Is Gaming a Waste of Time?

Do gamers waste their time? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was scrolling Facebook last night and just before bed, I see a well-known apologist saying to not play video games and not let your children play them. It’s just a waste of time. Naturally, I have to give a disagreement, but I would like to go into that more now.

I am 43 and I have been a gamer for as long as I can remember. My first experience is seeing something I think coming home from school under the TV and asking what it was. I was told it was my Dad’s Colecovision. That was my introduction to the world of video games. My Dad had thought he was hot stuff at the games, but we all know the rules about small children and video games. My favorite was Ladybug. If I saw that game on the Nintendo Eshop today, I would go and get a gift card from Amazon immediately to buy it. Shut up and take my money!

In Elementary school, I was the main legend at the school. No one was as good at games as I was. As a boy on the spectrum, this is something that helped me interact with people. We didn’t know I was on the spectrum then until I was in fifth grade, but my friends had the same hobby I did.

This continued throughout my life as my friends have regularly had a shared interest with me in gaming. RIght now, I am living on a seminary campus and I still love it when I get to get together with people and play games. I have a good friend on campus who is a professor and a gamer and we regularly chat about such matters.

Getting back to childhood though, all the while, I was still doing other things. I regularly won the summer reading competition at the library reading hundreds of books. I was introduced to the Hardy Boys and read through all the books there and winded up then reading Nancy Drew as well. I would also regularly check out Peanuts and Garfield books I didn’t have.

Also, my sister and I loved watching games. Gameshows were a favorite pastime of mine and if it was summer vacation, you could bet that every day at 11 AM, we would be downstairs on the couch watching The Price is Right. Today, I still turn on gameshows on Roku while I’m reading.

My schoolwork wasn’t a problem. That’s something that needs to be changed as I spent a lot of time gaming because frankly, I wasn’t challenged at school. Gaming gave me more of a challenge. Little tip about men. We tend to like challenges and go where they are.

When I first went to seminary, I went with my friend who lived in Missouri at the time. We had met on and what got us introduced to each other? You’ll never guess. Gaming. He was impressed with how I did in a post answering someone and sent me an avatar of a character he made for me saying “I’m not sure if you’re into Final Fantasy games or not.”

Lifelong friendship born right there.

Something that amazed my ex-wife about me? She had been told years ago that Pokemon was childish, and here I was nearly ten years her senior and I knew about the series very well. It was a connection and we did enjoy gaming together.

Of course, we did get divorced and I am thankful that at times when I was alone, I had games there so I could get caught in a story that would engage me and have goals I wanted to reach. I also used my gamer mentality in the divorce saying “I will not be defeated by her. This is my one round at life and I am playing to win.” Play to win has become a motto of mine.

My mother was concerned about me, her son on the spectrum, going to New Orleans and my DivorceCare leader and his wife came over for a get together and he told her “He has been playing these games all his life. Now he wants to live them.” She’s still not crazy about her son being 600 miles away, but I do speak to her every day on our Echo device. Oh yes, while I’m playing a game too.

As someone researching this material now for a PhD, something that comes across to me often when I read (Or hear in the case of Audible) about how a game came to be is the idea of “I wanted to tell a story”. We are people of stories. The oldest book we have is The Epic of Gilgamesh. Then we have plays which are stories. We have movies and TV which are used to tell stories. We have radio and what is something we did with that? Stories. Video games are no different.

Now can some people be addicted? Yes, but saying some people have a problem does not mean everyone needs to abstain. You need to control your behavior, not everyone else’s. If there is a problem with self-control, that is the big issue to work on. I find when I am gaming now, I also have my Echo nearby and I’m watching YouTube videos to educate myself or watching some TV just for personal entertainment, such as right now I am going through Young Sheldon.

Video games are a medium that’s here to stay and isolating ourselves is not the solution. Through the advent of smartphones, more and more people are gamers now. They also help us connect, something I notice when I go to the park from time to time for a special Pokemon Go community day. I am also working on learning how to make videos on YouTube for my Gaming Theologian channel. (If you are interested in helping, please let me know.)

All things in moderation. I still get in all my reading as on my Kindle I am going through probably about a dozen books right now and I read some of them every day. Still, I am thankful to kick back and relax after a day of work or school.

What is a waste of time? Inevitably, it will always be what the other guy is interested in. I don’t understand sports. I don’t understand why people get so excited over the Super Bowl or why there are TV stations dedicated to sports and radio shows that spend hours talking about sports.

That’s okay. If you like it and it doesn’t control you, that’s fine. Any good thing can become an addiction to some extent, even religion. For some people, outright avoidance could be needed. For most of us, it’s learning self-discipline.

I have an aim to reach gamers and explore our need for stories.

Hardly a waste of time.

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

Book Plunge: The Greatest Stories Ever Played

What do I think of Dustin Hansen’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

People love stories. Whatever the medium is, you will find a story behind it. I suspect a lot of cave drawings are rudimentary tellings of stories. Whether we are reading Genesis or Gilgamesh from the ancient world, whatever you think of these accounts, they are at least stories. Now in the case of Genesis, I naturally think it’s true, but we can all agree that it is still telling a story.

Then the Greeks come along with their plays and lo and behold, stories. While my philosophy is Aristotlean-Thomistic, I have to say the way Plato taught his philosophy, wrong though it be, is more entertaining. They were dialogues, aka, stories.

We move to more modern times and what do we see but films and television and lo and behold, we tell stories. Comic books give a new form of writing that tells stories. This time, you had pictures and words both and the page would turn at opportune times so that you couldn’t just easily look and see what would happen next.

Now we have video games and we have radically changed stories. We’re not just passive in stories. We are active in them. Pick up the Lord of the Rings and if you read it all the way to the end, Sauron is going to be defeated and the ring will be destroyed in Mt. Doom every time. If you play a game based on that, it might not happen. You might die along the way.

Having you make the choices also gets you caught up in the lives of your characters. Hansen writes about how he played Red Dead Redemption for instance, and ended up talking like a cowboy. Many people today can tell you where they were when they heard about the JFK assassination, Challenger exploding, or 9-11. While certainly not on the same level, many a gamer can tell you about their first memory of Sephiroth killing Aerith.

Hansen goes through a number of games, with spoiler warning of course, and tells about the stories and how the stories work. Some of them are really in-depth looks at the games. Some of them are short snippets known as book reports. Issues are discussed related to morality and how you make decisions in games. You’ll find classics covered here like Final Fantasy VII, Chronotrigger, Bioshock, and Psychonauts. Sometimes, I was tempted to look up games on the Switch Eshop library and see about getting them. I gave in and some are now on my wish list, and I will get notifications if the prices drop.

Gaming is the most interactive medium I suspect for telling stories. In it, players have the option to make real choices and can step aside from the story, if they do so desire, and go on side quests in a number of games. They can return to the story and do things they never had before and find new aspects. As I write this, we are awaiting the remake of Super Mario RPG which came out around 25 years ago and yet even still people are finding new things about the game. Now they’ll get to start all anew with that.

If you’re someone who enjoys stories, you should read this book to see how stories work in a new medium. If you’re someone who enjoys video games, you should read this book to learn to better experience games as stories. If you’re someone who enjoys both, you will be very happy indeed.

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

Our Need For Stories

What in us drives us to create stories? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have my own section at and I invite you to check it out. A few days ago, I made a post about the problem of good vampires. What I am finding amazing about this is that there is a real discussion going on. Sometimes, it’s incredible to see what people comment on.

Just now I was watching The Big Bang Theory with one character asking about zombies. What happens if they don’t get human flesh to eat? They can’t starve to death because they’re already dead. I’m also going through Smallville again. This is my favorite series and started with two guys saying “Let’s tell an origins story of Superman.”

Comic books are well-known for creating massive universes as well and how many times have we had movies about the origin of Batman? These stories have so many installments to them that fans debate amongst themselves for each franchise what is and isn’t canon. You can have contradictory things happen in the stories so much so that DC created the Multiverse which led to several of its own problems.

In the gaming world, I am listening to the audiobook The Greatest Stories Every Played. Talk to some of my fellow gamers and what do we remember about a lot of our favorite games? The story behind them. Would that I could have my memory wiped and go through Final Fantasy IV again for the first time.

Why do we do this? Why do we debate about things that we all know don’t exist? People debating the Legend of Zelda franchise or Marvel comics or vampires aren’t doing so because they believe these exist. Despite that, they debate them and the debates can get awfully heated. Philosophy papers can easily be written on these topics. Indeed, if you want to see some of this, just go to Amazon and type in Pop Culture and Philosophy and see all the books that come up.

As far as I am aware, we are the only species that creates stories. Do we really do that for survival? Doubtful. It is possible to survive without stories, though most of us would consider that an impoverished life. You don’t need to read fiction, but many of us spend our time investing in a world of fiction. How many people can tell you every facet of The Lord of the Rings, for instance?

Lord of the Rings also led to popular role-playing games, including Dungeons and Dragons. Why do we play these? Because we like to use our imaginations and tell stories, but not only that, we want to be in on the story ourselves sometimes. We want to think about what we would do if we were in that situation. It’s easy to watch a movie or TV show or read a book and say to the character from the comfort of our homes, “Don’t go there! Don’t open that door! Don’t trust that guy!” Role-playing games can sometimes be the closest we get to making the choice ourselves and in the case of a game like D&D, if we’re playing with friends and not an electronic version, we can’t think of what we did the last time we played the game. Every time is new.

Today, I was telling another student about my research into video games and Christianity and how I think I am going to focus on stories and quests. Most people who are gamers like myself, we enjoy our hobby, but we also want more. We want real-life adventures more. I suspect this is why men watch the movies we do. We want to be the Avengers or we want to be James Bond.

Here’s another reason I suspect we make stories, which have been going on as long as we know of. Deep down, I think we all know that there is more than just this world. We do make some stories to explain reality, like the Just So stories, but we also make stories to tell for a longing that we have that reality is greater than what we see. A materialistic world is boring. We want a world of life.

I wonder if this could be behind the end-times hysteria many people have. Could it be we so much want to be a part of a greater story that we are convinced we are living in the last generation, even though numerous generations before us said that? Surely we must play a part in this? Could it also be why the belief is so prevalent that God speaks to us individually regularly? Surely I must play a part in all of this! Surely God has something for me and I need to find out what it is.

We can say social media contributes to this by making so many of us narcissists, but social media doesn’t create the idea. It just gives it a place to shine more prevalently. Social media too often just reveals who we really already are. Why do many of us do and say things that we wouldn’t do in person? Because on social media, it’s easy to put on a mask.

Everyone already has a story. I have said before that I think you could make a major motion picture of anyone’s life, and if you have a good director and cast, it would be a major hit. It’s incredible to think how much we are spending every year making games and movies and TV shows all because people love stories!

So I will be watching the debate on vampires and the discussion back and forth and enjoying it. I will continue playing some great new stories waiting to see what happens. However, I hope to continue living out my story and remembering that the story is not about me. It’s really His story. I just play a small part in His story, but I hope it’s a contribution that will make it better.

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

Book Plunge: Why Christianity Is Not True Chapter 6

How do we form our narratives? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The sixth chapter of Pye’s book is about what he calls narrative formation. In this, a person goes through their life and they see the hand of God as do others and that leads them to think Christianity is true. I am sure this is the case for some people, but apparently absent is the idea of “A person looks at the metaphysical evidence for God and the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus and concludes that Christianity is true.”

Pye’s look reminds me of what’s wrong with Christianity in the West today. It’s an all about me approach. We know the will of God through our experiences. We know what God requires of us through our experiences. We know the nature of God through our experiences. Experiences are really incredibly difficult to interpret.

The main point Pye wants to make is that a Christian can interpret anything in line with what they believe. Pye asks those of us who are Christians to come up with an experience that could cause us to abandon Christianity. That’s quite easy actually. An experience where I encounter a better explanation for the rise of the early church than the one the apostles gave. My Christianity is not based on what happens to me today, but it’s based on what Jesus did 2,000 years ago.

Pye also says that this disconfirming evidence does exist for atheism. An atheist would be hard pressed if he saw an amputated limb grow back right before his eyes. I think it would really depend on the atheist. An atheist could come up with an explanation such as extra-terrestrials or perhaps even something more like an X-Men superpower before ascribing it to theism.

What Pye has done is just taken something everyone of us does. We all see evidence and experience through the filter of where we are. This is one reason I also encourage people to really read material that disagrees with them. We need to know what it is that we are arguing against. We need to know what the other side thinks.

It’s also why I am extremely skeptical of people who try to read the will of God into everything today. I hope before too long to on YouTube be interacting with people who are Christians and constantly predicting when the “rapture” will take place. Doing such does no good benefit to Christianity and there are not enough people who are holding them accountable.

I am also skeptical of a me-centered Christianity. These are the people who think God is communicating with them on a regular basis and that we need to listen to the voice of God in our daily lives and that the Holy Spirit is trying to guide us into every right decision. I see no basis for thinking that this is a normative practice in Scripture.

Pye thinks that this is an important chapter, but I just don’t see it. An important chapter to me would be one that focused on the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Until then, we’re getting some criticisms of modern Christianity, but nothing to show at all that Christianity is not true.

In Christ,
Nick Peters