Playing Games with God 3

Some final thoughts on God and games prompted by reading Halos and Avatars edited by Craig Detweiler

Like any form of culture, the world of gaming is neither black nor white and needs wise evaluation and this book will help readers to engage in that process. But I mentioned before that I think more space could have been given to consider how and where gaming fits within the counter-cultural call of Christian discipleship.

Play is intrinsic to being human. Our family loves playing games. A life without play is a grim life. And more than a few joyless Christian responses to play and pleasure have been to view them with great suspicion. As if being spiritual equates to always being serious (and rather miserable).

But would you agree that a Christian life structured around play is seriously deformed?

And its striking that in several of the interviews with gamers peppered throughout the book, it is the participants who freely admit to the distortions of a life dedicated to play:

– they play out of boredom;

– enjoy taking on powerful, violent or cool personas;

– spend too much money and time gaming;

– would be healthier if not gaming (one boy wishes that his parents realised that gaming is ‘slowly killing me.’)

Of course, an obsession with play is not limited to video games but is rooted deep within Western culture. Games can be deeply selfish and isolating, as well as opportunities for social interaction, fun, teamwork, learning skills and achievement.

So what does the self-sacrificial way of the cross say to a culture hooked on playing games? I don’t pretend to have an easy answer to this question! Comments, as ever, welcome.

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