Game Designer (More Things You Can Do With A Degree In Religion)

When I have drawn up lists in the past of famous people who have majored in religion, and things you can do it you major in religion, I’ve neglected to mention James Wyatt. The name may not be immediately recognizable to everyone, but his work writing manuals, modules, and more for the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game will be familiar to anyone who knows the game even superficially.

There is an interview with Wizards of the Coast in which he talks about his major and its relevance to his career paths. Here is an excerpt:

Wizards: Science fiction (in the broadest possible definition) is huge in popular culture right now. Super-heroes dominate the movies. TV shows such as LOST and Heroes have been huge hits. Why do you think it is that the “fantastic” or even the “supernatural” resonates so well within pop culture right now? As both a fantasy writer and a former minister, do you have any insights on this?

James WyattJames: I think that people are most drawn to heroic fiction in times when the overall mood is one of helplessness. Superheroes and fantasy heroes tell us that despite all evidence to the contrary, a single person can make a difference. The Lord of the Rings is perhaps the clearest expression of that idea — it’s the smallest, most apparently insignificant people who actually save the world. That’s an idea strongly rooted in the theology of the Bible, from the elevation of Joseph to the Egyptian pharaoh’s right hand, right on through to the ministry of Paul — so there’s my ministerial perspective on it.

Why cloak such stories in the fantastic or supernatural? I suspect it’s because a fantasy story, like a religious myth, suggests a world where anything is possible. Fantasy stories take place in sort of a mythic dream time, where the world is still being created and mortals are invited to take part in that creation. Fundamentally, I think we hope such a thing can still be true — we can participate in creating a world that better conforms to our ideals.

Among his works is the guide to religious figures in the D&D world, the newer edition of Deities and Demigods. As if appropriate for someone who studied religion and pursued a career in game design and writing.

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