Christians have been at odds with gaming for a very long time, now. Once video games were just a few pixels bouncing around on the screen, and there was no issue. Nobody complained about an Italian plumber jumping onto the heads of a few turtles as being too violent or risque. When games like Mortal Kombat came out that featured graphic violence, issues were raised.
The greatest Christian heroes are those who spread the gospel and were martyred without fighting back. The greatest video game heroes are those who slaughter aliens and monsters, or mow down hordes of enemy soldiers with a machine gun. Let’s face it; video games don’t exactly encourage the “turn the other cheek” behavior that Jesus preached.
Then there is the other stuff. The sex, alcohal/drug use, and foul language. The stuff that Christians have winced at ever since they first started appearing in books or movies. Now they are in interactive media too.
That’s just it, though. It is impossible to live life without being exposed to these things. Evil is out there, if you aren’t going to be exposed to violence or sex in video games, you are going to see it in movies, television, or ads.
I was pretty sheltered as a kid. My parents were responsible and made sure they monitored all of the media I was exposed to. You know where I first learned about sex, though? The Bible.
This is something few people talk about, but the Bible is filled with graphic violence and plenty of stories of fornication and infidelity. Why should we hold media to a higher standard than the Bible?
Now, I realize there are differences between the Bible and video games. The Bible presents sex and violence in a Godly light. In Biblical accounts, God often shows up to condemn sexual sin, and unlawful violence is punished, but still, one has to admit that reading the Bible exposes readers to these difficult themes.
A video game might not condemn violent actions at all, but as intelligent media consumers, we have the ability to understand that these actions are wrong. We can be our own voice of reason. We have that power.
Some RPGs even give us as gamers the choice to make more Godly choices within the game. We can play with a sort of, “what would Jesus do” mindset (though laying down our lives freely is usually not an option).
The bottom line is that if Christians are to operate in the modern world, and interact with culture, we have to understand that video games are a huge part of that culture. Playing games help us better relate to the millions of gamers out there that need Jesus.
Besides, most games have plenty of positive messages in them too, like defending the innocent, never giving up, and fighting for what is true and right. Games also can help us develop better problem-solving skills, improve our reflexes, and sometimes expose us to creative and beautiful narratives.
We can either let negative elements of games change us, or we can focus on the positives of games and let them benefit us.
After all, video games are art, and all art is what you make of it.