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Conversations about modern youth ministry

Reaching Gamers part 1 September 9, 2008

Filed under: youth ministry — Dj @ 5:38 pm

There is no doubt about it, I am a gamer.

One great memory that I have about my youth minister was that he came over to our house where the 4 of us were gathered around a small table and played Star Wars the Roleplaying game with us.  He was some 14 years older than us, but he was one of us.  We all quoted the corny Star Wars lines together and all drank Mountain Dew.  We weren’t the popular kids of the youth group, but he took the time out to come into our world.  I will never forget that.

Here I am 10 years later and I still play games.  Video games.  Board games.  Role playing games.  I don’t play nearly as much as I did back then, but I still love to get lost in a good game.  Reaching out to gamers is a passion of mine and I wanted to share with you a couple of things to keep in mind when reaching out to youth gamers.

First, you have to know your gamer types.

The Video Gamer. They are by far the most popular and most known.  They play XBox 360, Playstation 3, PSP, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Computer games, etc…Games range from 1st person shooter games (Halo) to Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (Called MMORPGs, World of Warcraft) and Guitar Hero/Rock Band.

The Board/Card Gamer.  Indianapolis hosts a convention each year geared towards this demographic called GenCon.  You’ll see a whole range of games from this group including: Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, Settlers of Catan, Risk, and even chess.  A lot of these games, especially the card versions are collection based.  Meaning that some cards/pieces are collectibles worth money.  I played Magic the Gathering for a short time in High School and had a deck of cards well worth over $100.  Lots of money can be invested in these types of games.

The RP’er. Also known as the role player.  The most famous role playing game of all time?  Dungeons and Dragons.  It’s still around!  In fact they just released a brand new version of the game.  These games often involve several books, different kinds of dice and sometimes small figurines (sometimes called avatars depending on the game).  Games include: Star Wars, Star Trek, Dungeons and Dragons, and a score of different Japanese animation based games.  If you can think of a popular science fiction, comic book or fantasy type story they have a role playing game for it.  Generally, these games involve creating a character that each player role plays and interacts with the other players that their game leader has set up.

Second, get to know the games they are into. Do you know an Xbox player?  What does he/she like to play when they get home from school?  What particular games do they like?  First person shooters?  Strategy?  What’s their gamer score (this is particular to Xbox players).  Do they play World of Warcraft or some other MMORPG?  Find out what kind of character they have.  Ask questions to see what they are into.

Third, and probably the most obvious, play the games with them! Just like my youth pastor did, he took the time out to come over and learn the rules of the game and play.  It communicated to us that he cared and took the time to spend it with us doing something we loved to do.  See if they can let you come over and play a few rounds.  If they’re into a card game like Magic, have them bring their decks over and show you how to play.

In the next couple of installments I want to go a little deeper into each type and explore what is important to each of these groups.

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12 Responses to “Reaching Gamers part 1”

  1. Bill Says:

    The fact that so many christians and even youth pastors are defending playing World of Warcraft and other demonic influenced games is a sad commentary on how weak the church has become. “We use it to reach people” “We’ve got to be relevant.” We can so easily justify the sin/rebellion we want to hang on to. “It’s only a game, I’m not actually casting a spell on someone.”
    I would suggest carefully reading Deuteronomy 18:9-13.
    Divination, witchcraft, interpreting omens, sorcery, casting spells, mediums, spiritists.
    These things are detestable to the God that we claim to follow.
    Then I suggest reading Matthew 5:20-48.
    Here, Jesus himself closes the arguement about not “actually” doing these things.
    There is a very clear confrontation between the things promoted in World of Warcraft and God’s word. You must make a choice.
    The bottom line is found in 1 John 2:15
    1 Cor. 10:21-22!

  2. Dj Says:

    Sorry, you’re way off base here Bill.

    You are correct about God’s view of sorcery, witchcraft, etc…and I agree with you. No believer should participate in those things. But, using the argument you even stated: Playing World of Warcraft does not equal witchcraft. They’re not even close.

    Your interpretation of Matthew 5 is way off as well. No where does Jesus say anything about “not actually doing these things”. Jesus is talking about actual sins. He compared being angry to murder. Lust to adultery. A computer game does not constitute a sin. Your argument is flawed.

    Again, there is NO clear confrontation between these things and WoW. It is a game. You use a keyboard, a mouse and some pixels on a screen. To suggest that when I hit the number 3 on my keyboard and my monitor lights up red because it’s a “Spell” is absolutely ridiculous.

  3. Bill Says:

    You could just as easily use a keyboard, a mouse and screen to view pronography. Why don’t we use that to try to reach young guys as well. I’m sure it would be very popular!

  4. Dj Says:

    Because that is quite clearly lust.

    Please explain how using a computer animated program equals witchcraft.

  5. Bill Says:

    What does the program promote?
    Divination, sorcery, witchcraft, casting spells, etc.
    Again, GOD declares that these things are an abomination.
    You honestly see no problem participating in and encouraging an activity that promotes things that God calls detestable?
    Why do we feel that we must swallow whatever the world throws at us in the name of being relevant? Paul didn’t do it, Jesus didn’t do it. Why do we?

  6. Dj Says:

    Witchcraft is real. It is a real dark art with real ties to Satan.

    Magic on warcraft is not. It’s fake. Unreal. They’re pixels on a screen with absolutely no reality to them whatsoever.

    Now, if warcraft was promoting REAL witchcraft and REAL sorcery, I would have a problem with that. I know a bit more about the occult than you realize, more than what most people should know as I dabbled in it in my years before I was a Christian.

    I don’t think it’s necessary to swallow whatever the world throws at us in the name of being relevant, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with using video games, music, movies, etc…in reaching a generation for Christ.

    Paul didn’t do it? Of course he did. In the book of Acts Paul gets up and uses pagan philosophy to be relevant to his audience. In Acts 17:28 he quotes Aratus a Cilician poet and Cleanthes. These were poems written to Zeus yet Paul seemed to have no problem at all in using them to relate to his audience.

    As for Jesus, he was constantly criticized for spending his time with prostitutes and tax collectors or “sinners”.

    Why do we? Because Paul says it best…

    ““I am no man’s slave, but I have made myself a slave to all, in order to win the more for Christ. To the Jews I have made myself as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those who live under the law I have come as one under the law, in order to win those who are under the law — not that I myself am under the law. To those who live without the law I have come as one without the law, in order to win those who are without the law — not that I am really under no law in relation to God, for I am bound by the law of Christ. To those who are weak I have made myself weak, so as to win the weak; in fact, I have become all things
    to all people, in order that, one way or another, I may rescue some of them. But I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share its blessings with others” (1 Cor. 9:19-23)

  7. Bill Says:

    What do you say to a kid that you’ve been “gaming” with that wants to hang out with some of his wiccan friends because they have tapped into these really cool powers. Powers like divination, casting spells, communicating with the dead, etc. He doesn’t see a big problem with it. Afterall, it’s alot like Warcraft.

    How could you with a straight face and not a tinge of hypocracy council him to avoid these things?

  8. Bill Says:

    Jesus spent time with prostitues, He did not condone their behavior or participate in it.
    Where did Paul justify participation in an activity that promotes rebellion towards God in the name of evangelism?
    “To those without the law . . .” He referring to setting aside the cermonial Jewish law concerning diet, etc., not the direct commandments of God.

  9. […] of fleshing out extended entries for each of the different genres of gamers that I mentioned in this post about […]

  10. […] you’re late to this series, check out Reaching Gamers Part 1 and Part 2. […]

  11. Andrew Says:

    When I first read this post (right after it first went up), my immediate reaction was that you would need to spend part of the series dealing with the witchcraft side of things. I’m not surprised to see that it came out a little in the comments. I know you’ve spent some time responding to this issue in these comments already, but I think it’s a significant enough issue that youth ministers and gamers face to deserve its own post eventually.

  12. Dj Says:

    Andrew, thanks for your comment. I think you’ve got a great point and I’ll certainly make a point to address the whole issue. Thanks!


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