Leading Gaming Blog, Kotaku.com has kicked off a week of religion and gaming blogs with a history of religion in games. It’s more or less helpful, but in my opinion it goes off track in the last two paragraphs:

And that’s where you hit the fundamental incompatibility. Games and religion are unsuitable for one another because of that value: Entertainment. It’s not to say games can never have a redeeming message. It’s not to say a faith has no thrilling tales to tell. But one’s purpose is supposed to make you live better, while the other’s purpose is to make life better, without putting too fine a point on it.

There is then, perhaps, a natural and necessary separation of church and games. And I would say “Render into games the things which are of games,” And unto God, well, it’s best to let Him render those things.

I’m considering responding to this idea later, but I’d be interested in your thoughts.


  1. I would love to see you respond to that Rich. If you are living better, does that not make life better? I don’t follow that logic.

    I haven’t read the article–but his line there seems to contradict what Kotaku guys are big on–more meaningful video games right? Video games that ask important questions etc. Religion attempts to answer important questions and interacting with this is overall interesting and consequently entertaining (to me anyway).

    Do we want our entertainment to make us think? I would hope so. Is it wrong to just want to be entertained without thinking too deeply? I suppose not, but if that is all games should do, I would think they would get pretty boring after a while.

  2. I think the problem with religion in games is not the real issue. The issue is “what makes for the best story.” Video games are one part game (a training system of ever increasing difficulty leading to more satisfying victories) and one part story. Anything that can be learned can be made a game, but some types of activities have already been established as games. Also, some types of activities work better given the limits of technology, both in hardware and software. That said, the activity, by and large, is not the issue. The issue is will the story be interesting.

    But the thing is, religion has clearly entered games by way of morality. At least since KOTOR (if you don’t know that that means Knights of the Old Republic, you probably shouldn’t be in this conversation) “morality systems” have been common in RPGs and games with RPG elements. Moral choice draws you into the story, gives the illusion of consequences to your actions. The problem is that the systems are new so the dynamic is weak but also that the story itself doesn’t offer a rationale to make one choice or another. But once the story starts giving you a reason to choose right or wrong, you have religion of some sort. Morality flows from a moral law, moral law flows from a moral law Giver.

    The thing that we have to figure out is how to tell good stories, period. Next is how to tell good stories in an interactive way. You just posted a link, which I loved, on Christians Hatin’ Christian Movies. One of the points that author made was that Christian stories often have everything getting resolved. But aside from that not being true to life, it doesn’t mesh with the Gospel. The greatest struggle in life is to believe that God will be faithful, not because He hasn’t shown time and again that He is but because Satan keeps whispering, “Did He really say that?”

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