2012-08-07

The Gamer’s Guide To Christianity – A Parable In Gamer Lingo

by Yo Snyder

Jesus often spoke to people using parables; stories that
used something common in the culture to help illustrate a spiritual truth.
However, many of those stories seem very quaint by our standards and have
certainly lost some their contemporary appeal; after all, our world is
radically different than the one Jesus walked in. So how to do we continue to
communicate those truths to a world that still very much needs to hear them?
Well, I think we need to change up our terminology a bit, and therefore, we
decided to present the Parable of the Sower found in Mark 4 by using gamer
slang. The gaming community, like any sub-culture (including Christianity and
its use of Christianese), has its own terms and definitions. However, many of
these terms perfectly fit what Jesus was talking about in this parable. So
think of this as the Gamer’s Guide to Christianity as we explore what it might
have been like had Jesus used gaming lingo to tell this story.

Mark 4:3,14 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed…The
farmer sows the word.”

Noob — A noob (pronounced newb) is a gamer who is a brand-new
player and isn’t very skilled yet. The term is often used in a derogatory
manner, as other gamers will often either ridicule, shun, or pick-on the noobs
in a game. I’ve always found this attitude of superiority curious because the
fact is we all start somewhere and at one point or another, we’re all noobs. In
the case of this parable, the noobs are the various types of soil that accept
the seed of the sower. So a noob is a brand new Christian who’s still figuring
out what this Christian life is all about. They’ve accepted Jesus as their
savior, acknowledged the fact that they’re a sinner in need of grace and
redemption, and that Jesus made that possible through his death and
resurrection. They’ve taken that first step, but are probably hesitant about
what comes next. Sadly, many Christian noobs end up rage-quitting (we’ll get to
that later) because they get frustrated with a Christian faith that doesn’t
seem to “work”; a perception that often comes from a lack of experience and
training. In order to get good at anything it takes time, practice and even a
few failures; that’s true of a new game or taking those first steps as a new
Christian. However, instead of looking down or straight-up pwning (also later)
noobs, we should help them. Those of us with more experience and insight should
share that so that noobs can quickly develop into the hard core, fan-boys (a
couple others coming later) who are ready to pwn the world for Jesus.

Mark 4:4,15 “As he was scattering the seed, some fell along
the path, and the birds came and ate it up…Some people are like seed along the
path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes
away the word that was sown in them.”

Pwned — According to some sources, the term pwned (like
“owned” but with a p at the beginning) originated when a PC gamer meant to type
“owned” and accidentally hit the “p” key. Oddly, that typo became an accepted
part of gamer jargon and the term pwn was born. Stemming from the originally intended
word “own”, as in “I owned you on that level”, it’s a term of total domination.
When you can absolutely decimate an opponent and keep them from accomplishing
even the most basic of tasks; that’s pwning. Unfortunately, it’s a very real
danger for noobs who don’t get anyone to help and instruct them. So it is with
some who have the word of God sown in their lives. Satan won’t even give it a
chance to take root and does everything possible to pwn that noob and sweep the
seed of Truth right out of their lives. Without discipleship, many noob
Christians are lost before they even begin their walk with Christ; a truly sad
development that’s entirely preventable with a little effort, compassion,
training and understanding.

Mark 4:5-6, 16-17 “Some fell on rocky places, where it did
not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But
when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they
had no root…Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once
receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time.
When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.”

Rage-Quit — A rage-quitter is when a gamer, out of sheer
frustration and anger quits a game right in the middle of a level or a match.
It’s not something that’s smiled upon in the gamer community, and those who
rage-quit will quickly find themselves having a hard time finding others who
still want to play with them. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve encountered
a few rage-quit Christians in my day. These are the ones who give up because
their Christian faith isn’t “working”; or worse, because of some tragic event
that doesn’t fit in with their perspective of how life should be if God is so
loving. This often results from not having very deep roots. The time and energy
hasn’t been spent to really search out the deep things of God’s word and having
a relationship with him. It’s all fine and dandy while things go well, but when
the going gets tough, the rage-quitters give up because the going got tough.
Hey, I get that. I’ve had my moments where I’ve wondered if Christianity was
worth it, if God was living up to “his end of the bargain”, and where I’ve felt
like quitting. We all go through that phase where life and circumstances try to
choke the Word right out of us. However, in games it’s always possible to find
something better when you rage-quit. Sure, your reputation of being a reliable
teammate may take a hit, but perhaps you’ll find a match filled with a bunch of
noobs you can pwn; that’s always more fun than being pwned. However, in the
Christian walk we don’t have that option because quite frankly, there isn’t
anything better. Christianity stands unique among the pantheon of world religions
because of who Jesus is and how he accomplished for us what we can’t on our own
(and what every other religion says we can do on our own). I think Peter had
the best response for rage-quitters in John 6:68. Look, no one said the
Christian life would easy, but it is definitely worthwhile. Don’t rage-quit
when things don’t go your way, rather dig deeper and push those roots further
in the Word and into the character of God. As with everything we’ve explored so
far, the best way to avoid becoming a rage-quitter is to get discipled, get
trained, and become a hard core fan-boy (we’re getting to that).

Mark 4:7,18-19 “Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up
and choked plants, so that they did not bear grain…Still others, like seed sown
among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of
wealth and the desire for other things comes in and chokes the word, making it
unfruitful.

Casual — A casual gamer is one who enjoys the experience of
playing video games but doesn’t really take it all that seriously. They’ll
dabble in things like Angry Birds and
Wii Sports, but won’t ever move on to
games that require more refined skills like your Call of Duty’s, Legend of
Zelda’s, or Forza Motorsport’s. Even if they did, they’d probably give it up
pretty quick because hard core games require a lot more time and attention then
the casual affairs they’re used to. Casual gamers are the ones who only play on
the rare occasion when they might have a few minutes to spare, but don’t
exactly carve out specific time for gaming. In our story, casual Christians are
the seeds sown among the thorns and get choked out. They’re the ones who are
“too busy” to invest much time beyond just going to church and maybe a home
fellowship. They don’t have much of a prayer life and they don’t have much of a
private Bible study and devotional life because there are so many other things
to attend to in the day. They don’t carve out specific time each day to
strengthen their Christian faith; they’re “too busy” with other things. In
short, they let all the other cares of this world choke out the life from their
relationship with God. They call themselves Christians, but when push comes to
shove, they’re just as likely to rage-quit when things get tough because
they’re overwhelmed with everything else and haven’t given much time or thought
to why they believe what they believe as a Christian. Going from noob to casual
is definitely progress in the Christian walk because the casual know some
truths but they haven’t applied them to their lives. However there’s so much
more beyond this phase. We need to keep growing, and if we don’t, well, we’re
danger of an epic fail (we’ll also get to that in just a bit).

Mark 4:8,20 “Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up,
grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred
times…Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and
produce a crop — thirty, sixty or even hundred times what was sown.”

Hard Core/Fan-boy — Hard Core gamers and Fan-Boys are
different but they often go hand-in-hand. Many core gamers are also fan-boys,
and many fan-boys are also hard core gamers. A hard core gamer is someone who plays
video games for more than just casual fun. They play to win. They like to be
good at the games they play. They even practice their skills in order to get
better. It’s not just a past-time for them; it’s a sport that they want to
excel at. Fan-Boys are dedicated loyalists. You’ll have fan-boys of certain
games and consoles. They are faithful to that game/console no matter what;
extolling its virtues and decrying the claims of critics. The seed that falls
on the good soil is what produces hard core fan-boys. These are the Christians
who pursue their faith with a passion. They love to study the Bible in order to
know it better. They love to pray in order to know their Lord better. The love
fellowship and worship. They work at their faith, striving to faithfully follow
in the footsteps of Christ. They know they’re saved by grace and can’t earn
salvation, but they also know that faith without works is dead and so they work
hard to show their faith and grow their faith to spur their desire for doing more
works. In short, it’s not just about casual fun for them, they want to be good
at it and so they practice. These are also the fan-boys, the dedicated
disciples of Christ who stand firm no matter what may happen. They invest in
learning apologetics so they can intelligently defend their faith and the
integrity of the Word. They aren’t dissuaded by rash words or circumstances,
but find strength in God to stand against all adversaries. These are the world
changers who draw all people to Christ, who demonstrate the love and
compassion, the grace and forgiveness, the righteousness and joy, the
intelligence and logic of the Christian faith to a world looking for answers.
These are the types of Christians we need more of. This is where we need to
progress to; from a noob to a casual past the desire to rage-quit and into the
joy of being a hard core fan-boy (Hebrews 5:12 NIV).

There are a couple other terms we need to mention when it
comes to this Gamer’s Guide to Christianity, and for those we turn to other
parts of Bible:

Hebrews 6:4 “It is impossible for those who once been
enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy
Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the
coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to
their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again…”

Epic Fail — Epic Fail is what happens when a gamer does
something incredibly dumb and ends his game. Perhaps some noob tossed a grenade
and it bounced off a wall and kills him instead of an enemy. Perhaps while
abandoning a burning helicopter you forget to deploy your parachute. Or perhaps
while attempting to make that leap you forgot to push the jump button. They’re
silly mistakes with tragic consequences; they are epic fails. We will not enter
the debate of “once saved, always saved” or “can salvation be lost”. However,
it must be pointed out that for whatever reason, there are those who do choose
to walk away from the Christian faith, or worse, choose to reject it from the
very beginning. I can’t think of a more appropriate analogy for an epic fail
than that.

Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is
with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”

Woot — The term “woot” is used most commonly when one
levels-up in a role-playing game like World of Warcraft. However, it can also
be used as a general term of celebration. Whenever something really good
happens or one accomplishes something truly noteworthy in a game, that’s the
time to woot with joy. The truth is a Christian has plenty to woot about on a
daily basis; God pours out blessing big and small on us all the time. However,
the ultimate moment to really woot-it-up will come when Jesus returns to claim
the victory he’s already won. In that moment, when Satan is sent to his
ultimate fate in hell, when evil is completely wiped from existence, when we’re
taken to live in eternal glory and bliss in the presence of our God in heaven,
that’s when the real party will begin. The Christian life isn’t always easy,
but if there’s one thing the Bible makes abundantly clear, it’s a life that’s
definitely worthwhile. God will reward those who have faithfully served, loved,
worshiped and obeyed him, and it’s in that moment when we’ll truly understand
what means to woot, to celebrate with ecstatic jubilation, really means.

So there it is; a very basic Gamer’s Guide to Christianity.
It’s not exhaustive by any means, but hopefully it’s enough to equip with some
basic terminology and concepts to help you better communicate those eternal
truths of Jesus with a modern world of gaming.