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)