Overview of the Articles on the New Christian Gamers Guild Website

Over the past eighteen months, our diligent and dedicated webmaster Bryan has been republishing much of the material generated by and for the Christian Gamers Guild over the previous two decades in a new web format which is thought to be more accessible and is certainly better looking.  That has included material from our e-zine The Way, the Truth, and the Dice, a couple of articles from elsewhere, some new material, and of course my own Faith and Gaming series.  The upside of this is that many readers have discovered these articles for the first time.  The downside, from my perspective, is that it became just a bit tougher for me to refer people to the articles—not individually, but as a collection.  The old site had a single “Chaplain’s Corner” index that described and linked the entire series plus quite a few other articles on and off the site, and when people had questions about role playing or other hobby games I could (in addition to addressing the specific questions) refer them to that page for more information than they perhaps would have wanted.  That page still has some valuable links, but Bryan agreed with me that now that the entire series has been relocated there ought to be a page that indexes it all at the new locations.

Several thoughts occurred to me as I undertook this.  One was that there were a few articles I wrote which are excellent pieces not originally part of the Faith and Gaming series, and they should be included here.  The second was that it would seem particularly arrogant of me to index my own contributions and ignore those excellent articles by everyone else, so I am going to attempt in essence to map the entire site—not in the old directory tree mapping style, but in something more useful.

That is the third thought that occurred to me.  The original index listed the Faith and Gaming series in the order in which it was originally published—and the fact that both times the series has been released in book form that sequence was retained is testimony to the fact that it is still an excellent order in which to read the entire series.  However, most of you won’t want to read the entire series at one sitting, and there are quite a few excellent articles here that you would miss if you did it that way, so instead I am endeavoring to sort the articles into categories.  Anyone who wishes to read the series that way can go to the first one, #1:  Preliminaries (originally published in April, 2001 and republished May 10th, 2016), which introduces me and my reasons for launching the series, and find the link at the bottom of the article to the second, and from there links connecting the entire series forward and backward from beginning to end.

Beginning next month—and in fact next week—I will be launching a new series entitled Faith in Play which will continue to address topics like these.  I started drafting it near the beginning of this year, and soon had so many potential subjects that Bryan and I agreed on a second series to run the third week of the month, something I’m calling RPG-ology, which will be less about faith (although nothing in life is not about faith) and more about the nuts and bolts of gameplay, refereeing, and theory.  I invite and encourage you to contact me with any subject ideas you have for either of those, anything I have not already covered or not covered adequately or for some reason need to revisit.  The comments section below and our Christian Gamers Guild Facebook page are both excellent ways to reach me if you don’t already have a direct connection to me through social media somewhere.  Last week we published the last entry in the old series.  That makes this an excellent time for a summary and transition, so here it is.

The second article in the series raised the issue of what was the most basic aspect of our games, and in some ways it was a topic to which we returned periodically. Thus we have these articles in the Faith and Gaming series that are focused on that foundation:

  • #2:  Fundamentals, May 2001; May 17, 2016:  finds the core of Christian gaming in the friendships formed between the people.
  • #25:  Pagans, April 2002; December 20, 2016:  tells the story of the modern pagan priest who was persecuted for being a gamer, and challenges our treatment of pagans.
  • #36:  Friends, March 2003; May 23, 2017:  focuses on friendships and how we should behave in relation to those with whom we play our games.
  • #37:  Admonition, April 2003; June 6, 2017:  calls for efforts by Christian gamers to continue working to bridge the gap between these two groups.

It was in a sense surprising to us, back in 2001, to realize that the fundamentals of our games were not found in the aspects that made them games, but as we progressed we explored those “gamey” aspects as well:

  • #3:  Mechanics, June 2001; May 24, 2016:  explores fortune, karma, and drama and how these relate to our faith.
  • #4:  Settings, July 2001; May 31, 2016:  asks whether it is wrong to imagine worlds that are different from the one God created, and then suggests it might be wrong not to do so.
  • #14:  Characters, May 2002; August 9, 2016:  explores the value of discovering how others think and feel by roleplaying characters.

The discussion of settings introduced the question of dark games, games in which evil is pervasive—you probably know them better than I.  That, though, brought us to:

  • #5:  Bad Things, August 2001; June 7, 2016:  asks whether Christians are forbidden to think about evil.

There were quite a few articles essentially in defense of games, enough so that it seems reasonable to break them into subcategories.  The one which we addressed most frequently had to do with the use of magic in the games.  The first of these, appropriately, was:

  • #7:  Magic, October 2001; June 21, 2016:  discusses the Christian relationship to magical powers in fantasy.

That, however, was not the first time the Christian Gamers Guild addressed the subject.  I wrote one of four pieces for a Magic Symposium in our e-zine The Way, the Truth, and the Dice, of which three have been republished:

The fourth of that set awaits permission from the author to republish it in the new format, but is still available in the PDF edition of the e-zine.

There are a couple of subjects very obviously related to magic:

  • #16:  Mind Powers, July 2002; August 23, 2016:  discusses the possibility that we might be able to develop psionic abilities in the future.
  • #8:  In Vain, November 2001; June 28, 2016:  addresses the fundamental issues of “clerical” magic and how to bring God into a fictional story.

Another targeted issue in role playing games is the violence, and Faith and Gaming addressed it as such twice:

  • #26:  Battle, May 2002; January 3, 2017:  addresses the question of whether it is good for us to play simulated combat in our games, given that it might inure us against sensitivity to real fighting.
  • #27:  War, June 2002; January 17, 2017:  raises the issue of how to know whether a fictional war is a just war.

It was also a subject of several articles, again one of them mine but the other two excellent contributions from a marine who is an expert on modern military issues:

  • Real and Imaginary Violence, February 21, 2017:  mine from The Way, the Truth, and the Dice 2000 issue discussing violence in role playing games.
  • Hitting Them Where It Hurts by Charles Franklin March 17, 2017 gives suggestions for a more realistic system of damage in which there is never no chance of dying on the next hit.
  • Keeping Their Heads Down by Charles Franklin April 4, 2017 is about the “fog of war”, and how to simulate the kind of shock and uncertainty that so often affects combatants on a real battlefield.

There are a lot of other objections to games, what we might call “theological” or “Christian conduct” objections, and we addressed many of them:

  • #6:  Weaker Brothers, September 2001; June 14, 2016:  addresses the argument that we should not play such games because they might cause someone else to stumble.
  • #9:  Appearances, December 2001; July 5, 2016:  discusses I Thessalonians 5:22 on the appearance of evil.
  • #10:  Walking in Darkness, January 2002; July 12, 2016:  discusses I John 1:5ff and what it means by walking in the light.
  • #11:  Cults, February 2002; July 19, 2016:  discusses what it is to be a cult and why hobby games do not qualify.
  • #12:  Making Peace, March 2002; July 26, 2016:  discusses James 3:18 and what the fruit of righteousness has to do with peace.

It wasn’t part of the Faith and Gaming series, and in fact it was co-authored with the help of several other members of the Guild, but when the new Pokémon Go smartphone game created such a stir we pulled up the old defense of the earlier collectible card game:

  • The Problem with Pokémon, July 21, 2016:  1999 group effort to answer criticism of the Pokémon collectible card game, revived in the wake of the popularity of the new Pokémon Go augmented reality game.

We also talked about games:

  • #13:  Christian Games, April 2002; August 2, 2016:  in which I suggested that Christian games are for Christians, and the world does not need them at all so much as it needs good games which happen to be by Christians.
  • #15:  Devil’s Game, June 2002; August 16, 2016:  suggests that one very popular common game just might be a tool of the devil, to show that almost anything can be but nothing necessarily is.
  • #33:  Ouija, December 2002, April 11, 2017:  asks whether the Ouija board is something Christians should avoid.

And despite my suggested disdain for “Christian” games, I eventually published the rules for one, long after the original series ended:

  • A Christian Game, January 10, 2017:  providing the rules for a game-like activity involving scripture.

And as long as we’re on the subject of games, we had a few other articles on those lines:

Plus a series about a newly-published game, by its creator:

And we had a few game reviews of different types:

We had quite a few articles talking about how to bring your faith into your gameplay:

  • #17:  Good Guys, August 2002; August 30, 2016:  suggests bringing faith into the game by having your character express that faith.
  • #18:  Bad Guys, September 2002; September 13, 2016:  suggests bringing faith into the game by showing the true nature of evil.
  • #19:  Fantasy, October 2002; September 27, 2016:  argues that magic is not merely permissible but one of the factors that truly brings Christian faith into games.
  • #20:  Justice, November 2002; October 11, 2016:  suggests that bonusing the good characters and penalizing the wicked ones might just be fair.
  • #21:  The Best, December 2002; October 25, 2016:  discusses glorifying God by doing our best as players.
  • #22:  Awe, January 2002; November 8, 2016:  suggests bringing the fear of God into play by roleplaying the fear of gods.
  • #23:  Wisdom, February 2002; November 22, 2016:  discusses the foolish acts of some players through their characters, and how bringing wisdom to your character can improve the game and enhance your reputation with the other players.
  • #24:  Imagery, March 2002; December 6, 2016:  suggests bringing faith into a game through allusions to Biblical images.

And we talked about storylines that might potentially be used as vehicles for the gospel:

  • #28:  Deals, July 2002; January 31, 2017:  considers the Christian value in the Faustian story.
  • #32:  Redemption, November 2002; March 28, 2017:  discusses the Christian value in the Prodigal story.
  • #48:  Samaritan, March 2004; November 7, 2017:  discusses the Christian value of the Samaritan story.

Near the end we had a few articles about using the game world itself as a way to glorify and point to God:

  • #45:  Animals, December 2003; September 26, 2017:  considers how animals in our fictional worlds might connect to God and reveal something about Him.
  • #46:  Heavens, January 2004; October 10, 2017:  addresses how the stars might glorify God in reality and in fictional settings.
  • #47:  Teleology, February 2004; October 24, 2017:  looks at structure and design as evidences of God, within the context of the fictional universe.

There were a number of articles about running games, including:

And an extensive series from Dave Mattingly, current Vice President of the Guild, originally two long articles in issues of The Way, the Truth, and the Dice (of which he once served as editor) which were broken into more manageable web log posts:

Dave also gave us some other articles::

We should also mention the articles that were not exactly play reports but recountings of the adventure from actual games:

  • The Search for Sergeant Adelar by Michael Garcia, April 4, 2017, the debut article in a series of memorable and entertaining roleplaying sessions from the CGG membership.
  • The Battle of the Muddy Fields by Michael Garcia, May 30, 2017 the telling of a battle of armies in which the powerful spells of a few become significant factors in the fight.
  • Vengeance of Andreas Fuchs by Michael Garcia, June 27, 2017 the telling of an ambush that nearly destroyed the now familiar party of adventurers.
  • Taking the Seegeist by Michael Garcia, August 8, 2017 in which the now familiar party of adventurers assaults a ship at night in a blizzard.
  • A Winter Night’s Duel by Michael Garcia, September 5, 2017 in which the familiar party’s noble knight is challenged to a duel.
  • Grimvaling Ambush by Michael Garcia, October 3, 2017 in which the familiar party is ambushed by missile fire and magic.

Lynette Cowper (GURPS Rogues) is responsible for suggesting that we do a series on archetypes, and so we hit a few of these and how they both illustrate and challenge our faith:

  • #39:  Archetypes, June 2003; July 4, 2017:  introduces the miniseries on types of characters and what they teach us.
  • #40:  Warriors, July 2003; July 18, 2017:  discusses what we learn from the common soldier type.
  • #41:  Knights, August 2003; August 1, 2017:  discusses what we learn from the noble fighter type.
  • #42:  Rogues, September 2003; August 15, 2017:  discusses what we learn from the thief type.
  • #43:  Wizards, October 2003; August 29, 2017:  discusses what we learn from the magic-user type.
  • #44:  Holy Men, November 2003; September 12, 2017:  discusses what we learn from the cleric type.

I’m jumbling the rest of the articles of the series in a category I’ll call “miscellaneous gaming issues”:

  • #29:  Sex, August 2002; February 14, 2017:  discusses the pros and cons of including sexual encounters and issues in our games.
  • #30:  Gender, September 2002; February 28, 2017:  looks at the way male and female are divided, and how the Biblical view of God permits other possible gender divisions.
  • #31:  A Concern, October 2002; March 14, 2017:  notes the then pending release of a game book that was intended to encourage people to use real pagan magic.
  • #34:  Losing, January 2003; April 25, 2017:  considers the message conveyed by so many games that you can’t always win.
  • #35:  Slavery, February 2003; May 9, 2017:  presents the idea that slavery is not necessarily an evil institution in itself, but is one that is easily abused.
  • #38:  Answers, May 2003; Jun 20, 2017:  discusses why people would play games that explore difficult moral or ethical issues.
  • #49:  Miscarriage, April 2004; November 21, 2017:  recognizes an injustice perpetrated against a gamer by the legal system.

So that this will be as complete as I can reasonably make it, I’m tagging here at the end a batch of pages that show up on the site that are in some sense administrative—they give the site structure, or provide information about specific aspects of our ministry or events over the past year or so:

So that’s pretty much everything so far.  As I have repeatedly said, drop us a note if there’s something else you want to see here, and we’ll see if someone can do that.

—M. J. Young
Chaplain, Christian Gamers Guild

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