(2012 January RE:NEW Magazine)
Can God really use anyone or anything to further His kingdom? I could not be sure, but after my experiences in the world and culture of computer and video gaming, I believe that I have found the answer.
My professional experience with Christian gaming as an avenue of ministry first began in college, but my passion for the ministry began back in high school when my mom challenged me to use my ambition for God’s glory. Then, in 2009, when a sequence of seemingly coincidental events led to an invitation to work with Lamplight Media, a Christian entertainment company, I knew that God was bringing my dream to life. At first, I contributed to the team by editing promotional materials and getting the word out about our company. Soon however, after a few rough drafts and extensive reading and research, I began writing a novel centered around the fantasy world of Soterion, which is what all Lamplight products are based on (similar to how all The Lord of the Rings’ products are based around Middle Earth). The story I wrote would be elaborated on and used as a foundation for other stories and future video game elements. As you can guess, I was ecstatic. I thought I had it all, but God was not done with me yet.
In 2010, I applied for and was accepted as a Quest Writer for the Visions Project by Heaven’s Blessings Tiny Zoo (HBTZ). Within another few months of my acceptance to HBTZ, God opened a door for me to take a step outside of the Christian gaming community, where I held a brief internship position at Nexon America (the producers of MapleStory, Vindictus, Combat Arms, and etc.). Overall, the last three years of my life spent pursuing opportunities in both the Christian and non-Christian sides of the gaming industry have taught me a lot about gaming as a ministry.
Here are some of the facts:
First of all, as with every hobby or career choice, gaming can become an obsession and an extremely unhealthy habit. Like most others who are passionate about this area of ministry, I used to be addicted to games, playing for countless hours a day and thinking about them all the time no matter whether I was playing or not. However, when I really began to get involved at my church, I was inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with God, and God changed me. Now, I no longer see gaming as a way of just having fun, but as a way to help others to be healed from their past and to come to know Jesus. Yes, gaming can be dangerous, but so can tennis, or eating, or even your friends. Taken to an extreme, our love for anything or anyone can pose a threat to our relationship with God. The key to a healthy life is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) As long as Jesus Christ is number one in our lives, His saving power will grant us the freedom to enjoy video and computer games the way we were meant to: as part of the gift of life that we were given and without the chains of addiction that are characteristic of the snares of the enemy.
Secondly, when used correctly, video and computer games can be a great tool for evangelism and fellowship! I have noticed that a basic awareness—of hot new trends and recent game releases—has done wonders in expanding the reach of my personal evangelism, allowing me to connect with people from all walks of life that I would otherwise have nothing in common with. After all, nothing seems to draw people together for fellowship like a good round of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and who knows, perhaps within the course of a match, or two, or three, you might even get a chance to share your testimony to that die-hard Kirby user sitting next to you or invite that Link fan to church.
Lastly, there is a desperate need for this ministry to really take off and hit the mainstream. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 72% of American households play video or computer games and this number is only increasing. I have heard so many testimonies from friends and family and met so many people online that turn to gaming and the gaming community for support, social interaction, stress relief, and even familial interaction. It is sad to see so many hurting and empty people turn to yet another idol that cannot fulfill their desires; however, by utilizing the gaming platform as an innovative way to deliver family values and the gospel message, we are being presented with the grand opportunity to partner with Christ as He begins to redeem the gaming vehicle by transforming it into an avenue that reveals His glory on a global scale.
In the end however, I think the most important lesson that I learned from the past three years is that “God really can use anyone and anything to further His kingdom”. He redeemed me from my addiction to gaming and changed it into something that He could use for His glory, and I am confident that God has a plan and a purpose for you as well. So how about it? How is God going to use you?