Of Games and God
A Christian Exploration of Video Games
Where to Purchase
Video games are big business, generating billions of dollars annually. The long-held stereotype of the gamer as a solitary teen hunched in front of his computer screen for hours is inconsistent with the current makeup of a diverse and vibrant gaming community. The rise of this cultural phenomenon raises a host of questions: Are some games too violent? Do they hurt or help our learning? Do they encourage escapism? How do games portray gender? Such questions have generated lots of talk, but missing from much of the discussion has been a Christian perspective.
1. Finding Balance in an Unbalanced Discussion
"With solid research and intellectual curiosity, Kevin Schut dispels myths, debunks stereotypes, and offers an informed, levelheaded, and accessible analysis of a perplexing and contentious subject. Of Games and God is a valuable resource that invites players and skeptics alike into a critical discussion of the dark spots and bright lights of interactive video games."
William D. Romanowski, author of Reforming Hollywood: How American Protestants Fought for Freedom at the Movies and Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture
"Kevin Schut's Of Games and God is an engaging introduction to the topic of video games written for Christians, particularly those who have never considered the value of video games or those who wish to defend them as a worthy pastime. Balanced in its perspective, broad in its scope, and written for a general audience, Of Games and God fills a niche that has long been waiting to be filled."
Mark J. P. Wolf, Concordia University Wisconsin; editor of The Medium of the Video Game
"Outstanding read! If you're a gamer, media junkie, teacher, parent, or student, you need to read this book. Christians and non-Christians alike will find gems of truth throughout the book. Reading it is only the beginning of the conversation!"
Kelly Zmak, Infinite Game Publishing
"Kevin Schut's Of Games and God provides a balanced, research-driven perspective on the hugely influential video game industry. A must read for anyone with questions on the compatibility of the Christian faith and interactive entertainment."
Joseph M. Tringali, general manager at 5TH Cell, developer for Scribblenauts and Drawn to Life
"Gaming is a notoriously difficult topic to analyze and the relationship between gamers and churchgoers is typically less than cozy. Nevertheless Kevin Schut explores the problems and promise of today's dominant cultural medium with insight and understanding of both gamer and church cultures. Like it or not, gaming is a powerful vehicle for teaching values and ethics, and churches that ignore how gaming is speaking to their teens and young adults do so at their own peril. But with this great book, every gaming noob can speak l33t and grasp the relevant social trends at the same time."
Chris Skaggs, Soma Games
"Schut offers well-researched ground for fellow believers to begin critically engaging with an oft-derided medium. He deftly addresses typical arguments lobbed against video games by presenting anecdotes, scientific studies, and interviews to start a critical dialogue about faith and games. . . . Schut calls for a healthy Christian criticism that withholds absolute judgments, considers context, and synthesizes perspectives when it comes to games. . . . He makes an undeniably honest and heartfelt attempt to understand not only the relationship between Christianity and video games but also between faith and modern culture."
"[Schut] deals with [the] issues as someone who knows what he is talking about. He's a gamer, and a video game academic. . . . Schut has put some heavy research into this book, including some interesting original survey studies of gamers and game designers. But unlike some academic books, this one is readable. One of Schut's strengths is his ability to unpack difficult and subtle concepts in a way that is approachable, using metaphors that are within anyone's grasp. His writing is clear and crisp and fun to read. Even his endnotes are worth reading; he cites so many good resources. Ordinary Christians who want an informed perspective on video games ought to read this book. . . . Concerned parents (or pastors, or youth leaders) will understand the dynamics of gaming better, so gamers will feel more understood. And gamers will have a better idea of some of the dangers and risks inherent in gaming that concern their parents (or pastors, or youth leaders). . . . Schut comes at these issues as an expert who knows the field well enough to see both sides. . . . He comes as a Christian scholar who makes his field accessible to his readers through his own faith-informed perspective. We need more of his kind. . . . What Of Games and God does is map out space for further Christian thinking about video games. And that in itself is a major achievement."
"The debate about the nature and validity of video games has been, for the most part, bungled by both sides. . . . Schut . . . deals seriously with criticisms . . . addressing not so much the overreaching language but the assumptions behind them. And he does so with a large measure of grace, humility, and nuance. . . . Schut interacts thoughtfully and extensively with . . . legitimate considerations, combining scientific research, experience, and biblical teaching to present a case resembling less of an argument and more of a methodical example of critical thinking. . . . Of Games and God [is] the only extensive and balanced consideration of the medium I've yet seen. Not only is the book broad and open-ended enough to remain relevant for years to come, but it is also informed and nuanced enough to be taken seriously by thoughtful fans and critics alike. Both sides will find plenty here to consider. . . . It's imperative . . . that interested Christians consider how they can appropriate God-given values like creativity and exploration in the most spiritually nourishing way. Of Games and God enables readers to wrestle robustly with this question."
The Gospel Coalition
"The book serves as an excellent examination of the intersection of gamer culture and Christianity, especially since a book of this nature hasn't been attempted in the past. . . . The author presents the reader with a reasoned defense of video games and gamers against those who might blindly castigate them without even attempting to understand the medium or participants. . . . The author effectively advocates for the gamer and video games in the context of how the Church has usually regarded the issue. He directly conveys his concerns regarding certain games, and that feeds into his broader appeal--this should be a discussion rooted in context, balance, and honest examination of the facts on the ground. . . . I applaud Kevin Schut for effectively crafting a well-reasoned discussion that achieves the necessary balance for what could be a very contentious situation."
Adam P. Newton,
Englewood Review of Books
"Schut's book is a must read for those struggling with the returning question of just what good are games and what are games good for. The author, a gamer himself, takes us through many of the logical pitfalls of the gaming community. . . . A particular noticeable highlight for me was the inclusion of so many games and terms I have come to love over the years. There are even images included in the book. . . . For the non-gamer, though, Schut does include a helpful glossary of gamer terms. . . . He urges us to play on, but to be mindful of the issues he has presented. This book should be a staple for youth pastors and parents alike who are fearful of what video games may be or may not be doing to or for their children. There are positive benefits of the gaming world and they should not be overlooked; likewise, there are negative aspects as well. This is Schut's drama, then, to walk the line and to play on."
Unsettled Christianity blog
"A one of a kind, top-notch, must-have for any geeks or gamers."
Hearts & Minds BookNotes blog
- Excerpt Download PDF