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Electronic Game Research Methodologies: Studying Religious Implications

William Sims Bainbridge and Wilma Alice Bainbridge
Review of Religious Research
Vol. 49, No. 1, Special Issue on the Impact of the Internet on Religious Research (Sep., 2007), pp. 35-53
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20447471
Page Count: 19
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Electronic Game Research Methodologies: Studying Religious Implications
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Abstract

A collection of pilot studies is described, illustrating how the religious implications of video games can be studied electronically by content analysis, natural language processing, ethnography or participant observation, and online interviewing. Many popular games for the Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox platforms either mock accepted religion or present heterodox, exotic, or imagined alternatives to it. Online games and virtual environments, like World of Warcraft and Second Life, offer inhabitants emotionally compelling experiences connected to spirituality and the supernatural. The methods employed here emphasize qualitative approaches, but connect them to quantitative approaches as well. Methods like these can be useful to study a variety of religion-related topics online. Electronic games are an especially good example to illustrate these methods because they, like the World Wide Web itself, are a commercially successful vanguard of the new technologies that may be transforming human culture.

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