Welcome to the first edition of Gaming With Purpose, my new column where I highlight fellow gamers who are sharing their faith in one form or another. To start us off, we have Andrea who has submitted several guest posts already. She shares her personal story on how she came to know Christ and how videogames played a later role in her starting her blog. Enjoy!
I grew up around computers for just about as long as I can recollect. I also grew up in a family of faith – it was the single most important thing to learn that God loved us and that we were to serve Him. I attended church weekly with my family and went to Sunday school. Although I enjoyed reading the Bible, I had a hard time connecting with others and making friends. It wasn’t for lack of trying or not wanting friends, but I’m naturally socially awkward and in my head a lot. That usually doesn’t translate into good social prowess.
I enjoyed the stories of King David and his rise to power, Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi, and Daniel’s courage to stand by his faith in the lion’s den. I believe that I enjoyed them more, not only because I believe they really happened, but through playing computer games – specifically history-based strategy games. I curiously watched my dad play them early on in my life (such as Lord of the Realms II), and when I was five, I got to try Age of Empires II for the first time. I learned about amazing historical heroes and warriors, such as El Cid, Joan of Arc, Attila the Hun, and so many others.
My gaming repertoire extended once we made purchases such as the Game Boy Advance, the GameCube, the PlayStation 2, and more as time went on. I was introduced to franchises I’ve grown to love, such as Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Red Dead Redemption, The Witcher, and others.
As my gaming experience grew, so did my relationship with Jesus. I found as I grew older, being lonely for most of my school life with few friends, I grew to lean in on Him and depend on Him as my forever faithful friend. It comforted me to know that there was someone who loved me unconditionally, who cared about my dreams, concerns, and future. Much more so when He was the God of the universe! I dedicated myself to Him after being moved to tears during one service at my church’s VBS when I was ten; I remember crying and feeling touched that God loved me so much that He would go so far as to die on my behalf. That feeling and understanding of that truth never truly went away, even when I entered adulthood and often questioned much of what I was taught while growing up.
In the end, I decided I couldn’t turn my back on God, no matter how much the world would scream that doing so would be so much more logical. That sacrifice and knowing the truth of God’s love exceeded the world’s knowledge for me, even when things in my life didn’t make very much sense at times.
That’s where I feel I grew a deeper appreciation for video games. I’ve always had a deep passion for stories – books, films, shows, etc. Nothing is quite as interactive as a video game, however. I get to enter the shoes of so many characters from different backgrounds and do these impossible things. I don’t agree with many of their choices all the time, but I don’t need to in order to really appreciate the story that was written for me to experience.
That’s how life works, I think. We make bad choices, but we learn from them and grow. That’s what makes storytelling so powerful and so needed. That’s what makes video games so important to me. I try my best to focus on the good they bring because so much of the world and social media focuses on the bad. As God instructed us in Philippians 8, we are to focus on thoughts on what is lovely and commendable; when we can do that, we become lovely and commendable for others and attract them towards God.
I created Hope, Play, and Love this year to focus on the good that games and other forms of media (such as films, shows, and even books) can bring, and hope they point others towards God. I want others to know that God is always there for them, even when people aren’t. That it’s okay to feel lonely but to know that they’re not really alone. In the Christian gaming community, we seek others like ourselves, and welcome them with open arms, because we know how it feels like to be left out. It’s also what Christ would do (and has done) for each of His children.
Continue reading more stories about Gaming With Purpose