The Legend of Zelda: A Religious Record
This essay evaluates the religious allusion and construction found within Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda video game series by utilizing several religious studies theories in an effort to examine the meaning-making phenomena the series creates for players. The series’ 3D entries are analyzed using Forbes and Mahan’s framework from Religion and Popular Culture (for describing relationships between religion and popular culture) to examine religious imagery and iconography within the Zelda series, and how such representation has changed over time. The series’ gameplay elements are evaluated using Rachel Wagner’s arguments from her book Godwired which explores the ritual nature of video games as a way of explaining the persist-ing religious nature and meaning-making systems present in the series. Finally, the narrative direction and storytelling are examined using Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” in an effort to understand the series’ underlying spirituality and lasting appeal. This is all in an effort to exam-ine the Zelda series’ relationship with religion, the narratives and experiences it creates under such a relationship, and the conversations about religious narratives and ritual storytelling that Zelda creates space for in the intersection of religion and popular culture, ritual and play.
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