Mark Driscoll on Video Games: Not sinful, but stupid

Mark Driscoll doesn’t like nerds or geeks (neither do Westboro Baptist). He regularly bags out bloggers, now he’s having a dig at people who play video games. Watch from about 1:47 in this video… or just read this post on the Mars Hill blog.

“Video games are not sinful, they’re just stupid. And they’re stupid in this way: Young, particularly men, and now women are joining it, they want to get on a team, be part of a kingdom, conquer a foe, and win a great, epic battle. So they do it with their thumbs and it doesn’t even count. Nobody’s really liberated. The Taliban is not really conquered. Women are not really freed from oppression. Generations are not really changed. It’s all fake. It doesn’t count.”

No. It doesn’t count. Only the particularly deluded think games = real life. But games are entertainment, and like all culture and art, they are an avenue to connect with other people. You know. The type of thing you often encourage your followers to do when they’re engaging with culture.

In the first video, and the text in that first blog entry, Driscoll strawmans anybody who plays games – because we’re all motivated by wanting to fight a battle. That isn’t real. And doesn’t count. It’s just an odd little rant coming from a guy who at this point seems to be letting his prejudices against the nerdy types of people who sit in their mum’s basements and bag him out on their blogs cloud his judgment. It seems a little bit like he’s missing the whole fiction/non-fiction divide again a little (as he did with Twilight and Avatar).

Here’s what he said in an earlier post on the Resurgence blog about his approach to culture:

“What I’ve found over the years is that whenever I speak about something culturally related from a Christian perspective, a debate rages. This has been the case since the earliest days of my ministry. This is because I consider myself a missionary in culture. When we started our church we did so in what was among the least churched cities in the nation, seeking to reach the least churched demographic—young, educated, single, urban men. The truth is, these kinds of young men are generally missing from the American church. One thing these men of all races are doing is listening to rap music.”

Now, I want to know what the difference is, in his mind, between games and music – so far as looking to engage in the subculture in a missional way. I don’t get it. If it’s about escapism – then why is he ok with watching movies and television. And he is ok with watching movies and television. I assume he’s also ok with reading novels.

Games are interactive stories. They are movies that the gamer takes part in, novels that the gamer helps write, entertainment that is active rather than passive, and increasingly they are art (though Roger Ebert doesn’t think so) and social commentary. Like music. Like movies. They’re culture. They’re not stupid, or sinful. But, like anything, the way people use them can be. And like anything, there are always a bunch of Christians looking to Christianise (or, to use one of Driscoll’s Rs, Redeem) this stream of culture. Though this one is satire:

Here’s a post linking to a good essay on the subject of games as art that I put up a while ago, here’s the one that Call of Duty image was originally featured in, here’s a couple of posts about Christian games: post 1, post 2

Now, excuse me while I go to shoot some Mexican bandits on Red Dead Redemption.