Saturday, May 8, 2010

Separation of Church & Play?


I recognize that religious belief is a highly personal matter, however it's impossible to play videogames without considering the subject. After all, what could be more evocative of "intelligent design" (hallelujah, I see that wince!) than a game designer cooking up a living, breathing world from scratch. Even the way players and developers interact bears an uncanny similarity to a biblical model of God interacting with humankind. Internet forums become a kind of candle-lighting prayer ritual, in which players make their petitions known to developers.

The game world is either open and full of player choice (free will) or it's linear/on-rails (predestination) leading to an authored climax (apocalypse, redemption). Speaking of apocalypse, contemporary videogames can't seem to get enough. Instead of 'amen,' the developer's refrain is, quite simply, 'mayhem." And the flood of sequels continues well after the release of Ubisoft's Army of Two: The 40th Day. Incidentally, Noah's flood described in Exodus ended on Day 41.
"We rant about games that fail to offer their characters a meaningful purpose or reason to exist (read: story). We demand a certain kind of absolute truth (read: internal consistency) from the games we play. We crave structure and order, ejecting the game and hawking it on half.com when we decide its gameplay mechanics are too chaotically assembled. The fundamental difference between videogame critics and your average gamer is that critics are constantly and forever mindful of a game’s creator(s). Your average player doesn’t give two shits who created a game’s world, as long as they enjoy playing in it."
These are just a few of the topics I turned over in my head while writing this week's installment of Start Press. I hope you'll forgive the digressions about my own personal grappling with religious faith. It felt appropriate given the context. Plus, if we want to create a stronger community as gamers and critics, we really should let our thoughts on games intersect with our life journeys more often than we currently do.

[Update: I just stumbled across Richard Clark's interesting article "Not Beyond Belief - How Religion And Gaming Interact" on Gamasutra. Glad to know I'm not the only gamer thinking about this stuff.]

4 comments:

  1. Found this blog via retweet from Darek Webb. I have to say, it's incredibly reassuring and refreshing to see another Christian who enjoys gaming, and is willing to make intelligent commentary on it.

    I once read that there are three forms of appreciation for art (movies in this case):
    - That which is unaware of the creator, not yet seeing art as more than entertainment, something to consume. This is the first step of appreciation.
    - That which is aware of the creator, and appreciates some of the technical aspects of the works creation, and the skill which is demonstrated in the work. This might be what someone would be who is referred to as a "fan". It is the second step of appreciation.
    - That which sees a work of art as a human triumph, the creation of which is beautiful in and of itself. This is the third step of appreciation.

    I would even extend the last definition to refer to those who can appreciated the creation of something beautiful as a reflection of the creativity of God, a triumph above mundanity of evil (for more on the monotony of evil, read Simone Weil's essay, "Evil". For more on the duty of the artist, in particular of the writer, see Weil's essay, "The Responsibility of Writers").

    Just some scattered thoughts and references. May you continue to be inspired to write on this timely topic.

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  2. I'd been meaning to say so when I first read this post, but it is excellent.

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  3. Its a nice blog and given the best informetion thanks for the given info..

    priya
    ankitha
    nazlin

    ReplyDelete

  4. Its a nice blog and given the best informetion thanks for the given info..

    priya
    ankitha
    nazlin

    ReplyDelete