Finding God in Games: Thoughts from a Christian Game Designer

Part of our job here at Plugged In is to talk earnestly about the impact media consumption can have on our day-by-day lives. After all, a constant inflow of anything is going to impact you in one way or another.  Hey, anyone who says he can binge-watch some gotta-see sleazy TV show all day or play hours and hours of some hack-and-slash video game and walk away without a bit of that swill, uh, tainting his pool, is either a pretty serious fibber or a guy who forgets his own birthday on a regular basis.

If, however, we’ve given you the impression that we Plugged In reviewers think media is always a bad, bad thing, well, shame on us. ‘Cause that’s certainly not true. In fact, sometimes entertainment can be pretty positive. And, yes, that goes for video games too. There are lots of game developers out there who think the same thing.

One of them is a friend of ours named Brent Dusing, founder of a gaming company called Lightside Games. In fact, Brent was kind enough to say he’d share his thoughts on the topic with you. You can read what he had to say right now.

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Have you ever heard of someone getting saved from a video game? I hadn’t—until we started seeing them by the thousands…

Seven years after founding and running tech companies in Silicon Valley, I founded Lightside. Today my company—God’s company—has grown to become the world’s leading Christian gaming developer.

Four games, many trials, seven million players and 16,000 decisions for Christ later (thanks to our partnership with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association), it’s been amazing to see what God has done through our staff.

If you know anything about the gaming world, you know that those of us who believe in quality, Christian entertainment have a lot of work to do. Just look at the App Store, where nearly one third of the top 100 grossing games contain dark content—gratuitous violence, gambling, and sexual themes. … not to mention games like Grand Theft Auto that pollute our national consciousness with coarse language and casual drug use.

These days, games are all around us. Thanks to the mobile revolution, they’re always with us, too. No longer is the quintessential “gamer” a teenager staring at a blue screen in their parents’ basement. Nowadays, even those who don’t think of themselves as “gamers” probably play games on their phones like Words With Friends or Angry Birds. And that’s okay. We should welcome this opportunity! But, we should also spare a moment to think about how games shape us, and how we as believers want to shape the gaming industry.

If you’re a regular Plugged In reader, you know better than most that the games we play matter. They shape our character and our culture. Games can build us up, or they can tear us down.

We’ve focused our efforts at Lightside on making games that are first and foremost fun but also filled with God’s Truth. It’s amazing what that kind of unique experience has meant to people all around the world who’ve played our games.

One woman wrote us to say, “I’ve been unemployed for a while now. Having [your] game and the community around me really keeps me going.”

Another said, “I thought I knew a lot about Jesus, but when I started playing the games, I started learning so many things I never knew… I have begun craving, wanting the knowledge of the Bible—so [much so] that I picked the Bible back up.”

Results like these are beyond anything one gaming company can accomplish. They are the movement of God’s hand.

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Dusing’s Lightside is just one of several Christian outlets exploring how to use the world of gaming to not just entertain, but educate and inspire. New games with a spiritual bent are coming out all the time. In fact, Dusing and his crew have a new game called Stained Glass that just came out a few days ago, available at Apple’s App Store. I’m sure they’d love to have you take a look at it if you get a chance. You can tell he’s passionate about what he does.

As Plugged In’s gaming guy, however, I also brought this all up as a discussion starter. I’d love to hear what some of you think. Any games you’d highly praise? Any company’s you know of that are doing some cool things? Let us all know.

Who wrote this?

Bob Hoose is a senior associate editor for Plugged In, a producer/writer for Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey, a writer of plays and musicals and one-half of the former comedy/drama duo Custer & Hoose. He is a husband, father of three and a relatively new granddad.

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