Grand Theft Auto IV: The Cure For Gamer Culture (2)

My first article, titled, “Grand Theft Auto IV: The Consequences of Gamer Culture,” presents the violent effects of such computer games on young minds, and then begins to address that there are effects on adult players as well.  I present the worldview that comes to characterize ‘gamers.’  Here I offer a Christian response.

Think about these powerful new video games.  They have created a world that seems to be missing from the real world: a world where a sense of justice prevails, where there are iron-clad rules placed there by the programmer, where there is a save-game feature that lets you start over whenever you make a mistake.  In many ways, this virtual reality is very much like the picture of reality that the Bible gives us of the real world.  In some games, the picture of reality is actually more true to Christianity than most Christian’s actual worldviews!  Think about it: there is a recognition of the existence of original sin, and a recognition that  reality should somehow be better, and even that a better reality is somehow possible.  We live in a world where order seems true.  In other words, we live in a cosmos, not a multiverse where anything is possible.  Yet, in this seemingly designed universe, futility and pain seem to be the order of the day.  Isn’t there something better than this?  Isn’t there something better than what I’ve been given?

And that’s the hook.  That’s how to woo a bitter and cynical generation.

Today we believe that the better world is the false world, and the corrupt and ugly world is the real world.  Our grandparents would have never accepted such a thing.  In a universe controlled by Almighty God, the best possible world with the minimum of pain to teach us to be fit for paradise would have been the real world.  The ugly world is the false world.  But today we believe in ugliness.  We have accepted it as reality.  And in a way it is: Because a rejection of the God of the Bible has made ugliness paramount in our culture.  Order has been replaced by a bleak form of chaos.  We’ve retreated from the God of the Bible to the arbitrary gods of Homer.  Serious films today are dark and bleak and ugly.  Our Comedies have become inane and cynical, and our fantasies have devolved to the level of comic books – because the “happily ever after” of our former stories can no longer be said with a straight face.  Because a Christianity that invented fairy tales that began with, “once upon a time” and had the nerve to end with, “and they lived happily ever after” are impossible in a world where people have rejected the God of the Bible.

And so we sense somehow that a better world really is possible, as Christianity has always taught.  And we also know that this world isn’t that world.  People retreat to their consoles, and drugs both legal and illegal, and we become the Prozac nation.  So we no longer live our lives, but watch ourselves as though we were watching our lives on a television screen.  We detach ourselves from our own emotions, and so live in video game Disneylands of our own making.

And yet this is our opportunity.  We still have the chance to shake the complacent.  If you think this world and its material possessions are all there is to live for, you’re wrong.  But if you think you can hide from the pain of this world, you’re wrong again.  Because when you try to hide from pain, more pain will always eventually come.  Because God gives pain to us as His megaphone to get our attention, to call us up to a better place.

This is why there are so many Christians today, but so few great saints: because we no longer live our lives and embrace the Cross, but we too retreat into a virtual religious reality utterly disconnected from the pain and torment of a fallen world spiraling toward destruction.

Because of man’s sin, the world is not as God intended it.  Pain exists, but the way of the Cross is the way to paradise.  But there is hope in a dark world.  And Tolkien and Lewis points in a direction that modern afficienados of that genre don’t dare to dream.  The Return of the King is not only a fantasy: it is the myth that is true.  There is a new and better world coming.  Christians should stand up and proclaim it.

God has a better reality in store for His people than any we could ever create for ourselves with games.

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