For you formed my inward parts;— Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
I’ve been a fan of video games my whole life. But, growing up in a charismatic Christian home meant that being a holy & righteous child of God, and being a fan of video games didn’t always mix together well. My love for God, and my passion for gaming always made sense in my own mind, but it hasn’t always been easy to share with others in my relatively small circle.
My parents in particular were a tough nut to crack. For one, being “too-interested” in video games meant that I was still a kid and wasn’t all that interested in growing up. If I wanted to grow and mature, then I would “put away childish things” like my Sega Genesis or Sony PlayStation and instead gain an interest in playing competitive sports like basketball. Or I would instead garner a passion for mountain biking or maybe even take an interest in interior design as opposed to playing Road Rash followed by checking in on The Sims.
Many of my christian friends and the adults in my life who didn’t play video games of course assumed that what I was playing was incredibly gorey or filled with over-the-top violence. The media flashed pictures of Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto III at them whenever it could, and left me no hope of convincing them that what I enjoyed was nothing like those games. Jet Moto, Ratchet & Clank, and Final Fantasy X never stood a chance of being represented in the light of public opinion. Of course the church made certain to look down on anyone who enjoyed either watching the Pokémon anime or playing those wretched Game Boy games, so I had to keep my pocket monster fandom under the surface.
Most of all, playing video games, especially well into my teenage years and early adulthood, meant that I was distracted from the things in this world that were much more important: studying in school to attain an ambitious career path, studying the Bible, praying regularly for your friends / family / church / neighbors / etc., and especially looking for that great young woman of God who would help me reach all of these goals as I grow and mature in Christ. Now don’t you worry, I did make time to do all those other things, but I would have had more time to do them if I didn’t spend some of that time playing video games (or so they would have you believe).
Somehow playing video games was different than watching sports, or different than going to museums. Gaming with friends was different than going to the local coffee house and chatting until the place closes for the night. These days, the line between gamer and christian may be more flexible than when I was growing up, but I venture to guess that there is still some confusion as to where the line should be, or if there should be one at all. I’m willing to learn together with anyone else whose willing to share their stories or points of view. Together we can enjoy growing as a community of Jesus followers, while also enjoy being followers of the latest news out of Sony, Xbox, and Nintendo.