Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

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tango9jeff
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Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby tango9jeff » Tue May 22, 2012 11:45 pm

Hello all,

I've wanted to ask the people in this forum what their thoughts were on the subject primarily of magic in video games such as Skyrim and your typical RPG title.

Do you find it acceptable or not? For years I've enjoyed RPG games but lately have heard several christians speak of God as hating it and sorcery. I've read over all the verses I could find regarding magic in the biblical days and it seemed to be more a form of worship of entities into attempting to harness power to use magic.

How do you feel the biblical passages about magic and violence parallel in video games today? Do you think there is a clear difference between a video game and the type of magic arts related to in the biblical days?

I've struggled with violence in video games as well. As I went into the hebrew text regarding passages about violence it seems to my understanding God was more referring to injustice and oppression rather then the competitive combative arts between willing participants and video games in which no one is actually being hurt.

I my self do enjoy combat in video games as its always fun to fight and develop a character through a fun adventure while defeating enemies but when does this concept cross the line?

If this is true that God is truly ok with the sort of games christians play now days what about games such as GTA and horror based titles which glorify everything God hates? Because we are acting through a video game reality would that be counted towards our hearts? I believe we have to be careful about what types of games we open our selves too and I try to enjoy the clean games where justice and heroic actions are praised rather than destruction and murder to get what you want.

Anyways I'd love to hear peoples takes on this. :)

Thanks!

Jeff
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby Lava » Wed May 23, 2012 6:29 am

I personally try to avoid games like GTA because you kill pretty much in cold blood. Whereas I am more ok with violence if its in a setting of war (such as Call of Duty or Age of Empires) or self defense (Mario, I 'd say).

As for magic. What bugs me alot are spells in a game....its one thing if the game is kind of ambiguous about the magic part...but if there are spells in the game, I try to not play it. The icing on the cake are references to the occult....such as tarot cards, display of occultic symbols or voodoo....if nothing else I draw the line at that.

For instance, a while back I borrowed the game Epic Mickey from a friend. And in the game the brush Mickey uses is called a "magic" brush, which to me wasn't a big deal because he's not opening a spell book or calling upon spirits to do his bidding. However, I stopped playing it when there was a side quest involving a voodoo doll (don't you just love it when they throw that kind of stuff in there?).
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby CPUFreak91 » Wed May 23, 2012 9:12 am

tango9jeff wrote:Do you find [magic] acceptable or not? For years I've enjoyed RPG games but lately have heard several christians speak of God as hating it and sorcery. I've read over all the verses I could find regarding magic in the biblical days and it seemed to be more a form of worship of entities into attempting to harness power to use magic.
My next door neighbors were into witchcraft and other spiritual things when I was growing up. I can tell you Skyrim and most games with magic in them are far from being like sorcery. Videogame magic tends to be "lets channel the force into fireballs" not "let's teach people actual incantations to actual spirits and let them use it in the real world after they test it in the game".

I've also grown up around a ton of domestic violence, murders, and robberies. I can count on my fingers the friends I have who haven't been robbed, and the years that there haven't been murders a few blocks away from where my family lives or the murders. Many of my friends friends have been murdered, sent death threats, or shot at.

That said, most violence you'll find in games is cartoonified to a degree, and I enjoy just like I enjoy sparring with someone when practicing martial arts. I don't make it the only thing I play or do, but it's a great de-stressor. Once you make things too graphic and serious (with human beings, not aliens :P) I start to lose interest. Games like GTA are fine if you like to drive and fly around, but I stopped playing the campaigns for the same reasons Lava did when all I had to do was wipe out an entire gang or something like that. Plus the game is designed for cold-blood killings, so there's not much replay value for me unless I've downloaded someone's 100% complete game save.

Basically if a game glorifies intense violence for the sake of violence, then I don't usually play it. I don't think it's appropriate, or very godly. I'm sure there's plenty out there, but most mainstream ones I've played have other purposes (story, multiplayer community, etc).
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tango9jeff
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby tango9jeff » Wed May 23, 2012 4:16 pm

Thanks for the great replies guys! I really agree with both of your stances on violence and magic.

I personally feel its harmless to shoot around fireballs and thunder spells etc for the sake of enjoying a good fantasy experience but when those spells start to turn to real life counter parts of occult and black magic influences I'm gone.

Lava - That is a shame a game such as Epic Mickey still has its hand in real life forms of magic and demonic activities. Its terrible the way society is slipping all this trash into cartoons and video games. I have to be more careful on what I play.

CPUfreak91 - I totally hear you there about sparing and that being the reason you enjoy it, because no one really gets hurt. I do at times ponder our enjoyment of combat in general....is it a reflection of our own depravity? Or really just something put into Men specifically. The battling it out of things and winning wars etc.

I agree with your take on the violence as well. I try to find games where combat is exciting yes, but its part of the story and not done in a brutal graphic way to glorify destruction. I like playing the hero and battling out challenges and overcoming evil.

I do admit I love combat and the excitement of it all but in no way do I desire to do it in real life. I'm a very peaceful person. Games appeal to me because no one really gets hurt and it's exciting to adventure through those kind of situations.

Can I ask both of you your opinion on Skyrim? A game I really wanted to play but stayed away from due to the Graphic beheadings and magic system elements. Have you tried this and what were your thoughts on it? Harmless fantasy magic or was the combat to much? I admit I still have always wanted to play it hehe.

Thanks for your thoughts guys. i appreciate it.
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby Lava » Thu May 24, 2012 9:46 am

I've tried to avoid the Elder Scrolls series as well as many other fantasy games because of the presence of magic. Anything involving spells I stay away from.

One of my favorite games is Mount&Blade because it takes place in a medieval setting while having no element of magic in it whatsoever. The game can be more on the violent side, but blood can be turned off and sometimes the AI enemies will insult you with minor swearing, but their taunts can be turned off I believe. I usually just stick to either fighting off bandits ( self defense, taking down criminals, etc ) or fighting a battle. You can rob caravans, but I don't like doing it. In general, I find the game to be a good alternative to its more magic-heavy RPG counterparts.

Before I buy any game, I like to check out Christian reviews-- either from Christian answers' guide 2 games or Christ centered gamer. That way I know ahead of time what's questionable in the game and then decide if I'm alright with it.
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CPUFreak91
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby CPUFreak91 » Fri May 25, 2012 9:25 am

tango9jeff wrote:I do admit I love combat and the excitement of it all but in no way do I desire to do it in real life. I'm a very peaceful person. Games appeal to me because no one really gets hurt and it's exciting to adventure through those kind of situations.
You just summed up why I play better than I could have, haha.
Can I ask both of you your opinion on Skyrim? A game I really wanted to play but stayed away from due to the Graphic beheadings and magic system elements. Have you tried this and what were your thoughts on it? Harmless fantasy magic or was the combat to much?
I haven't played it, but from what I've seen watching friends it's not too graphic (and you can tone down those settings, I believe). Occasionally a bipedal creature will loose its head... sometimes a person.

I'm waiting for it to get really cheap on Steam before I consider buying it. I've had a stigma against fantasy RPGs, which is slowly disappearing thanks to some friends who convinced me to try Aion. We'll see how I like it :P.
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tango9jeff
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby tango9jeff » Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:30 pm

Sorry for the late response. Thanks for the additional thoughts guys!

Lava - I just picked up Mount and blade warband and the Napoleon expansion for it and I've had a blast with it! It can be frustrating at times learning how to shoot but its a great game and I love that its so harmless on the violence side. Things are very mild and acceptable in my opinion. It's a great balance of combat and fun without glorying it but using it for relaxation and fun.

CPU - Yea Combat is just in us guys even if you're a believer. Its something put in us that desires adventure, to dominate etc. I'm not sure if its from the whole dominate the animals thing or what. I just enjoy the competition and excitement of good combat systems where no one really gets hurt. But at the same time I realize it can be dangerous as well with pride and anger at others beating you consistently and wishing hateful things on them so I try to be careful on allowing my self to get upset at times or players whooping my butt and I just walk away. =)

Apparently Skyrim has quite a bit of pagan like magic in it and I think I'll be holding off on checking it out for now most likely. I've started a christian RPG which I hope will take off over the coming months and we'll be one of the first companies providing immersion in a world without its core focus on violence while still being engaging.

Thanks for the great feedback! =)
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby ArchAngel » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:51 pm

Having played a considerable amount of Skyrim, with a character that practiced magic, I can say with full surety that it's nothing like Pagan magic. You throw fireballs, conjure up atronachs and create magical shields.

And even if you're opposed to this, you have the ability to play your character with no magic without hurting your playability. Frankly, duel-wielding is very rewarding in combat.

The closest thing you have to "paganry" is quest lines involving Daedric lords, which come across a bit like pagan gods. You can choose to accept their tasks or defy them and slay their heathen priests.

I do suggest getting Skyrim. It provides an organic, open world for you to really express yourself in. You don't have to follow the edicts of others, but create a character that you'd like. A righteous warrior that battles evil of all forms. A shifty mage for hire who will do anything for buck and will sacrifice anyone for power. Choose sides on a civil war. Uncover a murder-conspiracy. And so on.
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby Henrik » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:02 am

Since I've spent a lot of time the past few years thinking about WHY I believe what I believe, done bible reading and "extrabiblical" study (such as Enoch 1, which I'd personally include as biblical after much review) I have a much clearer view of what magic is and why it's important to avoid.

Too many christians only seem to know "Well God hates it, it represents satanism" - ok but why? Heavenly knowledge that wasn't meant for man was shared with us against God's will. Magic is such heavenly knowledge, among other things, which has been corrupted. Sudden technicial advances which led to the world of technology we have today. Adorning oneself with makeup, etc.

There is a misconception of what magic is. It's a commitment of will to a certain goal, and for those practicing magic actively, certain things ritualistically assist that. Over the millenia, common people have unwittingly accepted magic practices as part of every day life and don't know it, because they believe it's only magic if it has fancy plasma balls shooting out your hands. That's fiction - just like Satan being red, with a gotee and horns and a sharp tail is fiction. These fictionalizations are meant to blind us to what we are really accepting - "Oh that's not bad for me, it doesn't come with a big red warning flag on it!"

Take the makeup example. Why do women wear makeup? This is going to sound like I'm calling every woman something distasteful, but its purpose is to seduce a man. Yet many Christian women wear it - it's a societal norm. Ah that makes it ok. :P

Magic in video games (the way it's usually done) is a glamorized version of magic, just like evil in games and other forms of entertainment is a glamorized version of evil. They both serve a twofold purpose, it both entices people to it and blinds people to it - depending whether you are attracted to darkness or oppose it.

If you want to depict magic in games, nothing says you can't or shouldn't, but depict it for what it is, not as some heroic thing to use. We have a greater power, in the Holy Spirit - some, like Tolkien, have, as far as I know, depicted that as white magic. Is that the correct thing to do? I think we should be clear about what and who the source of our power is, not simply attribute it to magic. All power has a source.
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby ArchAngel » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:33 am

Henrik wrote:Since I've spent a lot of time the past few years thinking about WHY I believe what I believe
A highly under-rated practice. "Why" is one of the greatest questions you can ask yourself. So, Bravo.

Magic really is an amorphous concept. In most fantasy environments, it's a channel of power; an extra ability to shape the world around. In the world of blind people, would sight be considered magic? You bet.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." -Arthur C. Clarke

Is it unbelievable to think that the works of chemistry in the old days were interpreted as magic? In fact, the studies of mystical subjects such as Astrology and Alchemy were the closest thing ancient civilizations had to Astronomy and Chemistry. They didn't know enough of the science to fully theorize, so they filled the gaps with "magic."

The issue Christianity has with it is the demonic origins of "magic." As you said, all power has a source, and that is correct, but sometimes the source is as "benign" as the forces of nature, which actually isn't benign at all (our technological feats are testament to it). But when you play a game, you don't channel demonic forces, and at best, a couple might seem to depict it, but generally, it's just natural forces++. There is really little cohesion to what magic is in fantasy, and in the end, it's whatever people make it out to be.

Would you view it differently if we gave it another name? Arcane?
Or what if we said it was caused by nano-bots that respond to a person's thoughts?
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby Henrik » Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:42 pm

That's true that there's little cohesion to what it is depicted as, but it's the idea that is the powerful thing which is what I think magic is at its core. An idea, put in motion, usually a result of desire, a channeling of will, strong feelings (usually hatred, lust, etc). That is the dangerous thing that's being communicated. Because people are going to misuse such principles more often than not, which is why it wasn't meant for us to do.

As far as science, we can explain how most things we have today work, but can we fully explain why they came about? I don't think anyone is capable of explaining the sudden explosion and exponential progression of tech satisfactorily without the inclusion of an outside set of forces. We were here for thousands, even millions of years supposedly, and then in 140 years we go from a lightbulb to virtual reality, cloning, Large Hadron Colliders? Really?

Similarly difficult to explain is the explosion of art and philosophy in ancient Greece.

I look at the phrase "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" as an understandable position, but misleading. It is commonly held that we are simply more educated than our ancestors, that they were silly ignorant buffoons, and in another hundred years even this world will look so amazingly different that it would also seem like magic to us. Well.. yes and no.

There is no denying that a world so different from the one we know is baffling to us, but if magic is only a misunderstanding of scientific progress, this should be a one way street - but it isn't. Even today nobody can fully explain the pyramids, etc. We can explain the technology that sends complex imagery hurtling across a globe, or a rover to Mars and beyond, but not how men with stone age tools built something of such great scale and perfect geometric form. What would cause men to even attempt such a feat? Imaginary gods?

If all these things were 100% the result of human intellect, they should be more easily replicable, reverse engineerable. Same if it was 100% human will. I've willed some things pretty hard before that just don't happen as hard as I try. But when I have combined my will with seeking God's will, some pretty glorious things have happened I must say. Others do similar things with different forces.
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby Mene-Mene » Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:25 am

Your position has got me curious about a few things Henrik. I'm not trying to debunk anything, I'm just looking for further elaboration.
An idea, put in motion, usually a result of desire, a channeling of will, strong feelings (usually hatred, lust, etc).
This seems to be a summary of what you dislike about magic, and yet I don't see what your issue is. To rephrase it, are you saying that an idea driven by emotion bringing forth results is religiously and morally dangerous? That's not a position I've seen before.
I don't think anyone is capable of explaining the sudden explosion and exponential progression of tech satisfactorily without the inclusion of an outside set of forces.
Something is exponential when it works on itself. For every power of 2, it uses the result of the previous power to compound itself. Similarly, scientific advance paves the way for further scientific advance. This is bound to be exponential. Take the telegraph for example, this brought people together in a brand new way, when you get more people together, they can work on separate ideas and learn more together.

There are dozens of technologies that have sped the advance of technology, from schools to libraries to computers and calculators to even formalized methods of study. Many of these things didn't exist until the last century and perhaps its because of those things that we see the advance of technology that we have seen. I don't think this requires the inclusion of outside forces.

Culture and learning occur whenever a civilization can meet its physical needs and has additional resources to spend on such things.
Even today nobody can fully explain the pyramids, etc. ... What would cause men to even attempt such a feat? Imaginary gods?
In this case, it was powerful men with an even bigger ego. I think that there's a pretty big difference from being able to understand how such a feat could be done and how a civilization came to do it. The former, afaik, is well within our understanding. The latter isn't so far away.
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby Henrik » Wed Aug 01, 2012 5:18 pm

Mene-Mene wrote:Your position has got me curious about a few things Henrik. I'm not trying to debunk anything, I'm just looking for further elaboration.
An idea, put in motion, usually a result of desire, a channeling of will, strong feelings (usually hatred, lust, etc).
This seems to be a summary of what you dislike about magic, and yet I don't see what your issue is. To rephrase it, are you saying that an idea driven by emotion bringing forth results is religiously and morally dangerous? That's not a position I've seen before.
What I meant to communicate here is that magic in media is depicted in many different ways but when you boil them all down that's what they have in common, it's not what I don't like about it lol.. it's what it is.

Let me quote you portions of the first couple of pages of "The Black Arts" by Richard Cavendish (an agnostic occult historian) for his take on magic, black magic, and white magic, with my comments between:

"The driving force behind black magic is hunger for power. Its ultimate aim was stated, appropriately enough, by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were afraid that if they ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil they would die. But the serpent said 'Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as god, knowing good and evil.' In occultism the serpent is a symbol of wisdom, and for centuries magicians have devoted themselves to the search for the forbidden fruit which would bring fulfillment of the serpent's promise.

Carried to its furthest extreme, the black magician's ambition is to wield supreme power over the entire universe, to make himself a god. Black magic is rooted in the darkest levels of the mind, and this is a large part of its attraction, but it is much more than a product of the love of evil or a liking for mysterious mumbo jumbo. It is a titanic attempt to exalt the stature of man, to put man in the place which religious thought reserves for God. In spite of its crudities and squalors, this gives it a certain magnificence.

It is natural to think of magic as a thing of the past, which must have withered to dust under the hard light of modern science and skepticism, but, in fact, this is not the case. Magical thinking is still deeply embedded in the human mentality. It has been practiced throughout European history, down to and including the present day, and has attracted more interest and support in the last hundred years than at any time since the Renaissance."


It's interesting that he points out that interest in magic has peaked in the last 100 years specifically, as well as in the Renaissance. Hallmarks of these two periods include explosions in arts, sciences, and humanistic philosophy. Magic saw another peak around 700 BC, oddly enough, this is when ancient Greece emerged from its dark ages and began the explosion of philosophy and science which shaped the west. This also coincides with Israel's greatest defeat, when the 12 tribes were enslaved and subsequently scattered.

"No one is a black magician in his own eyes, and modern occultists, whatever their beliefs and practices, think of themselves as high minded white magicians, not as sinister Brothers of the Left-hand Path. [...] The most notorious and brilliantly gifted of modern magicians, Aleister Crowley, was regarded as a black sorcerer by many other occultists ... but he himself professed nothing but contempt for black magicians, including among them Christian Scientists and Spiritualists."

And so-called white magic is what's depicted in modern media almost all the time on the side of the "hero", though in games you can choose black magic or white quite often - so this is saying there is no difference? After all, they all consider themselves white.. even Crowley.. hmm

The next thing the book describes are "grimoires", books of incantations, which in the same breath both instruct methods of calling up evil spirits, killing people, causing hatred and destruction, and forcing women to submit to them in love - and also contain "prayers to God and the angels, fastings and self mortifications and ostentatious piety".

How can such things co-exist? So something can appear to be a christian like appeal to God, and yet be part of a magic ritual? Crazy stuff isn't it.. It concludes:

"The magician sets out to conquer the universe. To succeed he must make himself master of everything in it - evil as well as good, cruelty as well as mercy, pain as well as pleasure. Deep at the heart of the magical outlook is the pagan but not ignoble conviction that everything has its place and function in the order of the universe, and that all types of experience are potentially rewarding. The complete man, which is what the magician attempts to be, is the man who has experienced and mastered all things. This conviction is closely related to the magical theory of the relationship between God, man and the universe".

Here we can easily identify the parallels between the ways of magical thought and the ways of western thought! All ideas are worthy of exploring, is what we are taught, and we are chastised if we first do not "educate" ourselves on a topic before dismissing it. All of this is continuation of the original folly of man, and this much is even clearly admitted by an agnostic historian writing what is widely considered an authoritative book on the subject of the black arts, not the bible!

But speaking of the bible, let's explore some biblical concepts which coincide with what was just described above:

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jer 17:9

"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Mat 12:34

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." Prv 18:21

"And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and is set on fire of hell, for every kind of beast, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?" James 3:6-11


What does modern thinking say, what is it you always hear in song lyrics, or the lesson of a tv show? "Follow your heart?" Sound familiar? If we are not careful to seek God's way, we will default to the devices of our own heart, which are often in immediate, primal things, steeped in the world of epicurean senses, pleasure seeking. The heart seeks pleasure along with love, and often makes little if any distinction between the two. We can go for years sustained by nothing but empty, briefly fulfilling habits. When those fail to satisfy, we seek more extreme ways to satisfy the heart's longings. This is where people resort to magic, without necessarily even knowing it.

Is there difference between the ones who write the grimoires, their hearts set on hatred for their enemies, or overcome with obtaining sexual union with a woman but simultaneously calling on God, and us, who are Christians, in the things we feel in our hearts? How many of us have never practiced the use of coy language, "white lies", and going through elaborate rituals to land the object of our affection, and simultaneously praying to God that He would grant them to us, rather than simply being ourselves? Which is, by the way, just one area we possess such dualism...

Still don't see what my issue with it is? ;)

So, IMO:

1. Magic in the real world, has already been weaved very deeply into the fabric of society, and into our behavior patterns.
2. Magic in media, whether via conscious effort or of its own volition as a result of widespread ignorant use of it, in all likelihood both, is both sustaining this as well as further accelerating the path to something we can still barely imagine or conceive of, but which prophecy has already stated long ago - the emergence of something so great in appearance that it will outpace human's ability to keep up with "progress" - it will be a godlike presence to humanity. The fictional form of magic serves as not only a recruitment tactic to those who would willingly and openly practice it, but as further subconscious indoctrination to those who would deny it with one breath, but in another admit that they believe the stories "have good lessons".

Now, lest all this lead you to believe that I reject the rational explanation for such things as exponential progress as you pointed out, I can agree that plays a role. Human intellect is great, and it is even written in Gen 11:6 - "And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." A clear demonstration of that principle.

Nevertheless, we are still presented with large gaps in history where very little if anything changed. If man had already banded together in ancient Babylon to build a tower to heaven, why didn't that start the steady exponential rise of tech already then? Clearly there were catalysts at various points in history, and 1 Enoch states that we were lent a hand. Such a statement so greatly contradicts the goals of humanist philosophers, it's no wonder it was removed from canon as soon as the power was put in the hands of the Roman church to do so...

Here's one especially relevant quote from the chapter which tells of the watcher angels teachings:

1 Enoch 69:8-11
“And the fourth was named Penemue: he taught the children of men the bitter and the sweet, and he taught them all the secrets of their wisdom. And he instructed mankind in writing with ink and paper, and thereby many sinned from eternity to eternity and until this day. For men were not created for such a purpose, to give confirmation to their good faith with pen and ink. For men were created like angels, to the intent that they should continue pure and righteous, and death, which destroys everything, could not have taken hold of them; but through this their knowledge they are perishing, and through this power it is consuming me."

This is written like a lament, that he himself had gained this knowledge against his own will, and was worried that it would eventually cause him to be separated from God. However, as we know, Enoch "walked with God", I don't think someone considered pure enough to do so sinned merely by writing, but because he had gained that ability, he was putting himself in far greater danger of misleading others. As much as we can say we learn from education, from books, from the internet, etc - how much of it also distracts us and leads us away from our Creator? Is it a fair trade? I don't think so, and we need to be aware of both what we absorb and what comes from our hand. What goes in usually also comes out...

If you feel I still haven't addressed something you said, let me know, because you said you were curious about a few things, but I only saw one direct question in there. By writing my post this way rather than structuring it in response to each of your quotes I hoped to present a more coherent and relevant picture that still touched on most of your points.
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby Henrik » Wed Aug 01, 2012 6:34 pm

On reviewing my last post, I can see where my simultaneous critique of the pursuits of technology and scientific knowledge, and applying will toward pursuits like lust, might appear disjointed. I could have probably ordered my thoughts better. BUT..

They are part of the same exploration of knowledge and experience, all of which, when reaching their peak expression without limitations, are perfect contradictions of God's designs:

Pleasure: That the sexual act might be different, with a different individual, or more people, or a different gender.. or with both genders.. or with this accessory.. or... well, you can fill in the blanks.

Philosophy: What is existence? What is good? What is evil? Do they exist? Maybe what we've been told is wrong? Are we not intelligent? Can our intelligence not lead us to godliness?

Science: We might achieve better health if we try this drug or master biological knowledge this much.. maybe even life extension.. maybe we will be able to activate or deactivate some DNA marker that will lead to an indefinite lifespan. Maybe we will be able to map everything the brain does so we can capture it, manipulate it, make ourselves smarter.

Tech: Nanotechnologies, computer processing power could lead to an eventual merge of man and machine - theoretically we could become both indestructible and super flexible, thanks to materials such as graphene, as well as countless measures smarter.

Science as applied to pleasure: We can potentially already today, begin mass production of a pill that disables certain genes responsible for getting fat, and eat anything we want without suffering as many ill effects from it.

Now if you look at these things in and of themselves:

Pleasure: I believe God created pleasure, I believe it is good to experience it - both within His spiritual plan and within His biological design of our bodies.

Philosophy: The act of exploration of ideas and reasoning is built into us as well, how can we question anything, how can we have choice, without such faculties? By rejecting much of what philosophers say, we are told we are rejecting reason itself when we do nothing of the sort. Rather, I believe that by philosophying with no discernable ends, by being "too open minded" if you will, that itself becomes rejection of reason.

Science: Science has valid applications in the world, which I don't condemn. And honest explorative scientific practice has never led to anything that contradicts belief in God. On that level, Science is a hit and miss attempt of explanation of the mechanics behind things, the fact that it is constantly course correcting itself to me attests to the futility in seeing it as some kind of all encompassing answer in and of itself.

Tech: Again, has valid applications, I don't condemn them, I only see the path they're leading on and wouldn't rely on it, but aim to rely less on it - a simple act of nature great enough in scale has the power to disable the whole world's power grid. Tech has become a false god already, and look out, if we ever reach this "singularity".. its only result, sooner or later, is going to be complete chaos. It's not IF but WHEN.
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby mattmanp » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:38 am

I think that a lot of things that Jesus did in the name of God would be considered "magic" if you made a video game around a character that had those capabilities. The use of magic in the gaming sense is much more expansive than it was in the biblical terms. I think that you can give a player special powers depending on how you say they get them and what they do.

The problem I have with the Elder Scrolls games (even though I have played and enjoyed the all) is the dieties that are created for the universe: http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/Nine_Divines" target="_blank

If the game had one god that we could compare to the one True God, then I would appreciate it on a whole different level which you never really see in games
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby blendenzo » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:15 am

mattmanp wrote:The problem I have with the Elder Scrolls games (even though I have played and enjoyed the all) is the dieties that are created for the universe: http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/Nine_Divines" target="_blank

If the game had one god that we could compare to the one True God, then I would appreciate it on a whole different level which you never really see in games
I've been thinking about this lately after playing Bastion. I realized that dieties can be done right and wrong. When a game is creating a different culture, it is not surprising to me that the people in that imaginary culture might not know the one true God. So the casual suggestion of an existing religious system and occasional reference to it does not necessarily offend me. Even C.S. Lewis created fictional religions in the Narnia series (see The Horse and His Boy, specifically the worship of Tash and the other "gods" of the Calormene people).

The problem for me is when a game forces you to make your player character engage in idol worship. The ./hack series of games for PS2 were repulsive to me because of this and other non-Christian worldview elements. But it helped me to see something. If I feel this way about idol worship in a game, how would a non-Christian feel about a game that forced them to worship the real God?

Lewis did an excellent job in the Naria series, because he developed an admiration for Aslan in the reader in earlier books before he introduced the false religions in later books. When the worshipers of Tash call Aslan "the demon who looks like a lion" and when they act reprehensibly, the reader does not feel forced by the story into an allegiance to Aslan, but they rather prefer his compassionate Kingship which they already know over the tyranny of Tash which they now see.

As with magic and violence, I think we should critically consider the role of dieties in games. What is this teaching me about my faith? What is this showing me about how I can communicate true faith effectively in games? What should I avoid, and what works well?

Personally, I think playing a lot of games that force one to worship false gods (even pretend ones) is dangerous. Especially games like ./hack try to move you to actually feel an affinity for those dieties and to actually connect with those acts of worship. If you haven't played the ./hack series, there is one very clear lesson to be learned in it: The driving message of the game is that the game world is a real world in your mind, and that is no less real in its own sense than the physical world. And it was the unfortunate truth of that message in combination with the idol worship in the game that I found the most unsettling.

This is an important thought to me: Jesus taught in certain cases that considering a sin in your heart is the same as doing it. There is perhaps more reality in the world of our minds and imagination than we admit to, and perhaps we are a too lax with what we allow.
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby Mene-Mene » Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:52 pm

I think I understand your position better. One thing though:
If man had already banded together in ancient Babylon to build a tower to heaven, why didn't that start the steady exponential rise of tech already then?
It specifically says in the Bible that God scattered them throughout the Earth and mixed up their languages. So in this case it was because God stopped their progress rather than helping it.
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby brownboot » Sun Aug 05, 2012 8:43 am

My two cents: we're all better off spending our time putting code/art/design into our games than running around in circles on debates like this that crop up semi-regularly here. It is more than a little disheartening that conversations like this generate tons more response than the threads in which people post GAMES that desperately need constructive feedback. We all bemoan the fact that there aren't more christian games but we sink our time and energy at a forum about the making of games into not making games.
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby Henrik » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:24 pm

Brownboot, that seems a bit harsh. It depends how you look at discussions like this. I look forward to getting new perspectives and seeing what others have to say on mine, What's disheartening about talking about subjects that have to do with the actual spiritual content of our products? Isn't that as important as giving or getting feedback?

Maybe I don't have much to offer in the departments you describe - and I'm not saying you were pointing the finger at me by any means but just saying. Mack expressed that he would be open to the site being about more than just game dev too - which is great since as an animator, I could easily look at your post as saying if we're not here to talk about games specifically then don't bother posting - I'm sure that's not what you meant though...

We all have slightly different creative angles. Personally I don't really get the whole speedgame thing for example, but it's your tradition so I can respect that. All I can say is, I spend hours a day working on my project, if I spend 20-30 min writing up a big post once in a while and putting some thought into it, it is generally because I feel it is more worthwhile than the alternative things I would probably be doing - what's wrong with that?
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Re: Your thoughts on Magic and violence in video games?

Postby brownboot » Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:02 pm

My point is this exact debate comes up far more often than finished products do around here. That bums me out. It is not helping anyone get better at [insert creative project goal here].

Think of it this way... If I had 20-30 minutes to spend on the forum would you rather I spend it in this thread or putting together some notes on sample animations, a wip screenplay, or some research collages you wanted feedback on to help you make a better product?
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