The Evangelical Outpost on Of Games and God

Occasional Mere O-contributor and friend of the site James Arnold writing about Kevin Schut’s Of Games and God:

For all the surface-skipping the book does, it lands on all of the important topics. We see a discussion of religion, ethics, violence, addiction, social living, and even the rise of educational uses for video games. Answers aren’t forthcoming, at least not definitively. You’ll find explorations more than you will conclusions: the book concerns itself with presenting information for both sides, making tentative arguments, but it primarily wants to introduce the reader to each issue that we could think about when we consider playing games.

Consider, for example, the chapter on violence. While many (both parents and gamers) might want a clear conclusion (the former may want a good reason to ban the games; the latter may want justification for playing them), Schut sticks to presenting both sides. The conclusions he does decide to offer, however, I think are relatively spot-on. Let’s stick with analyzing content based on the context it appears in, much like many of us have when analyzing film. Perhaps it isn’t always wrong to have a little violence (is Bugs Bunny really so deplorable?), but that doesn’t mean all violence is acceptable.

Perhaps the most useful chapter, at least for those who aren’t convinced we should even be playing video games, is his chapter on fantasy and escapism. In the latter half of the chapter, Schut recounts arguments from both Lewis and Tolkien on the nature of fantasy, and the benefits of world-building as an exercise of our creative nature. Schut takes the argument and expands it to all interactions with fantasy. Oddly, this is something both Lewis and Tolkien would have likely disagreed with (as they both had a distaste for non-print media), and Schut acknowledges this. But the strength is in the form: if creating and reading about and imagining fantasy worlds can actually be good for your soul, it isn’t much of a stretch, if you have to stretch at all, to arrive at the conclusion that playing some video games can actually be good for you. I’m thrilled that the positive argument was made, rather than the more common negative argument (that is, “Well, it’s just like other forms of entertainment, so it isn’t bad for you, necessarily”).

EO also hosted an interview with Schut.