Jumping back in, I want to reemphasize the concept of PARTICIPATION. It is the PARTICIPATION in story, as opposed to the OBSERVATION of story, that I feel makes gamers potentially a bit more attuned to the realities of life in general (not just the Christian life) than those who do not participate in stories outside of their own experiences. Of course, whether or not a gamer actually engages and utilizes this advantage is up to him. Now. Moving on.
This is actually what made me want to write this piece to begin with. As Christians we all know about “the Armor of God”. Most can probably quote the verse.
“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17)
But how many Christians have ever actually worn armor? Like I said in Part 1, we live in an age where very few of us ever have to actually engage in real, true, physical warfare, and therefore, very few of us ever have need of actual armor.
But we live in a WORLD AT WAR! Paul knew this. That’s why he tells us to PUT ON ARMOR, and no, he’s not speaking only in metaphor. This armor is real. We just have to put it on. Why do so few of us ever take this simple step at the beginning of our days?
But ask any player of Skyrim or World Of Warcraft if they would ever dream of going into combat WITHOUT their armor, and the most response you might get is a biting laughter of pity. It’s simply not done. Not only that, a lot of the playing of these games is actually ABOUT the armor. A major objective is to get better armor or improve the armor you have so that you can withstand greater attack.
The same applies in our daily Christian life. We need to put on the armor. We need to strengthen that armor. And we need to act like the armor is actually relevant to our lives. Gamers get this. Painfully do we get it.
Monsters are real. That’s why we need the armor. Because monsters are real, and they are TRYING TO KILL YOU. It drives me nuts when people, especially Christians, don’t get this. The Bible is CONSTANTLY talking about the reality of demons, and yet most of us live like demons are about as real as the monsters from Monsters Inc. How dare we?! If the writers of the Bible, inspired by God, went through all the trouble to point out the REALITY of monsters and demons, why would we act like they don’t really exist?
Gamers get monsters. Some gamers even get demons. For crying out loud, in the Dragon Age games, you have to actually physically fight demons of Rage, Lust, and Pride. These fictional games treat demons as reality more than our reality-based lives do!
And here’s something else gamers have a better grasp on: Not all enemies are created equal.
In games, there is an ascending scale of enemies. Early on, you’re dealing with lower level enemies, minions, basically expendable crewmen of the Big Bad. But as you advance in the game, you encounter stronger and stronger enemies. First, Elite soldiers that are a little stronger. Then Commanders, who are not only stronger still but can make other enemies stronger. Then you get into Mini-Bosses and Bosses (enemies so difficult that I all but refuse to play games that even include boss battles).
Demons and evil spirits are the same way. They are not all equal! Look at Daniel:
“But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.” (Daniel 10:13)
Even ANGELS come up against demons and spirits that are stronger than others.
Jesus, too, addresses this idea of enemies of different strengths:
“Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer [and fasting].” (Mark 9:28-29)
The disciples had long been casting out demons and spirits in the name of Jesus, but this one they couldn’t. They had to go get Jesus to do it. Why? BECAUSE IT WAS STRONGER THAN THE OTHERS.
It’s also important to get INTEL on the enemies we’re dealing with. In gaming, the more you know about your enemy, its strengths and weaknesses, the more effective you are in fighting it. Again, Jesus deals with this exact issue:
“For Jesus had already said to the spirit, ‘Come out of the man, you evil spirit.’ Then Jesus demanded, ‘What is your name?’ (Mark 5: 8-9)
Jesus tries to cast out the demon once, and he FAILS! So, what does he do? He gets more intel, as Eldredge says. Once he’s got the demon’s name (or rather demons, plural), he has what he needs to get rid of them for good. Gamers get the value of knowing your enemy.
There’s still more to get into! The participation in a life or death reality where Good and Evil are real, true entities (because they are). Our own skill level and how we need to level up. The tactics of our enemy and even our own tactics. And even how gaming can make Biblical stories make a lot more sense (David killing a bear was kind of a big deal). Stay tuned!
So, are you tracking with the connection of gamers and the Christian life? How do you think about the Armor of God? Is it something that you really pay attention to, or have you always just seen it as “lovely poetic imagery”? What about monsters? Did you believe in monsters when you were a kid? What made you stop believing in them? Do you think parents should tell kids that monsters aren’t real?