Chag Sameach thread (Kosherpunk 5783)

Happy Rosh Hashanah to Crediteers of the Hebrew persuasion. Enjoy some apples & honey, watch a Mel Brooks movie, and let’s talk about representations of the People of the Book in the visual gaming medium (all I can think of off the top of my head are Otacon from Metal Gear Solid and Jesus H. Christ from Xenosaga).

(Note that I will probably later edit this thread into something about the post-_Eva_ “Kabbalahsploitation” trend that took video games by storm for about 10 years or so)

There's B.J. Blazkowicz from Wolfenstein and the internet says that a Bioshock antagonist is Jewish?? (I never played it)

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I am not sure the family practices their faith very much but we have Hershel and Katrielle Layton. There’s also the infamous [Jew class]( in that South Park RPG released a few years ago. B.J. has been cited already so I must admit that’s all I got on the top of my head without going through sportsmen, historical and biblical (read: SMT) figures.

Meryl might also be Jewish, maybe?

Shana tova!

(that's it for me, an (ex-)catholic!)

@“sabertoothalex”#p86168 Oh yeah I think there are two Jewish NPCs in BioShock, one is a boss (also implied to be gay) and the other is one of the friendly NPCs unless you take the evil route by killing all the mutant little girls for their extra magic juice.

I thought it was kinda lulzy how _Wolfenstein: The New Colossus_ retcons BJ to be matrilineally Jewish after the previous game goes out of its way to establish him as this Aryan-looking soulful Texas boy. Then again those games are a little weird in general, their explanation for why the Nazis won the war in this timeline is that they ||stole occult Jewish mecha technology that had been safeguarded by the Elders of Zion or some shit||.

Anyway there’s also Ellie’s girlfriend from _Last of Us II_, who ups the ante somewhat by actually looking pretty ethnically Semitic but is also stuck in a game that drops an unskippable PBS Kids-level explanation of Judaism 101 just to make sure we get the point.

@“chazumaru”#p86177 Oh yeah South Park lol. And by extension Krusty in the various Simpsons games. Pretty sure I also read the Insomniac Spider-Man game has Hasidic NPCs who don’t appear on Saturdays, which is kind of funny/neat.

tbh I tend to be personally less interested in representations of Jewish _people_ than Jewish _ideas_, which is where we get into the “Kabbalahsploitation” stuff I want to investigate properly later. For whatever reason Japanese pop culture went through a Kabbalah (and general Abrahamic mysticism) phase in the 90s and 00s, which is where you get stuff like _SMT_, _Eva_, _Xenogears_ and _Fullmetal Alchemist_ addressing kabbalic/gnostic themes and symbols explicitly (though often with some difficulty telling Judaism and Christianity apart) while various other games (_FF7_, _Tales of the Abyss_, and _Metal Gear Acid 2_ just off the top of my head) throw in random Hebrew terminology for the “flavor”, lol

Way more importantly in my book Book, let’s not forget we owe both Sega and Taito to two Jewish dudes! That’s a huge legacy.

@“chazumaru”#p86190 If we’re talking about irl people, I can think of one.

(And I can think of one excitable Japanese game designer who’s probably obsessed with the fact that the “Father of Video Games” was a product of the same cross-Atlantic brain drain that gave us the Manhattan Project.)


@“2501”#p86189 tbh I tend to be personally less interested in representations of Jewish people than Jewish ideas, which is where we get into the “Kabbalahsploitation” stuff I want to investigate properly later.

For me, the most interesting aspect of that cultural heritage in pop culture is [the myth of the Golem]( → which evolved via Prague’s [Josefov ghetto](’s cultural influence into [the modern myth of the Robot]( → which in turn influenced the Western / Judeo-Christian interpretation of the [size=11]_ROBOT_[/size] as an artificial human (cf. Metropolis, Blade Runner, C3PO, Terminator, Ex Machina etc.) as opposed to the Japanese Shintoist interpretation of the [size=11]_MECHA_[/size] as a practical machine similar to a car, a plane or a train, meant to be piloted and respected as a tool from nature, manufacture or even divine providence by the Humans who use them (see: Tetsujin#28, Gundam, Patlabor, Giant Gorg, Solatorobo etc.).

I actually researched and discussed this topic extensively about fifteen years ago with Bandai to help them figure out how to better penetrate the Western market (no idea if that ever had any influence in their strategy, sadly).

The Golem is also famously the first Boss in the original Dragon Quest, although I have never really dug through the influence of that specific encounter.

@“chazumaru”#p86196 Oh yeah I have read in passing about the golem myth’s influence on Western science fiction, e.g. Mary Shelley, and I guess by extension the conversation about mind-body dualism that sci-fi is obsessed with. (And Shinto lore has plenty of references to dolls, statues, etc. imbued with a soul or spirit, doesn’t it?) The golem is distinguished from an inanimate lump of clay by the piece parchment with a sacred inscription, written by sages well-learned in the esoteric arts, to imbue it with the divine breath of life; that sounds very Shinto to me! (The golem mythology also influenced some of the early American superhero comics by writers of Jewish immigrant descent; Superman in particular is said to borrow golem tropes, on top of its odd mix of immigrant narrative and pop-Nietzsche. A lot of Kryptonian terminology is Hebrew-inspired!)

Anyway, out of all the many games I’ve seen that borrow golems as a standard _D&D_ bestiary monster, the only time I can remember that one of them clearly references their folkloric origins is in the PSP _Tactics Ogre_, where each monster type gets a bit of flavor text and one of the golem units just retells the Golem of Prague story in oblique fantasy-setting terms. Makes sense considering how much more interested Yasumi Matsuno games tend to be in actual European history than the usual post-_D&D_ Western fantasy pastiche.

@“connrrrr”#p86184 In an American context at least, Catholics and Jews have the most in common since both groups are “ethnics” (usually provisionally white; sometimes not), descended from early-to-mid 20th century immigrants, and enjoy a religious observance based heavily on ritual, angst and guilt (overbearing mothers included)

A majority of my irl friends are either (heritably) Catholic or Jewish and I ponder this synergy a lot

I think Kojima once said he just thought the name “Silverburgh” sounded cool lol. The Emmerichs are composites of various irl Jewish nuclear tech-adjacent scientists though (Einstein, Oppenheimer, etc.) and _MGS4_’s theme song is in Hebrew because, I guess, it’s first played over scenes of the game’s “Middle East conflict zone” lol


@“2501”#p86205 Catholics and Jews

this is why when you get the "Invite Jewish Holy Man to court" event in Crusader Kings you just have smash that accept button