#1 Masses on Roblox. Gamification of religion, deep mediatisation – what is behind the new phenomenon?

Mas­ses orga­ni­sed by (and for) Roblox users have taken the Polish inter­net by storm. Such events are also taking pla­ce in other coun­tries – the phe­no­me­non star­ted with the first mas­ses orga­ni­zed with the sup­port of the Angli­can Church. The mas­ses, who­se records can be wat­ched on YouTu­be, are excel­lent recon­struc­tions not only of impor­tant pla­ces of wor­ship, such as ico­nic cathe­drals, but also of the litur­gy itself, which inc­lu­des all the key ele­ments per­for­med in the cor­rect order. Are the mas­ses on Roblox a way of imi­ta­ting, recon­struc­ting, or sim­ply enter­ta­ining young users? Or are they some­thing else entirely?

A new form of onli­ne spi­ri­tu­ali­ty gaining popu­la­ri­ty on Roblox is the topic of the first DELab pod­cast with our renow­ned guest Prof. Ker­stin Rad­de-Antwe­iler, a reli­gio­us stu­dies expert who­se rese­arch focu­ses on the topics of reli­gion in times of deep media­ti­za­tion, reli­gion, and gaming. The epi­so­de is hosted by Dr. Mar­ta Kolo­dziej­ska, a socio­lo­gist of reli­gion and the media and DELab ana­lyst. The the­mes discus­sed in the pod­cast inc­lu­de:
- the boun­da­ry betwe­en role-play­ing – what Roblox users do – and actu­al forms of reli­gio­us prac­ti­ce and meaning-making,
- par­ti­ci­pa­tion in this type of prac­ti­ce, juxta­po­sed with rese­arch fin­dings that con­cern  media­ti­sa­tion and secu­la­ri­za­tion pro­ces­ses among young people,
- the phe­no­me­non of indi­vi­du­ali­sa­tion in con­trast to orga­ni­sed forms of reli­gion,
- the popu­la­ri­ty of reli­gio­us prac­ti­ces media­ted by the web,
- the pro­cess of ‘pri­va­ti­sa­tion’ of reli­gion,
- conc­lu­sions of expert rese­arch on the pro­cess of media­ti­sa­tion and gami­fi­ca­tion of reli­gion,
- the reasons why the Roblox mass phe­no­me­non has been a success. 

The pod­cast inc­lu­des a short excerpt from a Roblox mass orga­ni­zed by the «Arch­dio­ce­se of Gnie­zno» and trans­mit­ted on YouTu­be.


Then It’s real­ly an inte­re­sting obse­rva­tion then reli­gion comes in in a most sur­pri­sing way and of cour­se, you can say Yes, It’s real­ly tra­di­tio­nal and it’s more like a mir­ro­ring or a mir­ror of the non-digi­tal way. How a servi­ce or a mess is per­for­med. Howe­ver, we have to keep this in mind. That this is not that it’s not some­thing new in a way that espe­cial­ly digi­tal ritu­als or ritu­als within a digi­tal envi­ron­ment are real­ly con­se­rva­ti­ve becau­se the envi­ron­ment is so new So It’s kind of to be reco­gni­za­ble as a reli­gio­us ritu­al or as a ritu­al itself (…) Cau­tio­us abo­ut now. The­re­’s a new visi­bi­li­ty of reli­gion and I don’t think pro­ba­bly it was always the case but it wasn’t so visi­ble for us as reso­ur­ces in a way and becau­se we don’t have access to how people or how chil­dren, for exam­ple, are play­ing in the­ir non-digi­tal way if they are doing this.

― Prof. Ker­stin Rad­de-Antwe­iler, Uni­ver­si­tät Bremen

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