Last November, game developer Peter Molyneaux launched Curiosity. The game was a single cube, billions and billions of tiny little cells that players cleared one by one, earning coins that could buy tools to clear cells that would earn coins to buy tools. It was an undisguised gaming endorphin stim, a delivery device so blatant it the FDA should have regulated it.
So far, we’re in Farmville territory. But Molyneaux promised that the Cube was concealing a great secret, one that would be discovered by the one player who cleared the very last pixel of the cube. Molyneaux, known for hyping features of his games that turn out to be… well, not in the game at all, promised, “What is inside the cube is life-changingly amazing by any definition.”
What ensued was perfect devotion. Millions of humans around the world joined the game and chipped away at the cube. One fine morning in May, just six months after the cube was unveiled, Bryan Henderson signed up for the game. The Scottish teenager found a patch of cube that was left and cleared away what he could see. It took him a few minutes to realize that he had won.
Normally, when we make life-changing discoveries, we sort of know it right away. We at least know that something has happened. So what was Molyneaux’s great reveal? A big ol’ bucket of disappointment? No: Bryan Henderson is now God. Or, god.
Bryan Henderson will rule as god of gods in Peter Molyneaux’s upcoming game Godus. The game, in development by Molyneaux’s 22Cans, is a multiplayer god-sim in which players rule their own little corners of creation. And over them all shall stand Bryan Henderson, the 18 year old who won Molyneaux’s contrived contest.
Molyneaux announced that Henderson’s claim to deity will be immune from challenge for maybe a year, after which the other, lesser gods can overthrow him. Note: This is not what Christians mean when we say “God.” We mean an entity that is all-powerful and non-contingent. Who is it that appoints the rulers of the earth to reign for a time? In the cosmogony of Godus, it is Molyneaux who is lord over his creation.
A hierarchy of gods is all very pagan. Indeed, this calls to mind the Old Testament interactions between God’s people and the other nations of the earth. Culture is rooted in the cult: All of these nations had some sort of civic religion, a pantheon of gods that served as a symbol of the nation and in whose power the nation was heavily invested.
So when the Israelites came in prattling about their God, this Yahweh character, they weren’t regarded as making some kind of outlandish claim to divine favoritism. Everyone was a divine favorite. Recall the encounters between Moses and Pharaoh’s magicians and between Elijah and the prophets of Baal.
Perhaps some of these gods were real—why be a skeptic about spiritual entities? But even if they were, they were creatures. That is, they were created. Very powerful creatures are still creatures. Even a creature with the power to create is still a creature. The created were contending with the Creator, their creator, the origin of their existence, One with the power to speak galaxies into existence.
Jonah’s shipmates perceived this. When they roused him from his sleep and told him to call out to his god, they were sort of hoping that one of their entreaties to their various gods would stick. They cast lots to find out who the gods were after, and when it landed on Jonah, he told them, “I fear Yahweh, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” This terrified the men even more, whereupon they themselves called out to this Hebrew’s God.
But Molyneaux himself has masters. His limitation of Henderson’s godhood is in anticipation of what his investors will expect. No one wants a game where a single lucky teenager sits as permanent winner with power over the rest of the players. If Molyneaux is god over Godus, then he has a board of director gods who constrain him. Not quite the plural unity of the Trinity.
Although Henderson will shape the rules and origin story of the game Godus, the real life-changer is that he will participate in the game’s profits.
In the end, Mammon is god.