Religion as Resource in Digital Games

Ryan Clark Thames

Abstract


Religion has long had a place in digital games, particularly in the fantasy role-playing game genre. Prominent games in this genre such as the Baldur’s Gate series, the Elder Scrolls games of Oblivion and Skyrim, and even sci-fi fantasy such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic all address themes of religion through the presence of deities, cults, and/or strict codes of morality. This paper explores the role of religion in these games in relation to the player character, in terms of both narrative involvement and of the game system itself. I argue that, while all these games portray religion as a moving force of change in their respective worlds, the player character’s contact with religion is structured such that it becomes primarily a resource—a tool to be used on the path to accumulating power. I then examine some alternative possibilities suggested by these games’ designs.

Keywords


role-playing, video games, digital games, single-player, religion, morality, ethics

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11588/rel.2014.0.12165