A deep question, for sure, but one which I’m happy to discuss!
1. Video games give us a sense of wonder and engagement. Video games became our new cultural medium for the exchange of unwritten, yet still felt, ideas of our time. People still long for the epics of old from Homer’s Odyssey to the Lord of the Rings; video games give us an opportunity to engage and enter those realms in a way that hasn’t been possible with any previous generation.
2. Video games give us an insight into popular culture. Capitalism, at the very least, provides a quantifiable measure of “what people like”. Call of Duty is what people like. Why do they like it? That is a question that a Christian can find out themselves by playing it. If not playing it, than at least understanding the dominant narratives, themes, and leisure activities of our fellow citizens.
3. Video games provide a tiny microcosm of the real world and our own personalities. Structured play provides challenges; every person desires to work and contribute something in the world. Video games also show us the way we think about reality and what rewards we wish to gain from life (tangible and intangible). Sometimes, they show us more of ourselves then we’d care to admit! Yet this self-examination lets us appreciate the diversity of taste and personality.
4. Video games present an opportunity for human interaction and shared experiences. Contrary to the standard stereotype of “reclusive gamer” so often foisted upon us, gamers socialize just as often as everyone else – only they find a shared vernacular on the subject of video games. I will admit, in my Christian school upbringing, that I made many friends from our shared love of these video games, even when no one else understood our childhood obsessions. I can remember vividly converting our playground to the wild avarice of Pokemon collecting, or the utter brilliance of Star Fox 64. We were no longer strangers but compatriots in a shared hobby that, more than any other entertainment I’ve seen, engender fierce love and devotion. Many of those Christians remain my friends to this day, all because of video games.
5. That was only the past – now, the Internet has given all the opportunity to create connections with people around the world. Online gaming made social interaction, both for good and ill, a genuine part of the video game community. It is through the Internet that I have made new friends, Christians and gamers alike, who share that common experience – the video game theology community. We come from all different denominations and different background, yet still find gaming as a grounding point for discussion of everything.
And isn’t that what Christianity wishes to do? Christ gives us new life and salvation from sin. He allows us to reveal our personalities to each other without barriers and without borders, to speak openly of everything. What a vehicle it is that our human creations ultimately lead back to the Creator!