Welcome to the first ever “Follow and Engage”. We have some delightful links to share with you this week, but before you read any further, might I implore you to take a quick look at our “ABOUT” page? It will help you to understand what I hope to accomplish with this new project. Seriously, start there.
Go ahead! I’ll wait.
Now, welcome back. This post doesn’t necessarily contain links to only recent articles, just some of my favorites, along with a few thoughts about why I enjoy it. If you write or come across something you would like to see here, feel free to tweet at or email us. First let’s start with a quick tour of our own content. I’ve typed up two pieces to whet your appetite for things to come. What I recommend is a nice cup of tea or coffee, a comfortable chair, and a few minutes to read “The Beginning” for the story of how this all got started in January of 2011. After that, check out the first of our “Big Questions” series with “Big Question One: Do Games Matter?” Both of those will also be hosted permanently on the “Theoludology” page. Yes, that is a strange word.
Finally, lets take a look around the web.
If you haven’t noticed by now, everyone is playing Skyrim. My friend Drew Dixon wrote up a must-read article about “Skyrim As Religious Experience” over at Christ and Pop Culture.
“Such a compelling world brings with it the temptation to disengage from reality, however, such a world would contain far graver dangers if I refused to notice the hand of my Creator in it.”
This is exactly the sort of sentiment I love to see in writing about games from a Christian perspective. Drew recognizes that what makes Skyrim so engaging for many people is their yearning for something beyond what this life can offer. (I saw something similar written by Flyingmonk at the CCG blog.) As Christians we know the reason for that yearning; a desire to escape from a fallen world. Both articles reminded me of CS Lewis’ vision of heaven as seen in The Great Divorce. One last note on Skyrim, something that really caught my eye this past week was a tweet from Cliff Blezinski. He said “In a world filled with more and more ADD brains and activity it blows my mind how Bethesda manages to make just…walking around…magical.” His quote made me think, maybe magical is a word that people sometimes use when they don’t know how to describe something as spiritual. Just an idea.
Moving on, but keeping with the theme of heroism and escapism (somewhat, a little bit), Benjamin Wallis from The Cross and The Controller mused on how to spiritualize video game violence in “Modern Spiritual Warfare.”
“Rather than imagining ourselves battling against terrorists or Middle Eastern military, we can instead focus on battling against injustice, racism, oppression, and all manner of sin and death.”
If you like that, check out his follow up, where he draws comparisons between Biblical angels and modern-day soldiers (and by extension, gamers). That should start some good conversation.
Now, Drew Regensburger, writing at Bombadillo undertook the fairly impressive project of analyzing what four blockbuster open-world games can teach us about the nature of free will in “What I have Wrought”
“For a game with so little narrative freedom, Red Dead Redemption – as an exercise in theological determinism – almost rivals Fallout: New Vegas in the scope of what the player can do. This is contrasted with the intense limitations imposed on the player during the course of the game, which demonstrate events happening around Marston, as opposed to Marston influencing events.”
It’s a great piece which broaches of the subject of how games can reveal worldviews through their mechanics.
As a follow up to that, one of my favorite articles about the concept of choice in games was written a few years back by Alan Noble for CaPC. It’s a must-read for Christians who are wrestling over whether or not they should play games that allow you to be morally indiscriminate. I also highly recommend something Britton Peele just wrote for The Escapist looking at how Christians sometimes go to great lengths to justify playing games, when in his opinion, no such justification is needed.
“I personally worship God by appreciating one of the greatest gifts he could have possibly given humanity: imagination. Well-crafted videogames have that in spades, and I have no issue separating fantasy from reality.”
Finally, Michael Abbott over at Brainy Gamer felt compelled to remind everyone that it’s still a good time to be a gamer.
I’m inclined to agree, and I have to add, I think it’s just as good a time to throw my hat in the ring and start writing about games from a Christian perspective. If you’ve made it this far, I’m going to assume that you agree. In closing let me add once more, if you’ve written something you think would fit in well on this site, email me a link at email@example.com. If you have any feedback or questions, leave a comment. I hope you enjoyed this, and I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving. Follow us on Twitter, and as we’re basically a virtual newborn baby, re-tweets are greatly appreciated.