On My Radar – God of War

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Love the father/son dynamic in this game.

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Thinking Aloud: Growing Closer to Christ

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Note: I could write an entire series on what it means to grow closer to Christ. I realize that I barely scratch the surface of this subject and wanted to recognize that. You are now free to read.

Last year, I read an article on a Christian video game site that extolled the virtues of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series. The article talked about how the game’s protagonist, Lee, was a Christ-like figure due to his sacrificial death at the end of the game. Spoiler. All I could think was that Lee was a murderer, Christ wasn’t.

As a Christian, I should be constantly growing closer to Christ. What does growing closer to Christ look like? Is it a combo of:

  • Giving up/walking away from things that are shrouded in helpless darkness? Perhaps coming to the realization that The Walking Dead, with its unimaginative curse-filled vocabulary, just isn’t for me?

OR

  • Embracing the darkness and trying to find Christ’s redemptive story/ God’s redemptive plan in everything? An effort of trying to find the good, the light, that exists within the darkness we often consume?

Phillippians 4:8 comes to mind:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I want to be willing to give anything up for Christ. Even if this means walking away from a gaming series that I really enjoyed, like The Walking Dead or even God of War. I want to be careful with the games that I endorse because my endorsement, as a Christian, is like saying Jesus approves of this. I do not want to lead anyone away from Christ. A difficult road to trot down.

Darksiders Revisited

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I have been receiving a lot of web traffic (at least for JBG) over my Darksiders review lately. So, I thought I’d re-post it. Also, I’ve been thinking about how Christians review/ talk about things in light of Romans 14. Expect a post on Christians and Game Reviews soon. – Bryan

Press Start:
War, one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, has been accused of somehow beginning the end of the world early. Stripped of his powers as punishment, War must traverse what is left of the Kingdom of Men in order to seek out and eliminate The Destroyer.
Ideology/ Worldview:
Darksiders envelopes itself in a world of distorted Biblical allusions. No where is God mentioned, even though the entire story is loosely based on the book of Revelation. Instead of God ruling supreme in the game’s world, the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse act as some sort of cosmic referees between the forces of Heaven and Hell. Which come to think of it, this game also exhibits a mixture of Eastern mysticism with focus on balance, and yin and yang. Also present are altars which require blood offerings.
Interaction/Gameplay:
Slaughter monsters and collect their souls to feed to demons. Beyond that, lots of flashy swordplay which evokes games such as God of War or Devil May Cry.
In the End:
As a Christian, I feel personally convicted over playing this game. The flippancy with which demons are interacted with and treated (as if it were a normal thing to interact with demonic creatures) sickens me. I also dislike having to feed “souls” to demons in an effort to buy them off/ obtain information. Darksiders is a dark game – surprise! – based on a pseudo spiritual mythology. While I am willing to overlook certain aspects due to their fictional nature, I am unwilling to treat Hell and demons with such a non-serious attitude. I really wanted to like this game (graphics and gameplay are fun) but in the end find that I cannot recommend it for myself or others.
Due to Darksiders intense spiritual nature, avoid at all costs!

– Level of Impact Rating –
Medium: Casual play. Does not require large chunks of time.

Personal Conviction

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8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.- Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

I got into an interesting conversation yesterday with a good friend. He has been recently convicted by God to get rid of the things in his life that do not necessarily praise Him. For my friend, this looks like getting rid of some movies, books, and even music.

21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent [emphasis added] and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. – James 1:21 (NIV)

Kratos wants blood...

After talking to him, I got thinking about the stuff in my own life I have walked away from due to personal conviction. For example, I played through the original God of War on the PS2. I loved this game! In playing it though, I noticed that it brought out a thirst for what I would call “blood lust” within me. I just wanted to kill, kill, kill. Not only that, but the cut scenes in the game featured what might as well have been soft core porn. There was one time when I was playing that my wife saw one of these cut scenes, she was appalled…I was embarrassed. Soon after I beat the game. I made my wife promise me to never let me play another game in the series again. I simply did not like the all encompassing worldview found in the game. The gameplay was another matter…

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world [emphasis added]. – James 1:27 (NIV)

More recently I have walked away from playing through the game Darksiders on the PS3. The game had everything going for it minus a highly spiritually convoluted storyline. Heck, I could have even looked past that! What really killed it for me was that the game forced you to offer blood sacrifices to demons. It was then that I ejected the disc and never looked back. I know, as a Christian, that God would never consider such acts, even done virtually, to be honoring of Him.

5 You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God… Exodus 20:5a (HCSB)

Beyond the realm of video games, I have also dealt with conviction over books I have read. The best example I can think of is George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series. A few months ago, I rushed through the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones. I loved how Martin was able to weave political intrigue with such a rich cast of characters. What started to bug me though, as I moved through the 1000 pages of the book, were the explicit sex scenes found therein. In the end, I concluded that Martin’s brutal fantasy world was not one I needed to be a part of. Reading what amounted to bits of pornography was not good for my mind nor my soul; Nor was it honoring to my wife and my God.

Being a Christian is tough. The price for following Christ often means making choices that you don’t want to make but know you need to. I have not always followed the Holy Spirit’s prompting when it comes to things I need to walk away from. But the times I have listened to that prompting have lead to an even closer walk with the Lord. So I encourage you to put down that which you know you shouldn’t be touching. God will give you the strength to walk away.

13 No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

In conclusion, the conversation I had with my friend has bought me to prayer. I am now praying that God would help me figure out what “moral filth” I have allowed into my life. I know that removing it will not be easy but am reassured that God will see me through.

Darksiders

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Update: Looking back, I don’t think my criticism of this game was healthy. Read this.
Press Start:
War, one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, has been accused of somehow beginning the end of the world early. Stripped of his powers as punishment, War must traverse what is left of the Kingdom of Men in order to seek out and eliminate The Destroyer.
Ideology/ Worldview:
Darksiders envelopes itself in a world of distorted Biblical allusions. No where is God mentioned, even though the entire story is loosely based on the book of Revelation. Instead of God ruling supreme in the game’s world, the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse act as some sort of cosmic referees between the forces of Heaven and Hell. Which come to think of it, this game also exhibits a mixture of Eastern mysticism with focus on balance, and yin and yang. Also present are altars which require blood offerings.
Interaction/Gameplay:
Slaughter monsters and collect their souls to feed to demons. Beyond that, lots of flashy swordplay which evokes games such as God of War or Devil May Cry.
In the End:
As a Christian, I feel personally convicted over playing this game. The flippancy with which demons are interacted with and treated (as if it were a normal thing to interact with demonic creatures) sickens me. I also dislike having to feed “souls” to demons in an effort to buy them off/ obtain information. Darksiders is a dark game – surprise! – based on a pseudo spiritual mythology. While I am willing to overlook certain aspects due to their fictional nature, I am unwilling to treat Hell and demons with such a non-serious attitude. I really wanted to like this game (graphics and gameplay are fun) but in the end find that I cannot recommend it for myself or others.
Due to Darksiders intense spiritual nature, avoid at all costs!

– Level of Impact Rating –
Medium: Casual play. Does not require large chunks of time.