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Friday, August 14, 2009

Women's Ordination: The Video Game

(AoftheAP) The controversy of female ordination has crossed over into the arena of interactive games. Nintendo Games, hoping to capitalize on the publicity generated by the dispute within certain quarters of the Catholic Church, has released "Wiimenpriests: From The Convent To The Conclave", designed exclusively for the Wii Console.

"We're excited by this newest entry into the console game market," announced Libby Farberstein, spokesperson for the electronic game manufacturer. "This issue of Catholic women priests seems to be gathering steam throughout America, so we're confident these games are going to fly off the shelves."

Nintendo sent dozens of games, handheld controllers and Wii consoles to the LCWR 2009 Assembly that convened in New Orleans, August 11-14. The early buzz on the game is that it is a sure-fire hit.

"There were lines waiting to try out the game," Farberstein said. "To say it's acceptance has exceeded our expectations would be an understatement."

"Wiimenpriests: From The Convent To The Conclave" is a role-playing game (RPG). The player starts out as a novitiate in a convent, then by completing a variety of tasks and missions, sees their level rise up to the point where they're in the running to be elected Pope. As the game progresses, the tasks become more difficult and the obstacles are much tougher to overcome.

For instance, to move from "novitiate" to "priest", the player has to shut-down a military installation while avoiding arrest, deliver a gender-neutral translation of the Bible to a printer while evading gangs of "rad trad" Catholics, and bankrupt a pharmaceutical company because of "unethical business practices" without being detected by the SEC and Big Pharma hit squads.

All this, armed only with her wits and charm. Oh, and a pocketful of New Age "Tolerance Crystals" and a big, bad Conscience Ray-gun, used to neutralize opponents. There's also a Spirit Guide named Roy who can be called upon for wisdom and answers to difficult clues and riddles.

When the player is ordained (once the secret location is found by solving a series of riddles), she moves on to pastoring a parish, then is elevated to a bishop in control of a diocese, then a cardinal before finally arriving in Rome for the final challenge.

And the opposition gets tougher with each level. Priests armed with GIRM Warfare weapons; bishops equipped with Cannons of Law; teams of Apostolic Examiners accompanied by Ex-communicators; and countless hordes of Orthobots, zombie-like parishioners that resemble genetically altered rabid sheep. The final stage of the game has the player confront The Grand Inquisitor in an all-out battle.

"It's not all action and violence, though," said Farberstein. "With the handheld controller, the player is able to perform liturgical actions commonly used during Mass, like blessings, the consecration and Sign of Peace. In a way, it's a practice tool, should women become officially ordained. Plus, a player can gain experience points in a variety of peaceful ways - delivering Communion to ex-communicated Catholics, making their way through labyrinths or even ordaining other priests, for example."

Sister Patricia Owens O'Flannary, a progressive-nun from Michigan, tried the game and found it exhilarating. "I just loved it! I'm definitely buying this for the convent - who knew that zapping rad trads could be so much fun!"

There is also an on-line feature that will allow up to four players to combine forces and battle their common foes. "Working together gives them encouragement and improves their self-esteem," Farberstein commented. "Let's face it - becoming a real priest will most likely forever remain a fantasy for them. We might as well make the fantasy as enjoyable as possible."