Games, philosophy, code, logic, and other nonsense

Faith in The Outer Worlds

5 min read

I was just finishing Fallout: New Vegas for the second time while I was looking for my next game to play. The choice became easy when I knew that Obsidian, the studio behind Fallout: New Vegas has released a new sci-fi RPG: The Outer Worlds. As a person who would pick Dragon Age over Mass Effect and Lord of the Rings over Star Wars, I was quite skeptic about playing an in-space futuristic RPG, yet my skepticism soon faded when I got immersed in The Outer Worlds.

One of the aspects that I love to learn about in fictional worlds is philosophies and religions. One reason for that might be that I am already interested in learning these topics in the real world, but I find a sort of inexplicable mystical charm in learning about the mysteries of fictional worlds. In a more practical sense, these fictional worlds can be seen as thought experiments that give us the freedom to think more liberally and invite us to rethink our real-world thoughts and positions! Because I suppose in a fictional world we can more easily approach a thought without previous predispositions. Marcus Schulzke elaborates on the concept of games as thought experiments in his research paper: Simulating Philosophy which I highly recommend.

Given the fact that the game takes events in a post space colonization era that is a couple of hundred years from now, the religions and philosophies mentioned in The Outer world become an attempt at depicting the next evolution of today's philosophies and religions. And I believe that the writers did a great job in outlining a possible futuristic reality! For as we will see as I explain further, the religions and philosophies depicted are in fact an extension and an amalgamation of current philosophies and religions.

In the world of Outer Worlds, there are two main religions/philosophies: Scientism and Philosophism. The philosophies are embodied in the world's characters and factions. Scientism is an extension to one of today's philosophies and beliefs, Deism. Scientism, as Deism, believes in a single creator/designer, The Grand Architect, of the universe which created a set of physical laws that the followers of Scientism call The Universal Equation. After the creation of The Universal Equation, The Grand Architect remain distant and does not involve himself in the creation. Scientism also adds the concept of determinism as The Grand Architect's Universal Equation is determined to create a certain world according to his Plan. Yet, most interestingly, they believe in human's free choice! To explain this contradiction, they believe that fate is in allegory similar to an elastic band. You can stay in the middle and follow The Plan or you could push against the sides and attempt to escape your fate. However, the harder you push, the harder you are shot back in line!

Followers of Philosophism reject the classical depiction of God as a singular designer entity that is out of this world. Instead, they believe in an involved God, in fact, too involved as to be one with his creation! Enlightenment for followers of philosophism is achieved when one realizes this truth. When one realizes that they are more than what they think they are. This notion of Enlightenment is usually achieved after drastic experiences of loss: loss of beloved one, loss of faith, loss of hope, etc. It follows then that the believers of Philosophism reject any notions of defined purpose by God to their creation because God themselves is their creation! Further, it is up to this whole universe to find its purpose!

Once I learned about the Philosophism, I immediately saw the similarities between it and Existentialism. Both of these philosophies reject fate and defined purpose. However, while Existentialism, Sartre's Existentialism to be precise, has no position or might even reject the mystical. Philosophism still believes in divinity, a universal divinity that goes through all existence which they call The Eternal. The concept of The Eternal is eerie similar to The Tao of Taoism! It speaks of the natural order in the universe's spontaneity. I am a big fan of Raymond Smullyan's definition of Taoism in his book The Tao is Silent: "A state of inner serenity combined with an intense aesthetic awareness". Taoism also advocates for oneness and the appreciation of The Tao, further, The Tao can be seen in all things around us as in the naturalness of the universe. One can be a Taoist if he follows his own volition and naturalness. In opposition to Existentialism's belief in the neutral state of humans (humans are neither good nor bad, they choose what to become), Taoism adds the premise that the nature of humans is good, especially when they act out of their own volition.

I believe today's games have grown to discuss intellectually stimulating topics such as philosophies and religions, and due to the medium's interactivity, we are exploring new ways to get involved and "play" with these topics! I am quite optimistic about the medium's future and I wish to get involved somehow in its creation! I still have more to discuss The Outer Worlds' religions, especially the story of one of the most interesting quests: "The Empty Man". However, I will leave this to a possible future post.

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