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Simulating religious faith

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This article surveys various differing approaches to religious simulation in gaming and interactive art, and reports on the design of a specific faith-based game from the designer’s perspective. It looks in-depth at one of a series of short experimental video games that explore the use of game mechanics to simulate various aspects of religious faith. A number of serious and casual games have been produced over the years by companies catering to religious audiences. These often merely add religious themes to mechanics appropriated from popular games. An example of this would be Cougar Interactive’s Zoo Race (2007), which thinly drapes the narrative of Noah’s Ark over a racing game. Although there are a small number of independent games that have begun to approach religious and spiritual ritual, such as Ian Bogost’s Guru Meditation (2009a), most religious games do not attempt to simulate the internal cognitive processes of faith. This article argues that there are opportunities that these games are missing in creating original gameplay that adds to a deeper understanding of their subject matter. The author demonstrates the idea that games, which through their rules have shown that they can provoke emotion and reflection in the player, can also simulate certain processes of faith.
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Keywords: Proceduralist; art games; experimental; independent; religion; video games

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Baltimore

Publication date: 2011-03-29

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  • The Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds focuses on theoretical and applied, empirical, critical, rhetorical, creative, economic and professional approaches to the study of electronic games across platforms and genres as well as ludic and serious online environments.
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