be. But as I said, people learn from video games. They learn both tolerance of violence and hatred for an unfamiliar assailant. Furthermore, they learn to dislike all that is associated with such. (For example, during wartime, it is natural for one country to reject all of the products and services of another country that is fighting an ally.) Thus, in the video game Assassin’s Creed, while Christianity is not the direct target, a organization associated with nobility and the ideals of Christianity is being targeted, thus “painting stripes” so-to-speak on all that is associated with them, including Christianity itself. Consequently, Assassin’s Creed is nothing more than an anti-Christian game.
I Don’t Believe You
There’s always someone who says there is no secretive basis for what he calls a “coincidence” instead of a “conspiracy”. It’s like the man who believes that media corporations would never promote socialism because they have something to lose – he doesn’t realize agenda is more important. At the same rate, it could also be that the creators had no other reason than they knew Christians wouldn’t be in an uproar when the game came out, whereas Muslims and Jews might target their homes. Regardless, I don’t have to pin the blame on the creators, but I do blame Satan.
(There is, notably, a partial distancing of the Templars from Christianity, according to the invented history for the video game: “During the 1st century, they found out that one of the Pieces of Eden, the Shroud, was in the hands of Jesus Christ. Wanting the Piece for their own purposes, the Templars crucified Jesus in order to gain it.” source: the Assassin’s Creed wiki on wikia)
If you don’t care about that, well, you should still be concerned because the game itself is promoting an atmosphere of violence and death in society, digitally even if not physically (but one of these days, that may be all that matters). And if you don’t care about that either, you are apathetic. But I repeat myself.
The lesson here is read your history. You may find that some games, such as Empire Earth, actually contain factual history and its easy to distinguish the fact and fiction. “Enjoy responsibly,” as beer companies say. The sad thing is more people are likely to read the fake history than they are the real one. Facts will become blurred in their mind, and they’ll wander through life thinking John Wilkes Booth knew Aramaic and the Forerunners were real. If you want some real history that deals with evil secret societies, try searching for a connection between Andrew Jackson and the Free Masons. That should keep you entertained for awhile.
That’s all for this article. Thanks for reading!No doubt, I may have said something incorrect or ambiguous, so feel free to point it out by commenting.
Appendix: Other Templar Details
There is no guarantee that these facts are correct, despite the claims of any of the authors I got the details from.
The Templars had secret practices, some of which were, according to outsiders, said to be heretical. For example, new Templars had to spit on the cross three times and worship a blanket as if God were in it. One person, claiming to have looked into the details of Templar history, gave the following explanation. The spitting on the cross was to prepare Templars in case of capture in the Holy Land where they would be forced by the Muslims to spit on the cross. The worship of the cloth is explained by the likelihood that the Templars possessed the Shroud of Turin – the burial cloth of Jesus, and thus a great relic to venerate. (Sorry, I’m not going to sit around and explain the details of veneration and relics. I’m not an expert on that, so go ask a well-educated priest.)