Religious leaders want gods removed from video game

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:

Alpharetta restaurateur Satish Musunuri, is a devout Hindu.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. - An Alpharetta video game designer is defending his company's use of Hindu deities in a popular online game.

Channel 2's Mike Petchenik talked to some religious leaders who are criticizing the company.

The game is called SMITE. It's a downloadable Internet-based game that pits gods from different religions against one another.

Its Alpharetta creator said it's just entertainment, but some Hindus believe it's disrespectful.

"SMITE is basically a battleground of the gods," said Todd Harris, chief operating officer of Hi-Rez Studios, who is producing the game.

In a small office, Petchenik found computer programmers and graphic artists designing new characters for a game in which deities fight to the death.

"Greek, Chinese, Norse, Hindu and Egyptian. We look at compelling gods or deities and put them into one arena," Harris told Petchenik.

Three of the characters come from the Hindu tradition.

"Kali is the goddess of destruction, Agni represents fire, and Vamana transforms from a very small dwarf-like character into a giant," Harris said.

A Nevada-based Hindu statesman is demanding Hi-Rez Studios pull the characters from the game saying, "Hindu deities were meant to be worshiped in temples and home shrines and not meant to be reduced to just a 'character' in a video game."

Alpharetta restaurateur Satish Musunuri, who is a devout Hindu, agrees.

"I believe anybody shouldn't make any kind of fun of any god, not only Hinduism," Musunuri said. "Better to pull out Hindu gods from the games."

"Ultimately it's entertainment and not about theology," Harris said, defending the game.

He told Petchenik the company won't remove Hindu characters and plans to add more.

"We respect that if people don't want to play those gods, they certainly have the right not to," Harris said.

It's not just Hindu leaders criticizing the game. Some Jewish and Catholic leaders have chimed in to say using gods in a video game trivializes religion.