Religion and Gaming: Growing Up as a Christian Gamer

editorials by Emily Medlock

Mixing almost anything with religion is a big deal and really tricky business. Well, I grew up in a rather conservative community and came from a religious family. Some of my family was different, but others were pretty much against gaming altogether. So many parents ask themselves if gaming is okay for their children. So many are afraid of tainting the minds of their young ones. From the outside, everyone thinks those parents are cultish and insane. From the inside, many think everything on the outside is tainted and demonic.

Then there’s me. Let me show you the middle ground. From growing up as a Christian to being a gamer and everything in between.

 

Harry Potter is Evil??

 

Thankfully, my mom never was against gaming. She bought us every console we ever had, starting at a very young age. Like any Christian mother, she encouraged us to go outside, go to church, study our Bible, and play other things. But she was never against gaming, letting me, and my seven siblings, play every day. So, it took me a while to notice that anyone could have a problem with it. To me, it was just a game. I was a devout Christian from a young age and a devout gamer as well. I didn’t see that there was a definite line between the two in the eyes of so many.

It wasn’t until I was probably 10 or 11 when the idea that something so innocent could be a “sin” was realized. It didn’t actually start with gaming though; it was mentioned by friends of mine as well as a preacher on the same week. I was at church when the preacher mentioned something about Harry Potter. If I hadn’t been listening, I sure did then. He said that anything that had to do with Harry Potter was evil. I was flabbergasted and couldn’t make sense of it. Harry Potter was evil? I thought he was the good guy. Turns out, according to this man, and many others, He was associated with the devil. How? Witchcraft, of course.

The same week, a young friend mentioned that Alvin and the Chipmunks were evil! This was beyond me. But she said that the song “Witch Doctor” was the main culprit. I thought back to the innocent cartoons and songs and was just as confused as ever.

 

Moral Dissonance

 

It took me a while to understand any of this. I was beyond innocent, gullible, and naïve. So it wasn’t until I was a teen that I started forming my own opinions as well as understanding those I didn’t agree with. As for Harry Potter, I even snuck and watched it. I knew it was frowned upon and didn’t even know if my mom would allow it. Little did I know, she personally didn’t care. On top of that, I paid attention to the music I listened to, listening under cover to what I wanted in guilt. But my biggest interest was still video games.

At home, everyone was for it, or at least didn’t stop me, or my siblings from playing. But, at church or when I was with Christian friends, I didn’t usually mention this. Everyone looked at you differently if you watched “Sci-fi” or listened to “rock music” or played video games. So, as I was a curious, knowledge-seeking teen, I tried to find out why. Why was this taboo? What I found out was the reason behind the more intelligent Christian’s ban on gaming was that it did two things. One: it took the focus off of God, church etc. and didn’t glorify him. Two: Many games were full of bad influences on driving, drinking, violence etc.

This made sense, and it did make me think about what I played. But then I started thinking about Alvin and the Chipmunks. Harry Potter. Pokémon. None of these things promoted bad behavior. There was something I was missing. They have good morals. So what’s up? Well, aside from the do nothing that isn’t focused on God, there is this fear of Christian kids being “won over” by the world.

As if you may choose video games, wizards, dragons, and demons over God. That you can only choose one if you want to be a “real” Christian.

 

Faith and Gaming Evolve

 

I chose God. So why am I writing for gaming site then? I also chose to game because I don’t think there’s this big gap between Christianity and the world. Sure, there may be a line between gaming and religion, but not gaming and God. I feel like my relationship with him is closer than it has ever been and gaming has taught me a lot about being a better person. I’ve written a lot about this, so I won’t go over it all.

There are so many toxic, unhappy people saying whatever they want online, but there are a lot of more dangerously toxic, unhappy people in “the church” too. In my opinion, there IS a definite line between the real world and the virtual world. But not the real world and the spiritual world. There are some kids that can’t discern the difference between the gaming world and the real world, and that can cause problems. But most kids really do see a line much thicker than the line their parents see.

For example, when a kid sees in-game violence, most of the time, they see in-game violence. When a parent does, they may see their kid committing the atrocities in real life. This is the real problem with this sort of thing.

 

What if My Choice Had Been Different?

 

Let’s pretend I thought there was a choice to make, and I could only choose one if I wanted to be a “real Christian”. If I had chosen only gaming, then I would have thought that meant God cast me aside and wanted nothing to do with me. But I knew I loved God and we had a special relationship. As many reading this may not be Christians, I won’t get into this. You’re welcome. Bottom line is, I couldn’t have chosen only gaming.

So, I would have had to choose God. In what I thought were Christian terms, I would have had to give up gaming. Pretty much any movie I wanted to watch. Most music. Everything that I used for entertainment. I would have done it in a second. But, this would have taken away friendships I made in the future, my entire career, bonding with my family, and even the meeting of my future husband. Would it have been worth it? In short, yes. But, it couldn’t have happened either. See, I feel that many of my callings are related to gaming. So I had to game. If I would have chosen to never touch a video game again, I’m pretty sure I would have had heated conversations with God.

Me: “Why did you make me give up gaming?”

God: “I never did that. That was NOT me.”

Me: “Huh? Well I did it for you anyway.”

God: “Well, don’t…truth is, I kind of need you to game…for me.”

Me: “Oh…well, then I won’t ask any questions…I’ll-“ *rushes to the N64 and pops in Ocarina of Time*

God: “You’re impossible. But I love you. Just don’t get addicted or anything ‘cause your family would really worry and then the rehab…and…it’s a lot of trouble.”

Me: “Sure, sure. I’ll talk to you in a minute, let me just finish this boss.”

 

What About That Family?

 

Oh yeah, with seven siblings, twenty nieces, and nephews, my family is large and…Christian. A few of my family members aren’t that close to me. But the remaining are. Guess what we do on weekends? Well, we have a few choices: go to the beach, have a cookout, play Magic the Gathering, or play League of Legends. This would be me, my fiancé, three of my brothers, a couple of my sisters, a few nephews and a niece, some brothers-in-law (one a preacher), and my mom.

Yes, it started with just me and a couple siblings, and now, our gaming nights consist of up to twenty people. That’s a dream! And you know what else? We’re pretty devout Christians, but not religious Christians. I have my own, personal relationship with God and my own personal relationship with Riven from League of Legends. Not to mention Avacyn from Magic the Gathering. Oh yeah, and I married Vilkas from Skyrim and we have two beautiful children together. My fiancé is very happy for our successful marriage…mine and Vilkas’.

 

In the End

 

“It doesn’t even maaatteeeer!” Oh…yeah…that’s not what I was doing. So, there are three different types of people still reading. Christians who want to hate on gamers. Gamers who want to hate on Christians. And the third person who wants to understand and relate to someone. I’m here to tell you, it’s okay. You really can do both. The sooner you learn that you can’t please everyone and someone will hate you/judge you, the happier you will be.

If you want to game, it really doesn’t have to take away from your relationship with God. If you want to stay away from certain things in video games, then do it. Don’t let anyone’s judgment from either side get to you. You can be the person you want to be no matter what. Not all good people are Christians, not all Christians are good people. Not all gamers are atheists. Not all Christians are against gaming. You choose your own path. That’s a line from Riven…it made me happy to say it. “Trust in the Lord (…) and he will direct thy path.” That’s from God. It also made me happy.


Does your faith conflict with gaming or help strengthen it? We’d like to respectfully hear your story in comments below.

About the Author

Emily Medlock

Emily Medlock has been a hard-core gamer her entire life. In recent years, she has not only turned her passion into a way of life, but now shares it with the world through her writing.

Article Discussion

  • Coming from a fairly new Christian myself (2011), this article is amazing. Nice read and I completely relate to this. Sharing this with others that will too 🙂

    P.S. – saw this on N4G

    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. A lot of Christians shun gaming, LotR, Harry Potter etc. (which I LOVE). Then a lot of gamers shun Christians because they believe all Christians are alike. I want to be the middle ground and let everyone know it’s okay to be both and it’s okay to accept people that aren’t both!

  • Leave a Reply

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