AAR Annual Meeting
November 18-21, 2017
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Just like films helped to illuminate and expose the religiosity of the twentieth century, video games now depict the religious within the twenty-first century. “Video games” describes electronic forms of play across all platforms, from personal computers, consuls to mobile devices. Often in the religious studies video gaming is not taken seriously. We aim to correct this by establishing and maintaining a multidisciplinary network for the discussion of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of religion and video gaming. We will collect, systematize and develop the various recent multidisciplinary approaches to research and teaching. We have two specific deliverables for the end of the five-year period. First, we will craft an edited volume, tentatively titled Video Games and Religion: Methods and Approaches that will bring together the cutting edge work of leading scholars in this emerging field. Second, we will publish our results from our seminar in a special issue of the online journal gamevironments.
"Thank you Mario! But our Princess is in another Castle!"
Our Seminar invites papers that critically engage with gender, religion and video gaming. Like in traditional media, gender is one of the most pervasive stereo-types in video gaming. Yet have video games changed because of an increase in female and LGBTQ players and game designers? How is the depiction of religion affected by this change? We are especially interested in papers engaged with theoretical and methodological debates within religious studies, gaming studies and/or gender studies, case studies drawn from a variety of countries and cultures, or reflections on new research areas or challenges for the future. We are interested in papers that break the traditional paper-reading format through a three-part presentation: therefore , next year presenters should first give a short description (5 minutes) of the game they are analyzing. Second, the session will break to give the audience a chance to play the games being described on consuls or other devices. Finally, the presenters will analyze the game by presenting their thesis and evidence (10 minutes).
In addition, we will have two possible co-sponsored panels:
a) "Religion and virtual reality, and augmented reality" (together with the Religion, Media and Culture group) With the invention of technical devices for augmented and virtual reality, the question arises how the dichotomy between online and offline bodies can hold up any longer. What does that mean for practices within games which are classified as religious. If a gamer for example is conducting a prayer by raising his arms before the screen, is it just a virtual or an "as if" ritual? And are there differences for the respective practice, e.g. sacrificing humans? Do the gaming experiences change for the individual gamers, and if so, how? What does that mean for designing a game? And what does that mean for theories and methods in analyzing religion and digital media? These are the questions (and more) we want to discuss in this panel. We are seeking innovative and interactive elements in this panel, so we will have some of the actual new technologies and integrate an interactive time period with in the panel, where the games can be used by the audience.
b) “Playing Dead: A Joint Session for Death, Dying & Beyond and Religion and Gaming.” (together with the Death and Dying group)! How do video games interpret death and the afterlife? How has the history of gaming shaped contemporary video game notions of death, dying and beyond? How do the “lives” of players intersect with religious notions of life, death, and concepts of afterlife? In what ways do alternate realities reflect life beyond the grave? How, and in what ways, do the rules of games structure alternate conceptions of death, dying and beyond? What do games reveal about our religious understanding of life, death, and possible afterlives? Following the success of this years Video Game and Religion Seminar, for this joint session, we anticipate a lightning round of seven presentations with five minutes each (for a total of 35 minutes of presentation), followed by an interactive gaming session for panelists/the audience. It is our belief that allowing a participatory experience of the games themselves will facilitate an interactive and fruitful experience for both presenters and the audience alike.