Back in August, I was interviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer about the role that video games can play in spirituality. Specifically, how video games may help one connect with their spirituality and possibly induce feelings of transcendence.
This is a relatively new line of research, however, we do know that video games can give us what no other medium can - the unique ability to explore the roles of good and evil in a free (i.e., free from real-world repercussions) space. In no other medium are we able to enact the motives and actions of a protagonist and explore the repercussions of different moral and spiritual choices on the games’ narrative. In this sense, video games are ideal spaces to explore moral and spiritual choices and experiences.
There is quite a bit of research on moral decision making in games, however the role of spiritual experiences has been less explored. Some researchers have found that players report having spiritual experiences and feelings of transcendence (i.e., an increased feeling of unity or spirit of the universe) when playing games that are open-ended and relatively ambiguous (such as Journey and RiME). The argument here is that the ambiguity allows players to reflect on their spirituality and emotional experiences triggered by the game play.
If you want to learn more about this, you can check out the article here.