Playing War
As surprising as it may seem at first glance, many of today’s violent video games exhibit remarkable similarities to ancient Jewish and Christian apocalypses. Both video games and apocalypses can be viewed as imaginatively inspired otherworldly journeys with a pronounced eschatological focus. Indeed, we can readily view video games as the most poignant site for contemporary renegotiation of the genre of apocalypse. Game-play, it seems, may have some profound kinship with religious imagination. If you are interested in call of duty black ops 2 cheats you need to visit this site.

One of the easiest ways to observe the structural similarities between video games and apocalypses is to use the standard definition produced by the SBL “Apocalypse Group” in 1979. Violent video games can be aptly viewed as an experiential form of the genre of apocalypse:

An apocalypse is a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial, insofar as it involves another, supernatural world.

John J. Collins explains that in an apocalypse, “There is always a narrative framework in which the manner of revelation is described. This always involves an otherworldly mediator and a human recipient” and always involves “eschatological salvation which is temporally future and presents otherworldly realities.”[1] Video games, like traditional apocalypses, can be viewed as “revelatory literature” with a “narrative framework” about an “otherworldly” location. Video games likewise invite players to actively enter into a “world” accessible to the player only through the medium of the video game console. Games even exhibit the characteristic dualisms of apocalypses in their presentation of the player-protagonist, sometimes with helpers, in a battle against fierce and often deadly opponents.

If we think of God as a “programmer,” then God is the producer of the set of choices we have in history, which is played out according to a set of rules that God has designed. Apocalypses, says John J. Collins, are “augmented [by] a sense of determinism . . . by affirming that the course of history or the structure of the cosmos was determined long ago.”[2] Apocalypses, then, exhibit a sort of theologically-motivated narrative rhetoric.

In video-game theory, this notion is called procedural rhetoric, which game theorist Ian Bogost defines as those “processes [that] define the way things work: the methods, techniques, and logics that drive the operation of systems.”[3] Thus, the “gods” who determines our set of choices in a video game consist of the team of programmers and designers who put it together. As Arthur Asa Berger notes, in a game “the player’s feeling that he or she is in control is only an illusion. Every choice, and its attendant consequences, has already been placed in the story by the programmers, writers, and artists who created the game.”[4] Procedural rhetoric works by creating what Bogost calls “possibility space,” which consists of the different configurations of choices a player might make as he or she attempts to understand the structure of the system of the video game, essentially as he or she tries to figure out how to “win.” This sense of “possibility space” could be considered a sort of “covenant” with the player —he or she has agreed to abide by the rules of play and, in so doing, has entered into a set of possibilities transcribed by the parameters of the game.

Theological perspectives similarly demarcate a somewhat fixed “possibility space” for believers, who see the world and act in it according to the procedural rhetoric of their belief system. An apocalypse, then, could be said to exhibit God’s “procedural rhetoric” in its narrative description of the unfolding of history in a way that God has designated, but that allows for humans a certain amount of “play” within the rules. By depicting the cosmos as subject to God’s rules and shaped by God’s own predetermined design, apocalypses can be viewed as the ultimate game, shaped by the ultimate procedural rhetoric. As human beings we may have choices, but they are limited by God’s parameters—not ours. We are players in the game, not game-designers.

Another feature familiar to apocalypses that often crops up in video games is the otherworldly mediator. In the Book of the Watchers (En. 1-36), in 3 Baruch, and in 4 Ezra, for example, a seer acquires heavenly knowledge through questions asked of an otherworldly mediator. In video games an “otherworldly mediator” often guides the player through tutorials, offers helpful hints at crucial moments, and helps the player achieve his or her goals in the game. In the enormously popular Halo series of video games, for example, players are aided by Cortana, an artificially intelligent computer who offers back story and strategic information to the player as he or she assumes the role of the Master Chief. Cortana has no physical form, but portrays herself holographically in interactions with the player. Guides, then, are an important component of otherworldly journeys in that they describe for us how the “game” is to be played, or how the cosmos works—and thus offer hints about how to best make our way through it.

We can see the world of a video game as a temporary “world” entered into for the period of play, and distinct from our ordinary experience of space and time. Similarly,apocalypticists depict the otherworldly realm as a place that can be entered into as a temporary world formally distinguished from their regular lives. Take, for example, Enoch’s description of his ascent into the heavens, in which “the vision clouds invited me and a mist summoned me, and the course of the stars and the lightnings sped and hastened me, and the winds in the vision caused me to fly and lifted me upward, and bore me into heaven.” Among other wonders, he sees “a wall which is built of crystals and surrounded by tongues of fire” and “a tessellated floor (made) of crystals.” On theceiling, he sees “fiery cherubim”(1 En. 14). In Enoch’s journey into an otherworldly place, he views sights as intense as any offered in today’s imaginative virtual journeys in the “other worlds” of video games. And, like any game-player, he must eventually return to the mundane world. are eager to learn more then visit

Such similarities should, one might argue, not be so startling. In his landmark study Homo Ludens, Johan Huizinga observes an intimate relationship between games and religion, noting the similarity between the ritual space marked out for religious experience and the “magic circle” denoted for play and tracing these similarities back to some of the earliest human civilizations. He adds: “Just as there is no formal difference between play and ritual, so the ‘consecrated spot’ cannot be formally distinguished from the play-ground. . . . All are temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart.”[5]Video games and apocalypses both demarcate a separate imaginative “space” for religious experience as play, evincing the functional similarity between apocalyptic storytelling and modern game-play.