Posts Tagged ‘internet’

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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The Role of Ritual: Experiencing Death in Internet Ritual

by Lolita Šteinberga (University of Latvia)

At July 29 morning I arrived in Bremen, I went there to attend the summer school „How virtual is reality?“. I have many questions about reality and virtuality role in human social life, about the border that separates and unites this two worlds; about methods and theories to explore and explain what virtual space is? So we had 10 days to find out the answers to these and many other questions about virtual worlds and media-related issues.

At 05.08.2010. in Summer School we had the opportunity to listen to Marga’s lecture entitled: „The Role of Ritual: Experiencing Death in Internet Ritual“. Marga Altena is a historian of visual culture working as a researcher, teacher and publicist. She is specialized in the use of images in historical research. Marga participated in the project Netherlands‘ Refiguring Death Rites. This Interdisciplinary program aims to investigate new ritualizations of death in the Netherlands. She performed a postdoctoral research on the representation of death in films, television shows and weblogs. In this lecture she shared with us her findings and experiences. I am very grateful for the meeting with Marga Altena, because this lecture encourage me think about death, how it is mediated by the media; in this essay I will try to reflect my understanding of her lecture(you should choice).

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“Methods of Visual Culture”

22.09.2010 Kommentare aus

by Nelu Vasilica

David Morgan’s public lecture on material religion provided the base for the next day “Methods of the study of visual culture: the structure of the visual field” teaching unit. Structured into two main parts, theoretical and practical, the “Visual culture” lecture  emphasised the possible  approaches in interpreting images from various visual fields, but did not provide a step by step methodology in terms of image analysis.

The introduction of the theoretical part highlighted the importance of different viewers perspectives and the images referents, followed by a clear definition of a gaze and its role in visual culture. According to Morgan, a gaze represents “a visual field that configures presence and absence, visibility and invisibility, along horizontal and vertical axes mediated by an image or object.” With regards to the gaze applicability, the most  conclusive  description was depicted in the following affirmation: “A gaze makes some things visible (present) while rendering others invisible (absent).“(Morgan’s presentation slides). The introduction was followed by a gaze classification, encompassed  by images and  short explanations. Morgan presented eight gaze categories: reciprocal, unilateral, occlusive, fun, disinterested, liminal, communal and virtual. Reciprocal gazes are common in most religions which approve images in their rituals such as: Hinduism or Christianity. Nevertheless, unlike in the case of areciprocal gaze between two or more human beings, this reciprocal gaze based on religious icons is highly dependent on the supplicant. In the case of unilateral gazes it can be observed a sort of one way communication in which  the ratio powerful-less powerful is the core of this representation. It could be assumed this type of images have a similar meaning as the human consciousness, sometimes associated with the voice of God in humans. This assumption might be related to Morgan   affirmation(„I think I owe him something“) on the image depicting a child with a malformed mouth. The occlusive gaze combines the reciprocal and unilateral categories with the mentioning that  the image is perceived in the same manner by both, referent and viewer. In order to emphasise the occlusive gaze, Morgan presented a Lutheran visual representation of Christ crucifixion in which God and sinner are both satisfied.

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Islamic websites – religion online or online religion?

After getting firm with Christopher Hellands contrary concepts of “online religion”, with a high level of interactivity and freedom, and “religion online”, just providing information without interaction, we had the possibility to apply this categorization to some websites.

In our lecture about “The Role of individual and Community. Web 2.0 and the Rise of a New Form of Religious Community” by Hans G. Kippenberg we talked about some Islamic activities in the Internet. He started with the idea of subnationalization, the establishment of cultural enclaves below the national level, which are driven by religious associations and authorities. These communities come together through medial communication, which is the base for their social existence. They also adopt internet-based communication like WWwebsites, which is used in a very different way due to technically founded characteristics: the nearly unlimited international availability. On the base of maslaha (“public interest”), a traditional concept of the Sharia, these websites establish an Islamism that claims a strong Islam in the public realm. This discourse is focused on practical considerations of public welfare and social justice.

A person who is very strong in this discourse is Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The Islamic scholar living in Qatar is a very influential authority for Sunni Islam and his comments are well-known from TV-broadcasts and top-selling book publications. Furthermore, he is running the Islamic website, which is very popular within the transnational Islam. Even if this scholar is known for his conservative statements according to Islamic law, his positioning to new media is very liberal. The working group, which was checking his (not longer available) online-declaration for, found out that he judges the utilization of WWW as a possibility to get in contact with scholars all over the world. It would be important to release knowledge online for giving it to a wider community. That is also the reason why the website is available not only in Arabic, but also in English.

The idea of online fatwa – a religious question about how to act or what is right and wrong in a special situation – is very common in this sort of online environment. A religious authority, or rather someone who presents himself as being so, will answer online to these fatwas and – if his authority is also accepted – have some influence on the users of these fatwa-websites. One of our groups was intensively dealing with these online fatwas and found that is has some useful advantages: There is a very direct link between the believer and the expert, which can reduce the distance between the religion of authorities and the everyday religion.

The last group dealt with problematic circumstances emerging during the research within Islamic websites. They tried to follow some references made in the scientific text about the „Islamic Legitimacy for the London Bombings” of 2005. Unfortunately, most of the Islamic websites didn’t offer any English version – you should be able to read Arabic not only for understanding the offline texts but also for the online sources. Additionally, many links were dead and couldn’t be reconstructed with helping tools of the “never-forgetting” internet, like The Internet Archive or Google Cache. The availability was especially bad for those websites who represented opinions supporting the bombings as lawful Islamic fight. Links to websites declining the Islamic acceptance of the bombings were more likely to be available after years.

Online, Offline oder beides? Das methodologische Problem einer Ethnographie in virtuellen Welten

22.06.2009 Kommentare aus

von Markus Bessler


Durch die Entstehung des World Wide Web (www) in den Neunziger Jahren wurde das Internet für privaten Nutzen kommerzialisiert. Dies war die ausschlaggebende Ursache, sowohl für seine Massenverbreitung, als auch für die enorm schnelle Entwicklung der Technologie. Parallel zu der Massenverbreitung des Internets kamen ebenfalls in den Neunzigern die ersten modernen Online-Rollenspiele auf. Durch die im Laufe der Jahre immer schneller werdenden Netzverbindungen bieten sich dem Internet ständig neue und erweiterte Einsatzmöglichkeiten, wie zum Beispiel die Benutzung des globalen Netzes als Plattform für Spiele. In den letzten Jahren erfreuten sich virtuelle Welten immer größerer Beliebtheit, wie man beispielsweise an den enormen Mitgliederzahlen in Second Life erkennen kann. Laut Bardzell und Odom waren im Jahre 2008 über Achtmillionen Konten registriert, von denen zu jeder Zeit ungefähr Fünfzigtausend Nutzer gleichzeitig „inworld“ waren.

Second Life ist eine spielähnliche virtuelle Welt, die von mehreren Nutzern gleichzeitig benutzt werden kann, eine sogenannte Multiuser Virtual Environment (MUVE). 2003 kam es auf den Markt und seit 2006 fand es große Zustimmung in den Medien. Im Vordergrund stehen dabei die Interaktion, die Kommunikation und der Handel mit anderen Avataren. Im Gegensatz zu Online-Spielen, wie zum Beispiel World of Warcraft, hat Second Life kein vorgegebenes Ziel und ein offenes Ende.

Die Popularität des Internets und das dadurch aufgekommene Interesse an virtuellen Welten fordert eine passende Methode für die ethnologische Untersuchung dieser Online-Bereiche. Die steigende Anzahl der Nutzer brachte auch bestimmte Herausforderungen für den Forscher mit sich. Die Aufgabe dieses Essays ist es eine passende Forschungsmethode darzustellen.

Aufgrund der unzähligen Möglichkeiten die das Internet bietet, sollte meines Erachtens bei einer Untersuchung des Internets der Gegenstandsbereich eingegrenzt werden. Ich werde mich deshalb bei der Ausarbeitung einer geeigneten Methode auf die Untersuchung von virtuellen Welten beschränken und speziell auf Second Life. Zuerst werde ich der Frage nachgehen, welcher Forschungsfokus geeignet und sinnvoll für diese Art der Forschung ist. Mein Augenmerk werde ich auf die Online-Ethnographie legen und versuchen darzustellen, dass eine reine Online-Untersuchung möglich und durchaus legitim ist. Ob diese Art der Forschung auch für die Untersuchung von virtuellen Welten (Second Life) nützlich ist, werde ich anschließend erarbeiten. Schließlich soll aufgezeigt werden, dass bei einer Online-Ethnographie die Teilnehmende Beobachtung eine sehr hilfreiche Methode ist und somit die Forschung im Internet ein rechtmäßiger Teil der ethnologischen Untersuchungen ist. Weiterlesen …

Religionsbeiträge in Wikipedia

von Maria Danziger

Wie nützlich sind Wikis als Instrumente des religiösen Ausdrucks?

Um dies beantworten zu können, muss erstmal erklärt werden, was ein Wiki eigentlich ist. Natürlich findet man auch unter diesem Begriff sofort einen Wikipediaeintrag , der für eine einfache kurze Erklärung sehr nützlich scheint und auf den ich mich für meine Erklärung auch hauptsächlich beziehe.
Das Hypertextsystem eines Wikis (hawaiisch für „schnell“), auch WikiWiki oder WikiWeb genannt, ermöglicht nicht nur das Lesen dessen Inhalte, sondern bietet auch online die Möglichkeit einer Überarbeitung oder kompletten Veränderung des Beitrags an (Vgl. das freie Verzeichnis öffentlicher Wikis).  Die Wiki-Software oder Wiki-Engine , die hinter einem Wiki steht, verringert den Editieraufwand, d. h. es ist kein besonderer Aufwand nötig, einen Beitrag online zu verändern oder zu kommentieren. Einzelne Seiten und Artikel eines Wikis sind durch Links miteinander verbunden, so dass eine schnellere Recherche zu Stande kommt. Es sind also keine besonderen Kenntnisse, oder ein großer Lernaufwand nötig, um mit einem Wiki zu arbeiten. Jeder kann darauf zugreifen und Inhalte verfassen oder ändern.

Das klingt für mich nun erstmal wirklich nach einem guten Instrument um eigene Beiträge ins Netz zu stellen oder andere zu bearbeiten. Doch auch hier, wie in vielen anderen Bereichen des Webs, tritt das Problem der Korrektheit auf. Wenn jeder schreiben kann, was er will und ebenso andere Beiträge verändern kann, geht die Objektivität verloren und es fehlt die Sicherheit der Richtigkeit einer Aussage. Dies gilt dann natürlich genauso für Beiträge zur Religion und religiösen Themen, auf die ich noch zu sprechen komme.

Um die Nützlichkeit von Wikis zu demonstrieren, möchte ich mich auf das Beispiel der Wikipedia beziehen und dieses näher beleuchten.

wikipedia_hauptseite Weiterlesen …