POCKET WORLDS IX: GAME & LITURGY

A vision for a specific type of video game Christians could be creating. For a while I’ve been describing video games as a sort of experience that prepares your heart and trains your mind. Ideally, it expands your imagination with beauty and, through your participation of it, channels your worship of God.

Does that remind you of anything else?

I think Christians should create video games that are liturgical and catechetical in nature.

God’s gift to those with the inclinations of a pilgrim and the inclinations of a cult: joy through exploration and repetition, respectively. This is the power of a video game. We play them over and over again. Sometimes new adventures, sometimes the same old familiar arcs and myths. The same man in the cave with a sword, sending you off on your journey. The same professor with an encyclopedia, sending you off on your journey. The same stolen princess, sending you off on your journey.

If we repeat these imaginary quests over and over, why not repeat the Christian quest? It doesn’t have to involve fighting, but it could. Maybe you could go through Pilgrim’s Progress. Wouldn’t it be fun to stab Apollyon yourself? Or playing as the woman in the wilderness, trying to outrun the dragon. I feel like that could really stick some Scripture in your head, but, to be fair, it’d be a little weird. But guess what? The Bible is weird.

There is a desire to experiment and explore the bizarre within the human heart (or my heart, at least!) that I think is far from perverse–though it can easily become that. So maybe you don’t have to go on bizarre Christian fantasy adventures. Maybe a liturgy game would just take you into virtual cathedrals (cathedrals perhaps not architecturally possible in our world!) and you talk to virtual priests, who might ask truly piercing questions about your faith. Go visit the digital hermit and see if he has a new randomly generated mystic vision for you. Okay. That one is especially silly. Nevertheless: is it not good to possess the desire to rehearse oneself through forms of purity and remembrances of virtue, to bind up the heart and one’s inspiration to the good?

Feel free to list all of the ways this could go wrong, if it makes you feel better. I bet it would be really lame when someone first tried it. Maybe it’s already been tried. I bet it was lame. And even if it was done really well, made into an art form, then people would be tempted to use it as a substitute for actual Christian fellowship and accountability and physical worship. You could lose so much in so many ways. This is no substitute for actual love and service. This is just pageantry.

So what could be gained? Perhaps an image of eternity.

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