Religion is Playing Games
Playing Video Gods, Playing to Play
Keywords: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.
Anderson, Craig, Douglas A. Gentile, and Katherine E. Buckley. 2007. Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents: Theory, Research and Public Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195309836.001.0001 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195309836.001.0001
Anderson, Craig, et al. 2010. “Violent Video Game Effects on Aggression, Empathy, and Prosocial Behavior in Eastern and Western Countries: a Meta-Analytic Review.” Psychological Bulletin. 136(2): 151–173. doi:10.1037/a0018251 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018251
Bado-Fralick, Nikki and Rebecca Sachs Norris. 2010. Toying with God: The World of Religious Games and Dolls. Baylor, TX: Baylor University Press.
Berger, Peter. 1967. The Sacred Canopy. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
Brown, Stuart. 2009. Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. New York: Penguin.
Caillios, Roger. 2001 (French orig. 1958). Man, Play, and Games. translated by Meyer Barash. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
Christgau, John. 1999. The Origins of the Jump Shot: Eight Men Who Shook the World. Omaha: University of Nebraska Press.
Detweiler, Craig, ed. 2010. Halos and Avatars: Playing Video Games with God. Westminster John Knox Press.
Dissanyake, Ellen. 1974. “A Hypothesis of the Evolution of Art from Play.” Leonardo. 7(3): 211–217. doi:10.2307/1572893 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1572893
Fullerton, Tracy. 2006. “Playcentric Design.” Interactions. 15(2): 42–45. doi:10.1145/1340961.1340971 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/1340961.1340971
Fullerton, Tracy, Todd Furmanski and Kurosh ValaNejad. 2007. “Journey of Discovery: The Night Journey Project as Video/Game/Art.” Sandbox ‘07: Proceedings of the 2007 ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Video games, 55–63. New York: ACM Publishing. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/1274940.1274954
Goodman, Nelson. 1978. Ways of Worldmaking. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350928558
Heschel, Abraham. 1951. The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.
Huizinga, Johan. 1955 (Dutch orig. 1938). Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Juul, Jesper. 2008. “The Magic Circle and the Puzzle Piece.” Conference Proceedings of the Philosophy of Computer Games 2008, edited by by Stephan Gunzel, Michael Liebe and Dieter Mersch, 56–67. Potsdam: Potsdam University Press.
Kafka, Franz. 1961. Parables and Paradoxes. New York: Schocken Books.
Kelly, Kevin. 1994. Out of Control: The Rise of Neo-Biological Civilization. New York: Perseus Books.
———. 1999. “Nerd Theology.” Technology in Society. 21: 387–392. doi:10.1016/S0160-791X(99)00022-6 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0160-791X(99)00022-6
Paden, William. 1994. Religious Worlds: The Comparative Study of Religion, 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Beacon.
Plate, S. Brent. 2008. Religion and Film: Cinema and the Re-Creation of the World. London/New York: Wallflower Press/Columbia University Press.
Salen, Katie and Eric Zimmerman. 2004. Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Wagner, Rachel. Forthcoming. God Wired. New York: Routledge.
Wenner, Melinda. 2009. “The Serious Need for Play.” Scientific American Mind. 20(1): 22–29. doi:10.1038/scientificamericanmind0209-22 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/scientificamericanmind0209-22
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.