<P>Shaman, paragon, God-mode: modern video games are heavily coded with religious undertones. From the Shinto-inspired Japanese video game Okami to the internationally popular The Legend of Zelda and Halo, many video games rely on religious themes and symbols to drive the narrative and frame the storyline. Playing with Religion in Digital Games explores the increasingly complex relationship between gaming and global religious practices. For example, how does religion help organize the communities in MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft? What role has censorship played in localizing games like Actraiser in the western world? How do evangelical Christians react to violence, gore, and sexuality in some of the most popular games such as Mass Effect or Grand Theft Auto? With contributions by scholars and gamers from all over the world, this collection offers a unique perspective to the intersections of religion and the virtual world.</P>
Scholars have recently begun giving serious attention to digital games instead of seeing them as pop entertainment for young enthusiasts. Campbell and Grieve, media and religious studies professors respectively, show academics studying games as a way of understanding cultures and cultural identities. Many essays begin with the premise that any artistic medium is participating in a culture and its assumptions - so that, for example, a digital game in which a player portrays an American soldier fighting in Iraq is making biased assumptions about a foreign "other." Putting aside the persistent question of whether games are art, the essayists analyze digital games' depictions of religious imagery and theology and consider the implications of how different cultural groups receive and project these ideas. Many of the essayists examine the relationship between the historical and symbolic importance of sacred games/spaces and play as a meaning-making activity. Though some essays are less rigorous and overreach in their observations, this is overall an ambitious and impressive compendium offering intriguing possibilities for further research and theory for the burgeoning field of cultural studies.