From Across the Net – “Christian Men and Their Video Games”

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A few years ago, Tim Challies wrote a piece titled “Christian Men and Their Video Games”. I love what he says here:

Skip the bad ones. We cannot deny that some games are unsuitable to anyone, much less a Christian. Today more than ever there is an abundance of games that revel in gore and bloodletting, that feature sexual violence, that are full of porn or profanity. Those of us who remember the scandal of Leisure Suit Larry or Phantasmagoria a generation ago will know that such games are practically quaint by today’s standards. We need to be okay with skipping the bad ones and we ought to do so out of conviction and conscience. Thankfully, we’ve got access to a thorough rating system and a massive collection of review sites that can steer us away from the ugly ones. Look past the bad ones and we will find many that are harmless, fun, beautiful, and at times even brilliant. – Read more here

I was a part of a Christian gaming group for years. One of the biggest hurdles we never overcame, as a group, was related to Christian liberty and gaming. A lot of the guys felt that as long as you were focusing on the positive aspects of a game (essentially Philippians 4:8), you were okay to play. This created an almost anything goes atmosphere. Biblical discernment fell by the wayside as liberty was promoted as the only truth. I grew concerned for the younger believers in the group. Iron is meant to sharpen iron, not dull it.

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

Kickstarting ReElise

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Justin Fox is a longtime friend I met through Theology Gaming University (TGU). He just launched a Kickstarter for his game, ReElise, a Hip-Hop RPG. Justin hopes to not only fund his dream but start a movement.

How did your values influence your game, ReElise?

The game started out about race. Mostly a coming of age story. Just exploring culture and how people deal with them. When I got saved (gave my life to Christ) the story completely changed. It became a story about how God can make dry bones live again. However the theme of race still plays a role in that it serves no real role in the story. The main character is a black female…. that is all. Sometimes, it’s just not important in contrast to the big plot, and it shouldn’t always be a plot to insert a person’s views on an almost ageless problem so they can be the guy who “figured out how we can get along”. It’s a problem of classifying people as ” those people ” and that’s not going away. Ever.

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What exactly is a Hip-Hop RPG?

There’s a lot more to the culture of Hip-Hop than violence, money and abuse of women. There’s dancing, style, language, AMAZING art, and some would even say theology that’s not focused on quite as much. It was supposed to be fun in the early days. I like fun things. A Hip-Hop RPG is a game that  leans into the dopeness that is Hip-Hop. I love it. I wanted it in there. I’m indie… so I do what I want I’m grown and sexy.

How long have you been working on the game and what have you learned?

Steadily for 4 years. I’ve been tinkering with it for roughly 7, but those were entirely different builds.

For me, it’s been the power of belief. Believing that something good can come out of an idea that’s not really been done before, and seeing how the power of that belief carried me through for 4 years. It’s a crazy thing. Not to mention how drastically my belief in Jesus changed the core of the game. Belief is really something else.

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Engage in epic rap battles.

What would you like to say to anybody thinking about backing ReElise on Kickstarter?

This is more of a movement than it is about just one game. Traditional gameplay but with very non-traditional stories as well as concepts (I mean this is a 2D, hand-animated, Hip-Hop, turned-based, Mature Christian RPG… with sprinkles… definitely unconventional). I’d like to subtly offer deeper things to my audience. I’m giving my audience the chance to simply play a great game, and offer them a deeper story that I truly hope will be beneficial to their lives if they care to look. We’ve just gotta get the colorists, programmers, editors, travel expenses, and advertisements out of the way for this project first. That way we can make this first project everything it needs to be!  There’ll be much much more to come with the support of backers.

Thanks, Justin, for giving us a slice of ReElise pie. We can’t wait to get a taste of your Hip-Hop RPG goodness.

If you’d like to back Justin’s work, check out his Kickstarter page.

The Written Dead – Video Games Deserve Better

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The Walking Dead: Season 2. An intense melodrama framed against a backdrop of a society unhinged. Survival key to everything. Language uncouth.

“F–k.”

Telltale Games typically feature the above word, repeated over and over, like a chorus of a modern worship song. As the drama of young Clementine spirals out of control, the characters around her sing out. A fearful hallelujah to an unknown god.

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What did you just say?

I struggle with language in video games.

Coarse language has the appearance of a written shortcut. A writer’s bloody tool to add flavor, character, and meaning without earning it. I want depth. Written shorthand short-changes the player. No matter what the situation, no matter how “realistic” such words might be, I see this as lazy writing.

Weaving characters into intricate plots is an art. Video games are art in motion. While time can be a commodity, a reason to force narrative shorthand, I think that it is an excuse.

– Words NEED to be strung together in such a way that the audience, the player, is left savoring wordplay.

– The English language DEMANDS exploration. So many words lie neglected, dusty, and ready for use.

– Characters NEED to be developed to the point where they have EARNED the very words they speak.

I am not calling for shelter but for thoughtful engagement and consideration of the words used in video games. The worlds we explore deserve better.