Video Games Facilitating Discussions of Good and Bad Religion

  • Heidi Rautalahti (Author)


Religion has often been a theme involving contradictory positions in popular culture. Whether we comprehend religion as explicit implications within products of popular culture, such as recognizable characters from known religions or through formations of implicit meanings regarding Christ- figure analogies, religion is commented on and discussed widely in popular culture (Forbes, p. 21, 2005; Love, p. 192, 2010). Video games can be seen as prominent platforms for today’s varying and influential cultural discussions. As John Storey has said, cultural products should be researched for the “ideological work that they do, not only for the work that they reflect”, which recognizes the significance and impact of the various cultural products around us (Storey, p. 3, 1996), including video games.

This study addresses video games as facilitating and commenting on the state of religion by examining three mainstream video games: BioShock, BioShock 2 (Irrational Games 2007, 2011,) and Dishonored (Arkane Studios 2012). The primary research question concerns how religion is placed in these games, and what criticism and conclusions the games can provoke on matters relating to religion. Using qualitative game content analysis, this article focuses on how religion is commented on in the three aforementioned games by examining the player’s position and negotiation of possibilities in the game worlds. This study views video games as cultural critique regarding the question of what is good and bad religion.


religion, altruism, cultural commentaries, videogames, Bioshock, Dishonored