counter create hit Of Games and God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Of Games and God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games

Availability: Ready to download

Video games are big business, generating billions of dollars annually. The long-held stereotype of the gamer as a solitary teen hunched in front of his computer screen for hours is inconsistent with the current makeup of a diverse and vibrant gaming community. The rise of this cultural phenomenon raises a host of questions: Are some games too violent? Do they hurt or help Video games are big business, generating billions of dollars annually. The long-held stereotype of the gamer as a solitary teen hunched in front of his computer screen for hours is inconsistent with the current makeup of a diverse and vibrant gaming community. The rise of this cultural phenomenon raises a host of questions: Are some games too violent? Do they hurt or help our learning? Do they encourage escapism? How do games portray gender? Such questions have generated lots of talk, but missing from much of the discussion has been a Christian perspective. Kevin Schut, a communications expert and an enthusiastic gamer himself, offers a lively, balanced, and informed Christian evaluation of video games and video game culture. He expertly engages a variety of issues, encouraging readers to consider both the perils and the promise of this major cultural phenomenon. The book includes a foreword by Quentin J. Schultze.


Compare
Ads Banner

Video games are big business, generating billions of dollars annually. The long-held stereotype of the gamer as a solitary teen hunched in front of his computer screen for hours is inconsistent with the current makeup of a diverse and vibrant gaming community. The rise of this cultural phenomenon raises a host of questions: Are some games too violent? Do they hurt or help Video games are big business, generating billions of dollars annually. The long-held stereotype of the gamer as a solitary teen hunched in front of his computer screen for hours is inconsistent with the current makeup of a diverse and vibrant gaming community. The rise of this cultural phenomenon raises a host of questions: Are some games too violent? Do they hurt or help our learning? Do they encourage escapism? How do games portray gender? Such questions have generated lots of talk, but missing from much of the discussion has been a Christian perspective. Kevin Schut, a communications expert and an enthusiastic gamer himself, offers a lively, balanced, and informed Christian evaluation of video games and video game culture. He expertly engages a variety of issues, encouraging readers to consider both the perils and the promise of this major cultural phenomenon. The book includes a foreword by Quentin J. Schultze.

30 review for Of Games and God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    After Sandy Hook, I observed an argument on Facebook either decrying video games as a contributor to violence and all sorts of other social maladies or defending gaming for a variety of reasons. As a non-gamer who discussed this with my son who knows a bit more than I about this world, I realized I really didn't know enough to engage this. What I appreciated about this book is that Schut is a gamer as well as a committed Christian thinker who seeks to take a nuanced and balanced approach to this After Sandy Hook, I observed an argument on Facebook either decrying video games as a contributor to violence and all sorts of other social maladies or defending gaming for a variety of reasons. As a non-gamer who discussed this with my son who knows a bit more than I about this world, I realized I really didn't know enough to engage this. What I appreciated about this book is that Schut is a gamer as well as a committed Christian thinker who seeks to take a nuanced and balanced approach to this question. One of the questions he explored that intrigued me was the question of why we play and how play is an important part of spiritual life. At the same time, he explores the dangers of addiction to gaming (a problem for small number of gamers but not the vast majority--although check with the significant people in their lives to be sure!). He explores the ways games have tended to cater to men and objectify women and also cites the contrary examples. He explore the ways gaming creates communities, including Christian gaming communities. And he raises questions for Christians about why they would want to engage in first person shooter games while not categorically writing off this genre. Schut comes from a Reformed background and leans strongly toward the Christ transforming culture approach in Richard Niebuhr's classic schema. And this would be his approach to videogaming, calling for Christian gamers and game programmers to shape and create culture the gaming world. He equally challenges people to neither unthinkingly engage the gaming culture nor stand apart and launch criticism from afar. A helpful, timely, and much needed book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Jones

    This book by Kevin Schut does a nice job of engaging the common criticisms of gaming without dismissing them. He considers Christian critiques with seriousness. I think at the end of the day gamers (like myself) will walk away approving of this book while opponents of gaming will probably dismiss the book's argument. Essentially Schut argues that games are what you make them out to be. If you want them to be a tool for violent and evil expression, they will be that. If you want them to be creati This book by Kevin Schut does a nice job of engaging the common criticisms of gaming without dismissing them. He considers Christian critiques with seriousness. I think at the end of the day gamers (like myself) will walk away approving of this book while opponents of gaming will probably dismiss the book's argument. Essentially Schut argues that games are what you make them out to be. If you want them to be a tool for violent and evil expression, they will be that. If you want them to be creative and community building endeavors, they can be that too. It's really up to the gamer to decide what to play, how to play, and how the games will influence your life. I found the book to have refreshing depth in regard to philosophy and understanding the purpose of things like media and/or entertainment. Schut takes criticism of gaming overall head on. The author addresses issues about evil, violence, demonic imagery, the occult, and even gaming addiction. By confronting these issues sincerely, the book has an appeal that could work to influence more conservative Christians who may be unwilling to accept video games as viable activities. The book strikes me as a bit of a hammer intended to deal with all the nails. There's little chance that someone who has never gamed will be persuaded by a book. Likewise, the book didn't totally encourage me (already a Christian and a gamer) to look at my games much differently. I already try to make good choices on what to play. I would have liked to see a guide chapter to help Christian gamers learn to interpret the "texts" of games a bit more, but perhaps that's a different book. This work is a sort of semi-biblical defense of playing games. It doesn't baptize the gaming industry. It doesn't condemn certain games over others. But what the book contributes is a baseline for how we might think about games. It seems like something an undergraduate student might take home to his parents after a year or two at a private Christian college and say, "see, it's okay that I played 200 hours of Fortnite with my friends this semester. God doesn't condemn it in the Bible!" My snarky comment aside, I did really enjoy the book. It did give some opportunities for meaningful thought and conversation. I'm a bit conflicted on the audience and purpose of the book, but it is definitely a good place to start when it comes to questions about the relative value of gaming in the life of a Christian.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Logan

    For as long as I can remember, my hobby (though passion is probably more accurate of a term) of video games and faith in Christ have been at odds, at least in regards to how the majority of Christian culture views these digital works of art. How exactly does everything fit together? Kevin Schut seeks to figure this out in his book "Of Games and God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games". Overall, I appreciated this book in several ways. One, Schut actually is a gamer and as such, has knowledge For as long as I can remember, my hobby (though passion is probably more accurate of a term) of video games and faith in Christ have been at odds, at least in regards to how the majority of Christian culture views these digital works of art. How exactly does everything fit together? Kevin Schut seeks to figure this out in his book "Of Games and God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games". Overall, I appreciated this book in several ways. One, Schut actually is a gamer and as such, has knowledge of video games, how they work, how they're designed and so on. This comes out in his writing as he shows again and again that he knows what he's talking about. Second, he displays well-researched topics in his writing. He then interacts with this research and asks questions that deal directly with the research results. It's some incredibly astute, and direct, questions when dealing with violence in game, the stereotype of gamers being solitary beings, and how gaming communities counteract that stereotype. Which, by the way, the chapter on Christian gaming communities? Great, great stuff. Especially as someone who has a sizable Christian gaming community of his own. By all accounts, and given my standing as a host of a Christian video game podcast, you'd think I'd have given this book a 5-star review. But, this book is far from perfect and I have two major gripes with this book. First: little to no Scriptural support. For anything. This literally read like a Jane McGonigal piece with words "God", "the Bible", and "Jesus" sprinkled in random spots. It appears Schut operates off the presupposition that -only- Christians will read this book. And for the most part, that's probably the majority audience of who will pick this book up. However, that does not negate the fact, and need, for Biblical support of the conclusions that Schut arrives at. He had opportune moments where Scripture is pivotal for the discussion on violence and over-sexualized women in games and he rather engages with scientific research than the faith he claims to hold to so tightly. Second: his chapter on female characters in video games, and their representation, is incredibly sloppy and came across as lazy. Female representation in gaming has made some significant leaps and bounds in recent years (just look at the recent reboot of Tomb Raider). But there are still games that exploit females for sex appeal and to drive sales (Dragon's Crown and Catherine are two glaring examples). Yet, Schut side-steps this issue entirely save for a brief blurb during the intro about the proverbial "chain-mail bikini". Rather, he spends the chapter showing evidence of how there are more female gamers now and takes a not-so-subtle jab at the view of complementarianism (while demonstrating he has a shallow view of in his writing). What about the fact that sexually exploitative games exist and how should Christians engage with them? Or avoid them? He missed a perfect opportunity to discuss these things but wastes a chapter in doing so. As Schut says in the closing chapter: this book is meant to be a start of a bigger conversation. And I think it accomplishes that. However, I think he could have aided the body of Christ in providing stronger Biblical support for his stance (with actual Scripture references vs allusions to common Biblical teachings) and touched on real issues within gaming, rather than pointing to some research and saying, "Yeah, I disagree".

  4. 4 out of 5

    Christine Welten

    Schut manages to approach a complex issue with balance and humour in an approach that is easily read and yet well researched. A great read for any gamer, theologian, scholar, or any person interested in the subject. Would highly recommend

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    There are some pretty good observations about video games in this book, about what they are. Particularly helpful is the chapter on addiction. But I remain skeptical, even as one who has played countless hours of video games, that they are neutral and it’s just a matter of moderation, temperament, or content. But this is a worthy attempt to speak to what they do and for Christians to think more seriously about how to engage this medium that is one of the most pervasive in our technological age.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Kasiske

    Pro's - Had good insights and relevant questions to face head on. Cons- The author identifies himself as a "Christian" feminist when discussing complementarianism vs egalitarianism. He also relies heavily on psychological research. An example would be the reference of video game addiction as mental illness rather than a lack of self control.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    This is a book that I purchased after seeing the author present a lecture on the same topic at the University of Iowa. The book is largely a repeat of the lecture or I should say the lecture was based on the book. Since I enjoy playing video games myself and have two sons who probably play them more than I do, I thought this might be a valuable topic to investigate. This book provides a basic introduction to many topics related to video games, faith, and ethics. At the outset of the discussion, D This is a book that I purchased after seeing the author present a lecture on the same topic at the University of Iowa. The book is largely a repeat of the lecture or I should say the lecture was based on the book. Since I enjoy playing video games myself and have two sons who probably play them more than I do, I thought this might be a valuable topic to investigate. This book provides a basic introduction to many topics related to video games, faith, and ethics. At the outset of the discussion, Dr. Schut admits to his own love of video games and the fact that has made the study of them his academic pursuit and, consequentially, the source of his livelihood. With that on the table moves forward to the academic discussion of defining a video game and its role as a new medium. He points out how there has often been opposition to new media and technologies from some Christians and that the critics of video games share many of the same attitudes as critics of earlier media such radio, television, theater, or the organ. As a medium, video games are not inherently good or evil, but have strengths and weaknesses that can be used to carry a message that is good or evil. The next chapter deals with religion in video games. Here he discusses the fact that video games do not provide a great mechanism to convey spirituality. Most games that incorporate deities usually just do so as another feature that will enhance or obstruct your performance in the game. They are mechanized tables of bonuses - part of the machine. Sometimes games incorporate religion as ornamentation or historical context for the game, occasionally even presenting Christianity in a negative light. However, this is no different than the way we encounter religion in a book or movie. All in all, though, video games largely ignore religion altogether. From there Dr. Schut moves on to chapters regarding the most common concerns regarding video games, violence and addiction. This discussion was not much different than the discussions that I heard as a kid regarding television. He presents no ultimate conclusions, but he also never really provides a distinctly Christian discussion of the topic. There is much debate within Christian community regarding acceptable forms of violence, so perhaps such a general book cannot really even step into the discussion. As to addiction, he does show a couple tricks that video games use to draw players in a maintain the excitement, but there is no easy way to know who might become addicted and the numbers of true addicts remain small. All in all, he personally seems to look to C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkein for guidance and he decides along with Aristotle's doctrine of the mean, "All things in moderation," as the best approach. A topic which drew thoughtful questions at the lecture was that of sexuality and the Christian's attitude towards displays of gratuitous sex in games. His book speaks of largely of gender roles and the changing presentation of women's roles in games. He also writes about his frustration with the presentation of female characters in a manner that would be sexually attractive to men. However, in our sexually charged culture, I believe this area will increasingly present ethical dilemmas or obstacles for Christian game players. The following chapters presented the views of Christians in the gaming industry and Christian players. It was interesting, but not surprising, to see that wide range of attitudes. In summary, some developers looked at presenting good quality work as an expression of faith that glorified God, while others were more deliberate in including Christian thought and values into the games they made. Few seemed to welcome or appreciate games with overtly Christian themes. And of course, there was the usual discussion about what makes a Christian game or if such a thing even exists. Amongst players, video games were a place for community and outreach to nonbelievers. Many felt that they should live in the game world with the same values Jesus would wish for them to show in the real world. As he concluded the book, and at various points in earlier discussions, the book mentioned the most important question of all. Is a video game simply escapism? As my Pastor often told me in my college days, "The good is the enemy of the best." How many opportunities are we losing to do what the Lord wants us to do when bury ourselves in video games (or books, movies, board games, etc.)? If anything the book provides this valuable point for Christian gamers to leap into self evaluation and keep their perspective in focus. This was a generally good introduction to the topic and a easy book to understand. I give it an average rating simply because I feel that its target audience would be believers and hence could have provided more scriptural support for it points.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Probably one of the most balanced treatments of the subject from a clearly Christian perspective that you will find. As a long-time gamer myself (from strategy board games through D&D to Ultima IV on the monochrome Apple II through River Raid on Atari to WoW and EVE and Civ and Sim and LOTRO, et al) I REALLY appreciated hearing thoughtful comments from someone who knows the subject from the inside--and well, not merely passing acquaintance. His discussion of the inner workings of game design at c Probably one of the most balanced treatments of the subject from a clearly Christian perspective that you will find. As a long-time gamer myself (from strategy board games through D&D to Ultima IV on the monochrome Apple II through River Raid on Atari to WoW and EVE and Civ and Sim and LOTRO, et al) I REALLY appreciated hearing thoughtful comments from someone who knows the subject from the inside--and well, not merely passing acquaintance. His discussion of the inner workings of game design at concept and playstyle level was insightful and helpful for many who are just players or those who don't really get gaming. His chapters on gender issues in games, violence in games, and the potential for "game addiction" are excellent. He is discerning about the actual danger spots and the places where Christians should be wary or careful without indulging in the all-too-frequent hysteria about video games and their negative influence on society. He also gives a well-balanced defense of "play" as a good thing in God's design for us. The only weak spot in the book I felt was his treatment of in-game community towards the end of the book. It left me feeling there was so much more to say and analyze and questions that needed to be provoked in the reader regarding this aspect of gaming. That said, it takes nothing away from the overall value of the work. I just felt he started stronger than he finished with his writing and analysis.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Denys

    Broad and useful introduction to the subject of video games, especially for those who are unfamiliar with them. Those who are quite plugged in would enjoy the various references to cherished games, but at the same time they might find the analysis a bit superficial at times. I also felt that deeper theological questions could have been explored in relation to the difficult scenarios that video games often throw players into, particularly since the author places such emphasis on the interactivity Broad and useful introduction to the subject of video games, especially for those who are unfamiliar with them. Those who are quite plugged in would enjoy the various references to cherished games, but at the same time they might find the analysis a bit superficial at times. I also felt that deeper theological questions could have been explored in relation to the difficult scenarios that video games often throw players into, particularly since the author places such emphasis on the interactivity of video games. I get the sense that the primary target audience is the one that sees video games as morally suspect. Nevertheless, a recommended read!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Excellent presentation of video game culture to, for, and from a Christian perspective.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Mitchell

    Great conversation starter about a hugemongous phenomenon. I especially liked that it was written by an avid gamer who is a deep thinker. Recommended.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nolan Croce

    The author's voice is great but he doesn't have a thesis, he's not arguing for anything so it made me disinterested by the second chapter.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Miss Megan

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brad Thomas

  15. 4 out of 5

    Craig

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marlin J Harris IV

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dylan Dickinson

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Webb

  20. 5 out of 5

    Josh Lozano

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  23. 4 out of 5

    Abel Ramírez

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ben Montoya

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nate Weis

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chris Vance

  27. 4 out of 5

    Norman

  28. 4 out of 5

    James

  29. 4 out of 5

    James

  30. 4 out of 5

    Beatrice Lapa

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.