We are continuing our discussion on the intersection between the Church and the world of video games. Part one, our introduction and the popularity of video games, can be FOUND HERE. Part Two: The Negative Side can be found HERE.
Let me share it with you upfront. I am pro video games, I play video games. I have a video game room in my church and I am involved in esports. This blog series is trying to answer the question are video games an uncharted mission field? Personally, I believe they are, but I am not here to convince you to think like me. My purpose is more informative than motivational for parts two and three of this series. I believe if people or the Church is going to get involved with video games then they need to know all the dangers and benefits. So part two was all about the negative side, here are some positive aspects to video games that you might not be aware of.
Positive Side of Video Games
1. Cognitive Development
Video games can enhance various cognitive skills such as problem-solving, spatial awareness, and strategic thinking (STUDY HERE). Puzzles and strategy games that require players to think critically and make quick decisions can help improve these abilities.
2. Stress Relief
Gaming can serve as a form of escapism, providing a break from daily stresses and helping to reduce anxiety (STUDY HERE). Many people find playing video games a relaxing and enjoyable pastime. Just like reading a book, watching a movie, walking in nature, and more. Video games can be a very positive hobby.
3. Skill Development
Certain games can help players develop real-world skills. For instance, simulation games can teach about resource management and planning, while educational games can improve knowledge in various subjects. There are more video games coming out all the time that improve various skills for it’s players. There are diplomatic games that improve negotiation techniques that companies are finding very beneficial for younger employees.
- The military uses video games to train their pilots to avoid fewer mistakes and casualties when they really fly
- Nursing homes use video games to help the elderly exercise without much risk
- Schools use video games to help students learn to read, write, and more
4. Therapeutic Uses
Video games are increasingly being used in therapy and rehabilitation. They can help improve motor skills in individuals recovering from physical injuries or neurological conditions. Some games are designed to support mental health, helping people cope with issues like depression and anxiety.
5. Increased Empathy
Games with strong narratives can foster empathy by allowing players to experience different perspectives and realities. This can lead to a better understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures and lifestyles. An article (HERE) found that if a gamer develops a “grateful” mindset, they will be more motivated and resilient in the face of everyday challenges. This can be developed by playing video games.
The Positive Spiritual Side of Video Games
There are positive aspects to video games there are spiritual in nature too. Here are a few to consider.
6. Social Interaction
Contrary to the stereotype of gamers as isolated individuals, many video games promote social interaction. Multiplayer games allow players to collaborate, compete, and communicate with people from around the world, fostering a sense of community and friendship. This has always been a sticky point with parents. Most parents see a student facing a screen and do not realize the days of Mario jumping on kumbas are over. Most games are not multiplayer with gamers connecting and playing with each other from all over the world. They may be alone physically but through technology, they are interacting with others more than ever before.
7. A Tool For The Gospel
With the social interaction that comes with video games. The fact is gamers are connected better than the Church could ever hope for. With a natural ethos to collaborate, communicate, and share gamers are heavily connected to each other. Just think if a few Gamers connected to God how quickly and naturally the Gospel will spread? A forgotten benefit of considering video games as a mission field is how quickly the mission can spread. Many can hear the gospel, be discipled, and come to Christ without ever leaving their basement.
8. Building Community
Video games can be a powerful tool for community building. Multiplayer games allow players to interact, cooperate, compete, and form relationships in a virtual space. This can be especially beneficial for churches looking to engage younger members or reach out to those who may not feel comfortable in traditional church settings. Have a quilters club at your church? Maybe a bridge club? Book club? Those are hobbies that bring people together. Video games can do that very easily.
9. Reaching a Wider Audience
The world of gaming is vast and diverse, encompassing people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests. By tapping into this medium, churches can potentially reach a wider audience than traditional methods alone. This means streaming messages on Twitch, social media, YouTube, and more. It’s reaching an audience that might never set foot in the church.
10. Teaching Moral and Ethical Lessons
Many video games involve decision-making and problem-solving that can relate to moral and ethical dilemmas. These situations provide opportunities for discussion and reflection on Christian values. In my experience, video gamers love to debate and discuss moral and ethical issues. Many of the games they play force their characters to make moral decisions that have huge consequences later in the game. This makes the game richer and more enjoyable than just a “button smasher” to many. What if the church used video games as illustrations to a greater discussion?
I personally have been involved in several Bible studies where we discuss scripture and then play video games. It has been a fruitful adventure every time. Many times more than just a simple Bible study.
In conclusion, when played in moderation, video games can offer numerous benefits, ranging from cognitive development to stress relief. They are not just a form of entertainment but can also be tools for education, therapy, and social connection. They can serve as platforms for discussion, community building, outreach, and evangelism, providing a contemporary approach to engaging with faith communities.
The question now is, should we have a video game ministry for our Church?
To be continued…