I will confess that I specifically saved this one of the Archetypes for this month. It has been something of a tradition to cover subjects related to game magic in October, begun inadvertently when I addressed the objections to Magic that first year and then returned to it a year later when I recommended Fantasy as a particularly Christian medium one year later. A Concern expressed last year also related to magic in games, so at this point it seems that in the month in which Halloween appears I must say something that is related to game magic. In fact, I already have a topic for next year’s October article, so I guess I’m taking the tradition seriously.
Seriousness is one of the characteristics of this month’s character type, the wizard. We would normally call him studious, probably learned, perhaps educated. The wizard is the sort of person who knows great secrets because he applies himself; and because of the breadth and depth of his knowledge, he wields great power. Merlin of Arthurian legend is the prototype for this character, and Gandalf of Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) and Dumbledore of Hogwart’s Academy (the Harry Potter series) both capture the concept beautifully. These are men who know, and because they know, they can do. Read more
Three months ago, in Deals, I suggested something that flies in the face of much of the common wisdom about what is acceptable in gaming: I suggested that a game that focused on making deals with the devil was a very Christian game, which taught a very important Christian lesson to its players. Some have probably wondered since then whether I think there is anything at all that goes too far in role playing.
That would be at least a bit unfair. I have often said that there are things that go too far for me, and things of which others should at least be wary. Admittedly, I’ve never (that I recall) stated that any particular concept was inappropriate per se for all players, but I have said there were things that concern me, and two months back when we addressed Sex I suggested a few that were inappropriate for me (although not for everyone).
This month, there is something that concerns me. It is appropriate that it should fall in October, the month in which this column has traditionally addressed issues related to magic, because it is a matter concerning magic that has come to my attention of which I write. Read more
In the earliest articles of this series, we were looking at what might be considered the issues in role playing, those areas in which Christians might have concerns. We started with some fairly simple ones—the implications of various types of mechanics, the matter of creating settings which were different in any way from the world God created, the inclusion of bad things in our worlds. Then we started to get sidetracked, perhaps, into answering the many objections raised against role playing games, beginning with the weaker brother argument. We took many sidetracks and then started to talk about how we might actually involve our faith in our games in specific and intentional ways with the idea of playing the good guys, the first of eight generally on that subject, which included things as diverse as playing the bad guys and using Christian imagery. Then, abruptly, the focus changed when we talked about Pagans and whether modern Christian treatment of them was at all appropriate or Biblical. This opened up a new direction for the column—or perhaps merely returned us to the old direction, back to those matters which might be issues to us as gamers, such as battle and war and making deals with the devil. 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
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
CGG’s Chaplain, Mark Joseph Young, has completed his study of II Peter and will be moving on to I John soon, making this is a good time to join the study. You may do so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, we would like to encourage anyone and everyone who has found Mark’s writing helpful or edifying to consider becoming a patron, to enable him to continue providing enlightening material in a variety of forms and places. In case you hadn’t made the connection, Mark wrote the Faith and Gaming series, which is currently being reposted on this web site and is also available in print. He also has written several other books: Game Ideas Unlimited (out of print), Christian life works About the Fruit and What Does God Expect?, the roleplaying game Multiverser (co-author) and two supplements for that game, and Verse Three, Chapter One, a novel based on the game. In addition, he has been a contributor to numerous web-sites and on-line magazines, including his popular Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies for The Examiner (which has recently been shut down).
If you have enjoyed any of that material and look forward to seeing more in the future, please help support Mark through his Patreon page.
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
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…
Last month as we concluded our consideration of Magic, we raised a bigger issue: is it appropriate for characters in a fictional world to call upon any deity?
It is not a simple question. At every turn God has commanded that we have no regard for other gods; it is top of the list in the Ten Commandments, the concept behind many of the prohibitions (from sorcery to cutting the corners of your beard), and the reason why Israel and Judah were conquered by foreign nations. You shall have no other gods before Me.
But at the same time, you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
We are caught between the proverbial two horns. Read more