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When it comes to books that publish essays commenting on the philosophical values of video games, I tend to shy away. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea, but oftentimes the overall feel of those books tend to miss the mark, such as this collection (Just look at the top reviews and you'll understand why). And that's just philosophy! Theology is, by nature, a more touchy and often more subjective and devise grey area and even more so when applied to something like a beloved series in video games, an entertainment medium that is also by nature very subjective! I was tentative buying this book. I love The Legend Of Zelda. It is by far my most beloved series in a medium I consider to be my favorite pastime. I have also always enjoyed studying the scriptures of the Bible, as well as supplementary Biblical literature and various philosophical and theological works. At the end of the day, I just couldn't help myself and bought the book despite my reservations. That all been said, this book was a mostly excellent purchase.
First off, the intro sets the tone for the rest of the book. Jonathan Walls, the edior, makes it clear from the get-go that this is a book written from the perspective of die-hard Zelda fans and that in no way do any of the authors within wish to super-impose Christian ideals on a primarily Japanese developed video game series that may very well have been made with absolutely no intentions of deeper philosophical or theological meaning. The essays merely make the connections to theology and philosophy that a series as deep and universally appealing as The Legend of Zelda makes possible. Great start.
Another nice thing about this book as how it is organized.Read more ›
As a long-time fan of the Legend of Zelda series and a graduate level theology student, I was overjoyed when I stumbled upon this book. My joy only grew greater as I actually read it--"The Legend of Zelda and Theology" contains several thoughtful and provoking essays that seek to compare and contrast the themes of various Zelda games with major themes in Christian theology. Contrary to what some may think, these connections are not the product of a superficial eisegesis, but rather the result of a thoughtful discourse between the authors of the book and the creators of the games. For example, one of the essays, "Take Your Time, Hurry Up, the Choice is Your: Death and the Afterlife in the Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask" discusses how Darmani and the cleansing of Snowhead Temple relate to the concepts of redemption and sanctification. Overall, these connections are very reasonable.
It is obvious that the authors have a genuine passion for Zelda. It is also obvious that most of them have studied theology in a formal setting (this book contains a lot of "good" theology, which is rare for a text of this nature). "The Legend of Zelda and Theology" is fun, thoughtful, and incredibly provoking. I recommend it without hesitation.
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Contrary to the previous review, this book makes no attempt to force theology into a Zelda shaped box. The editor makes this clear in the introduction, where he writes: "Please understand...that none of us claim to have found the intended meaning behind the Zelda mythology's symbolism when we relate it to Christianity. A very astute theological thinker and friend warned me of the error of superimposing Christian beliefs onto games that very well may have been made without Christian beliefs in mind. Let me assure you, we intend no superimposing." This is not a book written for academics,though some of the authors are accomplished writers. Rather, it is written for Zelda fans who may sense that even pop culture products like video games may illumine profound philosophical and theological truths, whether intentionally or not. Some of these essays are highly creative as well as insightful. See for instance Philip Tallon's piece "The Birth of Gaming from the Spirit of Fantasy: Video Games as Secondary Worlds with Special Reference to the Legend of Zelda and J.R.R. Tolkien." Zelda fans, whether Christians or not, will find much much insight worth pondering in this volume.
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I grew up a gamer. I've always loved games. My wife and I still have several gaming systems here. One series that I grew attached to early on in my life was the Legend of Zelda. I got that and Super Mario Brothers 2 for Christmas one year and ended up playing Zelda first, even though Mario was the harder to find.
Before too long, I wanted everything of Link's. I wanted to get a boomerang because, well, Link had one. I had a fascination with swords because that was the weapon Link used. I even went to a barber once with a Nintendo Power magazine saying I wanted my hair cut like that. Unfortunately, I didn't have side burns yet, so no deal.
When I found out about this book, I was pleased to have a gift certificate from my sister for my birthday and promptly ordered it. We've seen several books in the pop culture and philosophy series, but this is the first one that I'd seen with pop culture and theology and frankly, I want to see more!
I found this to be an excellent work looking at the games in a way that I never had before and asking good questions. This isn't just a passing glance at the games. The people who write these articles are both serious gamers and serious thinkers about theology. I happen to admire that. I try to be serious in whatever I do. When I write, I take my work seriously. When I play a game, I also take that seriously. I seek to give my best in every area.
They also make a defense of gaming in general, while of course pointing out that like many good things, it can be done to an extreme. I found it amusing to read about the creator of Zelda signing autographs and having a message telling children that on sunny days, they need to go outside.
Playing Zelda in many ways is like exploring in ways you don't get to in real life.Read more ›
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