I told a friend recently: if one day I were to teach a class on videogames and Christianity (oh what delusions of grandeur I have!), Kevin Schut’s Of Games & God would be the textbook of the class. To date, this is the most important book written for anyone who is interested in the intersection between Christianity and videogames, or for any Christian wanting to know more about the videogame medium and the challenges/dangers it pose. That means, if you’re someone who reads my blog, you would want to read this book too.
The book consists of 2 introductory chapters, 1 concluding chapter and the remaining chapters explore the following topics:
- religious representation in videogames
- violence in videogames
- videogame addiction
- gender representation in videogames
- educational impact of videogames
- Christian videogame developers
- Christian gaming communities
Of Games & God is extremely well researched, and Dr Schut makes some new contributions to the discussion through his expertise in media studies. The chapter on violence in particular is some of the most balanced and well-researched work I’ve read on this important issue. Throughout the whole book, it is evident that Dr Schut tries hard to be balanced and respectful, yet is underpinned by strong biblical convictions. In particular, his humble and non-defensive attitude when discussing these issues is worth emulating by the Christian gaming community.
It is worth noting that Dr Schut himself considers the book to be a “conversation starter”, and not a conclusive stand on certain issues. Unfortunately, for a book of this length, it would not be possible to explore each of these issues in depth. I would very much like to see Dr Schut (or others) write longer explorations on some of these issues.
There were also two issues which I would have hoped the book would address but did not: ‘theology of play’ (why should a Christian play videogames in the first place?) and ‘videogame as art’ (if videogames is indeed art, how should a Christian respond to it?). To be fair to Dr Schut, he never intended Of Games & God to be a “theology of videogames” book, but rather a “exploration of videogame issues through a Christian lens” book.
I have only two minor theological quibbles with the book: in the foreward (not written by Dr Schut) I personally felt the exploration of the concept of “play” wasn’t sufficiently rooted biblically, and I also felt that Dr Schut had insufficiently considered the complementarian position in the chapter on gender. Nevertheless, I agreed with the vast majority of Dr Schut’s observations, and greatly benefited from his research and insight.
The Christian gaming community owes a great debt to Dr Schut for writing this excellent book. Hopefully, we can build on his work and have deeper conversations into important issues which can edify all Christian gamers, and help point this community towards Christ.