Christian Gamers, Offensive Lists, and ‘Homo-Erotic’ Games: Another viewpoint
EIC Note: We saw an article stating that a certain Christian Investment Firm – Timothy Plan were advising their clients on offensive games, using criteria like having ‘homo-erotic’ undertones. The list also seemed to reflect a Christian anti-gaming bias, as it failed to include similar lists for other media. However, as you will read below, not all Christians see things exactly the same way.
One of our writers responds to the list, which you will find here. So please read on with an open mind.
© 2008 David Hilton
“Part of being a Christian is the struggle to try and represent Christ and I may also seem judgemental but….”
Yes, we do exist.
Christian gamers that is. I don’t think most of us make a big deal of it and I think some people would be surprised to find that Christians are as diverse a group as any other group (like, say, gamers).
Yet the overall opinion I encounter is that Christians are all right-wing Conservative game-haters who think that gaming comes directly from the devil to tempt us into all manner of evils. They are also all against the R-18 rating in Australia, of course. Well, I’m not. Have a read here if you don’t believe me.
I can’t blame the gaming public for thinking this way when you have so much ignorant game-blaming going on in the press, and often by Christian organisations or individuals. Take this report, for example.
Gamepolitics.com reports about a “conservative Christian” investment firm that is warning parents away from what it calls the “Top 30 Most Offensive Video Games“. These games are ranked on the amount of violence, sex, nudity, demonic references, homosexual references, and addictiveness they have. Well at least they played the games, presumably? The list is below.
Some games like Fable 2 are in there because of the fact that there is the possibility of homosexuality, while another game, Army of Two is there for its “homo-erotic” undertones. Well I’d ignore the game not because I’m Christian and abhor its supposed homo-erotic buddy-buddy-ness, but because the game was rather ordinary.
In fact, Gears of War 2 scored the same, possibly for the same reason. There are lots of hulking big boy manly space marines, but apparently one chasing after his wife doesn’t count. But Epic have made a joke about the whole ‘homo-erotic’ thing: look at the achievement list. The “Friends With Benefits” achievement in co-op play is a joke, and I laughed. Oh no. I must be bad.
At the last Australian election I argued with other Christians over the fact that the only reason they supported one party was because the other party didn’t openly denounce gay-marriages. Foreign policy, economic policy, education, health, water, social policy, or individual candidates all didn’t matter: only homosexuality.
Yet Jesus asks us: “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but fail to notice the beam in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). If we go back to Christ and his teachings he was inclusive and went out of his way to talk to and care for those who were on the fringes of society and were being heavily judged by those around them.
And so here’s a “morally responsible” investment firm gay-bashing by making a list with games that “may” have homosexual undertones, publicly confirming the judgemental nature of Christians. They may not have intended it that way, but it comes across like that nevertheless.
Then there’s the problem that it targets only games.
Many, if not most, parents who buy their kids video games really don’t know the extent of sex and violence embedded in them. From drug use, prostitution, murder and mayhem to vulgar profanity and blasphemy these games have become a powerfully negative influence on our kids…I believe, if parents would take a moment to look at the report we’ve created, their game selections would be quite different.
The list is aimed at parents who may worry what content is in the games their kids want for Christmas. I understand that both as a parent and as a Christian. Parents DO need to be diligent and look into the content of the games they are getting their children, just as they should take a look at the movies their kids want to watch, or the internet sites they want to visit. They should, for starters, look at the ratings tag. Basic stuff.
I don’t think Grand Theft Auto IV is a good game for twelve year olds. I don’t think the movie SAW is either. In fact I don’t like that game or that movie myself for some of its content. That is my choice but I cannot force my opinion on another adult in a free society. We are responsible for ourselves and judging others is not our job.
Many games do have questionable or uncomfortable content. So do many movies. So do many songs. So do many books. So do many cartoons. So does the Internet. But games are the current thing to be scared of. There is no current research that proves that games are any more harmful than other media, despite the bad press and those blaming their own irresponsibility on them. I’d seriously like to know how many Christians shun all media that contain violence, swearing, sex, drug use, etc. etc. I don’t think it would be the majority.
Christians can try and insulate themselves and their families from all things out there that are considered threatening but gaming has grown as popular as any other media in our culture. We live in this world and if Christians want to present the positive face of our faith we need to be involved with non-Christians at a social level as non-judgemental friends who keep our standards but don’t go around frowning at everyone and spouting vitriol.
Some churches have controversially had gaming nights with the aim of discussing themes of ‘good versus evil’ or just for a way to fellowship. Ignoring popular culture has never worked and interacting with people in their hobbies is a good way for Christians and non-Christians to mingle and encourage mutual respect.
For a list of ‘games to avoid’ to be taken seriously it needs to be totally accurate about the content of the game that is judged (gamers all know about the Mass Effect furor and I think the whole ‘homo-erotic’ thing is pushing it). There also would need to be offensive lists for all media parents might buy their kids for Christmas while they are at it. This just looks like a case of jumping on bandwagons.
Part of being a Christian is the struggle to try and represent Christ and I may also sound judgemental toward some of my fellow Christians, but I also don’t want everyone to assume all Christians view everything the same way either.
18 – Grand Theft Auto 4
18 – Saints Row 2
16 – Fallout 3
15 – Bioshock
14 – Manhunt 2
12 – Age of Conan
12 – Condemned 2: Bloodshot
11 – Blitz: The League 2
11 – Crackdown
11 – The Darkness
11 – God of War 2
11 – Mass Effect
10 – Bully: Scholarship Edition
9 – Def Jam: Icon
9 – Devil May Cry 4
9 – Fable 2
9 – God of War: Chains of Olympus
9 – Metal Gear Solid 4
9 – Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl
9 – World of Warcraft
8 – Haze
8 – Hellgate: London
8 – Kane & Lynch
8 – No More Heroes
8 – Silent Hill: Homecoming
8 – Stranglehold
7 – Army of Two
7 – Gears of War 2
7 – Silent Hill: Origins
6 – Resistance 2
© 2008 David Hilton