Sunday, October 21, 2007

Spiritual RPGs--summary

Do RPGs have to be spiritual? If you mean, "Do they have to feature witnessing and prayer meetings?" then the answer is No. But I doubt a Christian will (yes, or "should") feel comfortable participating in a world that by its nature excludes God. I'm not advocating "Church: the Roleplaying Game!" (that happens too much as it is), just RPGs that are open to my faith. And as I discovered in my writing, not only does giving God the best seat at the table leave plenty of story lines, it also leads to better ones.

A narrative (purposeful, creative) emphasis is more in tune with Christian views than a random, mechanistic one.

Immersive games are more likely to affect your views and behavior. An old-fashioned dungeon-crawl game on the computer isn't as likely to harm you as a first-person shooter or a game where you're stealing cars and beating people up.

On the other hand, it would be interesting to see some games that feature a Christian premise without trying to mechanize the spiritual aspect. For example, a Christian version of Dogs in the Vineyard set either in early times or perhaps in a "post-Apocalyptic" (Hollywood sense) period would be good. (An RPG based on on Frank Creed's Flashpoint is under development.) I would tend toward a "rules-lite" approach such as Risus for general gaming and narrate the spiritual phenomena.

I'd like to hear about any games you come up with along these lines. Perhaps if we can pioneer instead of just cloning secular games, we'll get some useful, even evangelistic, dialog going. For a truly Christian RPG that encourages thoughtful, biblical narrative could make it Satan's turn to ask whether RPGs are "threat or menace."

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