This week, Kotaku have been running a fascinating series of articles on religion in video games, a subject which is naturally close to my heart. I was particularly interested when the author expressed their sense of how unfulfilling it ultimately proved to “play God”, and how the genre of ‘the God-game’ (such as Populous or Black & White) was a much less satisfying experience for them than playing the role of a creature in amongst the rest of the world.

“I had found that, for me, playing as god was not an attraction. Being removed was chilling and, of course, distancing.”

How should the Christian think about ‘playing God’ in a video game? Instinctively, I want to dismiss it as a bad thing; after all, the very essence of sin is to play God: to shake our fists at our creator and say “I’d rather run my life my way”. We want to call the shots. We want to decide which way our life will go. The great power struggle between man and God is what led to Adam & Eve being ejected from Eden, and continues to haunt the human race til this day. No wonder it is so unfulfilling to play God, when that is the root of our greatest problem.

And yet I think I would be wrong to reject the idea so quickly. The author of the article points out that one of the side-effects of so many games that allow you to play God is to let you “discover, through video games, the various types of God I might be”. In attempting to play God myself, I get to see how hard it is. I get to see all of the ways in which I fail to be God satisfactorily. In many ways it provides a mirror onto my own soul – give a man ultimate power and authority, and see how he behaves towards those in his care. Surely there is great potential in such an experience to show people the depths of their hearts, and point them towards the one true God who rules with justice and mercy. “We do not engage directly; we do not drop down to say hi.” – and yet He did, stepping in to his world in the form of Jesus Christ to sort out the problem of human sin brought about by our god complex.


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