This is RPG-ology #14: Shock, for January 2019.
About a year ago a discussion in the Christian Gamers Guild group reminded me of a couple articles I’d published in the Game Ideas Unlimited series that were lost but worth reviving. This is a recreation of the first of those.
I’m pretty sure it was 1973. I was a Boy Scout and a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster in my last year as a scout before continuing as an adult leader. My father was troop committee chairman and often active in our outings, and Mr. Winkler was the Scoutmaster at the time. Rick Trover and Bob Hamer, who are both part of this story, were a year or two younger than I, and respectively Junior Assistant Scoutmaster and Senior Patrol Leader. It was the troop’s first excursion down the Delaware River, although quite a few of us had logged several hundred miles of canoeing through the Adirondacks. We knew that the river had flooded, and that the day before we arrived on the banks at Skinner’s Falls to begin our trek Cochecton, New York, a short distance upstream, had been under four feet of water. We did not know that there was a whirlpool under the Narrowsburg Bridge one day south of us. However, never having seen this part of the river before, we were unaware just how far above flood stage it was. Still, we sat in camp on the bank for two days waiting for the water to drop before someone decided that if we were actually going to canoe this river in the week we’d planned, maybe we should get moving downstream.
Ricky and Bob took a canoe and headed up above the falls. I’m not sure whether someone had authorized this. I first became aware of it when people were shouting and I joined the race to the shore to watch them coming down fast from the waters above the falls into the worst possible spot.
Let me describe what we saw Read more
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
Late last year (2002 at the time of this writing), on what I hope I may be excused for calling an inauspicious day, someone known to me only by an Internet screen name, somewhere else in these United States, was persecuted for being a gamer. Read more
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