chapter  8
19 Pages

Xbox apocalypse: Video games, interactivity and revelatory literature

Video games, especially first-person shooters, resemble a very specific religious form of the magic circle: apocalypses.1 The adjective “apocalyptic” as commonly used today typically refers to cataclysmic imagery and predictions of the end times. However, the noun “apocalypse” has a more specific usage for biblical scholars, identifying a genre of ancient Jewish and Christian texts composed between about 300 BCE and 200 CE in the ancient Mediterranean region. These apocalypses exhibit fixed forms and structures, describe events of the end times, adhere to predictable literary patterns, and deal with recurring themes. They also describe otherworldly journeys of visionaries who observe the coming end times and the violent imminent judgment against their enemies. Despite being created some two thousand years after these Jewish and Christian apocalypses, video games like Assassin’s Creed, Halo, and even the Zelda series fit the definition of apocalypse as articulated by the Society of Biblical Literature “Apocalypse Group” (Collins, 1979):

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.