A BIG Shout Out! to Chris Clemens, seventeen year old artist extraordinaire from Baltimore, MD, who created our great cartoon feature!
Once upon a time, three teenagers made a decision not to bow down to an image of gold even though everyone else was doing it. Captives in a foreign land far away from home and family, they refused to worship anyone or anything other than God, even under penalty of death. As a result, they were thrown into a fiery furnace to die, with a fire so hot it killed the soldiers who put them there! They were willing to die for what they believed, but "a son of the gods" showed up and they were spared by God. As a result, the king changed his tune, made the three youth leaders in his country, and praised God! The End.
Or is it? Here's some food for thought:
Are video games an idol in your life? When something comes between family, relationships, responsibilities or God, then it's an idol. How much time are you spending a week in front of the "image" on the screen?
Do you have to have the latest game and/or gadget? The trio above were living in a foreign land and it's important that we as Christians realize that we are too. Someone told me once that you never see a U-Haul behind a hearse. And I'll add, there won't be an Xbox in the coffin either.
Are you a leader or a follower? If everyone is "worshiping" a particular video game, do you join in? What if it is violent or promotes values that are contrary to God?
I am not an alarmist by any means when it comes to video games. (I mean I write a blog on how fun and useful they can be). However, if we're not vigilant, they, like anything else, can quickly take over our lives and push out other pretty important stuff like relationships, positive activities, and yes, even God.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn't mess around. They weren't going to play the king's idol-worshiping game. They weren't going to let nothin', including king's orders, public humility, and death by fire, keep them from God. Now that's some serious courage!
Video games are cool, but don't let them keep you from what's important in life, especially a real relationship with the Prince of Peace. If Jesus can show up in a fiery furnace, then He can definitely be present to whatever flames you're walking through. Are you willing to give Jesus everything, including your Xbox (or GameBoy, PS, Wii, etc.) controls?
You got game? Or has the game got you?
(Read more about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Book of Daniel)
So let's say you've always wanted to own your own campground and the start-up costs have always thwarted your dream.
Perhaps the idea has never interested you.
Maybe you hate camping.
Well, regardless, you MIGHT like this free online game about creating and running your own campground.
Check it out at
While the game is not focused on peace per se, it is nonviolent and loads of fun. Besides, what can be more peaceful than sleeping under the stars or whispering secrets in a tent at midnight?
Well, not really, but I have made a list which I hope will help adults who wish to make educated choices about possible holiday video game purchases for children and youth. I have not played all of the games below, but I've played some and have done extensive research on the rest. Whenever possible I have included links to game reviews to further assist you. So are you ready, peace shoppers? Let's go!
The Syberia Series:
I have reviewed these games on this blog previously and in a word, they are wonderful! Originally designed for female players, they appeal to both sexes and most ages. You are Kate Walker, a NY lawyer, whose simple search for the owner of a toy factory takes you on an incredible 3D adventure. The puzzles are challenging, the scenery breathtaking, the storyline engaging, and the ending will leave you stunned. The original Syberia, and the sequel, Syberia II, flow seamlessly together. More information as well as a bundled purchase option (under $50) is at: http://www.gameswarehouse.com.au/longpage.asp?gameid=10479. You may also wish to try ebay or Amazon for other purchase options.
Two Games about Peace in the Middle East:
PeaceMaker http://www.peacemakergame.com focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and targets Palestinian and Israeli youth, though it is attractive to adults and others who are not gamers. Its aim quite simply is to teach peace. The player takes on the role of the Israeli Prime Minster or Palestinian President (or both) and must make a variety of choices based on their responsibilities and current occurrences within the game. Cost: $20. Global Conflicts: Palestine http://www.seriousgames.dk/ uses a 3D environment to take a journalist through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with an eye towards seeing both sides. You have to interview a variety of characters and submit stories to your newspaper. Cost: $20. Both of these games are engaging and thought-provoking. There is some violence in both as a way to illustrate the conflict, but it is very minimal and not graphic in nature. I would not recommend these for young children.
For the Artist:
Comic Book Creator http://www.myplanetwide.com/products/detail/description.html?id=41 is cool, very cool. It is not really a game, but it is highly entertaining and useful too. The player can create comics and print them or post them online. There are additional templates and add ons that are FREE from the website which is twice as cool. The older version is $30, the new version is $50. (PS: please disregard the stupid violent graphic at the top of the website, which leads me to say yet again that there needs to be LOTS more peace-oriented comics out there).
"Sim" refers to the type of game popularized by Sim-City, where the player operates a simulation on a particular theme, from building a railroad empire to running a household. I list the following options with a brief description and links to reviews:
Zoo Vet: Endangered Animals: You get to take care of endangered species. Fun as well as seeks to educate about wildlife conservation through the American Wildlife Foundation. Official Website: http://www.zoovetgame.com/main.html
SimCity Societies: The continuation of the SimCity Series. Build the society of your dreams. http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/simcitysocieties/index.html?tag=result;title;0
Viva Pinata: You create gardens to attract different species of pinatas. Beautiful and bizarre. http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/vivapinata/review.html?om_act=convert&om_clk=gssummary&tag=summary;review
Thrillville: Off the Rails: Build your own theme park and play lots of mini-games too. Great for children, fun for adults. http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/thrillvilleofftherails/review.html?om_act=convert&om_clk=gssummary&tag=summary;review
Some others of note:
Mudcraft http://www.mudcraft.com A humorous nonviolent computer game that is designed to be enjoyable to male and female players.
Destination: Treasure Island: Continuing the Stevenson story, you must solve a variety of puzzles on a treasure hunt in a beautiful 3D environment. http://www.gamespot.com/pc/adventure/destinationtreasureisland/index.html?tag=result;title;0
Race 07: A very cool 3D racing game with races around the world. http://www.gamespot.com/pc/driving/race07thewtccgame/review.html?om_act=convert&om_clk=gssummary&tag=summary;review
Loco Mania: Addictive puzzle game about life as a train dispatcher http://www.gamespot.com/pc/sim/locomania/review.html?om_act=convert&om_clk=gssummary&tag=summary;review
And one more:
Dance Dance Revolution is the amazing addictive game that is fun and healthy too. You can find a variety of different series of the game at: http://www.amazon.com/Dance-Revolution-DDR-Max-2/sim/B0000A09EL/2/ref=pd_cp_vg_sexpl
Scott Smith has also compiled a non-violent game list for Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Non-Violent-Games-For-All/lm/3LBXGU6TEW11F. For the most part, I agree with the list though Grim Fandango seems a little suspect. The Myst Trilogy is a classic and is still one of the best-selling games of all time.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it will give you some examples of what is out there this holiday season. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through the blog. You are also welcome to leave any of your suggestions as comments here. I do ask that the games are well-researched and non-violent.
I found some really cool anti-bullying games and wanted to give a review here.
The first is S-Team Hero and gives the player a variety of scenarios in how to stand up to bullies without using violence. The game is fun and has several episodes to complete. It is best played with audio on. The site can be accessed at http://www.teamheroes.ca/website/play.html
The second game is called Beat the Bully and while it is a lot shorter then the previous game, it is really addicting. The object is simply to reach the end of the game before the bully. You do this by answering questions correctly and rolling the dice to move ahead. Sounds boring, huh? Well, there are all sorts of obstacles and the music is CATCHY! Give it a try at http://www.nspcc.org.uk/kidszone/bullingGameIndex.htm
Fighting, running away from, or giving into bullies means they win. There are other ways to take a stand and not use violence. These games are good tools to help us learn those ways.
Shot down and marooned on the ancient ring-world Halo, you begin a war against the Covenant, a powerful fellowship of alien races. Fight for humanity against an alien onslaught as you race to uncover the mysteries of Halo (Description from Free Fun Files).
Halo is what is known as a first person shooter (FPS). Halo 3 which was just released is rated M for extreme violence. Violence is not a game. And Halo is not a game for those wishing to follow the Prince of Peace.
Some churches don't seem to think so. In an article by the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/us/07halo.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2)
congregations are sponsoring Halo 3 parties as a way to "recruit" youth (interesting term there huh?). The language used by those wishing to justify this "ministry" is couched around such buzz words as "saving souls," "fellowship," and "keeping teenagers from hell." There is also a "desperation" to reach boys and young men. I agree that there is a need for outreach, but not by affirming the already pervasive message in society, especially among men and boys, that violence solves problems.
The article quotes one kid as saying: "It's just fun blowing people up." Uh Houston, we have a problem here. And a church says this is okay?
Kedrick Kenerly, the founder of Christian Games Online, says the idea that Halo is inappropriately violent too strictly interprets the commandment "Thou shalt not kill." "I'm not walking up to someone with a pistol and shooting them," he says. "I'm shooting pixels on a screen."
Daniel R. Heimbach, a professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, responds by saying that churches should reject Halo, in part because it associates thrill and arousal with killing.
"To justify whatever killing is involved by saying that it's just pixels involved is an illusion," he states.
To be honest the whole business makes me sick and sad. When churches are so desperate to reach young people that they are willing to buy into the myth of redemptive violence that society preaches then I begin to wonder what god is being listened to.
If Jesus was dead, he would be rolling over in his grave.
I have said this before and I will say it again. It is time for those of us who believe in a different way, young and old alike, to begin to develop amazing, awesome, peace-centered, alternative games as a witness to the upside down kingdom.
And in honor and praise to the only One who can fix our broken halos.
Keith Lyndaker Schlabach