I think gaming has a bit of a bad reputation in Christian circles. Sure, I’ve heard of the occasional “Game Night” where a church or small group opens itself up for a night of board games. But gaming in general is kind of frowned upon, especially when it comes to video games.
Several objections come to mind quite readily: waste of time, too expensive, distracting from God, etc. I would agree with these objections. Today, gaming consoles and video games can set you back hundreds of dollars easily, not to mention the countless hours spent in front of a tv screen as gamers mash buttons on a remote control. Even free apps such as Pokemon Go and Clash Royale (2 of my favorites) offer enticing in-game purchases to help you move up quicker in the game.
But, I think a new generation of gaming has evolved and Christians need to be in the mix for several good reasons. Many of these ideas, in my opinion, have their roots in popular concepts found in classic and new board games and card games.
4 Reasons for Christians to Play Games
This new generation of gaming and gamers is extremely social. A quick look at the top video games shows that games where you interact with other live people clearly top the charts. Pokemon Go, Clash Royale, and many other games allow gamers to play in real time with other people across the world. Thanks to the internet and extremely smart designers and developers, we can literally battle against or work together with people across the world in real time in a variety of games.
This social aspect is also found in board games and card games. In fact, you can’t play too many card games or board games by yourself. They were made for live interaction.
To be fair, the objection that this can waste your time and distract you from God is relevant. My advice, don’t take the gaming too seriously. Go into games with the mindset of relationship, not domination!
This may not apply so much to card games and board games, but the new generation of gaming also uses smart technology to track your location or to log your exercise. Many games, including the new Pokemon Go, actually require you to walk around to play the game! You can’t simply sit in your house, room, or apartment and catch Pokemon. You have to get outside and walk around with the app open! This means you get to explore where you live while playing a fun game.
Now, just because a game encourages exercise doesn’t make it right to play it. That’s still a judgement call on your part to make. But how cool is it that you can turn exercise into a gaming experience?!
One of the coolest features of gaming is to gamify real world situations. For instance, Pokemon Go uses your phone’s camera and adds Pokemon into the image. Just this morning I caught a Pokemon while riding the tram to the office! And, thanks to the augmented reality feature, I was virtually throwing Pokeballs at people (because my aim is so bad)!
Another cool feature of gaming is creativity and strategy. Card Collecting Games (CCGs) are my personal favorite and I love the strategy behind collecting cards and building your own deck to play against other people. Whether it’s Magic the Gathering or Redemption, the creativity and possibilities are nearly endless. This also goes with board games and video games. Monopoly, Solitaire, Battleship, Clash Royale, and many others require you to be creative, to think about your strategy, and play based on your best options.
Going along with the idea of the games being social, gaming can be used as a ministry opportunity. Now, I don’t mean that you should go about gaming with the ulterior motive to evangelize and convert people. But, it is truly a golden opportunity to meet people with common interests and, when the opportunity arises, to share your worldview or show the kingdom of God through your actions or words.
Some Cool Resources for You Gamers
Here are a few of my favorite gaming resources, mostly Christian.
Do you have some other resources or thoughts about gaming from a Christian perspective? If so, please share them below in the comment section.
Also published on Medium.