I was in a conversation recently about how Game Masters manage factions—how do you track their activities and relationships? I use a technique of mind mapping. If you’ve never heard this term, a mind map is a drawing that abstracts the relationships between people, organizations, nations, etc into a spatial diagram. It can look similar to a flowchart, but it doesn’t necessarily progress to an end point. Here’s a sample of a map I used for planning a long-ago Unknown Armies campaign:
The Christian Gamers Guild is not alone in our efforts to build faith communities among the geek sub-cultures. Numerous other organizations, ministries, and individuals are also doing valuable and powerful work among Trekkies, roleplayers, cosplayers, video gamers, and many other segments. As the nature of Internet communities is to change constantly, we’ll try to continue updating and republishing this list twice a year to keep it fresh.
This time around, it’s categorized by type so you can more easily find the kinds of groups and ministers you’re interested in. Some entries fall into multiple entries, of course, so I’ll try to put them in their most salient category, with a note about other things they do.
Although several of these organizations produce (or are) products, the Christian Gamers Guild does not endorse any of them, in accordance with our policy to neither condemn nor endorse any particular game product (and by extension, any other organization, ministry or service). If you have any questions about the appropriateness of any product for yourself, your family, or your gaming group, it is up to you to investigate and decide. Read more
The Christian Gamers Guild, in association with Love Thy Nerd and Tom Vasel, again held a worship service at GenCon. Here is the program for the event: http://www.christian-gamers-guild.org/files/ConventionHistorical/gencon-church-2019.pdf
Here are some videos, courtesy of our Vice President Dave Mattingly:
Love Thy Nerd brings the love of Jesus to nerd culture, through content, outreach, and community. We speak redemption and love into nerd culture, and teach Christians the value of nerd culture and how to love our nerdy neighbors better.
Bubba Stallcup is Love Thy Nerd’s Chief Community Nerd, and cohosts the Free Play podcast. He serves at his church in Texas.
Tom Vasel is a noted game reviewer and hosts the Dice Tower podcast. He has been a pastor in South Korea and a youth pastor in Florida.
Dave Mattingly is a former atheist who found the Lord. He’s the longtime VP of the Christian Gamers Guild, and former publisher at BlackWyrm Games.
Once again the Christian Gamers Guild will host a Christianity and Gaming panel discussion with Q&A time on balancing faith & gaming, starting a gaming group at your church, & other topics on how to be both a Christian and a gamer.
Friday, 2:00 p.m. in Westin Ballroom III
Session ID: SEM19157484
We will also offer a non-denominational Christian worship service. We’ll read scripture, sing familiar hymns, hear a sermon, and offer an optional communion.
Sunday, 9:00 a.m. in Westin Ballroom IV
Session ID: ZED19165541
An updated list was republished on August 27, and is available here: http://christian-gamers-guild.org/wp/blog/admin/our-friends-and-allies-2/
This article will remain at this address for the purposes of maintaining incoming links, but much of the information available here has been obviated or changed, and I encourage you to check the more recent article.
The Christian Gamers Guild is not alone in our efforts to build faith communities among the geek sub-cultures. Numerous other organizations, ministries, and individuals are also doing valuable and powerful work among Trekkies, roleplayers, cosplayers, video gamers, and many other segments. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are a few people we think you should get to know!
Editor’s note: Where possible I’ve paraphrased what each group has to say about itself, replacing all the “we” language with “they.” I don’t know why I’m putting this in an Editor’s note, since the author and the editor are the same person, but whatever…
And some errata: Geekdom House has split off their publishing arm into Mythos & Ink in order to comply with Canadian non-profit law. GH itself is retooling a bit, and we’ll know more about what they’re becoming in a few weeks, I guess. I am also adding some other groups that I overlooked initially. They’re all at the top of the article, so if you’re just looking for the updates, start here!
Although several of these organizations produce (or are) products, the Christian Gamers Guild does not endorse any of them, in accordance with our policy to neither condemn nor endorse any particular game product. If you have any questions about the appropriateness of any product for yourself, your family, or your gaming group, it is up to you to investigate and decide.
Gaming 2 Give unites players everywhere through gaming marathon fundraisers that provide scholarships, mentoring, internships and more to single moms and their children!
Gaming 2 Give is a 12-Hour Virtual Gaming Event that will take place on 12/7/19 at 12 pm-12 am EST.
Funds are used to focus on the economic empowerment of single mothers between the ages of 18 and 35, by lifting them from poverty to professionalism. They identify barriers that hinder single moms from success and remove them by creating practical solutions
centered around career coaching, mentoring, scholarships, financial literacy, and on-the-job training through paid internships.
ChristGames.org is a Christian game development organization on the Internet devoted to teaching you how to make family friendly video games. If you have ever wanted to make a game, but were not sure where to start, then you have come to the right place. They will teach you every part of the industry, from design, to programming, and even to marketing and distribution. They are a community of like minded people serving the risen lord wanting to help you succeed in your dreams of becoming a faithful game developer!
The Nerdy-Gritty is a podcast a weekly discussion where pastors Dez and Fox delve deep into the details of pop-culture! Comics, movies, video games… even YouTube itself! Everything is up for grabs when Dez and Fox start spewing their opinions. They have a YouTube channel, and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
The Grave Robbers reach out to the Goth community with the love of Jesus Christ. They provide an exciting and God honoring environment to connect with other Christian Goths around the world and help our Goth brothers and sisters to grow spiritually in their walk with Christ. They are God’s Night Watch.
Gaming Rogue is providing news, tips, events, and gaming deals for the gaming community. And occasionally slipping some Scripture into the feed.
The Gaming Chaplain is a Twitch streamer playing both video games and table top RPGs, with the hope of expanding into miniatures.
The Christians Discord group is a safe place for humor, fellowship, praise, prayer and active mobile, console, and PC gaming. Not a gamer? No problem; join for the fellowship.
Camping Grounds is a game studio ministry that focuses on making fast pace visual novels of praise and worship.
Cactus Game Design publishes a variety of Christian-themed games and toys, including Solomon’s Temple and the Redemption Collectible Card Game.
The Bridge is a Facebook group for those who bridge Christianity and Fandom. It took over from where Fans for Christ left off a couple of years ago.
God Loves the Freaks is a book that points to a serious issue facing the church today – reaching out to subcultures and those who are considered the freaks of society. Stephen Weese paints a vision of a church living by grace, in unity; without the legalism that divides and causes us to shun others based on outward appearance. God looks at the heart and he loves everyone, including the freaks. If God loves the freaks, shouldn’t the church as well?
City on a Hill Gaming is a 5th edition D&D actual play podcast. They looked in vain for a family-friendly actual play and couldn’t find one, so they made their own!
Deliverance is an epic “Christian Fantasy” Boardgame Adventure that features Angels vs Demons in a cooperative tactical dungeon crawler for 1-4 players. And yes, it 100% fits within the Biblical narrative while being a fantasy game! It’s not available yet (as of 2/4/2019), but there’s a Kickstarter campaign starting up soon, and there’s a Facebook group to follow for news and playtesting opportunities.
Costumers for Christ: Mild-mannered minister by day, Scott Bayles and his family are active costumers and comic-collectors who share the message of Christ through comics and cosplay. There’s also a Facebook page and associated group and Scott has written a book entitled Holy Heroes: The Gospel According to DC and Marvel.
Dungeon Master Pastor is a blog where Pastor meets Dungeon Master, and following Jesus meets tabletop fantasy role playing. As baptized children of God, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. One of those things happens to be: Play Dungeons & Dragons like a boss. They run an annual Pastors & Dungeons Retreat where, with a mixture of gaming, learning, and Sabbath rest, ministers will explore the connections between life, ministry, and the world’s greatest roleplaying game.
Chara Games designs and publishes innovative and fun tabletop games with Christian themes. They want to help you, your family, and your friends find joy through the relationships built around the games they publish.
Geeks Under Grace wants to Educate Christians on how to safely consume pop culture, Evangelize geeks with the message of the Gospel, Equip Christians and churches to reach geeks with the Gospel, and Encourage Christians as they grow into a deeper relationship with Christ. They have articles and reviews about video games, board games, rpgs, television, movies, comics, music, anime, and Christian life.
Geekdom House exists to love and serve nerds and geeks by making a creative contribution to the culture and encouraging, fostering, and facilitating deeper community through discussion and support. They also desire to provide the space and opportunity for those seeking excellence within those sub-cultures to hone and perfect their craft and to give them the tools and encouragement needed to graft their love of geekery into all aspects of their life.
The Aetherlight is a swashbuckling steampunk action-adventure game based on the greatest story ever told! Astute players will recognise echoes with the epic story of the Bible at key points: characters, major plot shifts, life lessons, and personal encounters. The Aetherlight is a story as old as time, reimagined for a digital age.
Mighty Grace Positive Gaming reaches out to video gamers through various media, shares the message of Jesus Christ, creates a positive encouraging community, facilitates spiritual growth and wellness with people. They have a very exciting personal support and counseling service for gamers available in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese. That is in addition to convention and local game store ministry, streaming, and game reviews.
The Holy Lands RPG is an expressly Christian high-fantasy tabletop RPG. Real Christianity is the fundamental faith of the character, not some allegorical fantasy faith in a polytheistic (multi-god) world. The character believes in, proclaims, and fights for God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the real message of eternal salvation.
The Christian Game Developers Conference is a unique event, focused around encouraging and edifying those who are interested in both making games and glorifying God. The conference is three days of talks, workshops, and fellowship, fellowship, fellowship. Come prepared to show what you are working on, and to encourage others in their projects and be inspired.
Mythos & Ink is a small press with a passion for publishing great stories and the community built around them. Keep an eye on them for their upcoming podcast The Wayfarer’s Guide to Worldbuilding.
Innroads Ministries is the umbrella organization for the Game Store Prophets and Bard and Bible podcasts. They have a number of articles about ministering through tabletop games, both roleplaying and board games, and how to bring your faith to bear on your hobby. Check out their Facebook group The Tavern to interact with them. That’s not the whole of their efforts, though! Check out their What We Do page for more information.
Saving the Game is a podcast at the intersection of faith in Christ, tabletop roleplaying games, and collaborative storytelling. They provide resources for Christian gamers, and in their own way they aim to close the gap between non-gaming Christians and non-Christian gamers. They have a Discord channel, where you can chat with them and their other listeners.
Love Thy Nerd wants to speak redemption, hope, truth, and love into the parts of nerd culture that have often been alienated, demonized, dismissed, or simply ignored by Christians. They also want to educate Christians on the value of nerd culture and how we can love our nerdy neighbors better. They minister at conventions; host articles on comics, video games, roleplaying, film, and more; and host three pocasts: Humans of Gaming, Free Play, and The Pull List. Interact with them in their Facebook community.
Geek@Arms is a podcast at the crossroads of geek culture and Christian faith. Your humble editor is one of the hosts. We discuss comics, sci-fi, fantasy, historical swordsmanship, video games, medieval reenactment, tabletop gaming, and more.
The Geekpreacher, Derek White, is a United Methodist pastor who not only serves his own church, but also ministers at several gaming conventions, including serving as the chaplain for Gary Con. He realizes that geeks need a pastor too and tries his best to share faith and spirituality in a way that complements geek culture.
On the Min/Max Podcast, two seminarians and a photographer explore the intersection of gaming, nerd culture, and theology.
Cardboard Koinonia brings people together in fellowship to foster relationships, and build community across cultural, social, and generational divides using games. They run Family Game Nights in which they invite people from all walks of life around a board game table. They have a Facebook group.
Redeemed Otaku is a podcast about anime for the Christian consumer. Reviews, discussion, recommendations on old and new and rarely covered anime from a Christian worldview.
Wild East Games makes board games and is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Brian and Jill Bollinger. Brian is a pastor, and his personal testimony is prominent on the company web-site. Geeky polymaths, they also operate Bollinger Edgerly Scale Trains, which sells model train kits and building supplies, and tickcomics.com, a guide to collecting Tick comic books.
The purpose for Gaming and God is to bridge the gap between the pastime that is playing video games to scripture, biblical values and life lessons that we can use daily.
The podcast 1 Geek 411 is the brain child of friends Cameron Franklin and Chris Nicolay. Cameron and Chris met at Oklahoma Christian where they bonded over ultimate, video games, and Magic: The Gathering. They began discussing social norms and questioning why it’s okay to watch sports for hours a day but then geeks and nerds are questioned about playing video games or their other activities for hours. As a result 1 Geek 411 was born.
The Nerd Chapel is committed to being a bridge between the Body of Christ and nerds/geeks/gamers who are interested in exploring the Bible and Jesus. We also want to be a resource for Christian nerds of all sizes.
Gamechurch is a non-profit dedicated to bringing the message of Jesus’ love, hope, and acceptance into the culture of video games.
Faith & Fandom is a book series of devotional essays on faith & geek culture. There are 5 volumes out now, plus a kids edition! They also do podcasts, art, panels, apparel, memes, and Comic Con life in general. They travel to roughly 28 comicons a year in the south east and also have a podcast series and a video series.
Games For All is a blog by Stephen Taylor, who wants to help you discover your character and skills for life through gaming. And give you pointers to help your children/partners/friends do so to. For parents in particular he hopes this blog will give you an insight into what on Earth your children are talking about when they discuss their gaming hobby, and perhaps give you some alternative games to suggest when they want one that makes you feel uncomfortable to buy them.
ScreenFish is where faith and film are intertwined, creating a place for dialogue and discussion on the latest in film, tv and movies.
Open Table Ministries puts on strategy game nights three Saturdays per month in Kettering, Ohio.
Christian Geek Central exists to equip, encourage and inspire Christian geeks of all kinds to live more and more for Christ. To this end, they’ve made it their goal to be both a gateway to, and creator of, the highest quality entertainment and resources on the web that they believe will be of special interest to Christian geeks. In addition, Christian Geek Central is an active and growing community of Christian geeks who come together to both celebrate and examine their favorite hobbies from a biblical perspective. They host a podcast network, including: Christian Geek Central, Untold, Strangers and Aliens, Theology Gaming, POS TOS, Helix Reviews, and Retro Rewind. And if that weren’t enough, they also have a forum!
The Pop Culture Coream Deo Podcast examines the artifacts of pop culture in light of God’s self-revelation.
And finally, what about us? The Christian Gamers Guild is a community of Christian gamers that has been working to explain roleplaying to Christians and Christianity to roleplayers since 1996. Joining the Guild is as simple as joining our email discussion list, which is the core of our ministry. In addition to the discussion list and the articles on this web-site, we also organize and host worship services and panels at a few gaming conventions each year, and CGG members are frequently in attendance at many other cons, regardless of whether the Guild itself has an event scheduled. We have a few branded items in our Store, if you want to show your allegiance, or you can make your own using the materials available in the publicity package.
Phew! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can find your sisters and brothers in Christ all over the place, at conventions, in games, and on Twitter. And whoever you meet and game with, whether they’re a believer or not, remember to extend the love of Christ to everyone!
Early in 2006, Christian Gamers Guild Chaplain Mark Joseph Young began an online undergraduate level Bible study through Yahoo!Groups with Paul’s Leter to the Romans. Moving at one verse a day five says a week, he has now finished all the epistles and, as of today, Revelation/Apocalypse.
The study will continue next week, with the first post, preliminaries for a study of the Gospel of John, appearing sometime on Sunday (January 13, 2019), and chapter 1 verse 1 being sent on Monday. The study is a combination of exegetical and analytical principles applied to the Greek text with many translations compared in an effort to reach the original author’s intent.
Mark Joseph Young, “MJ” to much of the gamer community, has been Chaplain of the Christian Gamers Guild for nearing two decades, and has been teaching this Bible Study since beginning with Romans. He hold degrees in Biblical Studies from Luther College of the Bible and Liberal Arts (formerly in Teaneck, NJ) and Gordon College (Wenham, MA), received a Juris Doctore with honors from Widener University School of Law, and is Mensa qualified. He is the author of our Faith and Gaming series, of the more recent Faith in Play and RPG-ology series, and of quite a few books and many online articles on quite a variety of subjects. Some of his articles have been republished in French and German. His online presence is maintained largely by support through Patreon and PayPal.me.
The study, officially sponsored by the Christian Gamers Guild, is open to all and has participants including ministers from a wide variety of denominations. We look forward to your participation.
Several years ago, I ran a fantasy horror game for a group of teenagers from my church. It was their very first roleplaying game, and I felt both very privileged to have the opportunity to introduce them to the hobby and very responsible for keeping them on a godly path in their play. My own experience with roleplaying at that age was… Well, let’s say that some of the encounters were less than holy. In that light, horror might seem like a peculiar choice of genre—the kind of conservative Pentecostals of my home church are just as uncomfortable with horror films as they are with roleplaying itself. Nevertheless, although I don’t care much for the genre in film, it’s a gaming mode that I enjoy and that I think has much to offer. This article isn’t meant to be an apology for the place of the macabre in the Christian imagination, so to keep it short, I’ll offer this link to Christian Fandom’s essay list on that topic and chaplain M.J. Young’s previous articles Writing Fear, Faith in Play #5: Fear, and RPG-ology #11: Scared. Rather, I would like to look at one particular moment in that game and offer some observations on gaming, Christian fellowship, and courage. Read more
Last weekend I was invited to participate as a guest star in a session of Tales from the Loop (TFL), Simon Stålenhag’s RPG set in a science-fictionalized small town from the 1980’s. The Player Characters are a band of kids (12 – 15 years of age) who are caught up in mysterious events surrounding a secret maybe-government project called the Loop. Released on the heels of Netflix’s Stranger Things, TFL borrows from all of the adolescent fantasies of the ’80’s such as E.T., The Goonies, and Explorers with a healthy dose of Eureka mixed in. As a guest, I got only a small taste of the system and world, but what I saw definitely left me wanting more!
Mechanically, the system is fairly simple: Characters have four Attributes: Body, Mind, Tech, and Heart; and a number of Skills, each of which is associated with one of the Attributes. When the GM calls for a roll, a dice pool is filled with d6’s equal to the character’s Attribute + Skill, and any 6’s are counted as successes. A typical task is accomplished by rolling just one success, and “Nearly Impossible” tasks are accomplished with three successes. There is no failure or critical success mechanic—a 6 is the only result that matters, but in a game filled with young teenagers, everything is critical. Children don’t have professions, so the role of character classes is played by middle-school stereotypes: The Jock, the Rocker, the Popular Kid, the Geek. Each class allows the kid to specialize their Skills—the Jock, for instance, can take up to three points in Force (applications of physical prowess, such as fighting or opening stuck doors), Move, and Connections (the ability to get help from allies other than the PCs), but they can’t take more than one point in any other skill. Younger kids get fewer Attribute point, reflecting that they’re still developing, but they make up for it with Luck points, which can be used to reroll failed dice. Read more