Religion is Playing Games

Playing Video Gods, Playing to Play


  • S Brent Plate Hamilton College



video games, play, god games, Johan Huizinga, Roger Caillois, ritual, religion and popular culture


Humans are game players. Such a designation began long before video games, but has taken on new significance in light of present technological advances. Video games extend the designations of what it means to be “homo ludens,” and thus what it means to be both human and religious. Studies of video games often take account of the religious content of games, but it is the experiential nature of playing games that extends the argument far into the past and into the future. This article makes an argument that religion, particularly in its ritual form, can be seen through a dialectical relation between the structures of games, and the freedom experienced by players. This is ultimately argued by attention to two different designations of video game varieties: god games and purposeless games.


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How to Cite

Plate, S. B. (2011). Religion is Playing Games: Playing Video Gods, Playing to Play. Religious Studies and Theology, 29(2), 215–230.