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Procedural religion: Methodological reflections on studying religion in video games

TitleProcedural religion: Methodological reflections on studying religion in video games
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsSisler, V
JournalNew Media & Society

The article discusses the methodological aspects of studying religion in video games. It examines the concept of “procedural religion,” that is, the representations of religion via rule-systems in games, and investigates how we can formally analyze these representations. The article uses Petri Nets, a mathematical and a graphical tool for modeling, analyzing, and designing discrete event systems, in order to analyze how religion is represented in the rule-systems of two different mainstream video games—Age of Empires II, developed in the United States, and Quraish, developed in Syria. By comparing the rule-systems of both games, the article provides empirical evidence on how game rule-systems migrate between cultures and influence local game production by providing local game developers with pre-defined formulas for expressing their ideas while simultaneously limiting the scope of such expression with schematized patterns. On a more general level, the article discusses what rule-system analysis can tell us about video games as cultural and religious artifacts.