The Gospel of Video Games

by Jordan Ekeroth

For a home-schooled boy growing up in the church, there is nothing more thrilling than to enter the 6th grade. Not only are you once and for all leaving the trappings of childhood behind, you are, in fact, gaining access to that most mysterious and alluring social circle, the church youth group. For the first time, you find yourself spending time with the coolest of the cool: high-schoolers. If they say something is cool, you’d better believe it’s pretty darn cool.

I remember once overhearing two high-school students conversing in hushed tones.

“I heard you can sleep with a prostitute.”
“I heard you can sleep with her and then kill her and take her money. You can kill her with anything … Even, like, a squeegee or something.”

I was terrified. I had no idea what a squeegee was, and I certainly didn’t want to find out. It was the fall of 2001, and the discussion was inspired by the recent release of Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto 3. In my incredibly limited network of acquaintances, I started hearing more about it.  If the authority figures in my life were to be believed, it was probably the worst game ever conceived by a depraved human mind. I had no idea that it had received widespread critical praise, and I certainly had no idea that it would pave the way for Grand Theft Auto 4; Metacritic’s highest rated game of all time, and a game that was heralded for its mature depiction of the psychological consequences of violence, as well as its satirical parody of the excesses of the American Dream. No, as far as I knew, it and games like it were corrupting an entire generation, rewarding young children for doing terrible things to innocent people. As far as I knew, video games were, at worst, destroying society, and at best, idolatry and a waste of time. Yet I wanted to play them anyway, they were just so fun.

This was the paradox I found myself growing up into. I longed to play video games with everyone else, but I was unable to understand how my Christian faith could co-exist healthily with the games I wanted to play…

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