Book Plunge: Grand Theft Childhood

What do I think of Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson’s book published by Simon and Schuster? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I heard about this book while going through The Gaming Mind on Audible. Making a mental note, I went to my library website and ordered it. I’m thankful that I did. This has been an amazing read on the alleged link between video games and violence in children.

This is not a book written from a Christian perspective, at least explicitly. The authors do not state their worldview. However, the authors have interacted with the material they critique and have also included snippets of interviews they have done with children and their parents.

To which, a lot of that information should be encouraging to parents. Older children, for instance, happen to think there are some games that their younger brothers and sisters shouldn’t be playing and they won’t play when those people are around. Surprisingly, something they were often concerned about was swearing. After all, there are a lot of things in a game hard to copy, but swearing isn’t. All you have to do is speak.

Also, something that needs to be said is that many times, children actually do imbibe their parents’ worldviews more than parents realize and learn what to play and not play. Of course, this isn’t across the board, but children are watching and are learning. Quick pro tip here on how parents can better understand what’s going on in the games of their children. Play the games with them and/or talk to them about them. (Yeah. Actual interaction with your children works. Who would have thought?)

The authors also don’t just look at the fact that children play violent games, but often ask why they do. Many times, children say that this actually helps them deal with their anger. In an odd way, that could be saying that rather than cause aggressive behavior in children, video games actually help to alleviate it. Frankly, if there was a strong connection between violent video games and violent children, we would see a lot more violent children.

Also interesting is that if anything, NOT playing video games, especially for boys, could be more of a problematic sign. Remember the Virginia Tech shooter? Something odd his classmates said after about him was, “He never wanted to play video games with us.” Video games are often a tool of social integration and bonding. Kids today get together to talk about games like Pokemon. I started getting more friends in Elementary School and beyond because I had a reputation as being quite good at video games.

The authors also point out that the hysteria over video games has happened over most every new form of media that has come out. Violence and sex in these has never been new. Go back to ancient history? It’s there. Medieval times? Still there. Renaissance and Enlightenment? Yep. What would be an anomaly is a time where such stories did NOT exist.

What about sex in video game? Yep. This is covered. (Odd way of describing it.) Most of us know about Lara Croft and the hope of so many teenage guys to find a nude code to use for her. Now, many games can be even more explicit. Again, this is something that parents need to talk with their children about, but it is not a shock that females are made to be attractive in video games. The Final Fantasy series in X, XII, XIII, and relevant spin-offs from those games all had a protagonist with a very similar look based on what was attractive in Japan at the time.

So when is there a problem? It’s not in the gaming itself. It’s everything around that. If your child is becoming more withdrawn, has a dramatic change in moods, has no or very few friends, and is dropping grades, don’t blame it on the games. The games are often a way of dealing with whatever the real problem is. Find that.

For parents also, the last chapter is all about practical advice for you and it does enforce what I recommend. Play the games with your children, or at least talk about them. Show an interest in them. If the world of the Legend of Zelda means something to your child, find out why. You could get to understand your child better and your child will think they matter when you show interest in what interests them.

If you enjoy gaming and want to deal with criticism, read this book. If you are a parent and you are concerned about your children and video games, read this book. The same applies if you are a teacher or someone in ministry, especially youth ministry.

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

Helping Children Make Wise Decisions

How can children best make decisions? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I have been reading a book called Grand Theft Childhood which is about claims that violent video games produce violent kids. (Review coming.) I read a section recently based on the interviews as parents and their kids were interviewed separately and they were talking about the ESRB rating system. For those who don’t know, that’s a video game system that rates video games in a similar way to how TV shows and movies are rated.
The mother was sure her 13 year-old son wasn’t playing any games she didn’t approve of. He gave a different story. He and his seventeen year-old brother knew how to trick her. When they went to a video store to rent a game, they sought out the worst one they knew she wouldn’t approve of. After she said no, they found the one that they really wanted which looked good by comparison then and she approved.
Most of us likely grew up with such tricks. Children I suppose have always been trying to manipulate their parents. For instance, do you want to do something that could be dangerous? Ask Dad first.
Now I don’t know the religious status of this family, but I did see a problem here with how we raise our children. These boys are teenagers and their mother is still having to approve their decisions? If they lived in biblical times, the youngest would likely at least be preparing to have his own children and the oldest likely already would.
How long can this last? When the kids go to college, does anyone really think that they will ask for Mom’s approval? Not a bit. They will immediately be doing the things Mom forbade them from doing.
What do you do then? Won’t they leave home and mess up immediately? Won’t they be the ones the parents tried to prevent them from being? There is a solution.
Don’t make the decisions as they get older. Begin early on teaching them how to make good decisions. Give them a worldview whereby they can make informed choices and they will be their choices as well. If they make mistakes, they own them and suffer the consequences. If they make good ones, they also own them and reap the benefits.
For many parents, it can be tempting to be helicopter parents and hover over their children to protect them from all harm. You can’t. If anything, in the long run, this will likely lead to more harm for your kids. If you teach them instead how to be wise in decision-making instead of just going by what feels good at the moment, you will set them up for a lifetime of success.
Remember, your job as a parent is to be the one to actually work yourself out of a job. When your kids reach the stage where they are making wise decisions independent of you, then you have succeeded. The old saying is that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day but if you teach him how to fish you feed him for a lifetime. If you make your child’s decision you protect them for a day, but if you teach them how to make wise decisions, you protect them for a lifetime.
Also, if you want a resource for younger children, I definitely recommend Elizabeth Urbanowicz’s Foundation Worldview resource.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

What Really Hurts Children

What is the real danger to children? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I wrote about the hysteria that comes whenever any new piece of technology comes out. It’s always argued that this will lead to the children being corrupted. The reality comes and goes and there’s no major change. Most of us look at what happened with comic books in the past as silly today. Odds are years from now today’s fear will seem silly.

But yet, no one can deny that children are being hurt. Yes. We do have problems with children committing violence and we do have problems with sexual promiscuity in children. Children often do drugs and children struggle with suicide, depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide.

It’s really easy to blame this on the surrounding culture. It’s comic books! It’s TV! It’s movies! It’s music! It’s smartphones! It’s video games! It’s the internet! I am not denying that some of these can play a part, but there is something far more influential that comes beforehand that if this gets wrong, the others are far more likely to be hazardous to children. If this gets right, they are far less likely to be hazardous.

What children most need right is a stable family.

By this also, I mean that children living with a mother and a father both, and preferably their own biological parents. I realize that sometimes this can’t happen. I have a wonderful friend who’s a widower raising children on her own which is wonderful. A cause like being widowed suddenly due to a tragedy often cannot be helped.

Technically on my end, my sister is my step-sister as we have the same mother, but my mother left an abusive marriage and remarried my father and I come from that one, but my Dad has never treated my sister like any less of his own flesh and blood. I never got preferential treatment growing up that way. You could ask my sister and she would say the same thing.

Today, divorce is often prevalent because if the parents aren’t happy, well surely the children aren’t. Often, with a bad divorce, it doesn’t change the happiness of the children. Sometimes what they want most is their parents to work matters out and it can set the path for them to do the same.

If anyone thinks that’s what happened on my end, no. You can ask most anyone and I fought tooth and nail for my marriage and this was even when wise people told me I should seek divorce. I always said no. If it ended, it would be on her end, but I also told her when she was telling me she was going to divorce that I didn’t want her to do that, but if she sent me papers I would sign them. I wasn’t going to hold her hostage or anything.

Children can wrestle with abandonment over divorce and issues of trust. One reason I am sure of this personally besides my own reading on the topic is I am 42 and divorced and I still wrestle with this as a result of my divorce. It’s far harder when you’re a child who doesn’t have a fully developed cognitive faculty to know how to handle this or a whole worldview behind it. I remember the story of a man in his senior years who at the age of five had his Dad kill himself and he still wondered why his Dad didn’t want him.

Don’t think that just having the right parents is all that matters either. No. Invest in your children. If your children are engaging in media you think is harmful, talk to them about it. Find out why they like it. What are they really gaining out of it?

Don’t think also that if you’re in ministry, you can bypass this. You can’t. Some people can be so committed to ministry that they fail to be committed to their own families. I hate saying it, but Billy Graham was even like this. There’s an account of how he left his wife behind sick once because he had to preach somewhere. If children think your ministry matters more to you than they do, they are more prone to resent your ministry and the God that ministry is about.

Children need to be invested in. We can often think that if we take them to church every Sunday, which we should, then we’re okay, but it needs to be more. Christianity needs to be lived in the home. It needs to be shown. Christians need to do actions that will speak love to their children.

If this is actively going on, you have far less to be concerned about with the media around them. I have been in the world of video games since I was in kindergarten, and yet I have never had a violent streak or anything like that. I was a virgin until I married and will be one, God willing, until I marry again. I never use profanity and I have never had a drug problem. I have struggled with anxiety and depression, but overall, my upbringing has been very helpful for me.

Also, if you are someone alone raising a child, get them involved with someone who can be a role model of their own sex. If you are a man raising daughters, find a woman who is a role model for them and vice-versa for a woman raising sons. Let them know how they are to be.

Your children are yours and they are to be a great investment. You will be the greatest influence on their life. Use it well.

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

 

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)

The Problem With Christian Entertainment

Why do we not impact people in the entertainment industry? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook, and whether it was sarcastic or not, I don’t know, about why Christians shouldn’t watch The Office. Now I have never seen an episode of the show. The most I know about it is I understand a lot of memes on Facebook are from it and I know about the Owlkitty video of it. That’s it.

This led me to thinking about something else. I know we all realize it, but for the most part, Christian entertainment sucks. It’s often just boring and preachy. There are some exceptions, but it’s nothing the world wants to see. I remember when Fifty Shades of Grey came out that the same day, a counterpart movie called Old-Fashioned came out. You might have never even heard of it. There’s no way it could compete with Fifty Shades.

If there is one clear exception to this, it is the Chronicles of Narnia. Yet do you see Christianity explicitly spelled out in that? No. There’s a lot of symbolism in the books of course that points to Christ and so there is also in the rest of Lewis’s fiction, but many atheists can even enjoy reading C.S. Lewis.

Christians don’t have anything in the way of entertainment. We think you have to spell it out explicitly. It’s not fun. If we make something for the purposes of entertaining, our aim should be that the product is actually entertaining. That doesn’t negate we do it for Jesus, but people won’t want to watch Christian entertainment or play Christian video games or read Christian books for fun if they are not, well, fun.

Back in the days of the NES, I remember getting the Bible games from Wisdom Tree. They were alright games, but the only reason I got them was that they were Bible games. That’s it. They honestly hardly even worked on the NES at times. Bible video games are often some of the worst games that they are.

Many of us who are Christians don’t like it when we see a series and the politics is out there in front and everyone knows it. We think we are being preached to, and in essence, we are probably right. I know a lot of people have complained about the newest Star Trek series thinking that it’s going on. They could be right. If we don’t like it, why think unbelievers will like it?

What would be good is if we had a series come out on TV that was actually entertaining or a movie at the theater that was actually entertaining or a book or a video game or whatever it is and people wanted to play it and then find out later on that it was a Christian series. I know some of you will disagree, but on my podcast I have had John Granger on to discuss the Harry Potter series as a Christian series from a Christian viewpoint. Even if you don’t agree with that, if it is true, that is something powerful. That is having it done right.

When we think things have to be explicit, we also assume our audience is stupid. We assume that they have to state it outright or else no one will get it. That insults our audience. No one wants to be assumed to be an idiot.

I don’t know if you should watch the Office or not, but I know the reason we debate this is because we don’t have our own entertainment that’s good. You may enjoy watching Pureflix, but how many people do you know who are non-Christians who are buying it? This is not to knock them at all, but if we are wanting to reach people, it doesn’t help that goal if people aren’t interested in our method of outreach.

God gives us all things richly for our enjoyment as is said in 1 Tim. 6:17. Shouldn’t we do something for the enjoyment of our fellow neighbor? If we want to show Christianity to them in a way that is something they will want, shouldn’t we show them something they would want to have and something they can actually enjoy? This isn’t to say fun is the main goal of the Christian life, but fun is the goal of entertainment. If you sit down to watch the Office, you likely aren’t doing it to study theology or philosophy. Rightly or wrongly, you’re doing it to have fun.

We’re also meant to be creative people in the footsteps of the creator. Our creator created some very fun things for us here. I’ve seen our cat running around here playing some tonight. The animal kingdom is a testimony to the fun of the creator in many ways. Yes, nature is red in tooth and claw at times, but it’s also very fun in many other ways. Shouldn’t we be creative that way? Shouldn’t we make music and TV and movies and video games and books that unbelievers even will want to live?

Let’s do better.

Then maybe we won’t have to debate the Office because not only will we be watching our own great material, but so will everyone else.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I Affirm The Virgin Birth.)

Opening Thoughts On The Final Fantasy VII Remake

What are my thoughts on Square-Enix’s latest release? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Normally, I would have had to put getting this one on hold, but fortunately, someone was very kind and decided to surprise me with a copy of it. I spent a few hours going through it yesterday becoming immersed in the story and enjoying the new additions to it.

While the play style is different and there are no new enemies to fight, I really don’t want to focus on that part. There are enough reviewers of games who comment on that. I want to comment more on the questions of good and evil that are raised.

To begin with, I always think it’s important to consider a work of fiction from the world it’s set in. When we hear talk about killing the planet, those of us who are more conservative might think of the environmental movement and think this is the same thing. That could be true from our world, but in this fantasy world, if what a character like Barrett says is true that the planet has a lifestream and Shinra’s plants are draining that to line their own pockets, then the organization is indeed killing the planet.

Today, we might consider a group like Earth Liberation Front and consider them terrorists. However, if their claims were true about what we are doing to our own planet, then one could say even if they disagreed with their methods, their goal is the right one. While I disagree with Islam, if Islam turned out to be true, then if Allah says killing the infidels is right, well, it would be right.

If you know the story of Final Fantasy VII, you know that the first part of the game involves the group blowing up one of the reactor plants. The difference in this game is that after that, Cloud has to wander through the streets of Midgar and you hear all the side chatter. Listening to what townspeople are saying, you can imagine what it was like on 9/11 if you were in New York City at the time.

Not only do you hear the chatter of the people, but you hear first responders. You hear talk about needing stretchers and someone being injured. The townspeople talk about what they were doing and who they were going to meet and about their families at the time. This is a very real aspect that you don’t hear about in the first game.

This does raise the questions of good and evil. Some might think that one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. It could be tempting to say we do not know what is good and what is evil, but we do. We know somehow in the game that Cloud and his friends are the ones we are meant to cheer for. Now in reality, that doesn’t mean they’re right. Movies and games and TV shows can have us cheering for guys who aren’t doing what is right. You can watch a heist movie, for example, and be eager to see how the main characters are going to outsmart the police and the rest of security and commit the crime.

But ultimately, this is what I like about the remake. It’s the realism. In the original, you blow up a reactor, no big deal to you, and you go on with the game. In this one, you see traffic stopping as people watching and the whole area around falling apart. It definitely brings out that there is a real battle going on.

This game thus far only consists of the parts that take place in the city. We eagerly anticipate what is coming next from Square-Enix in this regard. I am considering doing a video if I can figure out all the things of how to show images of games on FFVII and good and evil and those kinds of questions. Be watching to see what I decide.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Deeper Waters Apologetics YouTube Channel

What is our new resource? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Since we’re all under quarantine and I finally figured out again how to use my webcam, I decided to do something I’ve wanted to do for awhile and had spent some time talking to David Wood about, and that’s making a new YouTube channel. I have one just for fun videos I make and I have one for the podcast, but now I have one for short apologetics videos.

So what kinds of things do I plan to put up there?

Naturally, I started with a video about affirming the virgin birth, which I do affirm, and last night I did a video book review. I could make some short vids responding to current events in the world of apologetics. However, I do have a few ideas in mind for projects.

Tonight, for example, I plan to start a series for Autism Awareness Month, which is this month, on life on the spectrum. I will be tying this in to Christian apologetics and my personal recommendations on reaching people on the spectrum. I hope a video series like this will be more personal than written works on the topic. I plan on working to see how to incorporate images and other such things into my videos instead of just watching me talking.

I also plan on doing series on video games and apologetics. What theological themes can I find in games? I’m not saying no one else is doing this, but I really have not found it being done. I have been told to put up videos of my own gameplay so I do plan on doing that.

I also plan on doing a series on orthodox preterism. In addition, I want to deal with some of what I call the rapture brigade. These are people that make videos on YouTube about all the signs that the rapture is about to take place. They are always proven wrong, but they never seem to learn and keep making predictions.

Ultimately, I expect a lot of trial and error at the start, but I do hope that this will become something more mainstream in my own work. Social media is being more and more the place to go to make statements and with cable TV about to fade out of existence, people will be watching YouTube more for their information. Sadly also, many people don’t read books so I hope that this will fill in the gap.

As of this posting, there are just two videos up, but we have to start somewhere. Why not go and subscribe and share? With quarantine going on, I definitely plan on doing more of this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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