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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.

We had access to a wide variety of materials, including colourful paper and even Playmobil-figures, but only one pair of scissors for all groups together, making the bricolage a bit difficult. All of these single stages of game creation were exactly discussed with Markus Wiemker, who walked around between the groups all the time. In the end we’ve created five completely different games, although four of them teach players to achieve peace by defeating the teammates.

I still don’t know why this teaching unit was called “digital games”, but to me, this doesn’t really matter since I had a lot of fun attending it. Of course, all the things we have learned from developing an idea in small teams, to reflecting our own creations (would anybody want to play my game more than three times, or is it just boring crap?), can be used for digital games, too. Sadly, there wasn’t enough time to play all the games, since some sounded very promising. But take a look on your own:


A version of Monopoly which doesn’t satisfy your capitalistic wishes. This isn’t about money, it’s all about influence. The streets of Jerusalem and important places like the Western Wall are the zones on the board, and the players don’t have to build hotels but to organize flashmobs and demonstrations to gain influence. The player with the most influence wins, because now he can accomplish his ambition to make the world a better place.

Second Life Paper Chase

Okay, this is a digital game, therefore I partially have to take back my critique about the teaching unit’s title. So of course we were allowed to make a digital game, if we had the tools and the knowledge to use them. For this game, a big board with challenge-zones was created in Second Life, the avatars themselves became the “pawns”. The cast of a digital dice decides the zone you have to go and which challenge you have to accomplish. There is a time frame of fifteen minutes for every challenge, for example to find a Christian in Second Life and ask him about his opinion on buddhism. The accomplishment of the challenge has to be proven by taking a screenshot before returning to the board to continue the game. The winner is the one who masters all the challenges and reaches the goal as first player. But be careful! As in many board games they last zone on front of the goal brings you back to the starting zone, and the dice might betray your luck.



This is card game works like an addon for the popular Munchkin-card game but with a little twist to it: Instead of looting the treasure with your dwarven mage after fighting the mighty plutoniumdragon, your hinduistic monk tries to defeat the bad stereotype „Every muslim is a terrorist!“
(This is a level 20 encounter like the plutioniumdragon!). Instead of races you get religions, instead of professions you get… well, you get professions, too, but they are different. So there are no fighters or a thiefs, but you can be a missionary or a priest. Every player starts as a level 1 agnostic and has to reach the 10th level in order to win the game. The monsters you have to fight are religious stereotypes, for every fight you win, you gain a level and if you fail, you lose all of them and have to start again. But don’t be afraid of your hinduistic monk dying, he reincarnates at his old level.

No stoning, please!

This game is a 2D mix of Jenga and Tetris. A foursquare board serves four players as an arena to fight together against intolerance. Either all of them win or no one does. Every player has different types of tokens, which look like the typical bricks in Tetris, and every token stands for a different religion. For example, buddhism is the square one. Every player starts in his corner with a “religious mix” of all tokens and has to make his way to the center, queuing token after token. If a token of every player is in the center, the game is over and the players have won. At any time, they are allowed to add tokens to the other players queue instead of their own to help them out, but they get punished for connecting the same tokens (same religions), to add some extra difficulty. Every time this happens, a huge bulky stone of intolerance will be put at the board and blocks the way to the center, so that you have to build a way around it. If there are too many stones of intolerance in the game, the path to the center is blocked, resulting in a loss. So this game works as a metaphor of the principle: religious diversity leads to the goal.

Push the red button!

This board game is very similar to the popular strategy game Risk and advances tolerance by totally exaggerating the opposite. Each player embodies a religion and starts on his own continent. You randomly draw your victory prerequisite at the beginning of the game, for example, “Destroy all Christians!” and have to stick with it. It’s no problem to have the Islam between you and the Christianity, you are allowed to destroy everyone in yourpath to your (un-)glory victory. Once you have finished your crusade, you are all alone in the world. In order to achieve the total silence, you just have to push the red button, because being alone is not as great as it sounds at first glance. So to finish the game, the remaining player has to push the red button which “resets” the world by destroying all life. Let’s hope mankind will be smarter next time.

  1. 05.08.2012 um 21:37

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    Digital Games and Religion Webreligion. And I do have 2 questions for you if you usually do not mind.
    Is it just me or does it look like a few of the responses come across like written by brain dead visitors?
    :-P And, if you are posting at other online social sites, I’d like to keep up with anything new you have to post. Would you list of the complete urls of your public sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  2. 11.08.2012 um 20:15

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