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Death, the Bible, and Computer Games

TUSS - Intro 2

Have you played games like The Talos Principle, Bioshock, Zombi, or the Prince of Persia? Do you know the difference between ludology (the critical study of gaming) and narratology (the critical study of narrative structure) and how they affect our perception? This fun, innovative course makes a connection between Bible and biblical traditions and contemporary computer games.

Course information

This course in short

  • Content:
    If you've ever 'died' in a game – and then been resurrected to play another day – this summer course will show you how the Jewish-Christian tradition is relevant to understanding today's world of gaming.
  • Entry requirements:
    Students with a passion for gaming and a curious mind. Moderate English proficiency required.
  • Taught by:
    Prof. Dr. Archibald L.H.M. van Wieringen
    Prof. Dr. Bart J. Koet
    Dr. Frank G. Bosman
  • Start date:
    Monday 2 July 2018
  • Duration | ECTS:
    1 week | 1 ECTS
  • Language of instruction:
  • School:
    Catholic Theology (TST)
  • Course fee:
    Free for current Tilburg University students. €500 for external students, future Tilburg University students, alumni and staff.
    • 10% discount for students from partner universities*

    *Combining discounts is not possible, discounts are not applicable for Language courses

Course aims

Upon completion of this course, you will:

  • Have knowledge of the theme of death from biblical texts;
  • Be able to understand video games from a variety of perspectives, e.g. the ludological perspective;
  • Recognize biblical themes in non-biblical expressions such as video games;
  • Have an open mind that can grasp connections between the Bible and contemporary culture.

Course content

Player death - and death in general - is present in all kind of computer games, both as a ‘ludological mechanic’ and a ‘narratological device’ – in other words, as a player you experience death as a simulation, and also as something that drives story.

Fascinatingly, many Biblical images and representations of death, the netherworld and afterlife are ‘upcycled’ and reused in video games.

How will we approach this unique area of gaming during the course?

  • Session 1: a general introduction to computer games, on ludology and narratology, and a general introduction to the biblical world view including the netherworld and the afterlife.
  • Session 2: images of death and afterlife in Old Testament texts: the death as a shepherd (Psalm 49), and afterlife as a feast (Isaiah 25).
  • Session 3: images of the Resurrection in New Testament texts: is the risen Jesus a ghost, a zombie, a phantom, a dream image?
  • Session 4: dreams and dreamers in the New Testament as messengers from beyond the grave.
  • Session 5: death, player death and lethal plots in modern computer games. Multiple case studies will be examined: The Talos Principle, Bioshock, Zombi, and Prince of Persia.

Course materials and specifics

Course materials

All texts and games will be provided to the student.

Course specifics

  • Moderate English proficiency required;
  • No prior knowledge required;
  • Examination: essay on a computer game of your choice, concerning the Biblical roots of the images of death, netherworld and afterlife represented.

Application and registration

Your registration for Tilburg University Summer School must be completed by May 31st, 2018. Tilburg University Summer School reserves the right to cancel the course in case there are not enough applicants. If the maximum number of students is reached, a waiting list will be used.


For more information about Tilburg University Summer School (TUSS), please send an e-mail to For more information about the content of the course, please send an e-mail to

Registration TUSS 2018

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Admission and application