Once upon a time, I collected video game systems and games as a hobby.
*Not my collection. Would have been cool though...
I slowly built up my collection over time. A SEGA Saturn here; a random game there. Often I would plug in a misc. system and play some of the games I had for the fun of it. As time progressed, however, I found that my collection was gathering dust. Mt interests had changed. I mean, I still liked playing video games but didn’t feel the need to collect them anymore. So, I started to sell off the mounds of hardened plastic I had accumulated. I remember that upsetting me at first. No longer would I be able to play Panzer Dragoon for the heck of it. The collection that had been everything to me was being dwindled away into nothing.
We all find our identity, who we are, in the things that we believe and do. For a long time, my identity had been as a video game collector. With the selling of my collection, that was a title I would no longer bear. Perhaps this was a good thing though. Collecting chunks of plastic, consoles and games, only to let them collect dust and ultimately not be played makes no sense. It’s like me going into the public library, buying all the books up, only to never read them or let anyone else read them for that matter. “Captain it is simply not logical.”
Since the great video game purge, I have tried to limit my video game library. I have done this by becoming an avid user of Goozex, on online video game trading site. This has allowed me to obtain $60 games by getting rid of games that I no longer play. This has occasionally led me to slight dilemmas of which games to get rid of -the inner collector in me wanting to keep them all!- . As I stated above though, this makes no sense. Especially when I can take a game I no longer play and trade it in for something I actually will.
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.