By Elizabeth Prata
Pong. Remember Pong? I do. According to PongGame.org, “The game was originally developed by Allan Alcorn and released in 1972 by Atari corporations. Soon, Pong became a huge success, and became the first commercially successful game…“
As soon as Pong came out, we got it. My father always got the newest, biggest, or best thing that came out. We thought Pong was amazing and that it ushered in a new space tech era.
And it sort of did.
Next came Space Invaders. “Space Invaders (1978) is considered one of the most influential video games of all time. It helped expand the video game industry from a novelty to a global industry, and ushered in the golden age of arcade video games”, says Wikipedia. I came across it in the student lounge at college. Go Black Bears! It cost a quarter to play. I sunk quarter after quarter in, listening for the boop-boop of the marching invaders, blasting them down one at a time. It was fun for a while, then thankfully the attraction wore off. I didn’t like spending hours in the dark “Bear’s Den” sticky with beer and lost hours guilty because of no productivity. Also, the lounge was loud. Eventually I went on to other things. Like books, lol.
I never was a gamer but I know many people are. What about the Christian and games? I’ve often talked about television, books, and movies on this blog but not games. I really have no experience with them, but Reagan Rose of Redeeming Productivity does. “You might not think that the Bible has anything to say about gaming, but Reagan Rose has written this helpful book on what our relationship with gaming should look like”. His book is called A Student’s Guide to Gaming. Reagan explains on his podcast,
In this episode, we talk about the unhelpful ways Christians often discuss gaming, why video games are so stinking fun, and how Christians should approach gaming. I also share a reading from my brand new book A Student’s Guide to Gaming which comes out this week.
The book is part of the Track series, which you might be interested in exploring other books in the series in addition to Reagan Rose’s book on gaming. “Track is a series of books designed to disciple the next generation in the areas of culture, doctrine, & the Christian life. While the topics addressed aren’t always simple, they are communicated in a manner that is.“
Reagan asks, ‘what it is about video games that makes them so good?’ He notes that he can’t sit and read a book for 20 hours straight, like he used to do with video games in his student days. Or watch two movies in a row now as an adult. But games, they have the power to hold him there for hours and hours if he’d let them. What is it about gaming?
Briar Wayne Lam is a young Christian married man who enjoys gaming. When the lockdown occurred he and his wife spent some of the time gaming. He posted reviews of his activity and even though I’m not a gamer I found his write-up interesting. He gave me permission to post here.
Briar Wayne Lam: “Not that anyone asked but here are my covid lockdown game reviews since the first lockdown was announced:”
"Ghost of Tsushima is the most beautiful game ever created and is the prime example of video games as art form. It wasn't perfect, and suffered from some unpolished mechanics, but it was a stunning experience. I found myself genuinely invested in the story. I can remember feeling the tension the first time he breaks the Samurai code, and I literally gasped when the Mongol's adapted his poison and used it on his own people. I felt the struggle of a noble son torn between saving his people at any cost, and honoring his clan's legacy. It cut deep sometimes. The stakes felt real. It caused me to meditate on what I would be willing to lose to do what is right. The final confrontation was so well written, I wished the entire thing could be made into a blockbuster movie, or a big dollar streaming series just so non gamers could experience it. Epic story telling. Stunning visuals. Compelling characters. So so good."
"It's been a long while since I beat it but the new God of War gave me a similar feeling. Of course it's satisfying to hurl an enchanted Viking axe at Norse mythological creatures all day, and the graphics were insane but the game's story gripped me on a personal level I would've never suspected from a game about an angry ex-god of war picking a fight with a mythological pantheon. The emphasis on generational curses, fathers and sons, and family trauma kind've choked me up at a few points. I had also been reading the Eldar Edda at the same time so the Norse setting just became that much sweeter. I know I'm reading too far into it, but I feel like the game really shows how pathetic and useless these gods really are because they are not free from sin, which reminded me of how wonderful it is that the true and living God is *not* like us in the slightest.
My wife became a better Fortnite player than me after picking it up last summer. I have learned to accept it. She is crazy quick on the trigger and puts me to shame. She literally got the green army skin so she can bush camp camouflaged. Fortnite is always a good time whether she and I are playing together or roasting one another while the other plays.
I also tried Rocket League. I can't say I'm great at it but what a FUN game. I really like the Hoops mode, and one of my favorite things to do is score a goal and use the preset chat to say, "oops." She doesn't play this one as much with me, but she enjoys watching me perform terribly.
I picked up Minecraft the day they announced the first 2 weeks to flatten the curve (lol), just to have a two player game for us to try if we were going to get stuck at home. We had a freaking blast. I would've never even considered the game before and now I completely understand the hype. We played a single survival mode playthrough consistently up until she discovered Fortnite last summer but every now and then we log on and check out our cat farm and feeds the chickens.
That soundtrack slapped and the art style was like nothing I had encountered before. It felt monotonous at times, but it was definitely my biggest surprise.
Speaking of JRPGs, I returned to Final Fantasy 15 and Tactics, having never finished either of them. 15 grew on me, though in expected FF fashion, I could make no sense of the story. My friend says play the dlc, it'll help. Maybe. My favorite part of 15 besides the wild visuals was literally just the food. I literally looked up recipes just so I could try to make food irl . After that, I realized Tactics is my favorite FF all time. Idk why, but something about it scratches an itch for me. I'm an old school dude. Happy gaming, friends. I'll be glad to put school behind me in a few months and look forward to fatherhood. Gaming will likely get pushed aside for the foreseeable future, and for good reason . What have you played during all the extra time spent home the last couple years?
—end Briar Wayne Lam’s review of games he and his wife played during the lockdowns. Interesting eh?
So what are your thoughts about gaming? I encourage you to listen to Reagan Rose’s podcast linked above. He made some excellent points and gave biblical insights. He didn’t chastise or scold, which is refreshing, after all, he likes video games himself. Reagan just gave some good food for thought on how we can continue to glorify God even in our leisure.