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Author Topic: Christian Gamers and Self Esteem  (Read 22040 times)
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« 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?
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- Cruciel
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #1 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.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
M. J. Young
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Posts: 2198


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« Reply #2 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, http://www.mysticages.com/articles/chrisgamer.shtml">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
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Victor Gijsbers
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #3 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?)
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thoth
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« Reply #4 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.
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Amos Barrows
ManiSystem
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #5 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.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Ted E. Childers
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« Reply #6 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)
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To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. ~ Thomas Edison
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #7 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
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Uncle Dark
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Posts: 215


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« Reply #8 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
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Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #9 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)
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- Cruciel
thoth
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« Reply #10 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.
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Amos Barrows
ManiSystem
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #11 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).
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- Cruciel
Sidhain
Member

Posts: 160


« Reply #12 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)
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Uncle Dark
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« Reply #13 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, 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.
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #14 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
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