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