chapter  7
11 Pages

Religious Impulse in Video Games: Implications for World-Building

ByWorld-Building Edward Castronova

It is a puzzle, not unlike the puzzle of markets in virtual worlds: Everyone says they hate economics, yet no one makes a fantasy world without shops and money. We can only conclude that there’s something deeply attractive about shops and money. Perhaps there’s something deeply, if ineffably, attractive about God as well. What might it be? It’s not escape from mortality; death in fantasy worlds is never permanent. It may be related to the search for meaning, but on the other hand, few people derive truly substantial and long-lasting personal significance from their game play. In this essay I will explore two less-obvious explanations for the persistent attraction we have for the Divine. It may be entertaining, for one. God’s existence makes a world more fun to live in. And the gods of our fantasy may not after all be a projection, but rather a memory; this is an idea traceable to Plato. The more we talk about worlds we like to create, the more we need to think about metaphysics, as it is possible that these worlds represent an ongoing project to make the Forms concrete.