Category: Video Games

Cults and Daggers: can you fit God in the machine?

As the author of a book about Christianity and video games, I’m naturally interested in how game makers choose to represent religion. So when I read what was supposedly a review of Cults and Daggers, but was really a poignant, troubling and beautifully written reflection on author Nathan Grayson’s loss of faith, I had to play this game. And now I wish I hadn’t. It’s not because my faith has…  [more]

Dying Light and the limitations of violence

I recently found myself behind on an important project, working frantically to meet the deadline. When I was almost done my computer crashed, losing several hours of work. I wanted to scream and punch my computer. Thankfully, I did neither, but I did punch my desk. For the next two weeks, every time I typed, I felt the consequences of this foolish, violent action. We’ve all been there. We’ve faced the…  [more]

The real virtue of virtual empathy

A recent student project at the University of Southern California is using virtual war in an unfamiliar way.  Rather than glory in combat and explosions, like many blockbuster video games, this program aims to use an immersive recreation of the Syrian civil war to educate players about the experience of being in the middle of such a terrible conflict. We often think of video games as tools for imaginary killing,…  [more]

The vain voluntourism of Far Cry 4

The first time I visited a third-world country on a mission trip, I took lots of pictures of poverty - of parents, their children and their dilapidated homes. I did so not out of concern, but because what I saw was shocking to my middle-class sensibilities. It wasn't until much later that I acknowledged the narcissism behind such voluntourism. Playing Far Cry 4 reminded me of this because Far Cry 4 uses…  [more]

Shadow of Mordor and the limits of video-game fun

I have been a J.R.R. Tolkien fanatic since I first read The Lord of the Rings in fifth grade. Aside from the Bible, I’ve read that series more than any other book. I’ve also sampled a fair number of video games based on Tolkien’s Middle-earth, most of which have been like shiny gift boxes containing a serviceable pair of used socks. So I was moderately surprised to discover that the new big-budget…  [more]

Destiny: a video game blind to its own beauty

We live in a beautiful world, one we long to explore so that we might revel in its wonders. Unfortunately, our world is subject to frustration. While the heavens declare the glory of God and the sky proclaims His handiwork, both are difficult to see given the brokenness in our hearts and in creation. As I played this year’s most anticipated video game release, Destiny, I realized that although game worlds often…  [more]

A parent’s praise for Stampylonghead

Last winter, my 6-year-old begged me to bake him a cake decorated with his favorite Minecraft-playing YouTuber, Stampylonghead (aka Stampycat, Stampylongnose, Mr. Stampy Cat and Stampy). Fredrik wanted this cake - not to eat - but so we could take a picture and send it along to Stampycat himself, all in the hope of getting added to Stampy’s “Love Garden.” Naturally, as a modern mom in an age when…  [more]

Hearthstone and the importance of a gaming community

The virulent discourse of gamers is rightfully notorious. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of enduring the complaints and abuse of an incensed League of Legends player during a losing (or even sometimes a winning) battle, you know what I mean. A certain kind of gamer takes it upon himself - and it almost always is “he,” not “she” - to demean and belittle other players, constantly…  [more]

Watch Dogs and wielding knowledge with grace

As I walk through the streets of Chicago with smartphone in hand, the secrets of the city’s citizens are revealed. Tomas Mendez is a 26-year-old mechanic who is estranged from his parents. Ellen Marsden is unemployed and recently divorced. Ben Sanders is a hair stylist with a methamphetamine addiction. The video game Watch Dogs reminds players of two realities we are often hesitant to admit: the world is broken…  [more]

Death and deletion in Continue?9876543210

If you’ve played any video games at all, you’ve likely experienced a cheap facsimile of death. We’ve long realized that eventually Pac-Man must expire (which in my case happens early and often). Action movies and television crime dramas are equally loaded with cheaply bought corpses. Our culture is awash in counterfeit death, but avoids the real thing at all costs. This is why I find the video game…  [more]

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