While playing with my nephew recently, I discovered just how much the culture has changed since when I was a child. My nephew, Scott Jr., wanted to show me a computer game where he built things using “virtual” Lego building blocks. Now when I built amazing structures with legos, we used real blocks. Sure, Scott has those too. But it is building things in the virtual world that captures his attention. If given the choice, he would build using virtual legos and not real blocks.
As I sat there watching Scott work away on the computer, I saw how great the technological divide is between my generation and that of my nephew who is eight years old. My family first had a computer when I was in middle school. I had an Atari as a kid. We got a Nintendo when I was in eight grade, and I thought it was high tech gaming. Now everything is almost obsolete by the time you pull it out of the box. Regardless of increases in technology, truth remains truth. How we interact and communicate that truth may change.
Video games are attractive because they are a safe way to escape real life. Nobody really gets killed in them. You can always turn the machine off or start over when things go wrong. You don’t have to really interact with other people to play. So if you’re shy or have a hard time in social settings, the virtual world gives you the opportunity for interaction without the jeopardy of the real world. Virtual reality provides a way for people to become part of the movie, to do things they could never do in real life. People used to get their kicks by watching movies or TV. Now entertainment has gone one step further. Video games allow people to take on alternate personalities.
What does the trend toward virtual experiences and entertainment mean for our society and culture? How will it impact how we learn and communicate in the future? What does it mean for ministry and interacting with God? Can the virtual world be a stumbling block for those desiring to draw closer to God?
While the answers to the above questions are not clear, one thing is for sure, if there is a way the enemy will try to use them to separate people from God. The church must discover how to harness the power of technology to connect people to God and other Christians.
While I don’t think that the world needs a Jesus Freak video game, we should develop ways to translate God’s truth so that a more wired generation can understand and receive it.