Videogames are a lot more than buttons and graphics. As the medium has matured, the storytelling and themes have developed as well. Games are no longer just about jumping over enemies or pits. Now, they create characters, evoke emotions, critique society, and even enter into religious debates. If you are a gamer, the parent of a gamer, or even a parent who is a gamer, you might be surprised to discover that some of the biggest games are jam packed with biblical references, often in ways that twist God’s truth.
The rapidly growing gaming culture needs the truth about Jesus! Videogames can be a starting point for meaningful spiritual conversations with gamers. Our goal in reviewing and previewing videogames is to equip and empower Christians to stand strong in their faith in Jesus when confronted with spiritual content in games.
The Bible and Bioshock
Upcoming triple-A blockbuster, Bioshock: Infinite is bursting at the seams with spiritual content! This is the third game in the highly acclaimed Bioshock series. The original won numerous “Game of the Year” awards and Infinite (set for release March 26th) is an early favorite to do the same. In this documentary preview, we break down the some of the references in the pre-release demos, and test them against the word of God! (1 Thess. 5:21)
Even in these few minutes of released footage we see references to:
- the fear of God
- the Trinity
- the Ten Commandments
- the Garden of Eden
- purification from sin
- Sodom and Gomorrah
- the Promised Land
- Judgment Day
- Noah and the Ark
- God’s forgiveness
… and, believe it or not, much MORE! What is behind the inclusion of these references? What messages are taught by the game? The Bible is our best tool in extracting what is true, and what is not.
One of the most powerful images of the game is a mural portraying George Washington alongside a number of Christian symbols, raised above racist caricatures of what the game refers to as “the foreign horde”. (You can see the mural in the video preview.)
It is a strange mix of both religious and political commentary. Strangely, this is not the only current blockbuster game that “creatively re-imagines” George Washington. Assassin’s Creed 3 receives an update next week in which Washington becomes a despotic king instead of the first President. (For an in depth look at Assassin’s Creed 2 check out our video review HERE).
What’s even more fascinating about the mural is that the Christian symbols within represent the triune God of the Bible! The text of the mural says “It is our holy duty to defend against the foreign horde.” And who has given us this duty? The mural answers that question with the image of a cross (representing Jesus), a dove (representing the Holy Spirit), and the Ten Commandments (representing God the Father) cradled in the arm of George Washington himself. These critical elements of the Bible and the person of God are displayed as the foundation for a violent and racist agenda.
Is this what Christianity is all about? Elitism, racism, and a religion of politics? Is this what Christ has called us to? No! Jesus Christ himself gave us our mission in Matthew 28:19-20. He too had something to say about all the nations of the world, but this time it is the word of the Triune God!
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
We hope this research helps teach you how to think critically and apply Scripture when faced with challenges to God’s truth in videogames, and how to make prayerful decisions about what honors or displeases God.
Know God’s word, and how to use it as a filter for truth when playing video games.
Live it out by testing everything, not casually accepting or ignoring what games say.
Share the truth about Jesus with fellow gamers.
Check out the video preview for more insight into the messages of Bioshock: Infinite! and stay tuned to Reasons for Hope.
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Carl Kerby Jr. and Drew Thorwall
Reasons for Hope
P.S. – Take a look at the Mind over Media audio podcast. These free audio downloads will help you teach discernment when it comes to video games. You can also check out Carl Sr’s book, Remote Control: The Power of Hollywood on Today’s Culture.