In my relatively short time writing and recording podcasts for this web site, I’ve made a few impassioned cases for the benefit of the popular video game console, The Wii. It all started with a podcast called, “Playing Mario to the Glory of God,” in which I detail how the Wii has helped to bring my family together (sort of). I insisted that the Wii’s focus on real-life community-oriented gaming was its’ major strong point for Christians, and that it allowed video games to become less of a vice and more of an opportunity for building relationships.

Well, I was right for a while.

I played video games with my friends, my wife, my in-laws and my mom. It was like a miracle. Thanks to Wii Sports and a couple other key titles, I started to think of video games as a communal pursuit. But then, that was gone as quickly as it had arrived. The Wii’s huge success made me feel good about my system choice. After all, the financial success of a console usually points to the inevitability of a swath of great games.

Instead, those who sought to make an easy buck came out of the woodwork to produce games for the Wii. Worse, even Nintendo showed a penchant for making as much money with as little effort as possible. Game after game appeared on store shelves, but very few were worth more than a rental. In community-oriented terms, very few were worth more than a single weekend with the family.

This all makes a certain amount of business sense. But they have unnecessarily lost a key demographic simply by ignoring them, and they stand to lose the “casual gamers” they have attracted for the same reason. After Nintendo’s now infamous E3 keynote speech, I wrote:

The problem is that as more and more families and friends try video games, they will want to try them even more. Many of them will become the very people Nintendo seems to be ignoring: hardcore gamers. You might point out that the future hardcore gamers will be used to the sorts of games Nintendo is offering, but this can’t be the case. There’s only so much you can get out of Wii Sports before you start wishing it had levels, unlockables, and online play. It’s not just that games become less fun: it’s that the Wii becomes this generation’s treadmill, bought in a blur of optimism and abandoned after bowling and throwing frisbees at a dog gets a little too old.

This has been the key problem with Nintendo’s management of the Wii this year and it is the key reason I switched.

All of us have hobbies and things we are passionate about. Some of us read books, some of us watch film, some of us hunt, some of us write. One thing I love is video games. This love has increased as video games become more and more respected and self-aware as an art-form. I began to feel that while Nintendo’s community focus worked wonders in helping me glorify God in my gaming by sharing it with others, they began to neglect the simple concepts of beauty, goodness and truth in the games that tended to benefit most from the system. World of Goo was a rare exception to the general rule of overly simple and straight-forward games that merely dedicated themselves to the lowest common denominator rather than make themselves accessible yet challenging and full of depth.

So, as a Christian, I did a lot of thinking about how I can best glorify God with my gaming time. I decided that it would be more beneficial to sell the Wii and buy an Xbox 360. It’s a decision that worked for me. I don’t regret it in the least. But it’s not necessarily a decision that works for others.

Take my in-laws, for instance. They’re the ones who bought my Wii. And I can’t wait for this Christmas, when we’ll go down to Florida and play Wii…  for the weekend.


  1. Xbox 360 eh? Because it is a gaming machine right as opposed to the PS3 which has the blue ray player.

    You guys keep up with video games more than I do, so maybe you can help me out here. I have been trying to convince my wife that we need a PS3 because we finally broke down and got a decent HD TV and I really want a blue ray player. We don’t have cable (we are not fundamentalists, we are just cheap!) but we do have Netflix so we watch movies a good bit.

    I have a Wii–my wife likes it and I do too but overall I am disappointed with it because of the reasons you outlined here. Plus I do appreciate good graffics–couldn’t they have at least given it full HD? Or at least 720p? Some Wii games look worse that regular XBOX games–come on, that is pitiful!

    So why 360 and not PS3? If I got a PS3 it would be 70% for the games and 30% for the blue ray player. I was thinking by getting a PS3 I could cut out a future purchase of a blue ray? What makes a 360 a better choice than PS3? Would any of you guys consider buying a PS3?

    I know I shouldn’t get credit cards (according to Dave Ramsey) but right now you can get $150 off a PS3 if you buy it with a Sony Credit Card) making it somewhat more affordable.

    You guys are my blogosphere resident video game experts from a Christian worldview, so I thought I would ask your thoughts on this.

    Oh one more question, do you have to get the xbox 360 elite in order to get full 1080p resolution with an HDMI port?

    Drews last blog post..Christmas Music For Music Snobs

  2. I just read over my comment and realized that I ended almost every sentence with a question mark! You should be able to figure it out though.

    And yes I did call you guys my “blogosphere resident video game experts from a Christian Worldview!”

    Drews last blog post..Christmas Music For Music Snobs

  3. So you’re implying there is more “beauty, goodness, and truth” in Xbox 360 games? That is an interesting idea, and maybe you can do a follow-up article comparing currently available games. I’d be interested, as I have both systems but have found hardly any games worth purchasing on either system.

    I just don’t see how anything has changed about the Wii to make you change your opinion. That being said, I could summarize your post in a sentence:
    “I’m a hardcore gamer and community-oriented-gaming on the Wii isn’t satisfying.”

    Fair enough. I like leveling up too, but I just can’t buy into some of the reasons you give. You will glorify God more by playing the Xbox than the Wii? How exactly is it beneficial? If you were just to post and say you like the games better, I think it would make more sense. But if you’re going to make some of these other statements, than I’d really like to hear the support.

  4. @Drew – Take this from someone who doesn’t own any 7th gen game systems (i.e. for what it’s worth), but I would personally put my money down on PS3. 360 seems to have better online gaming community, but PS3 (as you point out) has built-in Blue Ray capability (so you get a game system and BR for a not-bad price).

    Further, the games that are 360 exclusive don’t seem (at least to my tastes) to be the kind of thing that could absolutely draw me over. Team Ico seems to be developing wholly for the PS family though and they’re more my pace than the Halo and Gears of War franchises. As well the Shin Megami Tensei line seems pretty bound up in PS-land as well. Annnnd PS has SCE Santa Monica Studio in their stable as well.

    Everything else I’d want out of a console system (which is not insubstantial when you consider that I’m a PC-gamer first and foremost) is pretty much cross-platform. (Except maybe Braid, but then PS3 has Little Big Planet so it kind of evens out after awhile.)

    The Danes last blog post..20081119.ChurchLies

  5. @Drew – My previous comment to you is still in moderation (what I get for including links).

    @Garrett – I’m not exactly sure what Rich has in mind, but from what I’ve seen of the Wii, Beauty is certainly not on the list of priorities there. I’m not even talking about hot graphics. More just the fact that Wii games tend to represent a pretty sterile environment – one that’s just kind of lacking in the kind of risk that one needs to take to make something beautiful. Take Shadow of the Colossus, which uses a similar 6th-gen behind-the-scenes graphics architecture (though not as powerful). Phenomenally beautiful game. I’m not sure if we’re seeing anything to that level come out for the Wii.

    As far as truth and goodness though? I don’t know. Maybe we find more truth in games that focus on narrative structure and there’s more of that on 360 than on Wii? I don’t know.

    The Danes last blog post..20081119.ChurchLies

  6. @The Dane

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. That is where I am leaning. I have been leaning toward PS3 b/c of the blue ray player–I am not nearly as hard core of a gamer as I used to be–so I think I could get all the gaming I would want out of a PS3 assuming it doesn’t tank under Wii and 360. I thought about getting a 360 b/c its a little cheaper, but if you want full 1080p HD–you have to shill out the same amount as a PS3.

    BTW – Shadow of the Colossus was probably my favorite PS3 game, Ico was great too, that would be another reason to get a PS3 in my book.

    I also think Little Big Planet looks like a lot of fun.

    Drews last blog post..Christmas Music For Music Snobs

  7. Drew,

    I think a PS3/360 decision really should come down to the kinds of games you would play and whether or not you want the bluray player.

    As far as the 1080p issue, there is not a great difference between 720 and 1080 unless you have a good sized screen, at least, according to all the research I did. So that’s something to take into account.

    As far as the games go, like I said, it’s mostly a matter of choice. Check out the PS3 games and see if those are the kinds you would want to play. But I will say that in the last year many games that were Sony exclusives have come over to the 360 as well, the most notable being the new Final Fantasy. If 360 continues to outsell the PS3 at this rate, it is reasonable to assume that many other Japanese titles will go multiplatform. Another thing to consider is that many games that are multiplatform are developed on the 360 first, giving the 360 a performance advantage. For example, the Orange Box is out on both systems but Valve doesn’t like working on the PS3, so they aren’t planning on updating TFC2, whereas the 360 should get a big update early next year (of course, the real winner here is the PC which has had FREE TFC2 updates all year long…). All of this could change quickly next year if Sony manages to catch up, but the reality is, in this tight market, developers need to make games for the system that will sell the games, and the PS3 is not gaining ground on the 360 like Sony had hoped.

    Another thing to consider is that BR players are dropping in price, so it is conceivable that you can get a good player and a 360 for the same price as a PS3.

    My advice would be, if you have a good sized HD TV and like the kinds of games on the PS3, go for it. Otherwise, it might be better to save your money.

  8. Sadly, I am still playing Nintendo64. I did get a NintendoDS for my many flights/travels… but I find myself playing Xbox in the YouthRoom at our church pretty often.

    Microsoft has done a good job with their console. Both Nintendo and Microsoft has their flaws.

    I would like to try and play a Wii sometime….

  9. @Alan:
    I’m still baffled at why people would ply FPS games on consoles. Platformers and those camera-behind-the-player games, sure. But FPS? I’ll grant that having an analog instead of WASD would be cool, but sacrificing mouseview for an analog stick is, well, just too great a sacrifice. I’m guessing that’s why there is no cross-platforming in TF2 matches (or in any multiplayer FPS)—too great a handicap for console players.

    Still, you do make a good point about the tardiness of developers on the side of PS3 (with some cross-platform games being delayed on PS3). That probably wouldn’t excite me about the PS3. It still doesn’t mitigate (for me) the fact that the developers I really like are still in the Sony stable. (Of course, Rockstar was one of those and they branched out last year.)

    The Danes last blog post..20081119.ChurchLies

  10. Dane,

    I played TFC for years on the PC, so I do understand that the mouse is a huge advantage. It took me a while, but I’ve gotten to the point we’re playing a FPS without a mouse does not bother me in the least. You can get quite accurate, but it does take more practice I would say.

  11. Wow. I certainly didn’t expect to get so much feedback so soon, especially during the weekend. I’m going to have to do this quickly and concisely, but you can hear a lot more discussion on the podcast to be published this tuesday.

    @Riley – It’s funny, this is by far the most controversial subject I’ve written about in quite a bit, especially among friends and family. For many, I am a Nintendo guy. But in truth, I was such a big fan of Nintendo because I was such a big fan of video games. And Nintendo got me all excited about something that never really came: A system that used motion sensing to make accessible, yet amazing and immersive games. They had the chance and they’re in the process of blowing it.

    Wow, that wasn’t short. I need to tighten it up…

    @The Dane – You’re kind of right, but the developers themselves prefer the Wii version because of the pointer and ability to play with 2 people on your couch. Plus, I am so over PC as a gaming console, but that’s another story.

    @Drew – I’m going to assume you got a ton of information from The Dane and friends without actually reading through it yet. But here’s my short, concise opinion: If you want an awesome gaming system that will keep you entertained for quite a while, you want the 360. But, if you want a pretty decent gaming system and you really want a Blue Ray player, you can’t go wrong with the PS3. It is a bit expensive though. But you should know the game choices are lacking quite a bit on the PS3 and the online just doesn’t work like it should.

    @Drew again – So encouraging to hear that a Christian source for videogames even exists. To be it is an honor.

    @Garrett, I think you’ll want to listen to the podcast, where I’ll give lots of examples of the types of games I’m talking about. The rest of the questions you have are extremely valid and I wanted to address them more. Hopefully I will, but I ran out of space in the post. Again, podcast. But maybe I’ll respond with more later.

  12. @Everyone

    So I weighed all your comments and thought hard about the decision and finally made the purchase. I have a 80GB Playstation 3 on its way to my house this week from the Sony Style Store. I know I am not supposed to apply for credit cards (like Dave Ramsey says) but I did and got $150 off the purchase–so I got a PS3 for $250 which I think is pretty good.

    I know that the Xbox 360 is the better gaming system (more games, comparable graphics, easier on developers) but I am just not the same gamer I was in high school, so I think I will find the gaming options on PS3 satisfactory.

    I think my wife was the final decision in going with a PS3 rather than a 360, she likes to watch movies and we already have a DVD player, so 360 offers me nothing that we don’t already have. 360’s Net Flix que is pretty cool, but my wife and I have our computer hooked up to our LCD TV–so we can already watch Netflix movies on our TV.

    For $1 a month more, we can get Blu Ray movies from Netflix–which is pretty cool. My wife is excited about watching Blu Ray with me in a few days when the system comes in. And I know my students will have a lot of fun playing games with me as well.

    All that said, thanks for your advice. I suppose I ultimately sided with The Dane–sorry guys.

    The PC may be the best avenue for gaming, but you can’t get one of those for $250.

    @Rich and C&PC writers,

    I really enjoy having a site I can come to with information on video games from a Christian perspective. I love your site, you guys address things that most Christ are either too embarassed or too legalistic to talk about and you do it in a compelling way. Keep it up!

    Drews last blog post..Glimpses of the Gospel in It’s A Wonderful Life: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  13. Drew,

    I love how you apologized for siding with The Dane. Well played sir, well played.

    It sounds like you made the right choice for your situation. Let us know how you like the Bluray functionality!

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