4 Reasons Video Games are Worth Playing


9 Comments

  1. Interesting reading, but I take issue with both articles’ 4th point (the praise of clearly delineated Good vs. Evil roles and the denigration of the “postmodern ethic” becoming increasingly prevalent in games’ storytelling). In fact, I tend to take the exact opposite view.

    Not only are black-and-white stories of GvE generally boring, I could see them being harmful to the formation of the youngster’s mind (honestly, I don’t see either perspective being a danger to the mature mind). So far as I can see, so far as one recognizes that the stark difference between good characters and evil characters is a faerytale and generally only a device on the part of storytellers to relate a story with the bare minimum of effort, everything’s good and fine. Basically, when we recognize there is no reality to the device it is rendered harmless. But imagine a game that actually encourages people to think in that manner. Far too many people think in absolutes as it is, finding one side of a position and declaring it Good to the exclusion of fact and to the vilification of the Other. (Think Republican vs. Democrat, Fox vs. CNN, Paedo vs. Credo, Moderationists vs. Prohibitionists, Protestants vs. Catholics.)

    The first time I saw Princess Mononoke, I came to the stark realization of exactly what I found lacking in animated film up to that point. Miyazaki’s film boasted good guys with selfish motives and bad guys with noble motives. It was a breath of fresh air; an animated film whose characters were actually people, with heroes and villains that were not just childish pastiches of well-worn cliches.

    I will never ever ever find in myself the ability to celebrate the the representation of good and evil in such overt terms when the characters are meant to be relatable to us. I could see it used to good use ironically or for nostalgia-driven paeans to yesteryear, but otherwise…? Blech and double blech.
    ____________________________

    I am curious, however. What is the perceived danger in this so-called postmodern sense of storytelling? And to whom is this danger a real threat?

  2. Someone wrote and brought up some of the points you make on my second post and I responded there, feel free to check it out.

    In short I would say that I agree with you mostly and that point was never intended to say that good vs. evil is more realistic and moral-grays are always a bad thing in video games. My point was that this is something to be aware of.

    I think that mature video gamers can actually benefit from seeing some of these gray areas and thinking about them etc. In fact, I would say that any game (or book or movie for that matter) that presents men as anything less than sinners is terribly unrealistic and in some ways unhelpful. So that is the presence of gray-areas in life is not what I was combating. What I think Christians should be aware of is that it seems that many games and movies today celebrate the gray-areas to such an extent that it seems they question the presence of absolutes in our world. Again this doesn’t mean we boycott any game the presents us with moral grays–its just something for Christians to be aware of. Especially for Christian parents–would you let your 8 year old play CoD:MW2?

    An older more mature Christian, will (hopefully) see these grays and perhaps be challenged to think and engage the world for the sake of Christ. Anyway, perhaps I should have been more clear on this point because its not so much a reason not to play video games as it is something to be aware of when you play them.

    And by the way, I KNEW you would have something to say on this point!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, you have helped me clarify mine.

  3. I really need to proof read my comments before I click “submit.” Sorry hopefully you can wade through my terribly written comment and get to the main idea of it. If not feel free to ask and I will clarify.

  4. Hah, you guys are always so helpful with knowing beforehand what I’m going to comment on and still going through with it!

    Couple questions:
    1) You mention the prevalence of games that seem to question the presence of absolutes in our world. Which absolutes are these? Personally, I don’t see a whole lot of absolutes in this world. The complexity of the ethics of well-doing demonstrates that most actions are not 100% good in every situation. Add to that the fact that were we to find a good action that didn’t also in some way create negative repercussions, there’s a good chance that our motivations for doing said Good Thing would be compromised anyway.

    2) What do you think the danger is of blindly consuming cultural artifacts that incessantly promote the moral grey-ness of human existence? Of the two, this is the question that most interests me.

    And here, I suppose is a third question for all of us:
    Why, when we speak of videogames, do we always come back to the lowest common denominator of gaming’s effect on children. We don’t do this with books or television or movies or anything else really. Carissa never offers disclaimers about the depraved trash she reads and reviews for the site (^_^), David doesn’t offer warnings about not letting your children watch the obviously adult-oriented programming he’s reviewing, Ben doesn’t warn off parents about letting their children investigate the moral failings of the political leaders we discuss, and Rich doesn’t say, “Hey parents. 3:10 to Yuma = not a good idea for your eight-year-old.

    So why is it that we do this for gaming?

    With the content of this site and your own site Drew, it’s clear that the target audience isn’t children or parents seeking advice on what to let their children consume. Instead, there’s a generally serious engagement of what the pop cultural produce means and how the Christians reading these sites should seek to interact with and react to such produce. And yet, when we talk about whatever dangers games might hold, we far too often are talking about possible dangers to children instead of dangers to the minds that are engaging the article.

    And clearly, children shouldn’t be playing the games that most of us are talking about most of the time. Fallout 3. Mass Effect. CoD:MW2. InFamous. GTA IV. Et cetera. Of course I’m not going to let my eight-year-old play through the campaign of MW2 because it would basically be like taking him to see Hamburger Hill. No eight-year-old needs to be exposed to that level of cinematic violence.

    Really, I’m just wondering when Christian discussion of gaming will graduate to critically engaging games at the level of those who are critically engaged?

  5. You ask some good questions and if time permits I will get to them.

    I asked the question about parent because I am a “family pastor,” literally that is my title at my church, so actually I do have parents reading my posts–probably on facebook. I actually had a parent ask me recently what I thought about CoD:MW2 and whether or not his teens should be allowed to play it (at the time I didn’t know about the airport scene). Anyway, apparently this father found out his younger (i.e. not yet teen) son had played CoD:MW2 at a friends house–which does seem to indicate that parents are buying games without really having a clue about what is in them. So for my particular context, it is important to make those types of disclaimers and comments. I think I have a different audience that CaPC–one that requires a little more explaination (and saving my own tale so that I don’t come across as saying, yeah any game is great for your kid lol).

    But in the end, I hope that we can have such a conversation like you speak of amongst those who are critically engaged. That is in large part why I wrote these two articles.

  6. Well I tried to answer your first two questions today and ended up writing almost 2.5 pages. I am not sure if this comment meta is the place to post these answers! I am going to think about it some more, but the questions you ask certainly got me thinking, which I think is almost always a good thing.

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