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The Narrative and the Interactive: A Critical Theology of Video Games

Pontin, Celia Jane (2019) The Narrative and the Interactive: A Critical Theology of Video Games. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,.


Despite the prominence of video games as a form of new media, little structured research into its theological potential exists in comparison to related media such as film. This thesis asks whether video games can contribute to the dialogue between theology and new media, and whether existing analytical frameworks can be used to find the areas of most potential. To answer this question from a text-based point of view, it focuses on links between film and games to justify an appropriation of film methodologies. The methodologies are applied first to religious and theological reactions to games, and then to a range of elements in which theological narratives might be located: scriptural references, characterisation, religious themes, and broader content. Drawing on a wide range of sources from the field of religion and film, the thesis examines the theological potential of games and explores the intersection between these media types to develop a new framework for future study.

The chief outcome of this work is that games can provide fruitful opportunities for dialogue with theology, both in terms of asking questions relating to theological issues and suggesting answers or shedding light on questions posed by religion. Second, it establishes that analytical methods from one area of religion and popular culture can be applied successfully to another, if care is taken to recognise the unique features of each and modify the approach accordingly. The ultimate outcome is a suggested framework for further study of games, which builds upon the approaches and conclusions from throughout the thesis and provides a way for others to think systematically about games and their contributions. These outcomes are significant for acknowledging the space for dialogue within gaming, as part of popular culture, and continuing the existing work on religion and film by extending it into the realm of games.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Deacy, Chris
Uncontrolled keywords: theology, video games, new media, religious studies
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Religious Studies
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2019 14:10 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 04:19 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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