I was looking back at the article Good Guys in this series, as it discussed how we can bring our faith into our games by playing characters who directly express that faith, when it suddenly occurred to me that I could not remember a character playing that sense of awe we sometimes have when we enter the presence of God. Immediately I thought there were reasons; and it is worth perhaps exploring those reasons.
Most games I’ve seen in which there is a concept of the divine (apart from Multiverser and a few games designed specifically to be Christian) use an essentially polytheistic concept. It may well be that polytheism inherently waters down the degree to which the gods impress us. After all, if this is the god of one thing and that of another, and the best that can be said of the king of the gods is that the others are supposed to do what he says, not one of them is particularly powerful or awesome as compared with the God of gods who has all power in His hands. And not only are they individually less impressive, even collectively they somehow fail to measure up. Read more
Many years ago I was at summer camp; it was a rather unusual summer camp. It was run by the United Presbyterian Church on the Lebanon, New Jersey, campgrounds of the American Baptist Convention, and it was for high school aged students who loved to perform music, giving them the opportunity to work under the baton of one of the best conductors alive—who happened to be Jewish. We learned to sing and play some of the greatest music ever written, by Bach and Handel, Mozart and Mendelssohn. Oh, we did the Bible things, too, and the summer camp things, but ultimately this was music camp, and we did music.
One of those who was primarily responsible for running the camp was a Presbyterian minister generally known as Pastor Tom. I remember him sharing informally one day with a few of us. There are many ways to glorify God, he said. The way we’re doing that here is by producing the best music we are able to produce. I came to realize that he was right, that God was truly glorified by the music we sang, because we all did our best and created something wonderful.
I’ve come to realize over time that this same concept, of doing things as well as we can to glorify God, applies to much more than music. Read more
There are ultimately two views of the universe. It is not quite so simple as the Christian view versus everyone else; that which Christians believe about the universe is shared by many other people. But the prevailing view of the age is not the Christian view; and if we are to bring our faith to bear in our games, perhaps we can start by creating worlds in which the Christian view is a bit more clearly true. Read more
Often you will get advice from Christians suggesting that if you want to play role playing games as a Christian you need to remove the magic from the games. Don’t play the wizards, whatever you do; and if you have the choice, stick to science fiction games, or espionage or western or other settings in which there isn’t any magic. Magic, we are told, is a terrible thing which should be removed from our games as much as possible.
I’m going to go against the grain. One of the best ways I know to bring your faith to bear on the games you play is to infuse those games with magic. Read more
Last month as we explored ways to express our faith in our gaming, we suggested that it could be done by playing the Good Guys. But we also insisted that this was not the only way it could be done. In fact, quite unexpectedly, we can often bring our faith to bear on a game by playing the villains. This is done, most commonly, by revealing what evil truly is. C. S. Lewis once wrote that good could easily understand evil, but that evil not only did not understand good, it did not as fully understand itself. Many gamers play evil characters thinking it is the easy and rewarding path. By showing what evil is really about, the Christian gamer can point people to the truth. Read more
A short time ago someone writing to thank the Christian Gamers Guild for this Faith and Gaming series asked a question which had not been addressed, and which perhaps should have been recognized and addressed long before this, given the thoughts in our Preliminaries: how, in practical terms, do we integrate our faith into our gaming? That is, when we are in the middle of playing a game, how do we bring our faith to bear? I have addressed the question briefly elsewhere before, but if we’re speaking of integrating faith and gaming, this would seem to be close to the heart of the matter. So we will consider some ideas of how to bring faith into games. Read more
Most gamers call them psionics, a term coined in the middle of the last century for the idea that we could use our minds to change the world around us directly. But to many, they are just another form of magic, and therefore a danger to the saved and the lost alike. To believe in mental powers, we are told, is to believe in evil Satanic powers of darkness. No Christian should ever believe in such things, or promote such beliefs, or even entertain the possibility that they might be a subject for conversation, let alone for something so frivolous as game play.
But I do believe in mental powers. I believe that we have them, that we have powers and abilities we have not tapped. I don’t see anything anti-Christian about believing such a thing. In fact, I think I can prove it. Read more
Not too long ago, I was asked whether there were any games which I thought were Satanic, which Christians should avoid. If you’ve read this series to date, you know my answer; but perhaps this time I have a different answer, a surprising answer. For from my personal experience, I can suggest that there is a game which Satan uses against me, to tear me down and pull me away from God. And so from my own experience I would be justified in saying that this is a game which Christians should not play, or at least should give careful consideration to the dangers before doing so.
The game is Solitaire.
Before you turn away, hear me out. There are dangers to this game that you have never considered. It has nothing to do with cards or games of chance per se, but with something deeper, something which Satan can use to undermine your faith if you are not careful. Read more
More than two decades ago now, before I’d ever heard of role playing games or Dungeons & Dragons™ or the hobby game industry, I took an undergraduate course in creative writing, specifically writing fiction. I suppose I had some distant dream of retiring and writing the next great fantasy novel, and I thought this would help. It was a wonderful class, and I gained much from it.
Periodically we were required to write short pieces which would be as fragments of a story—descriptions of scenes, action sequences, and similar bits. One of these was an internal character sketch. To explain, when we read books there is always a perspective from which we are told the story. It can be an external perspective, as we would have watching a play or film, seeing everyone’s actions from the outside. But books permit us to come to the story from the thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of one of the characters, to know not only what happened, but how it affected this individual. So it is possible to describe a character externally, telling what he looks like, how he dresses and moves and what he does; but it is possible to describe a character internally, considering how he sees himself, how he reacts and what goes through his mind that leads him to the choices he makes. Read more
Last month’s installment of Faith and Gaming, Making Peace, was the twelfth in the series. We’ve been talking about the integration of faith and gaming for a year now; and that in itself could be a call to go back to the beginning and consider our basic purpose. But I recently read these words in a public forum, from a Christian who is a gamer; and this idea (edited for punctuation and grammar) also brought me back to the preliminaries we discussed a year ago, the basic reason why we’re talking about faith and gaming at all.
I’ve never been terribly fond of Christian games, though, to be honest with you, partly because I think that the subject matter is where I draw a line between fantasy world and reality. I don’t want to put my Christianity on the shelf with my gamebooks. I keep my Bibles in a different bookcase…