Monday, December 22, 2008

HALOS AND AVATARS: Playing Games with God Conference

I have been asked to submit a chapter for consideration for a forthcoming book through Baker Academic that deals with video games and digital cultures. Those who have their submissions accepted will meet in southern California early next year to discuss and present them at the HALOS AND AVATARS conference. The Brehm Center website describes this event:

Been swept up in a Halo marathon? Run from the law in Grand Theft Auto? Floated through Second Life as a furry avatar? Where is God amidst these imaginative activities?

From Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games like World of Warcraft to Social Networking sites like Facebook, virtual selves and digital communities are on the rise. Electronic entertainment (like videogames) has surpassed movies in both profit and influence. Yet, little research has covered the sacred aspects of videogames and digital cultures. The field is literally wide open. Leading thinkers and game designers will converge in Los Angeles for the next Reel Spirituality conference on February 28, 2009.

What sacred symbols are found within the games or universe you’re exploring?

Can religious rites be extended into virtual worlds?

What does real ministry look like amidst digital cultures?

Bring your avatar and your questions to Reel Spirituality 2009.

Reel Spirituality Conference and 15th Annual City of Angels Film Festival

Watch January 1, 2009 for the date: slated for late February or early March. The Reel Spirituality Conference will focus on electronic video games from formats like Playstations and Wii to phenomenon like Halo, Grand Theft Auto, and Second Life.

The City of the Angels Film Festival celebrates the best new, spiritually charged films.

Click here to register for HALOS AND AVATARS.


Matt Stone said...

My own experience is that VR interaction can complement RL interaction but never substitute it. It opens up new horizens but can also foster shallowness. I would be interested to see what comes of this project John.

John W. Morehead said...

Thanks, Matt. For my contribution I will be drawing upon Peter Berger's inductive theological method that seeks to find "signals of transcendence" in the everyday. I then apply this to the concept of cybersociality to see how the image of God may be expressed in video games and digital cultures through play, the escape of the daily habitus to worlds of imagination, and the creation of new forms of community. I conclude with brief questions about what this says back to the church. The volume should be interesting and break new ground for evangelical reflection on this topic.