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Author Topic: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem  (Read 20856 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #15 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
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #16 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.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Jason Lee
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« Reply #17 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).
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- Cruciel
thoth
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« Reply #18 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?
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Amos Barrows
ManiSystem
Christopher Kubasik
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« Reply #19 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" ; )
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Jason Lee
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« Reply #20 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).
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- Cruciel
M. J. Young
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« Reply #21 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 http://www.geocities.com/christian_gamers_guild/chaplain/faga013.html">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)
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #22 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
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #23 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.
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Clay
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« Reply #24 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.
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Clay Dowling
RPG-Campaign.com - Online Campaign Planning and Management
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #25 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
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thoth
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« Reply #26 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?
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Amos Barrows
ManiSystem
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #27 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.
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #28 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.
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #29 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."
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