To what extent can a video game influence your value system? This is a huge topic, and one that nobody can hope to solve in a single blog post. But it’s a topic that’s especially important for people thinking about Christian video games – the whole enterprise is founded on the assumption that a video game can have the power to influence people for the better. I’m not going to solve the problem today, but I want to briefly think about it from two angles: firstly, the extent to which a game can stop and make you think, and secondly, the way that God has promised to work in the world.

Video Games That Make You Think

For anybody who has actually taken the time to sit down and play a video game before wading into the debate, it’s pretty likely that at some point in time you’ve played at least one game that left a deep impression on you. Sure, there’s a lot of mindless drivel out there, but there are also some exquisitely crafted experiences that leave you pondering for weeks afterwards. Just as in Hollywood some films are pure popcorn-guzzling action flicks whilst others are more thoughtful affairs, so it’s the case that video games have different intentions. Nobody plays Tetris expecting a profound spiritual experience, but then there are games like Braid.


Braid is the brainchild of Jonathan Blow, and it is pure genius. Featuring the most gorgeous artwork and unique gameplay, Braid is really a dissection of the entire platform game genre. You merrily play your way through as the protagonist Tim searching for the missing princess, pondering as you go about the nature of time. Brief moments of exposition give you the sense that Tim is achingly longing to turn back the clock and undo some past wrong. Through a surprising twist at the end, it really makes you question the way we play video games and the assumptions that we make about the motivations of the characters we control. If you haven’t played it already, what on earth are you waiting for?

Another game that I dearly love is Valve’s Portal. It turns what might otherwise be a simple puzzle game into a thoughtful experience through the addition of the psychotic computer GLaDOS who directs your steps along the way. Who could fail to be moved by her taunts about the way she made you destroy your only friend, the Weighted Companion Cube?

In summary, it’s hard to argue to that a computer game doesn’t have the capacity to influence people when there are so many examples of games that do exactly that.

How God Works: By the Spirit Through His Word


The other angle I want to consider very briefly is to do with the way that God works in the world. Put simply, I believe that there is great power in simply setting out the truths of the gospel before people and inviting them to respond. It’s not going to impress everybody – in fact, the majority will probably dismiss it as foolish and outdated. But throughout the pages of the Bible, God repeatedly promises that the gospel message about the cross of Jesus has his power to save sinners and grow Christians. Just as the Holy Spirit was active in inspiring the original authors as they wrote the Bible, so the Spirit is active today as the Bible is preached and heard. Listen to this account by Paul of the nature of his ministry:

“we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:1-6)

The reason I’m pressing this point is that if the way God works by his Spirit is through the proclamation of his word, then it seems to me that there’s value in using whatever kind of media we can muster to get that message out there. Whether it’s online audio sermons or DVD presentations or films or video games, anything that has the potential to communicate a message can surely be used by God to bring people into relationship with him. Doing that well is of course still a major challenge, but at least conceptually it seems to me to be worth the effort. What do you think?

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