For the second part of this series, I would like to take a look at what is currently out there in regards to Christian video game sites.
Our tour begins with an organization called gamers4Jesus.org. The site exists to provide a safe place to play and fellowship on the Internet. You can read their About section here. The site doesn’t feature any news, reviews, or editorial on gaming. However, it does feature a game/ Team Speak server and a Bible study that is hosted over Team Speak every Thursday night at 5pm (5pm PST; 8pm EST).
Another site that seems similar to gamers4Jesus, is Hardcore Christian Gamer. From what I have known about them in the past (their Our Mission link is broken), they provide a podcast, devotions, occasional articles, and a forum. They primarily seem to provide sort of an in-game club for PS3 and Xbox 360 users.
(Note: As I am writing this, I am noticing that these sites can be classified. For instance, the sites listed above could be classified as clan/community sites; below, the sites can be listed as review sites.)
Chugging along, Guide2Games.org offers video game reviews from a Christian perspective. This site is more user review driven as one can submit a game review.
Other sites that offer game reviews from a Christian perspective include:
Christ Centered Gamer – I can’t tell if this site just started or what (lack of dates). I did note that there is not a ton of content.
Plugged In Online – Probably the most professional looking Christian game review site I found. The only problem is that the reviews aren’t written in a format comparable to a major video game review site.
Plain Games – Christian video game reviews rated with their unique “Bar Rating” system. Definitely written by a gamer/s.
For the first part of this series, I wanted to layout how I have personally come to the conclusion that there is a need for a Christian influence in video games and then present the overall vision of Johnny B Gamer.
Growing up in the 1980’s, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was a staple in my parents’ home. I remember long days spent adventuring with Mario, Donkey Kong, and Link from The Legend of Zelda series. Though I did not realize it at the time, I was actively engaging in a new form of media—video games.
As the years progressed, my passion for this new electronic media has both increased and matured. The Internet has provided me with a way to connect with fellow game enthusiasts from around the world. I often spend time reading about the latest video game news, reviews, and editorials. From my vantage point of watching video games integrate into popular culture, I have noticed a disturbing trend in online video game web sites. Besides the increase in violent games, offensive content displayed on the sites themselves has increased dramatically. In the early days of video game media, the enthusiast sites reported the news and stayed clear of any offensive or lewd content. However, over the past eight years language, sexual images, and an open disdain for God have slowly encroached upon a once clean form of web site media. I believe that God has pressed upon my heart the need for a Christian influence in this increasingly perverse form of media. Not wanting to fight a war against secular culture, but wanting to influence the video game media with the love of Christ, the concept that is Johnny B Gamer has been created.
Johnny B Gamer (JBG) is a video game enthusiast web site dedicated to integrating a foundationally solid Christian perspective into the world of video games. The web site sets forth a twofold mission: 1) to provide a safe place online to check out the latest in video games, and 2) to build community both online and in the real world. JBG features articles that explore faith, and video game review articles that examine in-game worldview and the level of potential impact the game could have in one’s life. Building community, both online and off, is an integral area that JohnnyBGamer.com uses to differentiate itself from other video game sites. Employing a relational style of evangelism, I plan to take JBG on the road and engage gamers face to face. I envision eventually hosting video game competitions in which gamers could compete and experience other gamers who are transparently following Christ. Overall, I see a complete ministry that passionately models Christ’s love for this fallen world.
The other day I was looking up something on Focus on the Family’s Plugged In Online, and I came across an article written in 2007 entitled “‘Halo’ and the Holy”. The article discusses the use of Halo 3, in churches, as an evangelistic tool. It goes on to talk about:
Church vs. Pop Culture
How Halo 3 is M-rated (age 17+) and not appropriate for those under the age of 17.
How the church has always been a sanctuary, therefore violence and mayhem need to be kept outside its doors.
And now, a bulleted response:
The balancing act of being in the world but not of it is something that every Christian must deal with on a daily basis. Churches often use different genres of music to bring in non-Christians (oh no, rock-n-roll!) and the use of video games is no different.
I readily agree with the fact that Halo 3 is a M-rated game and not meant to be played by those under the specified age. I have no issues with that.
I do, however, have an issue with the article’s conclusion about the lack of violence in the church. The Bible itself is full of violence, war, rape, and general mayhem. Violence is apart of the human experience, unfortunately. I don’t see having video games within the church as inviting violence into it. If anything, one is inviting competition, team work, and communication.
In the end, I feel that the article fixated too much on Halo 3 and ultimately failed to to touch on how other games (such as Mario Kart and Super Smash Brothers) can be used instead. I see nothing wrong with using video games in an effort to bring people into church. I don’t believe that should be the reason that people attend, but I also don’t think that it is harmful in the least. Heck, most of these kids have video game consoles at home anyways.
Plugged In followed up their article with a reader response post. Some of it was quite entertaining.
This is one of those mornings where I am not too sure what to write about. Lately, I have been selling off my video game collection. So far I have managed to ebay my:
All had been sitting on various shelves, wasting their plastic lives away. So instead of letting them choke on dust, I figured that I would much rather sell them and let someone else play with them. No use keeping something if your not going to use it, right? So now I have a bunch of money saved up. What to do, what to do…
I‘ve been going back and forth between getting a PSP (to feed my handheld gaming fix) or a PS3. Either way, it looks like its going to be a Sony life for me (yo ho!). Now if only these early Black Friday deals would feature some sort of deeply discounted PS3 bundle. Here’s to dreaming huh.