Game Violence And Porn

Is there a difference? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was watching a political commentator talk about the topic of pornography and faithfulness in marriage. Does watching pornography count as adultery and having an affair? It could be said you’re not having sex yourself, but you are watching simulated sex to some extent. Does this count as unfaithfulness to your marriage?

If you are married, I say 100% yes that it does. Some might say, “But we’re doing it together willingly.” Even so, then you are both breaking your vows together by inviting someone else into your bedroom. It’s a private place meant to be for the two of you.

When I was married, we lived this out. There was a time we had someone staying with us who was fleeing a hurricane in Florida. When it came night time and we went to sleep, I told him if you need anything, you can call us and let us know, but don’t come in there. That’s our private place. That rule was always upheld.

However, this is about a different issue. The commentator asked a different question briefly and I wanted to address it since it’s a real question and I believe asked in all sincerity and I have asked it myself. What about video games that involve killing? Is that engaging in actual killing?

At the start, I suspect war games have always been with us to some extent. Little boys grow up playing with toy weapons and I really have no reason to think it was different in ages past. I’m sure little boys back thousands of years ago dreamed of being fighters and soldiers and would play with one another. Boys do tend to be aggressive and we can roughhouse regularly.

Of course, girls do this also some as nowadays, a girl can grow up pretending she is Wonder Woman, for example. There are plenty of other female superheroes that girls can be like. When young children play pretend, they are assuming an interface of interaction where what they imagine is for the time being true. A little boy pretends he’s Superman and a little girl pretends she’s Wonder Woman and for the time being, they live out as if that is reality, knowing that it is not, but it is called pretend for a reason.

Now video games have provided that interface for us where when we play a game, we accept the reality of the game and to follow by the rules that the game has set for us. If you play a game as simple as Pong, you accept that you can only move your blocker in a certain direction and you have to score X number of points before your opponent does. If you play Mario Kart, you accept that you have to drive such and such a way on the track and that you can use power-ups on the field, but alas for you, so can your opponents.

So what about violence in games? Like the children playing pretend, people know it isn’t real. So when kids play a game in pure imagination and one of them “kills” the other, in the end they all get up and go about their own lives or play another game. They know it isn’t real.

However, I think what is really important to ask is why are you doing what you are doing? For most of us who play games, we don’t kill the enemy for the sake of killing itself. Now there is something good about the feeling of taking down a powerful boss in a game, but there’s also the sense of good vs evil and stopping an evil force from hurting others who are innocent.

That means it is not violence for the sake of violence, but violence to protect someone or something else. It is a battle for justice, much like going to war is supposed to be or self-defense. If there is anything tapped into inside of us, it is the idea that we want justice.

Now some have suggested that playing video games leads to violence. Unfortunately for those wanting to argue that, there is no hard correlation that has ever been found, but yet this has been assumed so long most people take it for granted. For those wanting a stronger case on this, I recommend reading Moral Combat: Why The War on Violent Video Games is Wrong.

Let’s also remember that this is not new. It just has a new target. When films started coming into their own, the exact same thing was said about them. Back in the 60’s, there was a war on comic books. I find it amazing that so many of my fellow political conservatives jump on these bandwagons.

Why is that? One of the ideas of conservatism is personal responsibility. We all accept that some people get dealt a hard hand in life, but like playing a card game, if you get a bad hand, well those are the cards you play with. You make the most of them and many people have and played very good games doing such and come out to be successful.

We say that if a man rapes a woman, he can’t blame the action on how the woman was dressed. If a couple gets pregnant, personal responsibility should be accepted and the baby brought to term. If you are able and capable, you need to be part of the working field and providing for yourself and your family.

Yet when it comes to people being violent, we try to blame anything else that is responsible for the violence, except, well, the person themselves. If anything, we should consider looking to what is often most immediate as influences first off before anything else, the family, realizing that this is not also hard-wired. What values and beliefs was a child raised with and how does that influence them?

I will present my own self as an example. I grew up in a Christian home and I was in church every Sunday and when I left home, that didn’t change. I have also played video games all my life and many of them involve combat and battle, yet I am the driver also who if it is safe, will hit the brakes before I hit a squirrel even and don’t relish the taking of life like that.

That doesn’t mean I’m opposed to combat. There is a time and place for it and if someone threatens me or someone I care about, I hope I will rise up to the challenge and take them on if need be. Had I grown up in a different environment and been raised a different way, I could have turned out very differently.

Now having said that, if you do have a problem with any sort of game and think it is wrong to play that game, then don’t do it. I have played Mortal Kombat with some friends before, but I could never do a fatality move. I don’t really like games that show a lot of blood in them. Gore is not appealing to me.

So how about pornography by contrast? When one watches porn, they watch because they want to see sex and sex they don’t really have a right to see. They want to take what is meant for the private sphere and put it in the public sphere. Sexuality is a means in itself and the person or persons being viewed are simply being viewed for their own pleasure and usage, which can affect easily how they see other people.

Not only that, but there is also reason to believe that many boys who grow up watching pornography can struggle with ED. Yes, I know porn is becoming a problem for girls watching it, but ED is not their struggle. It’s harder and harder to find men who are not affected as most of them have watched porn. I am thankful that by the grace of God I have avoided this temptation. It is a real one at times still, but it is overcomable.

But what about you? I have presented my thoughts on the matter of games and violence in them and about pornography. I am always interested in hearing what others have to say, especially my fellow gamers. Feel free to leave a comment.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

In Defense of Adult Gamers

What about adults playing video games? Let’s plunge into the video games and find out.

Yesterday, I was watching a Matt Walsh video about a video game. I was curious since it was about Scooby-Doo and something happening with Velma. Anyway, Velma is a character in a game called Multiversus and 34 players filed a complaint about Velma calling a police car.

For the part about the politics, I thoroughly agree. However, I did notice when he said that the problem was really adults playing a video game about Scooby-Doo. At the end, he did make another short statement about adult gamers. I thought about some things I could say on Facebook, but my thoughts got so long I figured a blog post was better.

At the start, Walsh says he has been hard on the adult gaming community in the past. He does say it’s not a community just because you share an interest, but I disagree on that point at the start. Friendships often do start with common interests. Just today on campus I managed to start a Facebook group at our seminary for gaming. It can include board, card, video, tabletop, mobile, or collectible card games.

Walsh also does say in moderation it’s fine. He thinks a Scooby-Doo game is ridiculous, but in moderation, it’s fine. It’s worth pointing out for those who don’t know that Multiversus contains Scooby-Doo characters, but it is not a Scooby-Doo game. It contains other characters from the WB universe.

On moderation, I agree, and I think that applies to everything. As a conservative Christian, that even includes ministry work. If you are so involved in ministry that you neglect your family, for instance, you need to take a step back. People have to work to provide, but if you are married to your job more than your spouse, you have a problem. Even Ecclesiastes says too much study will make you tired and Aquinas argued that we need to play to refresh ourselves.

Walsh says the rejoinder he gets from gamers is “You watch football don’t you?” He does say it’s a little bit different, but doesn’t explain how it is. Now on my end, I could say watching 22 grown men go and tear each other up over a pointy-shaped object called a ball seems ridiculous to me. That’s also fine. We don’t have to have the same interests.

Yet some differences I want to point out on my end is that watching a sport is really a very passive activity. When you’re playing a game, you have to be engaged and you have to use your mind. Of course, you can be thinking in a football game, but there is nothing in the game that depends on your thinking. An Einstein and an idiot can both watch the game and think all they want about it and it won’t change the game a bit.

Also, many sporting events have some real-life consequences. I know a number of people who are intense pain later in life because they played football early on. The most danger you could be in from gaming would likely be some Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome. Also, I know that in many cases, when a team wins a major sporting event, like the Super Bowl, there’s a lot of rioting that happens in the town. Now I could be mistaken in this, but I have yet to hear of a town that was destroyed because someone or a team won the Pokemon World Championships or some other Esport event.

I would also agree that if you enjoy sports though, enjoy it in moderation. However, with sports, I notice that you can have a third of a nightly news broadcast dedicated to sports and news programs on the radio for hours dedicated to sports. I honestly wonder what can be said. That’s my ignorance speaking there. For games, we have an immense library of them we can talk about.

Walsh explains more that he doesn’t like the term community because it makes it a lifestyle that your world revolves around. I don’t know anyone who refers to the gaming community who thinks such a thing. I’m sure for the overwhelming majority of us that if we knew someone whose life did revolve around video games, we’d tell them to get help.

He also says our lives should not revolve around entertainment. Properly understood, I can agree, but I’m hesitant since one of my main emphases in understanding my Christian faith has been the joy of God and enjoying the world He has made. There are too many who have guilted Christians just because they enjoy something.

There is also something else about gaming. Gaming can be very intellectually engaging, especially in RPGs, since a story is told. You can base a philosophy course easily on video games. Right now for a class, I’m working on a paper on the themes of redemption and resurrection in Final Fantasy IV. As a kid playing this game just for fun, I never would have noticed this, but as an adult, I see it all over the game.

Gaming is also not an expensive hobby for the most part. The most expensive is probably buying a new console when it comes out. For us, you can buy several games at a cheap price and enjoy them thoroughly for hours. If you have hard copies, you can trade with friends.

For me also, as an Aspie, this allows me to connect with people. My mind works well with games and my former DivorceCare leader told my folks even that my gaming has an impact on my going to seminary. I have been playing games about fighting the battle of good vs evil all my life and I want to go out and have adventures where I am actually taking on evil. Peter Kreeft has said apologetics is the closest you come to saving the world.

In the evenings here, if the weather is nice, I go out walking and I have Pokemon Go at the same time. I get to see some of my fellow students and greet them and they greet me. It has been a joy to be on campus barely even a month and already students know me.

Also, many of our interests today come from things that resonated in our childhood. When the new Batman movie came out, who did I see it with? My nearly 70 year-old Dad. These movies aren’t just being made for kids. Adults love the superhero movies. For my Dad and I, it’s a connection as he grew up with these heroes and I can explain the new ones that I grew up watching in cartoons. I suspect if I get to have a kid someday, I will introduce him to the games I played as a kid.

In closing, I really keep thinking of something my therapist once told me. “An idol is always what someone else is doing.” I also think about how C.S. Lewis said that as an adult, he read fairy tales in the open. When he became an adult, he put away childish things, including the fear of being childish. I highly encourage people to lead multi-faceted lives and honor Christ with all they do, and that includes your hobbies and gaming. All that I do, I do seriously. When it’s time to study, I do, and when it’s time to play, I play seriously as well.

Overall, I agree with Walsh and much of what he says. None of this is meant to be antagonistic. It’s just explaining what myself and my fellow gamers do and how we enjoy our lives. I hope many of them would agree with what I said, at least about games as they might not agree on politics.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Gamers Matter

Are we too dismissive of gamers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In the past, gamers were people who were very solitary. To an extent, many of us still are, but gaming is mainstream. How many people are playing Wordle every day? Words With Friends? Farmville? Raid Shadow Legends? Note that none of those games I have mentioned are console games.

Plenty of people are interested in professional sports. What are those? For the most part, games. We talk about football, baseball, and basketball games. Millions of Americans follow their teams religiously and we have talk shows discussing sports and sports makes the nightly news.

So why bring this up?

Christian apologist Doug Groothuis recently had on his Facebook a statement about the New York Times Book Review reviewing a video game. I take it this was meant to be something lamentable, but I was the first to respond with a simple question.

Which game?

I wasn’t the only one. Plenty of other people asked as well. The question was never answered by Groothuis, but the answer was found by someone. It’s a game called The Stanley Parable.

I have never played this one. I wouldn’t mind it, but I just haven’t. However, I have seen videos talking about it and it looks to be built around a guy who has a regular cubicle job and starts exploring his office for whatever reason with a voice narrating all that is happening.

In the past, video games were pretty straightforward. Get to the castle, drop Bowser in the pit, rescue the princess. Go in the dungeons and gather the pieces of the Triforce and defeat Ganon and rescue the princess. (Always princesses for some reason.) Get the frog across the street safely. Eat all the dots in the area without being hit by a ghost.

Those games are still around today and still classics, but games are much more in-depth now.

Role-playing games are some of the best at this. I view Final Fantasy IV as a tale of resurrection and redemption. You can look at FF VI as a consequence of Nihilism. I have a friend who swears that Nier:Automata is a look at Shintoism. The Kingdom Hearts games are based on Disney movies, but you would need a PhD in philosophy to understand them and even then I doubt you could do it.

Games are also much more communal now. I regularly play Final Fantasy XIV which is a multi-man online role-playing game. (Those are knowns as MMORPGs) I am online playing with several people and buying and exchanging items with them as well. Pokemon Go is a smartphone game that largely has a communal aspect of working with other players.

Video games are also art. Just take a look at the music and cinematic scenes in many of these games. It’s art. It’s a craft.

So how many people play games? The most recent article I could find was this one. A lot of those people in America are likely Christians, but a lot of them aren’t. What does that mean? That’s a market to reach, not to be dismissed.

If you start talking about a lot of games, you can find some rich intellectual discussion there. There is a series of books on pop culture and philosophy with philosophers writing a chapter in a book called X and philosophy with X being the pop culture icon. How many are related to gaming?

Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy.

Pokemon and Philosophy. (Also a great gift suggestion for the blogging apologist gamer in your life.)

Dark Souls and Philosophy.

Bioshock and Philosophy.

The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy (Another great gift idea)

Final Fantasy and Philosophy. (Owned and Read)

There could be others and there will be more coming. Gamers are asking deep questions many times. We’re not people wanting to just goof off and waste our time. One of the best things you can do with a gamer is just talk with them about their games and ask them why they like the games that they like and why they play them.

Some might think we have hit a low point in culture to see a video game reviewed. I disagree. I think it’s showing more aspects of the culture interacting together.

Gamers matter. Most of us nowadays are gamers. Some of us were part of the original group who were gamers when gaming wasn’t cool. Here’s something else that all gamers have in common. They all need the gospel.

Also, one good way to do this is to have Christians get in the field and start making good games. Five Nights At Freddy’s was made by a Christian. Usually, Christian movies, TV shows, and video games are great at reaching their target audience, other Christians. One exception to this was the movie The Case for Christ.  We don’t need to just make games. We need to make games people will want to play and enjoy playing and by the way, most games are not “In your face” with their worldview. Christians media doesn’t need to be either.

Again, gamers matter. Let’s do what we can to reach them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Game Theology

What do games and God have to do with one another? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is a post where I am really seeking feedback from you. I am working with some friends now on starting a group podcast tentatively called Game Theology. I am also working with another friend who has had a similar idea to create a group based on Christianity and gaming together as well.

So what I would like to know from you is what would you like to get out of such a podcast? I am thinking we could do things everyone else does, like game reviews and tips and of course, some personal footage of what is done, but we will also go deeper. We will try to discuss the worldview behind various games, noting that very rarely will we say a game has a Christian focus to it. We can still discuss worldviews connected to games either way.

So here are some possible topics.

One I have in mind now is gaming etiquette. I play regularly with friends, Final Fantasy XIV, which is an MMORPG. (Multi-Man Online Role Playing Game.) How should a Christian play with other gamers? How does he best honor Christ with how he plays a game?

Violence in games is another one. Is it always wrong to beat the bad guy? Should you never be happy when you have beaten him? Are there some games so violent that Christians shouldn’t play them?

What about women in video games? Many times, women are presented in exaggerated terms to make them appear ultra attractive. For women in games, it’s almost as if the least amount of armor they wear, the better that they will be protected.

Are video games just a waste of time? Why should we be playing anyway? If we ask this though, couldn’t we say the same thing about something such as sports? How should we measure our time with video games and for that matter, any other hobby?

What are the benefits some of us have got out of being gamers for years or pretty much all our lives? What are our testimonies of how our worldviews have been shaped? Why do we enjoy what we enjoy?

These are a few questions and I’m sure the people I am working with will be having more of their own to bring, but I wanted to throw it out there to my readers as well. What would you like to see discussed? Does a Game Theology Podcast even sound interesting to you?

Let me know.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Is Mega Man A Man?

Is the Blue Bomber really a Mega Man? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is some stepping out I would like to do combining my love of gaming with theology and philosophy. Thus, I would appreciate any feedback. Is this something you would like to see more of? Even if you’re not a gamer, do you get something out of this?

My introduction to the Mega Man series actually began when a friend of the family gave me Mega Man 2. Like many people, this one is my favorite game in the series. The metal blade is one of the best weapons in the game and it’s got enough challenge without being way too easy.

For those who don’t know, the series Mega Man is set in the distant future where robots are common. Mega Man, the Blue Bomber as his nickname goes, is created by Dr. Light to counter the evil plans of Dr. Wily. Wily will regularly produce a number of robots, typically eight, who specialize in one area with one weapon and Mega Man has to beat them, claim their weapon, and then use that weapon against the others. After beating all of the robots, he goes after Wily himself.

Now with a title like Mega Man, you would think that man is what he is, and mega is what describes him, but is that really so? Is Mega Man a man or not? If he isn’t, what is he? If he is, then is he really the same as us? (Note I am using man in the generic to refer to all of humanity.)

Mega Man is described as a robot throughout the series, but when we think of robots in our world, they’re not really like Mega Man is. After all, Mega Man is deciding which robot he wants to fight when and choosing how to fight all the enemies throughout a level and having to make typical athletic feats like strong Mario style jumps. He can apparently experience what looks to be some degree of pain when he gets hit by an enemy in some way and is knocked back slightly.

The free will issue is a major one. Mega Man behaves like he makes his own decisions. Now we could be pedantic and say he doesn’t make his own decisions but simply does what the player tells him to do, but by this standard every character in a game that is the main character is a robot. That would be another blog in itself.

Mega Man is also shown to often have emotion, such as at the end of one of the games where he is stopped before he almost finishes off Dr. Wily himself in anger. In most every case, Mega Man beats Dr. Wily’s final robot whatever it may be and Wily begs for mercy and Mega Man takes him to prison. This time, Mega Man nearly went against that.

The end of Mega Man 2 is a curiosity to me as you see Mega Man walking away and going through each of the seasons. When the scene ends, you see Mega Man’s helmet just lying on the ground. I always wondered if he somehow became a human or what. It’s never specified.

In the end, I do have to conclude that as much as he is like a human, Mega Man himself is still not really a man. Mega Man is still a robot who changes based on what tools he wishes to use and he lives in a world of robots. When he needs some work done, he still has to go to Dr. Light regularly. In Mega Man 11, he also gets the Double Gear system which changes his data to give enhanced abilities for a limited time to him. Also, whenever he dies, he pretty much explodes with parts of him flying everywhere.

A man is not programmed or mechanical inherently in anyway. I realize we can get parts put in us that are mechanical and I do know that there is talk of transhumanism coming in the future, but even then, we can question if we will cease to be men. We can’t beat our enemies and add parts of them to us really and when we have a problem to be fixed, it’s not inner gear or machinery normally, but rather physiology.

Now some of you might be wondering why as a Christian I am not mentioning the image of God in all of this. It is because I am seeking to go by general revelation alone at this point. You can know what a man is to a good extent without the use of Scripture. You can know that a robot is not a man and vice-versa.

Man also I hold has a soul, an immaterial aspect to him that gives him life. I think there are many good arguments for some kind of dualism and that NDEs have provided excellent evidence that there is some existence outside of the body. I do not see that being the case with Mega Man as he is simply apparently rebuilt and updated with machinery every time.

So Mega Man is someone who we can say is mega, but I don’t think we can call him a man technically. He’s still one of the best heroes that there is in gaming, but he is not a man. He is a robot.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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Thoughts on Animal Crossing

What do anthropomorphic animals on an island tell us about God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend recently gave me a gift of $100 to the Nintendo Eshop and wanted me to choose what to get. My wife has been playing Animal Crossing and asked me to play with her. Now this isn’t my type of game I think, but I want to do more things with my wife. I get the game.

Allie has tried to get me into Harvest Moon and honestly, that one just didn’t click with me. I was thinking more of the same. I normally play RPG games or things of that sort. I grew up on Mario and Zelda and Metroid and later on, games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior, which is now Dragon Quest.

So in the midst of our playing Pokemon together, Allie wants me to try Animal Crossing. Before too long though, I find myself being caught in this world. Last night I started really thinking about it. What is it that makes this world so special that Animal Crossing was a big sell, especially when so many of us were quarantined? Granted, it’s not for everyone….

Okay. So as the photo says, you start the game on this island and your goal is to build it up. Your first encounter is with a guy named Tom Crook…errr….Nook. He keeps charging you more and more for things he gives you which gives you a taste of progression. Once you pay off one debt, there’s another one and it’s bigger.

But at the same time, you’re expanding more and more. There is a museum on the island where you can bring in bugs, fish, and fossils. Later on, artwork becomes a part of it. There are planes whereby you can fly to other islands, which are either random ones made by the game or ones where other players, mainly friends, live.

Throughout, you gather resources. Some of these can be used to make tools like fishing rods and axes and nets and other things for collecting and practical use. Some of them are just things for beautification. Build some furniture and put it in your house.

So what are some things that I think make this so popular that even someone like me enjoys it?

Let’s start with a simple thing. Creativity. There is something nice about making something. Many a mother knows that getting a Mother’s Day card is nice on Mother’s Day, but getting one that is made instead of bought is even nicer even if the quality is less.

Now there are guys like me that can’t make a thing to save their lives, but there is something nice about gathering wood and iron and other things and using them all to make things. When we create, we are essentially doing the work of God. We are creating things after Him, the original creator.

Beauty is another one. Catching a fish and some butterflies reveals often times many beautiful creatures. Flowers are often planted on an island for no purpose other than beauty.

We live in a culture that often thinks beauty is relative. No Christian should ever think such a thing. None of us should say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is in the object itself.

When a player decorates their house just for aesthetic reasons or plants flowers just for such a reason, then they are showing that they believe in beauty. They anticipate that any player who comes to their island will think that it is beautiful as well. Let’s face it. We all like to look at beautiful things. Many times driving with Allie, I will look over at her and just think that I am amazed I have such a beautiful woman as my wife.

Lastly, there’s progression. We all like having goals that we can reach. In this case, it’s paying off debts and building a better environment for you and others to live in. Reaching a goal gives a sense of accomplishment.

Many of us know this in real life. We want to be praised when we do something well. We want to be celebrated when we hit plateaus. If you’re dieting and you lose a certain number of pounds, you want to celebrate. We celebrate graduating from high school and college. We celebrate birthdays.

The idea of progress really is a very Christian idea. Many worldviews in the ancient world were cyclical. History would repeat again and again. Judaism and later Christianity said that history started somewhere and it is going somewhere and there is no repeating of it. We take this for granted today, but it really was quite different for its time.

So those are some reasons why I have found myself enjoying this. If you play also, send me a message on Facebook with your code. Maybe we can visit each other virtually. Now if you’ll excuse me, my blog is done so I have some checking to do on my island.

In Christ,
Nick Peters