The Word Has Become Game: Researching Religion in Digital Games
Frank G. Bosman
Tilburg Cobbenhagen Center
In this article, the author proposes a multi-layered methodology for researching religion in video games. The author differentiates between five levels at which religion can be encountered in video games and/or video game research: material, referential, reflexive, ritual and meta level. These levels range from explicitly religious to implicitly religious, from game-immanent to game-transcendent, and from developer-intended to gamer-experienced. In this context, the author proposes a four-step methodology, which incorporates insights from both game-immanent and actor-centered approaches: internal reading (playing the game), internal research (collection of in-game information), external reading (mapping the intermedial relationships), and external research (gathering out-game information). Before doing so, the author proposes a new definition of video games as ‘digital, playable (narrative) texts’ that incorporate both ludological and narratological elements.
Methodology; narratology; ludology; religion; theology.