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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: Jason Lee on November 29, 2002, 08:56:50 PM



Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Jason Lee on November 29, 2002, 08:56:50 PM
All this question of gamer pride when revealing your hobby to non-gamers has brought up a lot of "it's all the fundies falt" comments, and I'm curious about something.


So, to those gamers who happen to be christian:

Do you feel any apprehension about telling gamers you don't know very well your religious orientation (because of fear of snap judgments)?

If so, is this equivalent to any apprehension you might feel about telling other christians you don't know very well that you game (if you feel that way at all)?

Do you ever feel like you're "sitting on the fence", so to speak, trying to dodge rocks being flung from both sides, but that if you get off the fence one side is gonna bust down the fence and eat the other?


I do not intend this to be a religious discussion or judgement.  
I'm just wondering if the perceived social stigma, a subsequent behavior response, is two-way - maybe even self perpetuating.
700 Club vs Gamers = Hatfields vs McCoys?


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on November 29, 2002, 10:42:36 PM
Cruciel,

Most definitely. It's funny, because I couldn't really talk about my gaming growing up, with the very religious, very conservative, very fearful-of-the-devil parents.

Now, I live in Seattle, and am a very liberal, very ecumenical, kinda-maybe-Christian, and I wouldn't tell a soul, much less a gamer. I normally avoid talking about RPG.net's forums, but you'll get your ass verbally stoned there if you mention you believe in a god. The hatred by a small group of gamers of Christians makes the conservative Christian anti-gamer stance stronger, to be certain. Stupid pranks like White Wolf's fake Demon: the Fallen (a game that, from what I've read, actually addresses religion semi-intelligently) site make that stance stronger.

If that group of gamers would show a bit of tolerance, I guarantee the Christian-gamer stigma would fade.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: M. J. Young on November 30, 2002, 12:09:42 AM
Actually, I wrote an article for Nathan's Misty Cages--er, Mystic Ages Online--some time ago, And I'm a Gamer (which, I notice, is very relevant to a lot of the current threads here, particularly to that one that mentions the overweight men dressed as Sailor Moon at the conventions). I actually get more frequent and worse flack from anti-Christian gamers than I do from anti-gaming Christians, which is particularly funny, since I've written a lot more about why Christians should become gamers than I have about why gamers should become Christians.

I have no fear of telling Christians I'm a gamer; that's because there few Christians whose ability at theological discourse matches my own would be so foolish as to take such an indefensible position. A good friend and Baptist pastor just this past year, in an e-mail discussion with me, said he understood what I was saying and was going to make an effort to positively support and defend gamers--because he always gets really annoyed when churchgoers try to dictate what kind of music he should listen to in the privacy of his own home and car, and it's clearly the same sort of issue.

As to telling gamers I'm a Christian, that's sort of a moot topic. They generally know it. I've got two undergraduate degrees in Biblical studies, and generally have a couple of Bibles out where I can grab them when I'm working on something (one of these in Greek). There's usually a guitar around, and nearly all the music I've ever written is conspicuously Christian, so if the question comes up they're likely to hear it in the songs. I suppose that for me being Christian is a bit like being a centaur. I don't really have to mention it for people to be aware of it. Like Clinton (although perhaps for different reasons) I don't generally bring it up. But you'll know if someone is a conservative or a liberal, if they really are strongly one or the other, after a very few conversations with them, because they're opinions about everything will reflect that even if they aren't pushy about it. Similarly, there are a lot of people (and I think I'm one) of whom you'll discover they're Christian by what they say when they aren't talking about their faith, because everything in life is connected to what you believe.

But I get annoyed by two kinds of Christians:
Those who have to condemn everything that doesn't fit their view perfectly.
Those who have to snipe at those who condemn everything that doesn't fit their view perfectly.

I try not to be either of those. I understand that some people only know what they've been told, and that they may have been told something that isn't true by someone they trust. Most of these will take correction. The rest will eventually realize that they're overmatched and wasting their time arguing with me about it.

I'm reminded of a guy who wrote to me all up in arms about my involvement in the Satanic connections of D&D. I noticed that his sig file identified him as a martial arts instructor. I wrote back and pointed out that I had heard ever objection he made about role playing games leveled at martial arts. He graciously wrote back to say, "touche", and admitted that he had leapt to invalid conclusions on what he had heard.

But the gamers who hate Christians never give up, never give an inch. They will admit that they have no answer to anything I say, and still insist that Christians are horrible people and I shouldn't be a Christian if I'm a gamer.

And I try to stay out of RPGnet shooting matches, too.

--M. J. Young


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on December 01, 2002, 04:29:42 AM
I'm trying to think of one reason why Christians wouldn't like roleplaying... and failing. What's this all about? It never occured to me that someone's religious persuasion has anything to do wiht his attitude towards RPGs.

And uhm, what does "700 Club vs Gamers = Hatfields vs McCoys?" mean? (As in, what is the '700 Club', and who are Hatfield and McCoy?)


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: thoth on December 01, 2002, 06:55:48 AM
Quote from: Victor Gijsbers
I'm trying to think of one reason why Christians wouldn't like roleplaying... and failing. What's this all about? It never occured to me that someone's religious persuasion has anything to do wiht his attitude towards RPGs.


Because someone said RPGs are satanic. So Xns are supposed to hate it.
But no one ever bothered to ask why or how they're supposed to be satanic and evil, just took some fools comments on faith.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 01, 2002, 08:48:13 AM
Ignoring thoth's toss-off comment, there's many reasons why a Christian - especially a fundamentalist Christian - wouldn't like RPGs.

1) The RPG most well-known is Dungeons and Dragons, which contains numerous references to:
 - killing and murder
 - dragons, a symbol of Satan in Revelations
 - magic, which is forbidden by the Bible
If D&D is all a Christian knows, then even if they have a clear understanding of what it's about, they might still call it Satanic. (Side note: there was a year in my childhood in which I was allowed to play any RPG except D&D. Of course, I played Warhammer FRP all year and summoned demons and whatnot.)

2) RPG's involve people placing themselves in a fictional reality. If people that have a hard time separating reality and fantasy were to play a lot of role-playing games, even I think you would have a problem. (The children of fundamentalist Christians fall into this category, by the way. Think about it: the idea of a fantastic world shoved on you from day one, with angels and demons, and an eternal war - and then add a huge dose of guilt and shame for doing something your parents think is evil.)

Christians are right to be worried about RPGs, in my opinion. I think it's taken too far, and not actually considered as a topic for discussion in most hard-core Christian churches, which is a shame. Still, they have very valid points: RPG's will expose their children to occult ideas, and will give them an escape from the carefully constructed reality they live in.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Ted E. Childers on December 01, 2002, 08:51:36 AM
Quote
Do you feel any apprehension about telling gamers you don't know very well your religious orientation (because of fear of snap judgments)?

If so, is this equivalent to any apprehension you might feel about telling other christians you don't know very well that you game (if you feel that way at all)?


I've always been "in the closet" concerning my love for RPGs.  With non-Christians and fellow Christians, I'm sad to say that I'm pretty tight lipped on letting folks know that I game.  Why?  I'm not a person who enjoys arguing and debate.  Chastize me all you want, but I enjoying gaming with my small ring of gamer friends and I'm comfortable with everyone else not knowing.  I personally don't see why I have to be an advocate against Gamer Bashing when I don't see it as a real problem.

I would like to share a funny anecdote.   Back when I was in high school, I remember being in church when the preacher pulled out the "DnD is the Devil" card.  I sunk in my seat and shook me head as Bro. Reagan, a man I really looked up to, began slamming role playing games as the work of Satan and how "parents" should burn these books if they're in their homes.

On the ride home, it was pretty quite in the car.  When we pulled into the driveway, dad said, "Well son.  Are we gonna burn your books?"  I responded, "Well dad, only if we take mom's cigarettes to start the fire and your beer to fuel it."  Dad nodded.  I guess we all need our vices. ;)  

Quote
Do you ever feel like you're "sitting on the fence", so to speak, trying to dodge rocks being flung from both sides, but that if you get off the fence one side is gonna bust down the fence and eat the other?


I actually get more respect from my pagan gamer friends once they learn that I'm a Christian.  Being of alternate religions, they're more sensitive to the "gamers are satanic" paradigm.  When they actually meet a Christian who games, it makes them rethink their auto defense "down with Christianity" response.  I don't see myself as a missionary to gamers, but I do hope that they see me as an example that not all Christians are fire and brimstone gamer haters.

I do feel that it's unfortunate that we live in a world where the actions of the minority dictact the opinion about the majority.

- Ted (Southern Baptist)


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Bankuei on December 01, 2002, 09:14:19 AM
I find it interesting to observe the amount of effort that goes into putting down games, books, movies, and videogames, as opposed to focusing on something more fundamental, such as the basic 10 commandments.  I'd say a lot more adultery goes on than, say, demon summoning due to rpgs in most Christian communities.

I agree with Clinton that parents have a right to be concerned about kids' input, but I think it would probably be better spent time teaching your children how to filter and identify for themselves what is good/bad values than trying to cloister them away from any negative influences.  It's a real world out there, and you're better off teaching them to deal with it for themselves, since you can't always be there to guide them.

Of course, rpgs also tend to have several similarities to religious activity:
1) Group of folks gathering for several hours
2) Regular attendance is necessary
3) Dealing with stuff that cannot be seen(must either be taken on faith or imagination/visualization)

One can easily see how gaming might be taken as competition.

Chris


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Uncle Dark on December 01, 2002, 09:36:40 AM
Victor,

The 700 Club is a conservative Christian television talk show, known for taking extreme stances.  The Hatfields and the McCoys were a pair of rural clans in late 19th/early 20th century Kentucky, famous for a multi-generational blood fued.

In general:

I've noticed the anti-Christian bias among both non-Christian gamers and Pagans, and it seems to have the same roots in both.  The experience non-X gamers and Pagans have with Christianity is usually limited to a) the childhood experiences that led them to be non-Christian when they grew up and b) the vocal and intolerant minority which publicly bitches about us.

For the most part, it's been my experience that once these two groups actually have experience with non-pushy and/or non-fundamentalist (the two are actually not synonymous) Christians, they lighten up.

Lon


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Jason Lee on December 01, 2002, 09:39:58 AM
First of, thanks for the answers (I found them quite illuminating).

Now, to kinda open up the question to non-christians and let you know where I was going with this inquiry:

With all the talk of trying to guide gaming into a more accepted hobby, I think gamers face an even bigger emotional problem with their hobby than pride (with opinions apparently varying on how much this matters).

That other problem seems to their own hate and fear.  77% of the US population is christian (53% protestant, 24% catholic - if my figures are current).  However, rpg's do not seem to cater to this group's interests - in fact I suggest that the games and the players tend to directly oppose it.

How would the patrons of your local game store react to a 'Christian Games' section in their store...  What if 'Left Behind: The Forgiveness' - roleplaying in a dark world about what it mean to be human, complete with 1-10 Penance bar (for those of you unfamiliar with the reference, it's a propular christian novel about the people left on earth post-revelation), was sitting right next to 'White Wolf: The Cheesey Title'?  Would they ridicule the store owner for cavorting with the 'devil'?  Who they avoid the store entirely on 'moral' grounds?

I'm not a christian, but I can think of a lot of premises that might be acceptable and enjoyable to gamers who wanted to explore their religion, or at least didn't want to violate it.

My point being I think your common gamer may be too prejudice of the majority population to accept the needs and interests of that population into their little club.

I'm not saying that a lot of gamers may not have a justification for their hate or fear...but someone has to choose to stop the fight.  Not to severe anyone from their moral high ground, but I don't think its going to be the gamers who act first - after all the fundamentalists are on the defensive for picking on a minority.

I'm not trying to claim superiority, I dare say I'm exactly the kind of gamer I'm criticizing, just food for thought.

PS: the fued of the Hatfields and McCoys is a sort of american legend - the two families fueded to the point of an seemly endless cycle of vengance (you did this so I'm gonna get ya, and them the other side avenges the vengance, and so on)


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: thoth on December 01, 2002, 11:17:26 AM
Quote from: cruciel
How would the patrons of your local game store react to a 'Christian Games' section in their store...  What if 'Left Behind: The Forgiveness' - roleplaying in a dark world about what it mean to be human, complete with 1-10 Penance bar (for those of you unfamiliar with the reference, it's a propular christian novel about the people left on earth post-revelation), was sitting right next to 'White Wolf: The Cheesey Title'?  Would they ridicule the store owner for cavorting with the 'devil'?  Who they avoid the store entirely on 'moral' grounds?


I could see someone objecting to Xn games getting their own section. If you're going to give Xn RPGs their own shelf, wouldn't it only be fair to give Post-Apoc RPGs their own, etc. Yeah, PA and Xn are apples and oranges, but how many RPGs actively take a stance on a real world religion, promoting one? What makes Xn RPGs worthy of getting their own section?

But if you're just putting an Xn RPG on the self like any other RPG beside any other RPG, what difference does it make? It's just like any other RPG.

There would be a problem if the store started proselytizing, and got heavily into selling paraphernalia. I think that goes for all religions and not just Xnity.

Quote from: cruciel
My point being I think your common gamer may be too prejudice of the majority population to accept the needs and interests of that population into their little club.


Honestly, they'd get over it, if they even noticed in the first place. Hell, even if Xn RPGs got their own special space, I think most gamers would not care. I just can't see gamers putting dislike of something above what they like and their hobby.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Jason Lee on December 01, 2002, 11:48:34 AM
Quote from: thoth

I could see someone objecting to Xn games getting their own section. If you're going to give Xn RPGs their own shelf, wouldn't it only be fair to give Post-Apoc RPGs their own, etc. Yeah, PA and Xn are apples and oranges, but how many RPGs actively take a stance on a real world religion, promoting one? What makes Xn RPGs worthy of getting their own section?


Ah, you're right, I did not mean to imply they needed to be 'seperate but equal'.

EDIT:  Just so I'm sure I'm clear, I'm not trying to ascribe negative behavior in regards to Christianity to all gamers - just to enough of them to make it uncomfortable for a store owner to sell christian games (because of fear of losing customers to another store).


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Sidhain on December 01, 2002, 02:24:04 PM
I wear my gaming on my sleeve, people know I game. This tends to make the fact that those that know me--who might be concerned with gaming start rethinking things. On the other hand my brother in law (married to my sister) is a gamer, but his mother tells my nephew that "RPG's are evil" he all of 5 has an opinion (well not all of them are!), so I do understand.

I do not /tend/ to where my Christianity on my sleeve, its not something that can come up in conversation as readily as gaming (but it does) as my place of employment sells a few games.

I'm also a game-writer, having a FRPG in the clean up playtest stage, and a superhero one Hearts and Souls in the initial playtest stage-

Are my gamess "Christian" well depends on what you mean, they being games have no beliefs. However neither one containts things implicitly counter to my beliefs (My FRPG has heroic spell casters--and thats ok, it is /fantasy/ here--and I like magic in fantasy. Does it encourage real world magic use? No, nor does it encourage real world worship of Fantasy Dieties, Killing Myrks or Trolls or other fantasy critters--after all real world and fantasy are for the most part antonymical)


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Uncle Dark on December 01, 2002, 08:45:32 PM
Cruciel,

This is something of an odd discussion for me, since one of the best GMs I know, and a few of the more creative players, have been devoted Christians.  Anyway:

There have been Christian-themed games.  I recall one called (I think, memory may be fuzzy here) Lightraiders, about Christian heroes fighting the forces of Hell in a quasi-historical fantasy setting.

Then there's Pendragon, whose main setting is firmly fixed in the very Christian Mallory-type Aruthurian legends.  Fantasy Wargaming, an old game from the UK, assumed a primarily Christian, quasi-historical setting.  Also look at Halo (http://www.eternaltempest.com/et_halo.html), a free RPG on the web.

That's four I can think of off the top of my head.  Two are still in publication.

Now look at other games: There's no reason Sorcerer, Champions, or even D&D couldn't have Christian settings and themes.

I think the question isn't "why aren't there Christian games on the shelves," but rather "why aren't there more Christian games" or "why aren't the existing games with Christian themes advertising them more?"

To what extent does the perception that gamers aren't Christians prevent this marketing, and to what extent does a Christians aren't cool attitude make such marketing backfire?

Lon

P.S.
I forgot to mention Paladin, which would do a "Christians vs. Evil" setting quite well.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: M. J. Young on December 01, 2002, 08:56:25 PM
Quote from: cruciel
77% of the US population is christian (53% protestant, 24% catholic - if my figures are current).  However, rpg's do not seem to cater to this group's interests - in fact I suggest that the games and the players tend to directly oppose it.

I think you're making an error here; but perhaps I can correct it easily.

Somewhere on one of the many image of gamers threads there's a lot of talk about two-hundred-fifty-pound men in Sailor Moon costumes at gamer conventions. There are several points about these people, and the munchkins, rules lawyers, powergamers, and others, that should be noted.
  • They are indeed gamers, just as we are.
  • We are, in the main, embarrassed of them, and wish we could disown them or get them to come to their senses, or something.
  • They really do not represent the majority of us; we really aren't like that.
  • They are the ones the rest of the world sees.[/list:u]
    The Church (that is, that universal fellowship of believers which crosses all denominational bounds, whether all within it recognize it thus or not) is like that, too. We have our munchkins, rules lawyers, powergamers, people who dress up in the equivalent--well, you get the idea. We don't like it, but they are indeed part of us. Most of us aren't like that at all. But they are the ones jumping out in front and making all the noise, getting all the attention.

    It will not surprise some of you to hear that there are a lot of Christian organizations screaming about the evils of Harry Potter right about now. It may surprise you that the majority of Christians, particularly as represented by a cross-section of Christian media, are rather in favor of Harry Potter. Belief.net recently had an online debate between several authors, in which the anti-Potter voices were soundly drowned. Numerous magazines and e-zines have spoken of the Christian values and ideas the books promote (and no, Rowling has made no claim to being Christian or to attempting to incorporate Christian ideals--or those of any other religion--in the books). The British Evangelical Association just released a strongly pro-Potter statement. The fact is the majority of us like fantasy, stories with magic, fantasy games. Hey, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, Lewis Carroll, Dante, Milton, Goethe--most of the great fantasy writers were ours. This anti-fantasy, anti-role playing, anti-anything that doesn't exactly fit my theology in every minute detail attitude is not the 77%; it's a smattering of the total.

    Cruciel, I think you'd be surprised at how many Christians are involved in creating and playing games. You'd probably be surprised by the number of people who frequent these forums who are not merely Christians but devotedly so. Sidhain has already spoken up; some probably won't bother, because there is not "Christian gamer" issue in our minds. There's only this nonsense about some munchkin Christians creating a lot of upset and pretending that they speak for all of us, and the fact that just the media finds it much more interesting to publish pictures of the gamer dressed as Sailor Moon (and stories about murderers who happen to have seen D&D in a book store once so must have been influenced by it) they also find it more interesting to quote the nuts who are yelling Satanism instead of the cool heads who are saying sit down and think about this a moment.

    Gamers and Christians are not enemies; it's just that the fringes of any group are always a bit frayed around the edges.

    --M. J. Young


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 01, 2002, 09:24:20 PM
Hi M.J.,

Nicely stated.

Here's a minor point - above, cruciel refers to "all the talk of trying to guide gaming into a more accepted hobby ..."

I'd like to speak up to throw cold water on that statement. It does not represent any particular effort at the Forge, most especially not my li'l family of threads which includes this one.

Best,
Ron


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 01, 2002, 09:25:46 PM
Quote from: Uncle Dark

Now look at other games: There's no reason Sorcerer, Champions, or even D&D couldn't have Christian settings and themes.
...
I forgot to mention Paladin, which would do a "Christians vs. Evil" setting quite well.


Congratulations to Lon for being the first person to think about Paladin in terms of Christianity. It's the RPG I wrote for my parents. I still haven't shown it to them, though.

And I want to play in a Christian-themed Sorcerer game like mad.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Jason Lee on December 01, 2002, 10:57:45 PM
Quote from: M. J. Young

Gamers and Christians are not enemies; it's just that the fringes of any group are always a bit frayed around the edges.


That's kind of the big thing I was curious about, with all the tone in the related threads I was wonding if it was just extremists? Is there enough shared hatred to concern yourself with?  I don't have a good grip on the bulk of gamer populace and their religious tolerance or lack thereof (Except my sub-culture, which you elderly chaps might refer to as late '80/early '90 skate culture, which you can often find strong anti-christian sentiments within - though I've skated all of a dozen times, but that's a different, and irrelevant discussion).

Did this shed light on the issue (for me or anyone)?  You be the judge.

What I'm getting out of this thread is that there is a strong perception from gamers, christians, and the various combinations thereof of dislike/distrust on 'opposing sides', and hence fear of snap judgements when dealing with said groups.  However, it seems these sides are not that opposing after all - it's just some spoil-sports on both sides shouting down thunder from the mountain because they're the only ones talking.  It also doesn't seem like as many games are written in opposition to christian values as the vocal minority (or I) would have us believe.

Quote from: Ron Edwards

Here's a minor point - above, cruciel refers to "all the talk of trying to guide gaming into a more accepted hobby ..."

I'd like to speak up to throw cold water on that statement. It does not represent any particular effort at the Forge, most especially not my li'l family of threads which includes this one.


Sorry, I didn't mean to put words in your mouth - I just like having goals (it makes me feel like I'm doing something useful).


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: thoth on December 02, 2002, 09:52:29 AM
Well, the question has been asked about how RPGamers and their feelings towards a Xn RPG, so i'm going to ask a possible flip-flop of that. What would Xn think of an RPG that included Xnity as a religion but treated it as any other religion in the game? Would their be any objections to a game that treats Xnity in the same manner as the Greco-Roman or Norse faiths are?
What if Xnity were treated in a fashion similar to Voodoo?
What if an RPG used other currently active religions such Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc?

Would a Xn gamer avoid a store that sold RPGs that used Xnity in such a manner? What about if it used one of the other active religions?


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on December 02, 2002, 10:55:44 AM
Hi everyone,

I know I'm just adding to the pile on (which is discouraged here), but I feel compelled to reiterate the idea that "Christian" means lots of things to people who call themselves Christians, while people who don't consider themselves Christians usually boil it down to a singular.  (And usually an annoying singular at that.)

I'll quickly point out that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. wrote two of the 20th centuries classic works of fantasy fiction -- full of magic, monsters and violence -- and both from a specifically Christian point of view.

Non-Christians who loved the books who find out the depth of the faith of these writers seems annoyed at first.  They often make peace with the works, recognizing them as great writing and suggesting that the faith of the writers don't really matter after all.  I think this misses the boat completely: The books work because the faith of their writers inspired them.  If the non-Christian reader thinks the faith doesn't matter, it might well be because the non-Christian has a somewhat limited view of what Christianity is.  (A singular, in other words, that doesn't allow for the wide spectrum of what Christianity allows.)

I bring this all up, because RPGs are exactly the same.  One can make a "Mercantile & Murder" gaming session, or one can have a session full of faith (of any religion).  That's up to the game chosen and the players.

I'd be happy to tell anyone in my Catholic parish about my love of this hobby.  Christianity thrives in part because of absolute love of storytelling and astounding events.  (cf. Lewis and Tolkien).  Most folks I've ever told these games  about are always absolutely captivated by them.

Only once, when the Big Brother program in Chicago hooked me up with a boy who's mom was against RPGs was there a problem.  We parted ways.  But I never assumed it was a "Christian" issue, but that woman's particular church.

Christopher
 
PS My apologies to Jake for writing long paragraphs that "ramble on and on forever" ; )


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Jason Lee on December 02, 2002, 01:08:54 PM
Quote from: Christopher Kubasik

I know I'm just adding to the pile on (which is discouraged here), but I feel compelled to reiterate the idea that "Christian" means lots of things to people who call themselves Christians, while people who don't consider themselves Christians usually boil it down to a singular.  (And usually an annoying singular at that.)


I'm amazed by your correctness.  I cannot through out a 77% percent of the populace is christian stat, say a lot of christians think Harry Potter is immoral, then acknowledge Harry's own best-seller-ness.  It was an incorrect generalization.

So, I'll just talk about what I consider to be 'hard-liner' christians - not extremists, perfectly nice people who simple immerse all their activities in christianity.  I'm met a fair number of families like this: they have a strong, yet not oppressive, moral character; they participant in family game nights; they enjoy a family story-telling (almost always read from the bible or contemporary christian works).  I could see a roleplaying game that was overtly christian really appealing to this group of people - if properly presented.  This could be a very strong place to start getting the extremists to loosen up, and accept that rpg's are like movies - a diverse group, some with R ratings and some with G ratings (the same sort of generalization Christopher pointed out).

This market may already exist, beneath my radar, but it isn't in my local game store (which is run by a christian - but I really don't think he wants that known).


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: M. J. Young on December 02, 2002, 05:26:36 PM
Quote from: Amos Barrows, a.k.a. thoth,
What would Xn think of an RPG that included Xnity as a religion but treated it as any other religion in the game? Would their be any objections to a game that treats Xnity in the same manner as the Greco-Roman or Norse faiths are?
What if Xnity were treated in a fashion similar to Voodoo?
What if an RPG used other currently active religions such Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc?

Would a Xn gamer avoid a store that sold RPGs that used Xnity in such a manner? What about if it used one of the other active religions?


I think they're already out there; and I think they are fairly well received.

I first mention Multiverser because I'm closest to it. The game goes out of its way to create a cosmology in which
[list=1]
  • There is one good omnipotent omniscient Creator God, such that monotheism is ultimately true.
  • All monotheistic faiths are "close enough for mortals"; referees are specifically instructed to treat Islam, Mormonism, Judaism, branches of Christianity, and other monotheistic faiths as equally valid.
  • There are worlds in which this Creator has not revealed himself, but left things in the hands of created spiritual subordinates, thus validating dualistic, henotheistic, polytheistic, and deistic belief systems as also in a very real sense true.
  • These created deities may or may not hold allegiance to the Creator; they may have such an allegiance to the Creator and never mention it to their worshippers for reasons mortals might not grasp.
  • All of these deities are on a level playing field in regard to their ability to empower their followers (e.g., magic), whatever their allegiance or lack thereof.
  • [/list:o]
    The rules do mention that the authors are Christian; they also clearly state that Christianity should not be treated as a better religion than any other. Whatever a player believes, when he is translated to a player character, is presumed to be true as far as it goes. Christians and non-Christians enjoy playing and running the game, and the religious aspect is rarely an issue.

    I never did finish reading Pendragon, but I understand that it incorporates a fairly reasonable representation of Christianity in a medieval expression; it also incorporates a number of competing belief structures, including a Celtic Paganism. The game does not distinguish one as better than the other. I know quite a few Christian gamers who think it's an excellent way to handle religion in the Arthurian mythos; some state it is their favorite game. Obviously, Pendragon's fans are not all Christian gamers.

    I suspect there are others.

    I've never been a fan of Christian media, as such (although Christian music I put in a slightly different category). I elsewhere addressed the idea of why I don't care for Christian Games (on the Christian Gamers Guild site, actually). There are Christians writing games for Christians; there are also Christians writing some of the games you probably play, influencing them to be more acceptable for Christians without bashing people over the head with their message (much like Lord of the Rings, I would wager). There are games that include Christianity, often as one of equal options, and I'm not uncomfortable with that.

    I'm sure there are people who are uncomfortable with that. There are people who are uncomfortable with the pantheism implied by The Force in Star Wars, or the Buddhist/Taoist ideas in The Matrix. There are people upset by the very mechanical non-religious fairy-tale magic of Harry Potter (although why in the world these people aren't complaining about Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Aladdin is beyond my comprehension--maybe they are, but no one is listening). You are never going to please a lot of the fringe people in any group until you do everything exactly their way; and if you tried to do that, you would discover that they don't know exactly what it is they do want--they only know how to shoot at things that aren't it.

    I think the tide is turning in the church. For a couple decades, Christians have "heard" the bad things about D&D (and like Clinton's parents had no idea about other games--he probably could have played CoC or Sorcerer with impunity, just because they only "heard" about D&D). A lot of them have just assumed that what they heard was probably right and not worth pursuing. But the rise of Harry Potter and the big screen appearance of Lord of the Rings--and perhaps a general cultural shift (about which I was just reading this week) away from Science Fiction and into Magical Fantasy--has brought the munchkins to attack bigger targets, and awakened a lot of the sleepers in the church to realize that D&D and LotR are really in the same basket. Articles are appearing in defense of fantasy and even of fantasy games. People on the other side who are not gamers are now talking about it seriously.

    The fringes will probably never go away. Chick's boy Schnoebelen will probably continue to claim that he was a 30th level DM, a Satanist High Priest (I hear that's an entry level position--you never hear from the Satanist custodians), a Wiccan coven leader, a Roman Catholic priest, a high level Mormon, a high level Mason, and several other "occult" positions, all before he was thirty, for years to come. Some will be influenced by this. But the numbers will continue to decline.

    Anyway, that's the way it looks from here.

    --M. J. Young
      (Chaplain, Christian Gamers Guild)


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 02, 2002, 09:17:41 PM
Hi M.J.,

I am very glad that you are here participating at the Forge, especially now.

This post has no other content.

Best,
Ron


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Jonathan Walton on December 03, 2002, 12:55:27 PM
Quote from: In his article, M.J.
And that's what I don't like about most "Christian" things:  they are too tied to "my idea of Christian conduct" and not to what it really is to be Christian.


This, I think, is the way I feel about games that are intentionally "Christian."  While I agree that most games seem to encourage player behavior that does not gel with most Christian beliefs, I don't think this is the problem.  After all, arguably, the world often seems to encourage "non-Christian" behavior, and most people (outside of Gnostics and certain individuals that believe the material world is controlled by Satan) don't condemn the world for being evil.

Christian games wouldn't be so much about encouraging "Christian behavior" from PCs (which, as M.J. said, would often mean encouraging a particular type of Christian behavior), but appealing to concerns and issues that face modern Christians everywhere, in a way that was tasteful and not trying to promote a particular brand of Christianity.

For instance, roleplaying isn't about playing someone who thinks and acts exactly the same as yourself (well, not necessarily).  If I'm playing White Wolf's "Dark Ages: Inquisitor" (yet to be released), I might play a condemning, witch-burning, Catholic inquisitor from the late Medieval period.  Personally, having been raised in a very liberal Baptist church, my beliefs don't really match up with his.  In fact, this could provide some interesting religious tension in the game, where my inquisitor slowly comes to question some of his beliefs in a new light.

This type of play, wrestling with important religious issues, exploring the concept of evil and why God allows horrible things to happen, trying to find real "good" and "evil" among a world that often seems full of shades of grey, appeals to my Christian background.  It would strengthen my own faith to deal with these issues in the course of play, just like it does when I deal with these issues on a daily basis.

In my mind, a "Christian" RPG could make these kind of themes an important part of the central premise.  It wouldn't about the players always acting like Christians, because Christians don't always act like Christians.  That's the challange of faith.  And I think it would make for more interesting play possibilities.

Anyway, just my thoughts.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Clay on December 03, 2002, 01:00:53 PM
Christian content is there.

Pick up John Wick's 7th Sea some day and have a look at it.  For all that people have said against it, it's a pretty well fleshed out game world, and the strongest unifying factor in the setting is the church.  Be it vaticine or objectionist, a broad panorma of Christian history in Europe is a central part of the game.

It's probably possible to play that game as just being about running around with swords.  But then why bother with the cool setting?  When we've played, even in pretty lighthearted, off the cuff stuff, the church and our personal relationship with it have always been central.  The need to come to terms with your feelings about the church has always made the game stronger for us.  

I'm inclined to think that I would like to try Clinton's Christian sorcerer session.  I've been dicey about this in the past, because the issue scared me just a little, being so close to home.  Given time to reflect on it, I think that I would enjoy such a game.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 03, 2002, 01:23:15 PM
Hello,

Um, is it not apparent that The Riddle of Steel is a Christian game in precisely the terms that Jonathan describes?

Best,
Ron


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: thoth on December 03, 2002, 01:48:08 PM
What exactly would be some subtle Xn themes? Or encouragement of Xn behavior?

The reason I ask is because i'm an atheist with a philosophy of "do unto to others what you would have them do unto you." If I were to create an RPG with that theme in mind, or to encourage that behavior, would you Xns consider it Xn themed, or assume it was? I ask because I am under the general impression that the above philosophy is also shared by Xnity, and maybe to an extent many other religions.

Which brings me back to the question of what exactly would be Xn? Explicit mention of a singular supreme being? Or somesuch? Would a God be necessary?


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 03, 2002, 02:04:25 PM
Hi Amos,

I'm a bit confused about your question. A game cannot be Christian; only people are or are not. What a game can do (or not do) is raise issues that Christian ethics are used to grapple with.

Perhaps it would be valuable to review the point of this thread. It's about self-image and role-playing, not about what is or is not a Christian role-playing game. I think a certain amount of free-associative spinoff is a good thing, but when people start talking about what they do and don't personally believe, I start squinting and saying, "Hey, weren't we talking aout something else?"

Best,
Ron

P.S. I've posted elsewhere about how a Christian role-playing design need not enforce Christian virtue upon player-characters, but that point's been raised here already.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Jonathan Walton on December 03, 2002, 02:08:01 PM
Quote from: Clay
Christian content is there.


Definitely, but it's not the content that I was referring to.  There are tons of published games that have Christian-related backgrounds and content.

[In Nomine, The End, Vampire, Demon, Buffy, Engel, Heaven & Earth, Nobilis, and, like you mentioned, 7th Sea, and any game that features the Christian Church (or a stand-in) in any significant way.]

However, none of these games have, as part of their premise, anything about what it's like to be a Christian.  You can play Christian PCs.  They can deal with faith-related issues all they want.  But it is not an essential part of play to do that.  Like you said, it's possible to play 7th Sea without dealing with the Church at all.  In a specifically Christian game, religious issues would be a part of the premise and would be impossible to avoid.

In many ways, Dust Devils (to bring it up yet again) shows how this type of premise ("shoot or give up the gun") might work.  In a Christian game, the premise might be "be a true Christian or compromise your faith," with both options being equally rewarding, just in different ways.  Of course, a key part of the premise then is determining what it means to be a true Christian, which leads to a whole host of other issues.

Even in games like In Nomine, that pretend to deal with religious issues, most of the controversial parts are resolved or declared to be unknowable in the game background, so the players can focus on other things.  A game centered on the Christian faith would pull those into the foreground and force players to deal with them.

EDIT: To respond to comments I cross-posted over, I think it's quite possible for a game to have a premise related to morality and not Christianity.  Would such a game appeal to Christians?  Possibly.  But I don't think most Christains pick games based on their religious preferences.  I certainly don't.  This isn't really a marketability issue in my mind.  It's about specifically making a game that deals with Christianity because that would be an interesting game.  Sure, a game on morality would probably relate in many ways (like DD does), but it wouldn't really be a Christian game, persay.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Jonathan Walton on December 03, 2002, 02:19:32 PM
Oooh, related idea.  Sorry.

I was just thinking about the difference between a game "about Christianity" and one that was specifically "Christian."  I think I may have been confusing the two in my recent posts.

For instance, you could make a game about Christian religious beliefs that ultimately concluded that they were not especially positive or true.  This might be a very interesting game too, and I would be interested in playing it, but it would not be "Christian" or support a Christian faith.

As such, I think I'll change my definition of "Christian games" to those that both deal specifically with Christianity and ultimately support or futher the exploration of a Christain faith.  This does not mean they have to say "Christianity is right and good" but they at least should allow for "Christianity is something worthwhile to explore and wrestle with."


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Jason Lee on December 03, 2002, 06:44:35 PM
Quote from: Jonathan Walton

As such, I think I'll change my definition of "Christian games" to those that both deal specifically with Christianity and ultimately support or futher the exploration of a Christain faith.  This does not mean they have to say "Christianity is right and good" but they at least should allow for "Christianity is something worthwhile to explore and wrestle with."


That's really an important destinction, one I was (wrongly) taking for granted as understood.  To use Jonathan's definition of Christian games, that is the kind of game I was concerned might receive leers on the game shelf.

Interstingly enough, it seems that a Christian game might get a similar response from an atheist and a Christian ("this game is too preachy" or "why do I care?").

I think the chain of conversation of this thread answers a lot of questions in and of itself.

Would a Christian object to games that place christianity on an even could-be-truth slate with atheism or buddism:  We've been talking about Christianity and atheism as abstract concept this entire time, and no one seems to care much - everyone has their personal definitions and can apply them to the subject matter (which you can do with a game if you can do with conversation).

And a piece of the original question: do Christians gamers (as an average, not a whole) fear letting other gamers know they are Christian? ... Yes and no, it seems like the individual group makes a lot of difference (as it does with anything in life).  Plenty of Christians seem to have spoken up about their religion without fear (though tossing in their hat in a little later, I can't tell if it's because they had nothing to say, weren't interested in the thread, or thought they were alone).


Yeah, ok, maybe it's just because we're being reasonable instead of judgemental - but I swear the Forge is not the single pure reservoir for reasonable people.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Clay on December 03, 2002, 07:06:43 PM
If I wanted a game that specifically modeled what being a Christian meant to me, I would choose Sorcerer hands down.  The premise of the game is "what would you do?"  For me at least, aside from acceptance of the possibility of salvation of my soul, that pretty much sums up what it means to be a Christian.  In the end my life will be judged, with salvation or damnation in the balance.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Kester Pelagius on December 03, 2002, 09:35:37 PM
Greetings Clay,

As this is my first post to you let me take this opportunity to say howdy.

So, howdy!


Quote from: Clay
If I wanted a game that specifically modeled what being a Christian meant to me, I would choose Sorcerer hands down.  The premise of the game is "what would you do?"  For me at least, aside from acceptance of the possibility of salvation of my soul, that pretty much sums up what it means to be a Christian.  In the end my life will be judged, with salvation or damnation in the balance.


Looking over the posts to this thread one thing struck me as somewhat odd, which I think this post sums up nicely.

Whose view of Christianity are we talking about?

Does Clay's statement fit with *your* (yes, you, the one reading these words) view of what is means to be a Christian?

Let's consider something few of us probably do...  Christianity comes in many *flavors*, if you will.  For instance Catholocism is not akin to Orthodox Christianity anymore than Orthodox Christianity is Coptic Christianity, to say nothing of the various denominations from Baptist to Church of the Creator or (insert name here).  Which is probably why, for most of the larger game companies, real world religion has not made any appearances within commercial game product.

Fantasy religions, based upon pseudo-real versions of theological precepts, are usually the way to go for just the reasons outlined above.  It's how satirists have worked for centuries.  It's also what makes the post-apocalyptic genre so interesting.  There is subtext underneath the mutants and road warriors.

Also how should we define Christianity, or what a Christian view of role-playing games are?

Think about that for a moment.

Certain denominations are not overtly vociferous.  Is it because they don't care?  No.  Take the Orthodox branch, for instance, no proselytizing allowed.

Of course we all know the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the air time in sensationlistic, sound byted, media programs.  So many our view of what *popular* Christianity is has been somewhat colored?

Thus better to ask what role, if any, "real world religion" should play in relation to role-playing games.  And what members of a "real world religions" think of role-playing.

Some games model fantasy religions and magic on pseudo-cabalistic templates, often with undertones of the Golden Dawn or Enochian theurgic systems.  IE: the so-called "occult" elements so often mentioned.

Or is it?

Who gets to decide what is occult knowledge and what isn't?

Would it help to know that all the word "occult" really means is "obscure"?

Probably not.  For most the material of the Golden Dawn and writings of Kabbalah are purely esoteric.  As is the tenents of one denomination of Christianity to those who do not actually belong to said denomination.

Funny how that works.  Perhaps we would do well to keep that simple fact in mind.  For unless we are part of a specific religion their beliefs, their tenents, indeed their very scripture are esoteric occult knowledge to us.

That said their is no reason why a role-playing game can't be used as a instructional or educational tool.  In fact that is probably how most of use learned about Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology in the first place.


Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: M. J. Young on December 04, 2002, 01:28:03 AM
Quote from: cruciel
Would a Christian object to games that place christianity on an even could-be-truth slate with atheism or buddism?

In a sense, that's just like life; and I think most of us as Christians would be comfortable in a game which was just like life in that way. That is, there has always been something which irked me about Gamma World and Star Trek; it's this idea that in the future there isn't any religion. Never mind that there isn't any Christianity; there's no Judaism, no Islam, no Buddhism, nothing. I find it difficult to imagine that beliefs that have stood for thousands of years will vanish in a few hundred. In fact, I think that a large part of the atheism of the Enlightenment expected all religions to vanish in a generation; they didn't.

But you have this practical problem when you turn it into a game. It might depend on your milieu, but in many cases you're going to have to have some idea regarding what the truth actually is. Consider this scenario. You've got to player characters, one a Christian the other an atheist (and this has nothing to do with the beliefs of the players at this point). They are on a space ship which suddenly gets hit by some piece of space debris that leaves it severely damaged. What happens next? The Christian prays that God will help them, and protect the people on board; then both of them go work on the problem.

If this were real life, they would make the repairs, help the people, and try to get things back to normal. Then the Christian would thank God for helping them, and the atheist would deride him for thinking God had anything to do with it.

But this is a game. The question of which of these men is correct has a real answer in the resolution system. Did the fact that the Christian asked God for help impact the outcome, or not? If prayer will never make any difference, then under the game system the Christian is wrong; if prayer will make a difference, then under the game system the atheist is wrong.

About the only possibility for an end run around this problem is to encode into the rules something like this: For some reason which is not explicit, prayer sometimes makes a difference and sometimes does not. Thus the role of a die would determine whether the Christian's prayer helped. But from a mechanics perspective, this means the Christian character has an edge over the atheist character--there is something he can do which might increase the probability of favorable outcomes. At that point, from a purely pragmatic standpoint, the atheist is an impractical choice. I can't think of a balance. (Actually, I can think of a balance, one used in Multiverser; but it really only works in games with a higher level of magic: because of his disbelief in the supernatural, the atheist is more resistant to magic used against him. In this sci-fi setting, it's hard to imagine that some primitive alien pronouncing some curse is going to impact the Christian more than the atheist.)

I have nothing against such a game in principle; I just see it as extremely difficult to actually do in practice. At some fundamental level you have to decide what the real nature of the universe is, or you can't answer these kinds of situations.

--M. J. Young

P.S.--Thanks, Ron; I was just feeling overburdened by everything I'm trying to juggle, and knowing that my contributions here are appreciated has been a genuine encouragement.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: contracycle on December 04, 2002, 01:59:04 AM
I would prefer that in such a game the whole question was struck out; atheism is not possible or irrational when, as Terry Pratchett put it, the gods come round and throw stones through atheists windows.  There is no need to respesent the doubt encoded mechanically, IMO: and then I and indeed anyone else can simply write off the fact of gods existance in the game as a specific setting element.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Sidhain on December 04, 2002, 09:33:19 AM
Let me take a moment and draw a line--

In my FRPG--High Valor, there is a monotheistac religion, and it is correct in its beliefs (mostly) it has splintered a bit with different orders who have different outlooks, but whose core beliefs is that The Lord on High, the Great Dreamer exists and sent a child to die so that they could be free of the enslavement by the Fane-Lords. This is the Church of the Martyr.

It is fundamentally correct--a PC's faith in following the Highlord (Priest or not) can impact the game--it can repel evil, perorm blessings (if VERY high) and even ask for miracles.

But there are still worshippers of other dieties---other "gods" who by the Church of the Martyr's teachings aren't real.


The game dictactes that /yes/ they aren't real--the people /in the game/ don't know this because of this one thing--Magic.


Magic.

You see a Spellcaster can simulate, mimic and even perform nigh identical effects to the Faithful--they can oh ward a circle with words of power to hold evil at bay. They can say words to summon up helpful spirits, or call (in the name of their god) a miracle (spell) that allows them to take the shape of a bear.


So fundamentally those peoples--mostly Rykarn, and Caen-Cluith tribes, but others simply believe that their Seers, and Shamans, (whose knowledge is passed down from teacher to some chosen child) is using the same methods and manners as the Church of the Martyr--they are all casting spells, in the name of their gods!

A civilized person who has no Faith, and thus bey definition an athiest believes much the same thing--that the Church is just using /magic/ a natural and controllable supernatural force to make people believe in a non visibile mythical entity.

Is there a benefit to playing an Athiest? Yes, your less likely to get asked to go do things in the name of the Church and or the High-Lord.

(or at least they are less likely to be able to convince your PC /why/ they should go)

The fact that faith is /real/ is to some only proof in a lesser power--not a divine providence, but just magic. Like we might say "its just Special Effects", "Its just a trick" if we actually saw someont fly, walk on water and so on. (Me I at least presume its possible because of my beliefs to /not/ be a trick--but not to the extent that I'm not going to try and look for a trick /first/ thus even I am a bit of a cynic there.)


There was a movie a few years ago called "Almost an Angel" starring what's his name of Crocodile Dundee fame (and the same young woman who was in those films as his mentor/friend/girlfriend later wife?)

In it an ex con with a knack for electronics changes his style of crime from burglary to bank-hold ups, using his "generic" appearance. He gets hurt and ends up in the hospital and believes that God (Charlton Heston) has sent him back to earth as an angel. The whole movie sets up things which /make/ him believe---being shot at but not hurt (blanks in the gun.) and so on, whereupon he finds himself trying to do what he believes is God's Work, using his skills of burglery and electronics to convince a contribitor to a kids recreation center to give them money rather than some obviously flim-flam Televangelist.


Now the entire movie sets it up to make it looke like he's delusional, but in the end--things happen which are undoubatably miracles.


Now the question is was it divine intervention? was he really an angel? or was he just had enough self-belief to override reality for a moment (much like the Magic in White Wolfs MAge Game?)




EDIT:

I forgot to mention something about possible athiests--in the game Will, that is Self Will and Faith tend to oppose each other--a person whose self is strong will tend to be less faithful (as faith often is giving up of self to let someone else handle things) and will is essentially belief in self handling things to some degree--this is why you don't find most priests using magic--and why athiests get a bonus similar to MJ Youngs---in a magical Multiverse setting, because a high will allows one to resist magic a little better (and if your magically inclined perform magic as well) this make the two "stats" a balancing act for anyone who wants to be both strong willed and faithful--a very tough, and perilous path. (Of course a high faith allows possible divine protection against magic, so it makes that benefit fairly even)


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Paganini on December 04, 2002, 11:28:40 AM
Coming in late here, but I want to weigh in behind everything M. J. has said. My approach to a thread is to basically organize my thoughts as I read until I have a point that I want to make. Pretty much every time I've had a coherent post planned out in my mind, the next entry in the thread is one from M. J. saying what I was going to say, only more clearly than I would have put it. :)

So, with all that out of the way, I'm just going to offer some personal information in the intrest of demographics: I'm a christian. I don't worry about making this known to gamers, mainly because the kind of gamers I hang around with aren't going to be bothered by it. Raven and I once had a throwdown argument over creationism, and I think we're better buds now than we were before. :)

(Incidentally, Raven's voice would be good in this thread, as he's recently had some experiences with the unfortunate "sailor moon costume" counterparts that M. J. has mentioned. Let me tell you I don't want to be associated in any way with the people who just lost Raven his job.)

I'm actually more careful about mentioning my beliefs to my orchestra colleagues than I am to gamers. This is not becasue I'm afraid of being judged by them (a non-issue for me) but because I don't want them to be afraid that *I'll* judge *them.* I don't want to be a damper that stops them from acting natural for fear of offending me.

As for my relatives, some of them are of a more legalistic bent (former baptists for example) and wouldn't understand. They've been taught that D&D is satanic, and would be disturbed if they knew I had anything to do with it. So I keep my books out of sight when they're around, in order not to cause offense.

I just want to make one (Hmm. Turns out it was more than one. Oh well. :) point about christian players and their characters.  

Note: By "anti-gaming religious type" I mean the sort of person who is actually out there fighting against games (or Harry Potter, frex), not someone who has simply been *taught* that "RPGs Are Evil (TM)."

The sticking point for anti-gaming religious types typically seems to be one of two things:

1 - "evil should not be portrayed as good"
2 - "christian people should not play characters that do evil things."

I agree with the principle of #1. The problem is that activists often have made an emotional decision about the morality of something that does not have a strong scriptural foundation. I can't tell you how many times I've seen "Harry Potter makes magic seem cool. Magic is evil. Therefore, Harry Potter is evil!" And then, people make the dangerous jump to "any work containing magic is evil, regardless of how magic is portrayed." (I remember a christian friend who's mother wouldn't let him read the Hobbit.)

"Magic" as it is found in most fantasy literature is imaginary. The idea of the Bible having *anything* to say about a concept that was devised purely for entertainment is just ridiculous. If they were railing against "Kill Puppies for Satan," I could buy it. (Even that's a stretch, given the parody nature of KPS.) But against D&D? Harry Potter? It just makes me laugh. It's like saying that Lysol is poisonous, so you shouldn't eat peas, because they're the same color. Huh?

The problem is that ignorant people have loud and convincing voices.

My response to #2 is "pish posh poo" more or less. It has about the same level of reason as the argument that christian authors shouldn't write books in which the characters (frex) swear. It's ridiculous. People sin. Even christians sin (as much as the anti-gamer religious types would like to have you believe otherwise). A great deal of conflict arises from immoral behavior, or from the potential to behave immoraly. "Cloud 9: The Harp Strumming" is not going to be a very interesting RPG to play.

Finally, the idea that a christian shouldn't read books / watch movies / play games with questionable content is bogus. We live in a world that has a lot of "questionable content." If you (frex) aren't allowed to read a book that has a couple of swear words in it, how on earth are you going to handle real-world every-day encounters? (I know, I'm drifting OT, but I feel this is a relevant rant.) People have brains. Kids especially have brains. At a certain point they have to be allowed to judge for themselves what's acceptable and what's not.


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Evan Waters on December 04, 2002, 07:10:16 PM
Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
Cruciel,

Most definitely. It's funny, because I couldn't really talk about my gaming growing up, with the very religious, very conservative, very fearful-of-the-devil parents.

Now, I live in Seattle, and am a very liberal, very ecumenical, kinda-maybe-Christian, and I wouldn't tell a soul, much less a gamer. I normally avoid talking about RPG.net's forums, but you'll get your ass verbally stoned there if you mention you believe in a god. .


That's not been my experience.

The rec.games.frp.* groups, on the other hand...


Title: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem
Post by: Irmo on December 05, 2002, 06:51:52 AM
A couple of points I'd like to add: As for RL relationship of christian church to RPGs, I know several groups in my home country who have at times played on church property, with the consent of the pastor. Of course, there's some things you still have to regard: My favorite anecdote is one of the pastor asking one group about the game they were playing....they described to him in general terms how RPGs work... they did NOT tell him they were playing In Nomine....which was probably a good idea.

However, as was pointed out, there's christianity and then there's christianity. In the US, with its wide diversity in denominations, the problem is that it's the loudest bunch that is obviously most visible. That, however, is in no way representative for christianity. (Note that Christianity is the larges world religion, and as such, Falwell isn't anywhere near as important for what it means to be Christian as he makes himself to be. The vast majority disagrees with him)

In fact, leading to the post regarding a christian praying ICly and an IC atheist voicing derision over it, the situation might very likely not even arise, depending on the christian:

Quote
Matthew 6,5-6:   And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6   But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.


As such, the Atheist might never see the christian actually pray. Behavior varies drastically between different denominations. Even missionaries don't have to necessarily urge others to join their faith. Many denominations try to convince others rather by exemplary conduct rather than active proselytizing.

As for contracycle's citing Pratchett that atheism is not possible or irrational when the gods come round and throw stones through atheists' windows, that supposes that it's the style of said gods to act that way. If, rather, they postpone judgement to after you are dead (as some christian denominations say, making the notion of "God has brought this upon you as punishment for your sins" during one's lifetime bogus), then there won't be any stones. Of course, there might be a nasty surprise waiting in the great beyond, but that's a wholly different issue.

As for Jonathan Walton's pointing at games not making it a major issue as to what it's like to be a Christian etc, you are correct for most US games. However, looking internationally, there used to be the French game "Miles Christi", in which all characters were knights of the Temple, and behavior according to both knightly and monastic ideals was what allowed you to develop the character further. In fact, the game included debriefings in which the characters had to admit their sins and accept penance for them, and in case they forgot something, their fellow group members were supposed to point out their omissions in a friendly, non-derisive fashion (since derision would once again have been sinful behavior ;) ) That also allowed a whole lot of IC hard decisions....the Templars were supposed to protect pilgrims. They also were supposed not to hurt any Christians... one sample scenario had, IIRC, the son of a christian noble desire to off his father to get his inheritance a bit early.... now with the Templars not having the power to excommunicate anyone, how do you protect someone from assassins when you're not allowed to hurt the assassin? ;)