The importance of a good story cannot be overstated. Whole cultures are shaped around their common stories, and it’s not hard to think (at least in my own life) of the influence of various stories, least of which is the gospel “story.” This must explain why I have recently developed such a fascination with the Xbox 360.
I’ve never been much of a gamer. Beyond a few casual play sessions and a few random purchases of older systems I never did bother with video games much. But as I have read the game-related writings of my fellow CaPC writers, and others, and as I have seen the games played by others I must admit that I have grown fascinated with video games. The stories that surround many of the most popular and acclaimed games are compelling and powerful. Add to this the fact that video games allow me suddenly to participate in these stories in ways that I had never considered. With each game I am being forced to ask myself meaningful questions about ethical living and the moral response to various conflicts. I’ll grant, of course, that the worlds of BioShock and other games are fictional, yet these fictional stories (like all good stories) make me ask questions about real life. Owning an Xbox 360 has in many ways changed gaming for me.
I am still probably not much of a gamer, but taking time to consider carefully what games I play has brought me to consider carefully a host of related issues. I can’t play Dante’s Inferno and feel comfortable with the images and the actions the game calls me to take (like, for example, killing deformed babies). I love acting as Batman and rescuing Arkham Asylum. And I feel the eeriness of Bioshock along with its characters. These stories make me ask questions about parenting, about redemption, second chances, oppression, heroism, and a host of other ideas that I dont’ take enough time to consider in my day-to-day comings and goings. It’s not that gaming itself has done this for me. It is the compelling story lines and gameplay, much of which has changed the face of gaming.
As a Christian I must appreciate the stregnth of good storytelling and the importance of stories (especially true ones like those of the gospels). That’s why this pastor has found a little bit of time every now and again to enjoy a video game. Some of these stories do matter.