The Last of Us
In a post-apocalyptic United States filled with ravenous zombies and violence, gamers come to the final moments of the game to see a stunning sight in this dark world: the Salt Lake City Temple. Giraffes escaped from the zoo wander before the temple grounds, making this an unusually peaceful moment in the game.
"I think it's actually the most beautiful moment in the game," Nate Wells, lead environment artist for The Last of Us , told the Salt Lake Tribune. "It was really important. [It's] a moment where those two characters are regaining a sense of hope after the winter."
But, Wells insists, the game has nothing to do with the Church on a larger scale. The ending scene in Salt Lake simply made sense in the geography of the story and the skyline of Salt Lake City, with its temple, made a powerful shot.
Image from Salt Lake Tribune.
In another futuristic and dystopic video game, Fallout: Las Vegas, Latter-day Saints play a much more central role to the plot. Set in Nevada, California, and Arizona, players of the game find themselves in the middle of a conflict between three major factions. One of these factions, the Followers of the Apocalypse, have set up their headquarters at an Old Mormon Fort.
What's more, later in the game players learn of Mormon missionaries in this devastated world. Mixing true history with an invented future history, the game shows that Mormons still survive in the wasteland, mostly around Utah where they are generally left alone by most factions because they often give medicine or aid to those in need.
"I think Mormons are interesting because they occupy such a unique position in American society. Since their early days, they've had a lot of conflicts with the people around them and rapidly pushed west, out of the Midwest, and eventually into what would become Utah," the game's project director and lead designer Josh Sawyer said.
"Unlike many other powerful religious groups, the geographic concentration of Mormons is quite dense, so I think it produces an interesting dynamic in American politics and culture. The military history of the Mormons (fighting against and for the federal government) and the central role of J.M. Browning in the development of many of the U.S. military's most notable weapons . . . throws another element into the mix."
Image of the Old Mormon Fort from fallout.wikia.com.
World of Warcraft
The last reference to Mormonism in popular video games we discovered is the most obscure—it may have even been coincidental. In the fantasy multi-player game World of Warcraft, there comes a moment during a quest in the Burning Steppes, the "Trial by Magma," that the gamer must release and slay Magma Lord Kolob in battle.
The word and doctrine behind Kolob is uniquely Mormon, but one has to wonder if this obscure reference is merely happenstance or whether it has connections back to Mormon culture.
If you have other interesting Mormon connections to video games, please share in the comments!