Subverting the Heteronormative (?) Jesus in Video Games

Watch Session:

 

Abstract:

Representations of Jesus, or Christ-figures, are present in nearly every form of media in our modern age, from film to advertising, art to literature, music, television and more increasingly than ever, in video games.

The concept of the messianic archetype is a common trope in many AAA games, from Final Fantasy X to Mass Effect, Half-Life to Dragon Age. Each of these games, and many more, let the player either witness or inhabit the role of a Saviour, a unique character who is tasked with saving a people, a world, or even an entire universe. This presentation aims to explore how sexuality has become an integral part of the depiction of these Christ-figures, and how it can be seen to both align to and subvert early traditions, specifically those seen in film, which often depict Messianic figures as solely heteronormative.

This presentation will cover how Christ-figures can be identified and give a short history of said representations, aiming to demonstrate how pervasive Christ-figures are within Western media. Examples of Christ-figures within video games will then be covered, showing how not only gender but race play a part in identification and acceptance of a character’s Christ-like attributes. Finally, the main focus of the paper will be on how sexuality is explored with Christ-figure narratives and how video game Christ-figures have transitioned from the heterosexual, white male ‘norm’ to a more diverse, sexually fluid characterisation.

Some of the games that will be discussed are: Final Fantasy X, Bioshock: Infinite, Dragon Age: Inquisition, the Mass Effect series, the Elder Scrolls series, Fallout 4,  and Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns.

 

 

Bio:

Emily Marlow is a PhD candidate with the University of Sheffield, fully funded by the White Rose College of Arts & Humanities (WRoCAH), studying religion, gender and sexuality in post-modern (2000-) video games. She obtained her Masters from the University of Sheffield in 2016, where she researched representations of Jesus, or Christ-figures, within the 2013 game Bioshock: Infinite. In 2015 she graduated with a First Class Honours in Religion, Theology and the Bible, again from the University of Sheffield. Her final year dissertation, which looked at how characterisations of Pontius Pilate in film had been skewed via his sexuality, was awarded the 2015 Bible Society award for Best Dissertation

Twitter: @EmilyRMarlow

Web: http://www.emilymarlow.co.uk