Over the years of running Gaming & God, I’ve received emails, messages, or chats on Discord about the effects of video games on our walk with Christ. Questions like “I play (insert game name) and I feel I should stop playing it because it has violence, magic, mentions of a god or worship to this deity or something else. What should I do?”. It’s an important question that Christians and even those that practice other faiths may struggle with not just with gaming, but any media they are consuming. Which games are OK to play, which are not, and how do we tell the difference besides the ESRB warning on the cover?
Often I just refer them to this rather old blog post, but the advice is still solid or I tell them they need to decide what they want to do. Listen to what the Holy Spirit is leading you to do, or keep playing a certain game because it’s fun or has great graphics but you should be dropping it instead. I think one part of not wanting to let go is because of FOMO (fear of missing out) since many top AAA games have been pushing boundaries for shock value to be “modern”.
Sometimes preachers, pastors, or Christians who have a large following whether online or offline throw a few stones in the direction of gamers. They comment on how lazy they are or how most games are full of demonic influences and none of them should be enjoyed. Shawn Bolz who gives commentary on Christian culture, the marketplace, and the prophetic doesn’t come across as one of those since he frequently mentions video games and how much he likes to play them. He used to work in the industry (though I’m not sure in what capacity) and recently put out a video talking about “demons coming through Video Games!”.
He focuses on Baldur’s Gate III and Starfield or games aimed at young kids like Roblox. You can watch the video below, but I wanted to share my thoughts on what he said and if I agreed or disagreed with him. He’s someone I’ve wanted to mention several times but hadn’t found the proper way to do so. It’s rare to find someone in the Charismatic space who talk about gaming in a positive way.
If you haven’t played Baldur’s Gate III or Starfield, they were released in 2023 and have been in development for quite a while, mainly Starfield which has had so much hype surrounding it. Starfield has some instances of LGBTQ+ references, for example, “Starfield’s inclusivity extends to LGBT+ players, with the option to choose he/him, she/her, or they/them pronouns, as well as the ability to pursue romance regardless of the character’s gender.” (GameRant).
The whole thing with the pronouns has always seemed silly to me and I didn’t even know what the whole thing was about until I looked it up a long while back, but this is something that will confuse children who don’t understand why two men or two women are having a relationship if they chose that route. Shawn mentions this briefly in his video but it is something to take note of if you decide to pick this game up, but I don’t see it as a deal breaker if you want to play this one.
Remember that both of these games shouldn’t be played by children in the first place, as they have Mature 17+ M ratings. It’s like bringing your 8-year-old to an R-rated movie that you know has content they shouldn’t be exposed to. This is the main observation parents should be making just like with any media that is brought into their home. Parents do not have to know everything about the game or even anything at all, just look at the ESRB logo on the front of the game and you can tell if your child should be playing that game.
Now let’s get to the elephant in the room and that is Baldur’s Gate III. It is full of gore, violence, sexual content, and dialogue as well as heavy on magic and demonic creatures. If you aren’t familiar with the series, this one took the content to another level and like Starfield, has a Mature 17+ M rating. There is the option to change the sex of your character which is pretty out there, but once again children should not be playing this game.
If I had any pushback for Shawn it would be this. These games, as well as any M-rated game, should never be in the hands of a child no matter how much they want to play it. There are thousands of games that they could play instead on Nintendo Switch, PS4 or PS5, Steam, Xbox, mobile, or even older retro games. I like to think of it like movies; if there’s a movie that I know has content I don’t want to watch then I just don’t watch that one and pick a different movie. Video games are a space where creativity can go in any direction from very explicit to kid-friendly so use discernment when choosing a title.
Roblox and other kid’s games that I am not familiar with were also mentioned and some users have created horrifying mods to scare children. While watching his video I was imagining if my son were to have seen those freaky images I bet he would be having nightmares. As adults, they seem silly, but I remember being a kid and scary scenes would not let me sleep well or would open a door of fear that would leave me frightened for days.
This is a concern because many parents see these games as harmless and they are! The problem is when older games make these mods and want to terrorize young children while they are innocently enjoying a game that hundreds of thousands of kids play.
It’s hard to monitor a child’s gameplay at all times, especially when you aren’t sure if they will encounter areas like that in Roblox or another game, so I would recommend checking out TruPlay which is a new mobile app that was made just for kids. It’s biblically based and well done, it’s a monthly subscription and they have lots of options to choose from besides games. I had the opportunity to interview the founder and I can say that they want to be that light in a dark place when it comes to kid’s choices in gaming.
Many games are made with excellence and look like so much fun to play. Unfortunately, a lot of them are full of so much content that is contrary to God’s word that it’s almost impossible to recommend them. That doesn’t mean there aren’t many options, there are more than you would think! Games need to sell copies to recoup their investment, so making a very edgy and risque game may backfire and a lot of money can be lost by their audience rejecting the final product.
Be the guardian of what is allowed in your home. Even if your child is dying to play the game, find them something else to enjoy by looking through the Family Gaming Database that has tons of positive or family-friendly games or checking out Wholesome Gaming for some indie titles you’ve probably not heard of but are fun!
Let me know what you thought of the video below in the comments, and what games have you felt to avoid as a gamer? Looking forward to the conversation! God bless.