A Christian Defence of Video Games, and How to Tell a Lousy One

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

Christians who argue that video games are a waste of time, that they’re too violent, have too much sex, make people dumber, and degrade us morally, tend to quote this verse frequently.  This verse, they say, proves that video games are not for Christians.  In many, many cases, they’re right.

There are new games released every day, hundreds every year, many of them terrible – on many levels.  There are often games that are pretty good, however, and every now and then there’s one that’s absolutely incredible, also on many levels.  I think that this verse is a good way to evaluate games, but it can be used in more than one way; this is what I’d like to examine.  Can we use this verse to defend video games as well as dismiss them as evil?

Let’s look at arguments against video games first.


Inevitably, argument #1 is that video games are violent, and therefore not good for Christians to play; violence, they say, is evil, and therefore it is not honourable or just or pure or lovely, etc.  Video games are even worse than violent movies or television shows, they say, because we’re actually performing the violence, directing our virtual avatars to kill – this much is true.  Some go so far as to say that people who engage in virtual violence in video games are more likely to engage in real violence as well; I think the jury’s still out on that one, and I’ll withhold judgment until I see some more data.  Many elements of this argument are quite strong, but there are a few flaws.

A) a video game without any sort of violence or conflict would come very close to standing alone in the history of storytelling.  Name me a single literary classic without any violence, and I’ll name you a dozen classics (including children’s stories) full of it – not least, the Bible.

B) a game without violence would have a hard time depicting our world, or any other believable world.  We could go around and around asking if art imitates life or life imitates art, but inevitably, violence (and sex) are seemingly unavoidable parts of life and art.  Hiding from them won’t make them go away.

Now, that’s not to say that it’s good to engage in violence, whether real or virtual.  We need to actually use our heads here: some gaming violence is absolutely abhorrent, mainly because of the way in which it is portrayed.  There are games that trivialize violence that would otherwise be horrific (I’m thinking of the GTA series here; beating hookers to death with golf clubs is only entertaining because it’s shocking, and when it’s no longer shocking, that means that something decent within you has died).  There are games that dwell on sadistic horror and brutal murder, even games based on snuff films; for someone who’s never played good video games, it’s easy to think that they’re evil when all you hear about is garbage like Manhunt.  Scripture is full of some disgusting violence, and it doesn’t always even condemn it, but it portrays it realistically and trusts that you don’t need a rating on it to realize that its violence is not something fun to fantasize about.

So, in response to objection #1 to video games, although violence itself is an evil that should not be repeated in reality, portrayal of violence is not in itself evil.  Portrayal of violence can be a facts-of-life representation, a portrayal of real or symbolic struggle, or even a call to action.  Violence, on its own, does not disqualify something from Paul’s standard in Phil. 4:8 above.


Objection #2 is usually that video games are too sexy.  In some cases, I strongly agree – but again, it’s not because sex finds a way into video games, but because of the way that it is portrayed.  This has much to do with demographics: video games are marketed to adolescent males (usually 14-30).  Often, very little in video games is realistic: it functions as a fantasy.  The lead character (usually a male) is a bad-ass with rippling muscles, and even though I as the player am somewhat timid and borderline portly, I get to call that virtual Bruce-Willis type “me.”  Women are also portrayed unrealistically, but again, to cater to the young male audience: their clothes are tighter than skin, their breasts are big enough to unbalance a real person, and they specialize in high kicks – or as one feminist documentary put it, they’re “ass-kicking f#ck toys.”  This kind of portrayal of women is everywhere, but it is especially prevalent in video games – DOA, anyone?  And any woman in a video game who isn’t a super-spy/ninja in a skin-tight unitard tends to either be the seductress or the young lover who gets killed in the first scene.  This portrayal of women reinforces every terrible stereotype of women that we have, and it should stop.  The problem in this case is therefore not sex, but sexism.

So, in answer to objection #2 (that games have too much sex), I’d like to point out that most games have little or no actual sex in them – and a tasteful cut scene (note: tasteful) might not even be inappropriate for some of them.  The problem is an unrealistic – and tasteless – portrayal of men and women that idealizes (and idolizes) the body for the sake of excitement.  Unrealism in itself might not be wrong (games about ordinary people aren’t very much fun – I’m looking at you, Sims), but the stereotypes it reinforces is the real problem.

Side note: ever wonder why so many women play Sims, and so few play DOA?

A Waste of Time

Objection #3 (or for most of our dads, #1) is that video games are a waste of time.  They don’t produce anything, and they deaden our minds.  This last criticism is probably because, when we’re engrossed in a game, we don’t pay much attention to anything else.  Funny that nobody complains about this when we’re engrossed in a novel (unless it’s a fantasy novel, right?).  Being engrossed in something should actually be a sign that whatever it is, it’s engaging us very closely.

Different video games develop different skills in us.  A few years back, my brother and cousins and I went in together to buy my Grandma a Nintendo DS; she plays Sudoku every day, and occasionally Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box.  Puzzle games like this are often recommended by doctors to help our grandparents keep their wits sharp as age begins to dull them.  We need to think in different ways, to engage different abilities of our brains, just to keep our brains healthy.  Shooters work on reflexes and hand-eye coordination; the first time I played Counterstrike, I died six times without even seeing another player.  A few years later I was pwning n00bs with the best of them.  Driving games work on our reflexes, depth perception, and even a little math: your brain has to calculate how much to slow down without hitting the wall, and at what point in a curve to start your turn, where to accelerate to power through a corner, etc.

Many games these days even have a moral or ethical element.  I remember when Star Wars: KOTOR came out, the light side/dark side points blew me away as a game concept; Fable took it further, with physical changes to your character depending on your fame or notoriety, and KOTOR 2 had your own choices affecting others around you, with supposedly equal but opposite benefits on either side of the spectrum.  Now it’s fairly standard in games to have this element.  In Bioshock, you get the same benefits either way – so your moral choices in the game are not based on your desire for a certain powerup that only a good or evil person could get; they are simply moral choices.

My answer to #3 then is, yes, video games do not (usually) produce anything outside of ourselves – but neither does any other form of sport or leisure.  Sports condition our body and draw us together as a team; games condition our mind, and draw us together as a guild/clan/team/etc.

My answer to the usual critiques in general, then, is: yes, video games can be harmful, but they sure can’t be singled out among other aspects of our society and lumped together with blanket statements of evilness.  The appeal to Philippians 4:8 to condemn video games is really an appeal to goodness that condemns the evil in all of us – in this case, an appeal that refuses to see that video games often contain the very good things that Philippians 4:8 is talking about.

On a Positive Note

I’ve spent too long on the defence here: it’s time to talk about how video games are described by Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

1. True: Video games, like all art, can be incredible portrayals of what is true – not just on a literal level, but on deeper levels as well.  Video games often utilize symbols and metaphors, portraying strange or fantastic worlds and impossible feats – often to show us something true about reality.  And the argument against video games, that being more involved in the violence they portray heightens the negative affect of that violence on us, goes both ways: being more involved in the positive aspects of video games heightens their positive effect on us.

2. Honourable and just: honour and justice play a large role in most video games, even some of the most violent.  That doesn’t excuse many of them, but it’s interesting to note that, as they say, there is “honour among thieves.”  We all have an innate sense of justice and honour.  Games exist that justify violence and revenge by the concepts of justice and honour – a common notion in our society, actually, especially in places that still execute criminals.  But there are many games that give an even stronger sense of justice, and allow players to forgive their enemies, or rescue those who would hurt them (I’m thinking Bioshock here).

3. Pure: as I mentioned above, there are many games out there that allow the player to make moral choices, often without seeing any direct benefit.  They place a player in a very evil situation, and then give a view of goodness, of purity, in a way that makes us crave it.  I hate to take all of my examples from Bioshock, but in the darkness of Rapture, saving Little Sisters seems to be the only light, and turning them back into innocent children is a shining beam of purity in a filthy world.

4. Lovely: More and more, games are absolutely breathtaking in their artwork.  Take a moment to think about that: beauty is a moral, ethical, and aesthetic good.

5. Commendable, Excellent, Praiseworthy: There are some awful games out there – awful morally, but much more often, awful in every sense.  But some games are absolutely masterful!  Excellence in art, story, music, voice acting, gameplay, replayability – such excellence exists, and seems to be coming more often.  We would praise any one of those things being excellent on their own, but games combine all of these things into a feast for all senses (except smell and taste, but don’t think they’re not working on it!).  Games are a new dimension of art, combining many art forms into one for an immersive experience different from all others.  Surely pulling such a feat off is worthy of praise!

This is an example of why so many “Christian” games are so awful: in spite of their “Christian” message, they’re absolutely terrible games.  There’s nothing to admire in so many of them, that I seriously question the “Christian” prefix entirely.

It’s also an example of why EA is a sort of video game antichrist, offering wonderful morsels of gaming goodness in terribly buggy games without any real support – but that’s for another post.

This post is for Game Church: I hardly know you, but I love that you exist, that you’re out there, that you love Jesus and games.  Keep playing games, my sisters and brothers, because they’re not all bad; just choose games that make you better, that give you a chance to be Jesus to someone.  “Be excellent to one another,” and people might find that there’s something praiseworthy in games after all.

28 thoughts on “A Christian Defence of Video Games, and How to Tell a Lousy One

  1. Very interesting, I give a hearty amen to the artistic/beauty aspect of games. I don’t think your arguments will convince me to like video games, or make me go out of my way to play them, but it is an innovative attempt to engage with a very significant portion of culture that little has seen little serious Christian engagement.

    • Thanks Ryan 🙂

      The lack of Christian engagement with this subject troubles me, especially since so many Christians play games! Follow the link to Game Church, where you’ll find a whole bunch of people who love Jesus, but many of them don’t love the Church – in large part because they feel that the Church doesn’t love them. Somehow, it’s become very “Christian” to demonize games and gamers.

      I always wonder: did Chess ever receive such criticism? And if not chess, why Starcraft?

  2. Please take this reply as discussion, not as attack. The tone here is not mean to be vicious or spiteful.

    While your blog post is interesting and raises very good points for discussion (and I agree at several places along the way), I’d like to hear a blog author respond directly to some of the typical criticisms. Your article seems more general, which is a very good starting point.

    For instance, you’ve “generally” talked about violence and its portrayal in various media, including books (not just limiting the scope of critique to video games).

    So, what about graphically intense depictions of violence, particularly in war games? Can you take that specific item and respond to it? Not necessarily here, but could you take a “closer” look? I think the Bible talks about violence, certainly. There is a lot of “nasty” stuff in the Bible in that regard, we could say, especially in the OT.

    Isn’t there a difference here, though? Isn’t there a difference between reading a story, in this case, about something that happened and was ordained by God, and then something that we humans create and visually portray for the sake of entertainment?

    Is it OK to repeatedly practice visually executing enemies, be it shooting them with a gun or blowing them up with a grenade or a missile? It might be, I’m not sure, I’d really like to hear a response.

    Where do we draw the line? Is it up to the individual, as with most decisions in life, using the conscience to confirm and defend the truth in something?

    This can be a great discussion if those on both sides are willing to answer questions without getting too defensive. Good thought-provoking piece!

    • Thanks Chad, I appreciate your comment (which is not at all vicious!).

      Since I used Bioshock as my example throughout this article, I’ll use it here as well. It’s disturbingly graphic, so much so that I didn’t want to carry on at points. It presents a dark and twisted reality, inherently violent and gory and depressing and shocking. The important point to note here, though, is that it was SUPPOSED to be that way; the creators of the game wanted us to be shocked and revolted by what was going on in the city at the bottom of the sea.

      Other games, on the other hand, offer gore and graphic violence in ways that make them much more commonplace. In Borderlands, a first-person shooter/RPG that won game of the year last year, violence is idealized and gore is cartoonized. I get more points for a headshot, which causes the person’s head to disappear entirely in a fountain of blood – and my character laughs and applauds himself for the nice shot.

      It’s possible that both of these games offer some sort of desensitization toward violence; I’m no psychologist, and my friend the sociology professor wrote her thesis on how video-game violence affects people (she says it does, often negatively) – I guess you’ll have to ask the experts. But Bioshock WANTS you to be sensitive to this awful violence, while Borderlands jokes through it.

      My argument is thus not that all video games are good – far from it! But only that video games CAN be good, and that a gamer is not necessarily a degenerate or a sinner just for playing.

      On a side note, let’s not kid ourselves: 90% of the biblical violence is NOT ordained by God!

      On violence in story: Walter Wink talks about the “myth of redemptive violence,” which goes all the way back to the Enuma Elish (the Mesopotamian creation myth) which portrays creation as being the result of Marduk ripping the goddess Tiamat in half. Human beings have always found tales of epic and violent struggles between good and evil, and we use this struggle as justification for our violence. What good stories don’t have any violence? What epics lack battles? Violence is the most intense type of conflict, and conflict is a necessary story element – thus any intensity in a good story usually involves some form of violence, and if it’s in the name of good, we cheer it. Sometimes we even say it’s ordained by God 😉 (I’m talking about all sorts of violence outside of scripture; this isn’t the place for OT exegesis). Something I’ve been finding very interesting lately is seeing how often stories invoke non-violence, even as the climax of stories that are violent throughout. Watch V for Vendetta, The Last Castle, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 2) for notable examples in film!

      • FYI, the saying is “There is NO honor among thieves.”

        Might not be that big of a deal, it completely changes how that part of your original post applies to anything you’re saying.

        It’s been a while since I’ve been back here to see what others have said. While what I’m about to say should not in any way be limited to the world of gaming, it certainly does apply, even though it sounds cliche, “Is it the best use of our time?”

        Another way to ask the SAME question is, “Does it glorify the Lord?” The question is a valid one, and again, should be applied to all of life. If at the end of 3 hours of watching a movie, or playing a video game, or dancing in the rain, or _______________, we could answer Jesus face to face and say, “Yes, Lord, I believe that was the best and most glorifying use of my time and energy, and I was during that time a good steward of what you provided to me,” then we have our answer.

        If, however, there remains a doubt, then that doubt should be probed. In the final analysis, I think it quite easy to say that video games are a rather dubious and frivolous endeavor, don’t you? I mean, in the GRAND scheme of things. And, once more, this could most likely be said for loads of our daily choices. However, the question in this blog post is about video games, so let’s ask the question about video games.

        When the time comes to give an account for our lives, are we sure we’ll be happy to report about all the time we’ve spent playing games?

        I’ve got a friend who plays video games with a purpose. He uses his time playing games to reach out to people with the Gospel! He’s got a ministry going where gamers come to church (of all places!) and play video games. They also hear a message of God’s love for them, and they are treated with kindness and generosity (at a church!). If you’re going to play video games, in my opinion, THAT is the way to do it. There are people engrossed, nay, addicted to video games, a culture unto themselves, and they are in need of the Gospel.

        Is playing video games a sin? I don’t think so. The questions come into play with how much time, what KIND of video games are we playing, what kind of money are we spending, and what affects does it have on the souls of men and women? Those are the kinds of questions we should be asking about EVERY activity that we engage in, not just video games.

        FYI, your blog is extremely hard to read. A bigger font would serve you well.

      • Thanks for the feedback, and the comment 🙂

        I can appreciate your argument regarding the best use of one’s time, though I don’t know what to do with it. We can’t possibly know what the best use of our time would be, and so we must choose ways to spend that time, using what we have. I game for about 4-5 hours per week, maybe a little more. It’s one of my favourite things to do; it helps me to explore different concepts, develop skills, etc. Mostly, I find it relaxing. Games are art (no matter what Roger Ebert says) – one of those things in life that serves no purpose except to be enjoyed, or to be provocative. I really do believe that enjoying these parts of life glorifies God – and certainly, it glorifies God more than spending my time striving to find the best possible way to spend my time.

        As for gaming to glorify God, you might see a few of my articles at http://www.gamechurch.com Also, check out my newest post here, which relates to your previous comment about violence in video games. Thanks for coming back!

  3. Let me simply ask you this, that you may dwell on it: Is playing video games of any sort the best use of your free time?

    Find the truth. God Bless.

    • Thanks for the question, Sam – though I must say, it comes across as pretty condescending. You make it sound as though the answer is obvious, or even that the question is rhetorical; neither is true. This is a question that we should all ask ourselves, and not just about video games!

      I have many things that I do in my free time; in fact, I have many more ways to spend my free time than I have free time to spend! This is a leading question: the answer I’m supposed to come to is that I could be doing something useful, or selfless, or in other ways beneficial, with my time. This is true, I suppose, but I could also say the same of every hobby or leisure activity that exists. This is not an issue that is limited to video games, even though it seems to be applied to video games more than anything else. You could even ask the question of what most of us do for work: is serving coffees, or digging ditches, or managing a business, the best thing that I can be doing with my time? Ultimately, unless you are one of the few who have a career in a non-profit, or full-time ministry or missions, or some other work that benefits society’s most vulnerable, the answer will always be “no.” So why pick on video games?

      Hobbies are, generally speaking, not productive. They do not tend to benefit others, and that’s not why we do them in any case. Hobbies are a form of self-care, a green-light (stress reducing) activity that usually has elements of self improvement to it – whether it is developing or honing a skill, or allowing for self-reflection or -expression. Sports build up our physical fitness; puzzles and games build up our mental fitness. Video games build up many different skills, as I believe I mentioned in this post: puzzle games help us to think in different ways than we usually do, increasing our mental fitness; shooters and racing games work on our reflexes and hand-eye coordination, and even require us to be constantly making mathematical calculations (angles, acceleration/deceleration, other physics). Fighting games, with their long command lists to perform moves and combos, are memory games. And as I mentioned extensively in this post, many games today also work on our moral or ethical decision-making skills. All of this to say that video games are probably the most beneficial of all hobbies, as most hobbies work on one particular skill or area of development, while video games simultaneously develop us in several ways.

      Also, most hobbies are solitary activities. Reading, or playing Sudoku, are single-person games. Some hobbies have team or group elements: Playing cards is quite social, and playing team sports is highly social. Video games also include a social element, perhaps moreso than even most team sports. Entire communities are built around particular video games, bringing people together from across the planet to partake in a shared hobby. But unlike sports teams, there is no hazing, or physical abuse, and generally no pecking orders or hierarchies in gaming communities. And when gamers get together (virtually), there’s usually other elements of mental challenge and development that take place: show me a multiplayer game that doesn’t have a debate forum!

      I can’t be actively engaged in altruistic, world-changing work all day every day. Everybody needs a break, a green-light activity, to find rest. Rest is a command, and a high value, to us from God. The way that I rest (playing video games) continues to help me grow in my mental and moral abilities, potentially connecting me to millions of other people in the process – so yes, I don’t think there is any better use of my free time. Of course, I guess I could always watch television…

  4. I don’t have the time to summarize any of his thinking, and I don’t know much of it, but I would recommend spending some time with the writings of Wendell Berry to maybe get some perspective on the difference between playing video games and some other hobbies. Ideally, I would think that we should mostly remove from our lives any hobbies that are focused on self. “Me-time” should really be (I don’t claim to have achieved this yet) time spent with the Lord.

    “The Art of the Commonplace” is a good collection of Berry’s writings to begin with if you are interested in an agrarian perspective on how we should approach our decisions of living. Even though I think we would ultimately have some disagreements in our theology and even philosophy to some degree, I still respect and appreciate the contributions that Berry has made. -I would expect that voices like his are even more underappreciated (maybe not a word) than those of the Christian defenders of video games. Thanks, and sorry if I seem rude.

    • You don’t seem rude at all, Nate – thanks for the recommendation! I’ve been meaning to read Wendell Berry for ages, and have a lot of friends who highly recommend his work.

      If I may pose another question, what exactly is “time spent with the Lord?” The usual response is “doing devotions” which usually involves reading the Bible, or some “devotional.” For other people, it means enjoying nature – experiencing God’s creation in a quiet, reflective way. I find one of the ways that I marvel the most at God’s creation is by observing human beings and the things that they can create – art is a wonderful, thought-provoking way to experience co-creating with God. And as I said above, one of my favourite art forms happens to be video games! 🙂

      I think in large part you’re right, though: we need a constant awareness of and connection to God, and one of the surest ways to keep that connection is through a daily ritual of time spent focused on Him. Video games don’t really fill that role, even the most beautiful and intelligent of them. I don’t know if it’s realistic, or even positive, to spend ALL of our recharging time in meditation or prayer or reading scripture; we’re not all meant to be monks, and human beings are communal creatures built to use all of their faculties. I think the trick is not to conform all of your activities to a particular type of activity, but to conform all of your activities – whatever they are – to an attitude and expression that glorifies God.

      I’m putting “The Art of the Commonplace” high on my reading list! Thanks!

  5. So…then the WWE games, Halo, Soul Calibur, Dynasty Warriors, Saints Row, and Assassin’s Creed that I have are bad as well?

    • Hi Michael,

      Saying “as well” implies that I’ve given a negative perspective on video games, which is certainly not what most of the post was about. I actually really love video games, and would give a positive review to most of them. Each of the games you mention here deserve their own review, and that’s part of my point here: we can’t say that “video games are bad” in any sort of general sense, any more than we can say that films or novels are bad in a general sense.

      I watched wrestling for years, and loved it, but you’ve got to admit that it’s extremely crude and based entirely on the glorification of violence and sex. There’s rarely anything redeeming or positive in it, and it’s more like a drug designed to feed your base impulses than an actual story to engage with. I don’t think it’s unfair to relegate any WWE product, games or otherwise, to the “guilty pleasures” category.

      Halo is a masterpiece on just about every level. I love it! Like all other violent media, it participates in what Walter Wink calls “the myth of redemptive violence,” but that’s pretty much impossible to avoid, so we must simply be aware of it. That said, Halo is incredibly smart, funny, tells powerful stories, has brilliant music, and is a ton of fun.

      Soul Calibur is one of my favourite fighting games, but it definitely objectifies its female characters and uses their portrayal to manipulate its predominantly male audience. It doesn’t stoop to DOA levels (Dead or Alive is a fighting game famous for its innovation in boob-jiggle and its all-female beach volleyball version), but it’s not that far from it. Mechanically, it’s a very fun game; but be aware of the messages the game sends about women and violence.

      I hope I’ve said enough to make my point here: it’s not an issue of games being “good” or “bad”, it’s an issue of gamers having some discernment and critical awareness when they’re playing.

  6. What do you think about Far Cry 4? Im just curious. You seem to have a good perspective on what you are talking about in this blog.

    • Thanks Kristian! I’ve never been a fan of the Far Cry series – I never made it past Far Cry 2. I struggle with unjustified violence (and even the idea that violence is justifiable at all), and I found the Far Cry games that I’ve played (and from what I’ve heard of Far Cry 3) to be more about gamifying violence than even justifying it. They’re short on story or purpose, big on finding lots of new ways to kill all sorts of creatures. That said, 4 looks like a marked improvement, and I’d be interested to give it a try.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • Thank you!

        I agree with you. I’ve played Far Cry 4 now for a couple of hours, and I am impressed by how the story is much better than the last games. If you decide to play it, please let me know what you think!

        For now I am going to play it. I see you also like Halo, I like that series as well!


  7. What would you think of a Dynasty Warriors/Shin Sengoku Musou style video game that takes places not in China, Japan, or some fantasy land, but in ancient Israel and that also uses characters from the Holy Scriptures and accompanying records of the times from around Noah to at least the Maccabean Revolt?

      • Thank you for replying to my idea. I’m not sure if Koei Tecmo (a secular company) would be on board with this idea, but, if we present it to them right, then maybe it might sell. We would also have to dig into more secular sources and get the names of the people that were not mentioned by name in the Holy Scriptures, namely of the kingdoms that opposed the Kingdom of Israel. I like the idea that I mentioned because a. games like that which Koei Tecmo has made for over a decade have been proven to be among the better sellers of video games (though not necessarily among the best of critical darlings, but then again, nine times out of ten, critics are idiots), b. Koei Tecmo kind of went over similar ground with Bladestorm: the Hundred Years War (which took place around the aforementioned Hundred Years War) and it proved to be a moderate success, and c. if that era, ancient China, and Feudalist Japan all proved themselves to be such huge hits for that company, as well as other companies, then why is it so wrong to go over other successful histories of other places all over the world? People are simply missing a huge opportunity with not covering other more historically exciting times and kingdoms, empires, nations, and the like, such as ancient Israel and it is a big shame. I would love to go into depth with you on this topic, sir.

      • I’m with you on the rationale, but I’m not sure that game companies take pitches from the public. I’ve had a few ideas for games in the past, and inquired, only to be told that they just don’t do it (I bet they get an awful lot of pitches!).

  8. I’m sorry about being late on this article but I found it interesting, I was wondering what would your Christian view be on Dark Souls series. I have actually wanted to discuss how Dark Souls portrays the bible in these ways:

    -Dark souls series is portrayed in a broken world yearning for salvation
    -Each game shows how little and insignificant we are to the world around us
    -As the player, we are the light in a world filled with dark
    -The game teaches us to not be arrogant (linking to how weak we truly are)

    There are many others but I would like to hear what you have to say

  9. What about video games that take the Lords name in vain? Say G-D word. I found some Final Fantasy games do this? What about games that have Blasphemes? I mean in the newer Tomb Raider. Rise of the Tomb Raider, they put the Trinity down, by calling it, never mind I cant say it. But it is not good, then they use the F word all over the place, and I wont say what they said about Jesus miracles. They mention the messiah and talk about his miracles. They did what the Pharisees did. Jesus miracles are good not Evil, so what they are doing in their video games, is serious sins. On top of that Final Fantasy Lighting Returns, they call her the Savior who saves souls of the world. Um , no that would be Jesus, not lighting. And again the say god is not good, what? My God is a good God. Some of these games are getting really bad and the video game I am playing now, which is FF 15, there is cussing in the fighting, but can be turned off if the voice is turned off. There is cussing in the dialog and Lords name is use in vain, so I am going to have to turn all the sound off and play with the music on. Also a lot of rpgs deal with religion and twisting it, or saying something about God. I mean most racing games are ok, but not all, like GTA is very bad in my opinion. There are some games like Persona, who want the player to sign evil contract and then there is a evil looking guy wanting to give future readings. Something way off with that, just saying.
    I do play games, but I have to be very careful what I am playing, and some games if I can turn the sound off I will do so, if it is that bad.

    • Hi Tina,

      I appreciate your concerns, but I want to re-frame them a little bit.

      To take the Lord’s name in vain doesn’t mean to cuss, or even to use the name of God as a cuss word. Believe it or not, there are cuss-words in the Bible in the original languages. I was raised to believe that “swearing” (cussing) was a serious offence to the dignity of God, but the reality is that there’s a long history to that kind of thing. Taking the Lord’s name in vain means to call yourself a Christian falsely. The best examples in the Bible of this are the Seven Sons of Sceva in Acts, who tried to cast out a demon in the name of Jesus: the demon-possessed man said “I know Jesus, but who are you?” and beat them all up. Another is Ananias and Sapphira, who were part of the Christian community and pledged to give all they had to it, but secretly held some back for themselves; they were struck dead for taking on the name of Christ falsely.

      Similarly, prohibitions against “swearing” actually refer to swearing oaths, not using foul language. Jesus’ point in prohibiting swearing oaths is that our word ought to be enough: “let your yes be yes, and your no be no.” You shouldn’t need to bolster your promises by swearing by God. But cussing (saying something vulgar or profane as an expression of intense feeling) often took the form of false oaths (e.g., “by God!” as a shortened form of swearing an oath by God’s name). So swearing (the act of taking an oath) became associated with profanity which is usually used to cuss.

      All of that to say that swearing/cussing might be rude, but it isn’t necessarily sinful at all.

      Being disrespectful toward God, while obviously being negative, is something we should examine the way that God describes it. Jesus says that whoever is kind to “the least of these” (the most vulnerable) is kind to him, and that whoever has rejected them has rejected him. That is the basis on which Jesus talks about respecting God. Proverbs says that if we are unkind to the poor we dishonour their Creator.

      Now we should also be sure not to mix a fantasy world with our own. Final Fantasy worlds do not have Jesus in them. That doesn’t make them bad; they are simply fictional. But that does mean that anyone in those games who is disrespecting “God” is not actually referring to the God and Father of our lord Jesus Christ. Usually games have their own mythology that is loosely rooted in religions and traditions we are already familiar with, but are boiled down to caricatures of those religions. It may be entirely possible and good within such fantasy worlds to be disrespectful to a god or goddess who is in fact petty or evil; this should not be considered blasphemy by any means.

      So, all of that to say that we shouldn’t consider any anti-religious language to be blasphemous unless it is explicitly aimed toward Christianity, and that God is not concerned with our language nearly so much as our actions.

      Grace and peace,


  10. Thank you as a Christian who plays video games I don’t believe they are sinful at all. Portrayed violence isn’t actual violence. I’ve played games and worshiped God for all my life and never understood why people had such aversion to them, but I guess it like with what Paul said about meat

    • Thanks Shawn! Yes and no: portrayed violence, particularly when we provide the will behind it, trains us to dehumanize others. If we can engage critically with the game, we can play it and even learn from it. But too often we are susceptible to find joy in beating women to death with golf clubs, to take an example from GTA. Video games are not evil, but they are not neutral; how we engage with them makes the difference.

      • They are powerful. They have the ability to shape our character. We can choose how our character is shaped through playing games if we do it critically, but we are shaped by what we play even (and maybe especially) if we pay it no mind. This is what I mean by “not neutral”, that they have an effect one way or another whether we recognize it or not. Having an effect doesn’t make them evil, even if the effect is negative – but it does mean that they are not neutral.

        (There are some games that I fully believe are evil. I’m talking here more generally about video games as a platform or genre.)

      • I guess that is I’ve played all types of games but I usually make sure that I’m on the side of good against an unspeakably evil force or In a war.

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