A new year brings new Revelations! This week we’re looking at specific things (like the future of Christian games) and broad things (like the future of the gaming industry itself). We’re going to hear about games from some of the men who make them, but we’re also going to pause and reflect on the role of games in our own lives. So come along for the journey. Read these seven links. You’ll be glad you did!
1. The future of Christian games
Here at Gamechurch we just really love videogames. If you want to make a “Christian” game, that’s fine with us. But we mostly just care about whether or not it’s actually any good. That being said, when we hear about some fellow Christian dudes who are passionate about making good games, we do our best to throw them a wink and a thumbs-up.
That’s why it’s exciting to read articles like “Higher Calling: The New Gospel of Christian Video Games” by Patrick Stafford for Polygon. As much as we can lament the stereotype of Christian games as being lackluster knockoffs, it is far more refreshing to hear about talented developers trying to do something about that stereotype. In Patrick’s article you can get all caught up on the brewing groundswell surrounding Christian videogames.
2. Love yourself some indies
As much as we love the over-the-top excitement and polish of some AAA titles, we might actually love indies even more. Just look at our best-of list! This link will take you to the website of the Independent Games Festival, who have recently posted their 2013 finalists. The list is an incredible guide if you are interested in being in-the-know about the hottest independent videogames right now.
3. How the videogame industry already lost out in the gun control debate
The recent proliferation of conversation about who is to blame for gun-violence is bad news for the videogame industry, argues Ian Bogost for The Atlantic Journal. This piece, I think, gives a great idea of the current state of what videogames “is.”
Though some see Vice President’s Biden’s recent invitation of representatives from the videogame industry to sit and talk about what connection videogame violence has with real world violence as a positive step towards recognition, Bogost sees it as a trap, where accepting the invitation means admitting some form of guilt.
The truth is, the games industry lost as soon as a meeting was conceived about stopping gun violence with games as a participating voice. It was a trap, and the only possible response to it is to expose it as such. Unfortunately, the result is already done: Once more, public opinion has been infected with the idea that video games have some predominant and necessary relationship to gun violence, rather than being a diverse and robust mass medium that is used for many different purposes, from leisure to exercise to business to education.
In this situation, to have denied the invitation would have made the gaming industry appear equally guilty, so as Bogost says, the only way forward is to condemn the system that gave rise to such a meeting in the first place.
4. A profile of the man behind Bioshock Infinite
Impress all your friends with your newfound knowledge of Ken Levine trivia! Chris Plante just did a superb, in-depth look at the man- who is now known primarily for creating the Bioshock series- over at Polygon. Though the piece is very much a “longread,”if you take the time to read it, you will find yourself far more intimately acquainted with one of the most influential game developers of our time.
5. Satire doesn’t change anything
Mattie Brice played Spec Ops: The Line and wasn’t as impressed as a lot of people were. This is not because of any poor elements of game design, it is simply because it is still primarily an entertainment product and even though it makes us feel uncomfortable, this feeling too is part of a larger system of oppression.
“…video game developers and other satirists in the past just wanted to make people uncomfortable, not actually change anything. And it isn’t the oppressed who benefit from the bourgeois squirming in their seats before they go to sleep it off.”
6. Being honest with ourselves
Our own Matt Duhamel wrote for Kotaku that he grew up believing he was special, only to discover that it was all a lie.
A new year is a great time for self-examination, and though we’re a few weeks in, it’s still not too late. In fact this is something that should be done daily. Matt was brave enough to share his own self-examination with the world in the hopes that we might be inspired to have the same honesty that he has come to. In this brave, but balanced piece, he talks about the aspirations he once had, and the mistake that it was to try and fulfill them with videogames. It’s not all a pity party though, as he ends on a hopeful note.
“Inside my shell of post-modern cynicism there beats the heart of a child. Even now all I want is to live up to the expectations of my youth, and there are so many others who feel the same way. I hope that 2013 is different. I want to become the adult I believed I could be. I want video games to become something that helps me change instead of giving me a place to hide.”
7. ICYMI – 2012 Edition
It may have been released a couple of months ago, but In Case You Missed It, or simply haven’t have the time to dig into the best of this past year’s videogame writing, Critical Distance compiled their annual “This Year In Video Game Blogging” and there is a Pandora’s Box of material there for you to enjoy. In fact, our Editors Drew Dixon and Richard Clark were both featured in it!
Do us a favor, this week, go tell someone that they are really loved and also that games aren’t just toys anymore. Here at Gamechurch we’re all about moving the conversation about games forward in a thoughtful way while still telling people that Jesus loves them, and if you’re reading this, you’re invited to join us.
Til next week, don’t stop believin’!