Games are probably as old as time itself. So what’s new? Themes and formats of games are changing with the times, of course, and we’re also looking at a shift in attitudes regarding the value of games. Peter offers some insight into what’s going on in the area of games.
‘When was the last time you heard a lecture on the “theology of play” or a sermon about what games Jesus would play? If you are involved in children’s ministry or youth work then games and fun activities are probably a key part of your toolkit. But how much are they a standard part of the wider thinking of mission agencies and how much are they a part of the mission of God?
Play serves many functions in society not simply as a tool to bring about education and behavioural reinforcement, but as a natural way of exploring new ideas, developing skills and habits, and of relaxing and socialising.
Eminent theologians, sociologists, educationalists, psychologists, therapists, and marketing experts have written on various issues around what kinds of games are beneficial, how much screen time and outdoor play should be allowed or encouraged.
MissioMaze is the latest incarnation of one simulation idea now available as an iPhone app, in which the expectations on a Western missionary of a sending church are compared to the demands of life ‘on the field’.
Phone apps are also increasingly being used as tools for evangelism and discipleship, not because people waste time on games and so we must hook them with game-like tracts, but because people play games and games have value.
Gamification is a relatively new term that has become a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s basically the idea of using game elements in non-game environments. For game elements think points, badges, leaderboards, onboarding, leveling up, boss-fights, or simply the theme tune of a TV quiz show.
For non-game environments think work, exercise, dieting, housework, or Bible study. A couple of years ago the YouVersion Bible app started awarding virtual badges to people for finishing a study series. The Go-Tandem site and app is designed to help you in your spiritual development with a series of nudges and game-like elements used to track your progress.’
This story is adapted from a post by Peter Brassington which originally featured on Redcliffe’s Bible and Mission blog. Check out even more great stuff on digital engagement and games on Peter’s own blog.