God and games

This is a post prompted by reading and reviewing Craig Detweiler, Halos and Avatars:playing video games with God

What do you think is God’s attitude to games?

And does your answer to that question reveal a whole lot about your theology in the truest sense? How you think and speak of God?

Computer technology has a ubiquitous presence in our lives. And a huge slice of that industry is targeted on giving us games to play.

The global market of technology like Playstation, Xbox and the Wii gaming consoles, computers, handheld devices, mobile phones, and the Web itself is illustrative of how deeply technology has embedded itself and ‘normalised’ gaming culture within the every-day lives of teenagers, young people and many adults.

Video games like Second Life, Minecraft, Myst, Riven, Guitar Hero and Grand Theft Auto are hugely significant within contemporary culture and have devoted followings of millions of players. Subscription-based games like World of Warcraft( WoW) and EverQuest involve millions of people logging on every day to play against and with each other in vast online gaming communities.

Stats suggest that 94 percent of teenage girls and 99 percent of teenage boys in America play video games. With Craig Detweiler’s children, (as with mine), Club Penguin (12 million users) was an early introduction to an ‘alternative world’ of competitive and fun encounters within a MMOG (a massively multiplayer online game).

One contributor notes that whole generations are growing up never knowing a world without video games.  … [which]

are a pervasive cultural form that both reflects and constructs the contemporary cultural imagination, serving as a primary locus of meaning making and identity formation for those born in the post-Atari generation’ (76).

Elsewhere, Detweiler suggests that

movies are being ‘unseated by games as our primary cultural metanarrative.’

Do you agree with this? And does it matter?

How significantly do these digital games differ from other physical games – like football, rugby, tennis, athletics, even traditional board games like monopoly or Risk where you can see and touch who you are playing against?

What is your attitude to computerised games? Do you spend much time playing them or have children who do?  If you work with teenagers and youth is gaming culture an issue that you’ve engaged with?

And this leads to the need to develop a theology of games in general. This book begins to go in that direction but I’d liked to have seen a more extended theological reflection on God and games.

Which takes us back to the opening question – how do God and games go together?

Comments, as ever, welcome


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2 thoughts on “God and games

  1. I believe that God and games go together in much the same way that God goes together with every other aspect of one’s life.

    I see no more need for the two to be mutually exclusive than I do with the pairing of God and sports or God and sewing.

    I believe that a person is going to bring his own faith into whatever activities he pursues. Depending on the activity, this may be more or less apparent. However, I believe it is there just the same.

  2. hello and welcome.
    I agree with your points against dualism and how faith encompasses all of life. Playing games seems to be an intrinsic part of being human – part of being made in the image of God. Which is suggestive of God’s nature … C S Lewis comes to mind and his emphasis on God the great joy giver …
    But if games are a good thing, like any good thing they can used well or used badly. So in the post I’m thinking specifically with gaming – what are the particular issues raised from a Christian perspective by the digitial gaming culture? The pros and the cons ..

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