Life, games and religion

2:53 PM Jordin van Deyl 0 Comments

You’ve read the title and might be wondering what those three have in common. When you stop and think about it, I’m sure there’s plenty of things that connects them. There is, however, one particular thing that currently does not connect them, but could.


Lets start with games. Jane McGonigal was the first to break down the structure of games for me. They all share four defining traits; a goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation. No matter what game, no matter whether it’s digital or physical (think sports/board games), the foundation is universal. Looking at an example: The goal in soccer is to score, offside is one of the rules and the referee gives feedback by awarding points or punishing players when misbehaving. Professional players might get paid, but many children play for fun on the streets.

When you look closely, religion has these same traits. The goal of Christianity is to be a good person and go to heaven, the rules are laid out in the bible and every Sunday followers reflect on their actions and receive feedback from the minister. Finally, it is always up to each individual whether to ‘believe’ or not, making it voluntary. For this reason it is my personal opinion that religion is nothing else but a well designed game. One that connects strongly with the idea of being part of something larger then yourself. Defined by Yu-kai Chou as the core drive of ‘Epic Meaning’ and by Jane McGonigal as, her 6th fix for reality, ‘Epic Scale’.



While between religions the background story might differ, they generally set people on a path to better themselves and help others. Leaving all discussions aside, I believe it is something we could learn from to inspire people. What I would strive to create is a new ‘religion’ in the sense that it is a ‘life-game’. A game that encompasses all we do and play our entire lives. Let people earn points for completing their education, helping a random person on the street, keeping themselves healthy, and so forth. People could become their own role-playing game character, leveling up their real-life skills, aiming to get that high-score. 

With so many ways to positively contribute to this world, there are endless ways to put our creativity and effort to work. Work together or compete, it doesn’t matter. All we do would be to better the lives of us and those around us. Personally I would be excited to play a game like this and aim for a high-score that goes down in the history books.

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