I Have Faith in Thee, Lord: Criticism of Religion and Child Abuse in the Video Game the Binding of Isaac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The game The Binding of Isaac is an excellent example of a game that incorporates criticism of religion. Isaac is a roguelike dungeon crawler with randomly generated dungeons. Both from the perspective of narrative and of game design, McMillen built The Binding of Isaac around the Biblical story of Genesis 22:1-19, which has the same name in Jewish and Christian tradition, but he placed it in a modern-day setting in which a young boy is endangered by a mentally disturbed mother who hears “voices from above” that instruct her to sacrifice her only child. Multiple critical references to Christianity can be found in addition to the narrative: hostile embodiments of the seven deadly sins, rosaries, Bibles, and crucifixes, and unlockable characters, such as Mary Magdalene, Judas Iscariot, Samson, and Cain, who are all depicted negatively in both Jewish and Christian traditions. McMillen’s inspiration came from his own experiences with his family, which was made up of both Catholics and born-again Christians. The game describes both the dark creativity and the mental and physical abuse associated with religion. In this article, we analyse the narrative of The Binding of Isaac by performing an intertextual comparison with the Biblical narrative of Genesis 22:1-19. We then analyse the three-fold narrative structure of the game which enhances and nuances the criticism the game directs at religion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number133
JournalReligions
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Fingerprint

Criticism
Video Games
Religion
Faith
Child Abuse
Christian Tradition
Genesis
Jewish Tradition
Mary Magdalene
Judas Iscariot
Embodiment
Creativity
Seven Deadly Sins
Physical
Rosary
Christianity
Bible
Crucifix
Narrative Structure
Intertextual

Cite this

@article{de50921de81241d7b471366c83d7f3d4,
title = "I Have Faith in Thee, Lord: Criticism of Religion and Child Abuse in the Video Game the Binding of Isaac",
abstract = "The game The Binding of Isaac is an excellent example of a game that incorporates criticism of religion. Isaac is a roguelike dungeon crawler with randomly generated dungeons. Both from the perspective of narrative and of game design, McMillen built The Binding of Isaac around the Biblical story of Genesis 22:1-19, which has the same name in Jewish and Christian tradition, but he placed it in a modern-day setting in which a young boy is endangered by a mentally disturbed mother who hears “voices from above” that instruct her to sacrifice her only child. Multiple critical references to Christianity can be found in addition to the narrative: hostile embodiments of the seven deadly sins, rosaries, Bibles, and crucifixes, and unlockable characters, such as Mary Magdalene, Judas Iscariot, Samson, and Cain, who are all depicted negatively in both Jewish and Christian traditions. McMillen’s inspiration came from his own experiences with his family, which was made up of both Catholics and born-again Christians. The game describes both the dark creativity and the mental and physical abuse associated with religion. In this article, we analyse the narrative of The Binding of Isaac by performing an intertextual comparison with the Biblical narrative of Genesis 22:1-19. We then analyse the three-fold narrative structure of the game which enhances and nuances the criticism the game directs at religion.",
author = "Frank Bosman and {van Wieringen}, Archibald",
year = "2018",
doi = "10.3390/rel9040133",
language = "English",
volume = "9",
journal = "Religions",
issn = "2077-1444",
publisher = "Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)",
number = "4",

}

I Have Faith in Thee, Lord : Criticism of Religion and Child Abuse in the Video Game the Binding of Isaac. / Bosman, Frank; van Wieringen, Archibald.

In: Religions, Vol. 9, No. 4, 133, 2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - I Have Faith in Thee, Lord

T2 - Criticism of Religion and Child Abuse in the Video Game the Binding of Isaac

AU - Bosman, Frank

AU - van Wieringen, Archibald

PY - 2018

Y1 - 2018

N2 - The game The Binding of Isaac is an excellent example of a game that incorporates criticism of religion. Isaac is a roguelike dungeon crawler with randomly generated dungeons. Both from the perspective of narrative and of game design, McMillen built The Binding of Isaac around the Biblical story of Genesis 22:1-19, which has the same name in Jewish and Christian tradition, but he placed it in a modern-day setting in which a young boy is endangered by a mentally disturbed mother who hears “voices from above” that instruct her to sacrifice her only child. Multiple critical references to Christianity can be found in addition to the narrative: hostile embodiments of the seven deadly sins, rosaries, Bibles, and crucifixes, and unlockable characters, such as Mary Magdalene, Judas Iscariot, Samson, and Cain, who are all depicted negatively in both Jewish and Christian traditions. McMillen’s inspiration came from his own experiences with his family, which was made up of both Catholics and born-again Christians. The game describes both the dark creativity and the mental and physical abuse associated with religion. In this article, we analyse the narrative of The Binding of Isaac by performing an intertextual comparison with the Biblical narrative of Genesis 22:1-19. We then analyse the three-fold narrative structure of the game which enhances and nuances the criticism the game directs at religion.

AB - The game The Binding of Isaac is an excellent example of a game that incorporates criticism of religion. Isaac is a roguelike dungeon crawler with randomly generated dungeons. Both from the perspective of narrative and of game design, McMillen built The Binding of Isaac around the Biblical story of Genesis 22:1-19, which has the same name in Jewish and Christian tradition, but he placed it in a modern-day setting in which a young boy is endangered by a mentally disturbed mother who hears “voices from above” that instruct her to sacrifice her only child. Multiple critical references to Christianity can be found in addition to the narrative: hostile embodiments of the seven deadly sins, rosaries, Bibles, and crucifixes, and unlockable characters, such as Mary Magdalene, Judas Iscariot, Samson, and Cain, who are all depicted negatively in both Jewish and Christian traditions. McMillen’s inspiration came from his own experiences with his family, which was made up of both Catholics and born-again Christians. The game describes both the dark creativity and the mental and physical abuse associated with religion. In this article, we analyse the narrative of The Binding of Isaac by performing an intertextual comparison with the Biblical narrative of Genesis 22:1-19. We then analyse the three-fold narrative structure of the game which enhances and nuances the criticism the game directs at religion.

U2 - 10.3390/rel9040133

DO - 10.3390/rel9040133

M3 - Article

VL - 9

JO - Religions

JF - Religions

SN - 2077-1444

IS - 4

M1 - 133

ER -