shooter gaming as religious experience

this is interesting: a photo essay (by Shauna Frischkorn) of teenage boys playing shooter video games, revealing faces that have a look of religious euphoria. an article on the photo essay, published in mother jones, says:

Eyes cast upward in ecstatic contemplation—500 or 600 years ago these expressions might have been found in a work by Raphael or Guido Reni. But Shauna Frischkorn, an associate professor of art at Pennsylvania’s Millersville University, has captured the agony and the ecstasy of our own age in a wide-ranging series of portraits: no monks or saints, just ordinary teenage boys playing Halo. She says that “while they seem passive, they’re actually performing fast-paced maneuvers and executing split-second decisions, making these portraits of intense concentration.”

More of Frischkorn’s photos can be found at

here are a few of the photos:




(ht to bob carlton)

6 thoughts on “shooter gaming as religious experience”

  1. Interesting… Actually this sparks an interesting memory with me, several years ago I was playing CS (Counterstrike) with one of the kids in our youth group… We were networked locally so we were sitting side by side at 2 different machines, and all of the sudden, he asked me the question, “How do you know you are a Christian?”
    To say it was a God moment was an understatement, but it was an open door that I had to walk through and share was an understatement.
    Oh yeah, and of course I got pwnd! But yeah, I’ll sacrifice a round or so for the Kingdom!
    But it drove home one of the fundamental issues of dealing with guys, we process and fellowship as we are doing stuff, not necessarily sitting around in a group…
    This stuff happens again and again in guys and men’s ministry…

  2. My first FPS “religous” experience was Doom… I remember it like an out-of-body experience. I really felt a sense of near nirvana and nausea (I suppose like a boisterous Binny Hinn crusade). Those first months of FPS gaming was crazy, as the mind was 99% engaged and the body only existing to provide oxygen to the hand moving the mouse, shooting the spawn of hell with my BFG, and salvation coming regularly for my battered avatar from health packs with a bright red, bold cross…

  3. Interesting. Though I wonder what our response to those photos would be if not prompted textually to understand them as reflecting a video gaming religious experience.

  4. So I Have come full circle on this. I have met with many young Jr high men in My office whose parents sent them to me to fix them:)..Their words. They are a lot of times kids who may not even come to church. I would take them to ice cream or play basketball and casulaly try to get to know them while occasionally asking some probing questions to see where they were at. Some times it worked. My real counseling tool was halo in my office. The day i started playing it with them where i could say ” Hey nice head shot you got me with” and follow it up with S ohow are things at home. It was amazing how much they would open up to me while totally engaed in blowing me up with a rocket while i hide behind a rock. When they had something to do where they were engaged and did not feel like they had to make eye contact they felt they could open up. WOW. YEs HALO is one of my best counseling tools especially for kids I dont know that well yet! Go figure!

Leave a Reply