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The Impact and Role of Computer Games and New Media

by Katharina Weiss

In his lecture on Saturday, 08/07/10, Dr. Jeffrey Wimmer, researcher at the institute of media science and communication studies at Technische Universität Ilmenau with a focus on virtual worlds and digital games, provided an intensive insight in his collection of data and statistics done in 2006/07. A large amount of gamers and players of different agegroups and ranks had been surveyed concerning gaming practices and usage of virtual entertainment.

Jeffrey Wimmer’s presentation and research concentrated on online gaming as the MMORPG World of Warcraft – a fact, that already indicates one of the problems of researching computer games: although a mass phenomenon, scientific research proves as being extremely difficult, even limited. First of all the field of computer games is a huge one. For also casual and “simple” games as Virtual Chess or Solitaire are computer games – and these are also consumed by individuals which would not think of themselves as gamers or players, not even in the moment of playing Virtual Chess. A narrowing down of the object of investigation, as it is done by Jeffrey Wimmer’s project, which contains the gaming categories roleplaying, action, strategy and sports/racing, seems utterly expedient and necessary. To focus on social impact of computer games, Jeffrey Wimmer’s project also largely disregards privatly consumed single player and console games and centres on online games. To find out the disposition and constitution of their social relevance – and to provide scientific evidence of their “social impact” – the survey dealt with diverse categorising questions, which had been presented in statistics to the summerschool in Bremen during Jeffrey Wimmer’s lecture. Statistics concerning the disposition of gender and computer games as well as of agegroups and active playing time were, already with regards to content, considerably revealing relating to social relevance of computer games – for they actually were able to come up with surprising findings and conclusions.

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‚Serious Gaming‘ or ‚Ludic Culture‘? – Preaching Islam to Videogame Generation

by Erik Munder

At the Summer School ‚How Virtual is Reality?‚ in Bremen 2010, Vit Sisler lectured on Islam respectively Muslims in video games in general; Islamic educational video games and video clips from the Arab world, Iran and the United States. His aim -as articulated in his abstract- was to show how private companies try to claim those new markets of Muslim youth while promoting (their idea of) Islamic moral and ethical values in video games and edutainment software. Another aspect of his lecture was the significance of video games and such as an important but still under-examined aspect of cultural life, not only in the Middle East. For this purpose he calls on Walter J. Ong’s concept of >secondary orality<, Ian Bogost’s >persuasive games> and also >neglected media< coined by Philipp Reichmuth and Stephan Werning.

Ong’s idea of >secondary orality< is about the parallels between primary oral cultures and secondary oral cultures like our own. Secondary oral cultures are actually primary literate cultures which became more and more oral and aural again by means of new electronic communication media. The fundamental empathetic and participatory nature of orality itself shapes “new” forms of communities which show great resemblance to communities of primary oral cultures in their social interactions.

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Digital Games and Religion

by Annette Juretzki

If you think about „Digital Games and Religion“ you don’t really expect the creation of board games, hence the teaching unit of Markus Wiemker was quite surprising.

An imaginary NGO concludes a contract to design a board or card game which transmits the message of peace and supports the tolerance for different religions. Before starting with the group work, we watched a short videoclip about the contract to gain an insight of the project. In small groups of four or five people, we had to agree on one of the many ideas we had in mind in order to figure out the rules for our game in the next step and create a prototyp of it.

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Religiousness and God in Computer Games

by Simon Heider

A lecture that deals with Computer games – The eyes of many people would light up immediately and they would start to listen with eager anticipation. I also was curious what Michael Waltemathe would tell us about „Religiousness and
God“ in Computer games.

The first part of the lecture dealt with the topic of religion in computer games. For that he chose three games as main examples to show how the topic might be placed and handled within a computer game.

The first one was the final sequence of Jedi Knight – Mysteries of the Sith. In the  sequence the character Mara Jade has to solve an encounter with her friend Kyle Katarn, who has been corrupted by the dark force. Before that final encounter she had to find her way to the center of the temple. During that she passed many pictures which described what two Jedis have to do in order to solve a conflict. One of this things is that the player learns that conflicts are solved by the abdication of violence. So in the final scene the only solution is at first not to cross the bridge to attack Kyle but to commit „suicide“. In the following scene a picture at one end of the thrown hall shows a kneeling Jedi with his switched off lightsaber in front of him. This is the final hint for the player – only if one condemns violence, one is a true Jedi. When Mara switches off her lightsaber Kyle is so moved by her confidence in their former friendship that he sees his failures and realizes the corruption by the dark force. In Waltemathes opinion this scene shows the central substance of the Star Wars universe where a Jedi acts in accordance to friendship, faith/reliance and devotion.
Only if one’s matters are seen as arbitrary one can become a good Jedi. The inspiration by some religions can be recognized in it’s absolute clarity in this scene. He used the term sledgehammer method for the approach of Mysteries of the Sith.

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Researching the Everyday Mediatization of Religion

by Xabier Riezu Arregui

“Mediatized Worlds of Religion: Researching the Everyday Mediatization of Religion Empirically” was the title of the lecture on August 05. The professor Andreas Hepp of the University of Bremen talked to us about the importance of taking mediatization processes into account in our research projects. His lecture was aimed to provide us with the conceptual tools for that purpose. Hepp says there are two extreme positions with regard to the meaning of “mediatization”. The first one discusses mediatization as a “logic of the media”. According to this approach, there is one specific logic of the media, and what we can study is how actors and organizations accommodate to that logic. The second position on the contrary, contends that the society is shaped through a lot of acts of appropriation, interpretation, and resistance; not necessarily media related. Furthermore, the media-related pressures are too heterogeneous to be reduced to one media logic.

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Visiting St.Pixels. Church of the Internet

by Stacey Pitsillides

Within the post I will try to give a brief overview of our excursion to St Pixels, some history on the formation of the ‘virtual church’ and some insights into the type of feeling and questioning this experience instigated in me, and the group at large.

There was an air of excitement on the day of our excursion to St Pixels. We had all made our simple cartoon-style avatars earlier that day and were keen to test them out. After having spend a great deal of time the previous week within Second Life, which is very closely modeled on the physical world, it was kind of a breath of fresh air to see the very simple mainly text-based web environment and the lack of emphasis on creating a ‘beautiful’ avatar form.

On the home page of St Pixels it is stated:

one of the most important functions of this site is to provide opportunities and resources for worship (

But what is worship when it happens from behind a screen? That was one of the questions we hoped to uncover, as we all filed into the dimly lit computer lab and took our relevant places behind the rows of screens, ready to enter St Pixels! As we entered the conversation started almost immediately – or as soon as everyone had made their way to the porch – and there was a flurry of tapping keys as we all tried to figure out which avatar contained which person… Then Mark, who was leading ‘The Sermon’ arrived and we were led into ‘The Sanctuary’ for conversation and worship.

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