Evangelicals, Stop Shooting At Gamer Stereotypes

Feb 21, 2014
The Devil's workshop for lazy and passive men?

The Devil’s workshop for lazy and passive men?

Men must act like men! Stop playing video games, get a job, get a woman, get a life!

So say some well-meaning Christian teachers, who from pulpits or desktops or smartphone apps thumb their little controller knobs and go pew-pew-pew at virtual “all gamers = lazy slackers” enemies.

Here’s one I spotted:

My responses:

That last link was to Christ and Pop Culture founder Richard Clark’s incidentally advance rebuttal, “Videogames and Men”, at The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:

Men have been criticized by Christian pastors and leaders for continuing to embrace videogames well after adolescence, for investing themselves in imaginary battles and competitions when there are real battles to be fought and genuine challenges to embrace. But these criticisms are the result of misguided generalizations that assume that approaches to videogames are uniform and inevitably harmful.

Read the rest at Videogames and Men.

E. Stephen Burnett

E. Stephen Burnett explores biblical truth and fantastical stories at Christianity Today, Christ and Pop Culture, and Speculative Faith. He and his wife, Lacy, live in the Austin area and serve as members of Southern Hills Baptist Church.

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10 comments on "Evangelicals, Stop Shooting At Gamer Stereotypes"

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Jessica Thomas

I’m so tired of everyone and their brother, or mother, spouting out their own made-up proverbs on social media.

Paul Lee

The simulation aspect of videogames makes them especially applicable to Tolkien’s concept of sub-creation and secondary belief. Videogames are “secondary worlds” in an even more literal sense.

The hyper-real virtual reality of videogames may indeed hold some unique problems and even temptations, but it also offers unique opportunities and imaginative insight. For one thing, one of the core concepts of videogame simulation is that it inherently involves training and education. You’re not learning how to take down hordes of bad guys, not literally, but you’re training attentiveness and reflexes — studies have shown that playing videogames can actually be good for neurological health. Modern games also train players to efficiently manage resources and to efficiently work together to solve problems.

In short, there are many reasons why Christians can enjoy videogames, even for pragmatic reasons. But the best reason to enjoy videogames is the same reason to enjoy any other form of media — because tehy are artistic reflections of God’s glory.

HG Ferguson

One could say exactly the same thing for the crippling stranglehold upon American men called….sports….my question for Mr. Saldana is — are you one of them?
Much of this is a personality thing.  So often it appears:  This does not appeal to me, therefore it ought to appeal to no one.  And then we codify it with biblical dress.
Well done, Brother Burnett.

Leah Burchfiel

Seriously, what a bag. This is like the dude version of being screeched at because you wore a sleeveless blouse to church (not happened to me personally, but I’ve heard of it).

Paul Lee

It’s unfortunate that gaming is still thought of as a “dude” thing. The stereotype hasn’t caught up with the reality yet. Many women play videogames, as well as many people who don’t fit the other characters of the gamer stereotype.

Leah Burchfiel

Isn’t the thing about stereotypes that they’re only partially accurate at best?
Though I’d be interested in knowing if there ever was a dude who was screeched at for wearing a sleeveless top to church. Maybe I should drum up some volunteers to test this scenario, but it would probably only confirm that the type of church that has this kind of rule only has them for women. I would hope to be wrong, but I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not.

D. M. Dutcher

What always gets me is that they never criticize games for the right reasons. There are some serious problems with games as they are today, like how many are designed to use psychological tricks via free-to-play in order to get you to spend money almost like in a casino, or the content of specific games. 
One of the biggest ironies for me is that for about five or more years in the west, one of the biggest RPG series has involved literal demon summoning and fusing as a game mechanic, to the point where you can fuse analogues of Jesus and Satan to make an even bigger badder critter. This is the Shin Megami Tensei/Persona series, which is very big among RPG fans, and yet no one even seems to tackle it. That’s an illustration of why its hard to listen to Christians about gaming; its obvious none of them actually understand it enough to hit on the true things you need to warn people against.

Paul Lee

There are some serious problems with games as they are today, like how many are designed to use psychological tricks via free-to-play in order to get you to spend money almost like in a casino, or the content of specific games. 

The psychological tricks are present in all advertising, though. When you consider that the movie Man of Steel was loaded with product placements, it’s hard to pin the problem on the games themselves.
When you say that there are problems “with games as they are today,” are you implying that games used to be better? Because it was Everquest era when games took no measures to mitigate their addictiveness and frustrating difficulty scale. In Everquest a object would only drop every 24-hours, and people would literally be playing for days waiting for the chance to get it. You criticize free-to-play, but free-to-play was part of the casual gaming revolution, which did away with much of the addictiveness and frustration problems.
Not that I don’t think gaming can be dangerous. To me the evilest game is EVE Online because of the way it abuses free-to-play by giving its game currency real-world equivalence and encouraging players to steal virtual-real money from each other. I believe you about the Persona series, but I’m not sure that they’re as important as you imply. I’ve taken three classes on videogames and I’ve only ever heard them mentioned by other students. They are not upheld as important classics or anything like that. Maybe the Persona games are bigger with the anime community, or at least within circles of people who are anime-literate.

Paul Lee

….but it should be noted that EVE Online actually is not free to play. It requires a monthly subscription, which makes its economy model all the more dubious.

D. M. Dutcher

Everquest never really penetrated the market to as large a level as F2P has though. It really wasn’t till WoW that MMOs were considered a mainstream genre, and even then they were limited by mostly being unable to be successful on console. I agree there are problems with the subscription model of gaming too, but F2P has serious issues with it. In the old days I used to argue fiercely against it when I did the serious MMO thing.
Persona is big for JRPGs, but the series is big with many gamers altogether. Persona 4 was voted best game for the PS Vita, and that series is slowly overtaking Final Fantasy as the best JRPG series out there. It’s not insignificant, and it’s advanced the genre quite a bit.
EVE…I played EVE. There’s a flaw about this thinking. Yes, you can buy PLEX and resell them for ISK, which can be used to buy ships which are then destroyed. But nothing requires doing so, and it’s a mild form of what F2P games do much more fiercely; pay real money to shorten time gathering resources. If you want, you can happily run missions and earn enough ISK to fly decent ships, and many EVE vets will tell you that you shouldn’t fly more than you can afford to lose.
The media tends to take losses in battle and assign the rough ISK value of ships to the corresponding realworld value in PLEX. If twenty titans were destroyed, they show the amount of resources lost in dollars as a convenient shorthand, but I don’t think many people directly bought those ships with PLEX. It’s just something they use to show how much effort is blown up in a huge battle.

In very few cases does someone lose PLEX by literal destruction, and you can trade them without ever leaving the safety of a station. It’s a bit of sleight of hand done by people who don’t really play the game; not many people directly subsidize their ships with ISK.
I should write a post on this on my own blog though. I don’t talk about it much, but I was seriously into MMOs for quite a long time, and I watched them transition to F2P models. It was part of what made me quit the genre for good.

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