Not-So-Sacred Quests

Religion, Intertextuality and Ethics in Video Games


  • Mark Cameron Love Woosong University



Religion, Intertextuality, Ethics, video games, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion


While many video games are replete with religious images and intertextuality, the role and purpose of religion and religious intertextuality in video games has not been extensively examined. In this article, I list some occurrences of religion in a variety of video game genres and reflect on the functions religion and religious intertextuality perform in video games. I then proceed to closely play a video game, Bethesda Softworks The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, to examine the roles religion plays in one video game. I conclude that religion in video games operates in a multitude of ways. The most intriguing role it plays is cultural critique as it challenges the close player to reflect on her/his identity and attitudes by demanding the player to ethically evaluate her/his actions in the game world and how they relate to the real world.



Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. 1999. Microsoft Game Studios.

Archon: The Light and the Dark. 1983. Electronic Arts, Inc.

Archon II: Adept. 1983. Electronic Arts, Inc.

Dante’s Inferno. 2010. Electronic Arts

Diablo II. 2000. Blizzard Entertainment

Diablo III. Forthcoming. Blizzard Entertainment.

Dungeons and Dragons. 1974. TSR

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. 2002. Bethesda Softworks.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. 2006. Bethesda Softworks.

Medieval 2: Total War. 2006. Sega.

Neon Genesis Evangelion. 1999. Bandai.

Silent Hill. 1999. Konami.

Starcraft. 1998. Blizzard Entertainment. DOI:

The Sims 2. 2004. EA Games.

World of Warcraft. 2004. Blizzard Entertainment.

Xenogears. 1998. Square EA.


Constantine. 2005. Directed by Francis Lawrence. Warner Bros.

Friday the 13th Part 2. 1981. Directed by Steve Miner. Paramount Pictures.

The Last Temptation of Christ. 1988. Directed by Martin Scorcese. Universal Studios.

The Matrix. 1999. Directed by Laurence Wachowski and Andrew Wachowski. Warner Bros. Pictures.

Neon Genesis Evangelion. Directed by Hideaki Anno. Gainax.

Psycho. 1960. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Paramount Pictures.

Pulp Fiction. 1994. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Miramax Films.

The Shining. 1980. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Warner Bros.


South Park. 1997– . Created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Comedy Central.

Supernatural. 2005– . Created by Eric Kripke. Warner Brothers Television.

The Simpsons. 1989– . Created by Matt Groening. Fox.

Touched by an Angel. 1994–2003. Created by John Masius. CBS.

Web Sites


Giant Bomb.

Planet Elder Scrolls.

The Imperial Library.

Tv Tropes.

Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages.


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How to Cite

Love, M. C. (2011). Not-So-Sacred Quests: Religion, Intertextuality and Ethics in Video Games. Religious Studies and Theology, 29(2), 191–213.