A Longing For Relationship

By Michael Mendis

Romance.  You find it everywhere in pop culture.  It doesn’t matter who the intended audience is, whether kids…

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...or adults...

...men…

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...or women.

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It’s a critical part of countless stories and legends, and it has proven to be compelling to audiences throughout recorded history.

Why is romance so popular?  As Christians, we know that it strikes at the heart of what it means to be human.  All people have a longing for relationship; it’s hardwired into our design.  From the very beginning of history, God ordained that it was “not good for the man [Adam] to be alone” in the garden of Eden, and so God created a helper for him, another human with which Adam could be in relationship.[1]  And later in Scripture, we learn that marriage, one of the most important relationships that many of us experience in our lives now, is in fact a reflection of the ultimate relationship that all people (both married and single) are made to have with their creator.[2]

When Gospel & Gaming goes out to churches to speak about gamers, we spend a lot of time talking about the unique aspects of gamer culture, and we get questions from people who don’t know that much about gamers and want to learn more of what they are like.  This is all critical to a discussion on gaming ministry, but I think one fact that can get lost in discussions about gamers is that, despite their many unique traits, they are still people like anyone else.  After all, every person, gamer or not, is made in the image of God.[3]  This means that we should be able to recognize, and identify with, those aspects of gamers that are common to all mankind.  And that includes a longing for relationship.

 

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As storytelling in gaming has grown and evolved over the years, romantic sub-plots have become some of the most widely discussed aspects of many single-player, story-driven games.  Developers use the canvass of games to tell a wide variety of stories, exploring both the brokenness and the beauty we find in our own relationships and those around us.  Sometimes romance within a game’s story is unrelated to it’s gameplay mechanics (Uncharted 4), while other games give the player a measure of choice and agency in how it turns out (Mass Effect, The Witcher).  Either way, it captures the imagination of gamers across the globe; over the years I’ve seen countless threads on gaming forums in which people discuss and debate these narratives (to say nothing of all the videos and fanart that gamers create).

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Just as people get emotionally invested in the characters they see in movies, books, and TV shows, gamers become attached to the characters they meet in game worlds.  It’s a natural part of who they are as human beings.  This can open the door to being able to relate to gamers, even if you are not an avid gamer yourself.  Gamers are eager to share their passion for gaming with others, and for those that like to play story-driven games, this often means talking about the connection they’ve made with a game’s characters, and the relationships that those characters build with one another.

So if there’s a gamer in your life with whom you’d like to share Christ’s love, don’t let yourself be stopped by what you don’t know.  Ask them about what draws them to a game.  Step into their world.  Yes, there are things to learn about gamers and gamer culture, but chances are, you’ll find that you have more in common with them than you realize.

 

[1] Genesis 2:18 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+2%3A18&version=ESV

[2] Ephesians 5: 25-32 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+5%3A+25-32&version=ESV

[3] Genesis 1: 26-27 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1%3A26-27&version=ESV