#1 Posted by Paul_Tillich (156 posts) -

I am about to complete my Ph.D. in philosophy of religion and theology. There is a TON of writing about philosophical and theological/religious themes that appear in games. I am interested in starting regular posts about the subject but want to see if anyone will be interested before I give the effort. I don't think you have to b religious or into deep thought to like what I am up to, I will introduce new topics for novices and I bet that such discussions will deepen appreciation for any game I cover.

So I would quite like to do this while not working on my dissertation, but want your fedback. Are you interested at all and do you have any specific issues you might like to see discusssed?

#2 Posted by DillonWerner (1521 posts) -

Go ahead, seems interesting!

#3 Posted by Video_Game_King (34594 posts) -

Yea, go ahead. There's always a niche for a blog to fill.

#4 Posted by Kaibar (81 posts) -

Interesting, I never really was aware that there was much philosophy in video games.

Although, actually, there was a brief mentioning of Heidegger and Kiergegaard in E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy at some point, so I guess you could start by explaining what that was all about. Maybe it was just some random name-dropping though.

#5 Edited by SethPhotopoulos (4851 posts) -

Gaming for me is a religion and religion is the shit!

Go for your dreams son.

#6 Posted by BigLemon (1022 posts) -

@Paul_Tillich: I just finished my undergrad in Catholic theology. Write it up!

#7 Posted by Paul_Tillich (156 posts) -

I have E.Y.E. but have not made myself play it yet. I will get on that, and thanks for the support for my idea.

An initial comment: both those philosophers are about existentialism; what you see, think, and feel from your standpoint is more important than what you might guess is true about more abstract truths about the universe (metaphysics takes a back seat to life from a particular perspective).

#8 Posted by mazik765 (2315 posts) -

I'm currently in my third year as a religious studies major, philosophy minor, so it would be very interesting to me if someone wrote some blogs about this.

#9 Posted by Paul_Tillich (156 posts) -

I could start posting about games that match me expertise and have been written about before, but I would rather address interests in the community since I already know what I think.

I already have E.Y.E. on the list. What other games make you interested in this topic? If you give specific reasons I hope I can get more detailed in my posts about the game.

#10 Posted by Spoonman671 (4371 posts) -

Seeing the current state of the last thread that had the gall to actually mention religion, I'd just like to wish you luck.  Hopefully you're fairly thick-skinned and don't let the pricks prevent you from writing something interesting.

#11 Posted by bartok (2371 posts) -

Discuss the theological ramification of Pac-Man consuming pills to temporarily devour the ghost that are trying end his endless dot consumption.  Or could you compare and contrast Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil to Ubisoft's cult classic Beyond Good and Evil ?

#12 Posted by BraveToaster (12590 posts) -

Maybe you could focus more on games that don't get as much recognition as AAA titles.

#13 Posted by Nottle (1912 posts) -

I'm actually pretty interested when a games themes of philosophy or social commentary can be looked at somewhat seriously. I found this analysis of MGS2 interesting.

SPOILERS FOR MGS2!

Also there is this guy, who has kind of annoying/silly pictures to illustrate his videos, but he brings up some interesting things about games and how stuff in games ha already existed in the real world or may one day exist. I liked this Deus Ex one and the Earthbound one quite a bit. Surprisingly Earthbound has some social commentary in it.

#14 Posted by Pezen (1466 posts) -

Definitely do that, although I've grown a lot less interested in theology/religion as I've gotten older, philosophy in general is always a fascinating way to broaden your horizons of thought.

#15 Posted by BrockNRolla (1702 posts) -

I'm always up for expanding the conversation when it comes to gaming. Looking forward to seeing future posts.

#16 Posted by Paul_Tillich (156 posts) -

@Spoonman671: I'm a stubborn philosopher and a cantankerous theologian... I actually fall within philosophical theology. In short, I doubt I fall into anyone stereotypes and bet anyone from atheists to theists can relate to something I say. However, my point will be more about any given (and sometimes those who have written entire books about it) game than my own views I write about outside of gaming.

#17 Posted by iam3green (14388 posts) -

sure post them. 
 
something that i liked is assassin's creed. the game is fictional but a lot of the stuff in the game are based on real places and philosophy, theology, type of stuff.

#18 Posted by captain_max707 (471 posts) -

I would absolutely participate in a such a thread!

#19 Posted by Tim_the_Corsair (3065 posts) -

Sounds interesting.

Finally, someone besides Dracula will discuss what is a man.

#20 Posted by Kaibar (81 posts) -

@Paul_Tillich said:

I could start posting about games that match me expertise and have been written about before, but I would rather address interests in the community since I already know what I think.

I already have E.Y.E. on the list. What other games make you interested in this topic? If you give specific reasons I hope I can get more detailed in my posts about the game.

Hm, the obvious choices are games that try to be thought-provoking with their story-telling like MGS or lately Deus Ex, but they are more about ethics I guess.

Then there are all these indie games that got a lot of attention like Braid, Limbo or even Flower, which use a more abstract form of communication with the player. But I'm not sure how much you can really get out of those, since, in my opinion at least, they are a little bit too open for interpretation and vague. That being said, I remember being really absorbed by flow. Although (or maybe because) it was really simple, there still was a strange power to its "open-ness". You didn't really have a goal, and it was entirely up to you if you would go through a level eating every other species and being a predator, or just swimming from plane to plane, avoiding conflict. I don't know, for me that was the first game to really question the whole mentality of killing everything in your path in games. I guess many people had a similar experience with Shadow of the Colossus, so that's also one you could look into.

If you're looking for more of a niche "game", I highly suggest you check out the Stanley Parable, if you haven't done so already. I just stumbled upon it because it was mentioned in a recent Bombcast, and it really provides an interesting perspective on the aspect of choice/free will in video games.

What I wouldn't find very interesting are those games that provide you with choices that try to be morally ambiguous, but end up being really superficial, for example the whole Fable-series, or Mass Effect.

But out of all the games I played, I can't really think of one that was about the meta-physical kind of Philosophy, so that's what would interest me the most.

#21 Posted by Animasta (14460 posts) -

I mean if you want something to do with religion, you can't really go wrong with shin megami tensei

#22 Posted by Tsoglani (571 posts) -

Go for your life!

I believe this is an interesting topic and would like to read more about it. I also have always been down for some philosophical thought, so I would appreciate the thread.

Just don't let other fools derail whatever you may write, and ignore the bullshit that is bound to fly...

#23 Posted by ShadowConqueror (2993 posts) -

My feedback is to perform spelling and grammar checks.
#24 Posted by joshth (489 posts) -

This sounds like an incredibly neat idea, I'm interested.

#25 Posted by mylifeforAiur (3479 posts) -

Sure, I'll read them.

#26 Posted by Jeust (10334 posts) -

I would participate too.

#27 Edited by ninjalegend (408 posts) -

Ok, how about this one. Games with monotheistic religious themes like Assassins Creed seem to have a group mentality for the religious sect. "We are his servants. Part of god's kingdom." This reflects the the basis of monotheistic religion in the real world. The atheist views of Ayn Rand and her heavy reliance on the concept of "I" in games like BioShock reflects the views of atheists of the importance of the concept of "I" in the atheist camp. In American Politics, the group mentality of democrats draw in more atheists, and the republican view more centered around the concept of "I" draws more monotheistic votes! Why is this!

#28 Posted by applet0n (651 posts) -

@Paul_Tillich: Certainly! I'll give you a follow for that.

#29 Posted by Paul_Tillich (156 posts) -

Thanks for the support. I'm going to think about some of the specific suggestions made so far and and start there instead of with my own favorites. I hope to produce something this weekend then keep it up every weekend or maybe every other weekend depending on levels of interest and how conversations go.

#30 Posted by AmatureIdiot (980 posts) -

Sure I'd check this out. Comparing the fictional religious systems in games to the real life religions that they are no doubt influenced by could be a cool article.

#31 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -

@Paul_Tillich said:

I have E.Y.E. but have not made myself play it yet. I will get on that, and thanks for the support for my idea.

An initial comment: both those philosophers are about existentialism; what you see, think, and feel from your standpoint is more important than what you might guess is true about more abstract truths about the universe (metaphysics takes a back seat to life from a particular perspective).

The best examples I can think of The Void and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I think you'll find a wealth of existentialist material in both of those games.

#32 Posted by Paul_Tillich (156 posts) -

Hi all, sorry for the huge delay. I was part of a hit-and-run when a drunk driver caused over $2,000 in damage to my car, and I've been busy with trips needed to complete my degree made hard by the previously mentioned damage.

I'm not asking for pity, just letting you know how out of whack things can get for graduate students. So even though I have not been able to begin my posts about this topic yet, I have settled on Deus Ex as the first game. It is a good introduction to myself and as it exemplifies some popular issues in society I write about. I hope, seriously this time, to have it up by the end of this week.

#33 Posted by Still_I_Cry (2494 posts) -

Go for it. It sounds like it'd be a fun read.

#34 Posted by Otacon (2194 posts) -

Absolutely. Would love a bit of philosophical discussion about games, finished my BA in Philosophy and Politics not long ago and missing a bit of a debate!

#35 Edited by Branthog (7332 posts) -

Philosophy? Sure. Religion? Not so much. The things that bore me most in any medium (film, books, games) are religion and paranormal stuff. It's hard to feel scared or otherwise motivated or moved by goofy paranormal (or religious) stuff any more than "Santa won't come down the chimney" motivates my behavior. However, it seems like a topic games often venture into. Probably because it's a simple topic for them to manipulate, instead of coming up with something creative and new. (Similarly, in movies - look how many supposedly science-fiction movies are really not about science fiction at all, but are just paranormal or pseudo-religious stories).

#36 Posted by Tru3_Blu3 (3151 posts) -

Deus Ex, the original, is a very philosophical game.

#37 Posted by Paul_Tillich (156 posts) -

@Branthog: Don't let the religion bit go too fast. What I do will barely pass as religion in our stereotypical talking head media. Academic theology is as deep as any other field. So if you have a problem with religion, then we probably have something in common. That being said, I am going to analyze games and see what themes are present. I don't want to argue for my own points of view; I do that elsewhere.

#38 Posted by pixieface (122 posts) -

Yes, please. I would love to read something like this. I'm all about the brain stimulation.

#39 Posted by Paul_Tillich (156 posts) -

In academic research it is always important to know who you you are reading; so here is a slightly outdated but still accurate profile of my work created by my university: http://www.cgu.edu/pages/7861.asp

#40 Posted by viewtifulzfo (1 posts) -

@Paul_Tillich: Sorry for resurrecting this unbelievably old topic, but I think it deserves some attention.

Mr. Chicka hasn't actually come back to post yet, but I decided to just start this up after getting my master's in theological studies: http://theologygaming.com/

If you ever return, I'd love to see what you were going to write about Deus Ex!

#41 Posted by RedRavN (381 posts) -

You should write about how devil may cry 4 is really a thinnly veiled attack on christiantity. I cant be the only one who thought that was funny.

#42 Posted by Paul_Tillich (156 posts) -

@viewtifulzfo: Where did you get your degree? Dissertation writing began to require every free moment of my days, but I hope to give this some attention when the beast is finished.

#43 Edited by Paul_Tillich (156 posts) -

I any of you who expressed interest are still looking to read my thoughts on this topic, it has been revived in this thread on the forums: http://www.giantbomb.com/forums/general-discussion-30/science-philosophy-theology-and-video-games-1430544/

And my first essay along with a post introducing my plan for this blog are finished and up here: http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/paul_tillich/blog/

Hopefully some of you will come back and check things out after it took me so long to finally do this thing.

@dillonwerner @biglemon @mazik765 @bartok @nottle @pezen @brocknrolla @captain_max707 @animasta @tsoglani @joshth @mylifeforaiur @jeust @applet0n @ninjalegend @amatureidiot @seriouslynow @still_i_cry @otacon @pixieface @viewtifulzfo