May 7, 2013
As a longtime fan of fantasy novels and of course a devoted Christian, I'm all too familiar with the way Christians misunderstand these things. I agree, we really ought to understand the things our friends and neighbors care about. Love me, love my passions, or at least love the way <i>I</i> love them. This doesn't mean accepting them uncritically, of course, but it just may mean looking beyond the stereotypes.
One concern I have about gaming beyond the things mentioned is, does it pull you into a fantasy world divorced from reality? If you are spending your time slaying dragons and not helping your neighbor going through a divorce or a lost job, that seems problematic. On the flip side, though, even Jesus took a break from the masses when he needed to recharge and we are certainly called to take a sabbath rest, so checking out for a little while (if that's what gaming is) isn't a fatal flaw. It's also worth asking whether this is better or worse than people who follow TV shows obsessively or (like me) invest so much time in reading favorite books over and over again.
You're absolutely correct that many games themes coincide with important elements of Christian faith. Your article prompted me to dig up my tweet from Games 4 Change last year following opening talks by Jim Gee and Jane McGonigal: â€œ#g4c12 is at least 20% theology - again and again questions of telos and value of individuals.â€ There's something really important going on in the field and Christians would be fools (and poor stewards) to not engage with people asking questions about those issues.
I couldn't agree with your thesis more, Drew. I play very, very few video games these days, but it's not because I dislike them or have some moral objections to them, in theory (though, as with so much entertainment media, a Christian has to do some due diligence on the kinds of games he or she plays to avoid compromising his or her values). I just don't have the free time I used to have, and I spend a lot more of the time I do have pursuing other things that didn't used to be as important to me.
But I think you're right that Christians absolutely must engage the gamers' culture--not as judgmental naysayers, but as positive influences shining the light of Christ in forbidding territory.
If we are to advance the Kingdom of God we must meet people where they are. Today that means going to where the unsaved people are, building relationships and earning the right to share the Gospel. I play video games as well as pen and paper games even the (inserts tongue in cheek) dreaded Dungeons&Dragons;. I lead a small group at church for gamers and other under served subcultures. We are not out to change them but to walk with them in their subcultures as ambassadors of Christ. Gamers are just one subculture that the church has either condemned outright or dismissed altogether. If anyone wants to learn more let me recommend God Loves The Freaks by Stephen Weese.
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