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The New New Media Part 2

June 20, AD 2013 7 Comments

In my last article on the subject of video games and the New Evangelization I briefly went into my own passion for games and how I feel that it is an evolving media that Catholics should begin to reevaluate. While the media itself is only beginning to evolve into something capable of real human drama, it is precisely that reason that Catholics will want to invest their own efforts while the media is so young. In order to understand how to do this we must first understand what these games actually provide to the players.

It is no secret that the video game industry is male-dominated. It is also no secret that the games industry caters to this dominant segment of its consumer base. And while it could use some maturity, the players themselves find in the games more than what I suspect an average viewer sees.

Games provide a rule set and structure – Men need structure in their lives. I suspect women do as well. Speaking as a man, though, I know men not only meet the expectations given them but also rise to the challenges presented to them when they are presented with challenges that are worth the effort. If much is expected of men, men usually meet these expectations. The same is also true if little expectation is made of men.

Our society expects little of men. One only needs to read a synopsis of Entourage to get a feeling of what people expect of men in society. And as young men are fed these constant lower expectations we should not be surprised that they lower themselves to meet them.

Games allow men to fulfill that need to have a set of rules and expectations — meaningful goals and objectives to accomplish, wrongs to be righted and people to save. These games allow men to be men in the shallowest sense of the term. But even this I think shows how starved young men are for meaning in their lives that they would become so involved in a pale imitation.

Games provide a community and foster cooperation –  One of the main concerns about video games are the (usually hyper-sensationalized) stories of game addiction. While these things occur at times if we again look closer we see a more complicated story.

Most of these addictions come from people, usually men, who cannot see their real lives as having worth. They find in games people like them who have the same interests and work together to accomplish those goals. They find in short: community. They find people who care about them (to a point) and work with to accomplish goals that have meaning to them.

Games are fun – There is nothing wrong with fun. I think there is at times a stigma to having fun in some religious circles. Like anything, it ca be abused. And like anything digital, it consumes more time than what is healthy.

This however does not mean that we should throw it out like the proverbial baby in the bath water. Fun is important to a healthy life in every sense. What is lacking among video games is like most of society temperance.

As Pope Benedict called Catholics to embrace the new media of the internet, despite the risks involved, I also feel that those with the inclination should embrace video games  with the same tempered enthusiasm. With the growing industry and the push to enter into mobile markets (think phones and tablets) games promise to be more prominent, not less. And we are in a prime position as Catholics in the social media space to reach out to those whom our society dismisses as “losers.”

Gamers are looking for their lives to have meaning and the work they do to matter. They want community and to know they are welcomed and loved. And they don’t want a rigid and suffocating environment that stifles who they are.

With that in mind, can you think of a better place than the Catholic Church?

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About the Author:

Colin Gormley is a 30 something Catholic who is married. By day he is a contract worker for the state of Texas. By night, or whenever he’s trapped with his wife in her biology lab, he blogs about the Catholic faith from an apologetics perspective. He often strays into politics given the current debates in the country, but he tries to see all issues with the eyes of the Church. His website is Signs and Shadows.