Parting the Digital Sea

Parting the Digital Sea
Missionaries of the Digital Age

Max Phillips | 9 Jun 2009 12:32
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In January, I was playing Guild Wars when something interesting happened. I was in Ascalon, and soft flakes of snow had blanketed the burnt-out, ruined husk of the city, changing the usually scorched and depressing landscape into a sea of calm. I can't exactly recollect why I was out there, but I distinctly remember a guild recruiter standing in the snow. That alone isn't out of the ordinary, but something the recruiter said caught my attention. He said he was recruiting for a Christian guild.

Shortly after he said that, a flurry of insults flooded into the local chat as every random, opinionated passerby began to berate the recruiter for both his beliefs and trying to "indoctrinate" other players. The recruiter didn't stick around long after that, and while those who had decided to be vocal were left with a smug feeling of satisfaction, I was only left with a feeling of curiosity and a handful of unanswered questions.

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Allow me to be blunt for a moment: Most games avoid anything having to do with the subject of religion. In most cases it doesn't get much deeper than the gaming plot staple of "these aliens are religious fanatics and want to kill us all". You can substitute the word "aliens" for something more appropriate depending on the game, but in essence it still means the same thing. Perhaps that is what piqued my curiosity that night in Guild Wars, the idea of a real world religion being brought into a game not by the developers, but by the players; religion existing in the game not as a plot device or background lore, but rather as a person's actual beliefs applied to a virtual world. Simply put, I was curious how faith from the real world would carry over into a digital one.

The answers came much as the questions had - a result of a completely random encounter. Just as I was getting ready to leave a small outpost, someone sent a message over the local feed. It was a recruitment message for another Christian guild. The recruiter's name was Kaddy Lynn. Kaddy is an officer in a guild named Mark Sixteen Fifteen, a small guild that is part of a much larger Christian-centric alliance called the Followers O F Christ. Now, this run-in with Kaddy happened four months after that brief moment in January. But I had been thinking about the encounter since then, and Kaddy's sudden appearance was nothing if not serendipitous. I asked Kaddy if she would speak to me about her guild and a few days later I was talking to the entire group.

One thing I was hoping to distinguish is how an openly religious group in a game is different from a "normal" group. After a few players offered up some answers that seemed fairly obvious in hindsight, ranging from playing by example to just being around other Christians, Kaddy chimed in and offered her opinion.

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