Between the Lines: A Conversation with Kevin Schut – Part 1 – plus a giveaway

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We recently had the chance to talk with Kevin Schut about his new Brazos book, Of Games and God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games.

Kevin Schut (PhD, University of Iowa) is associate professor and chair of the department of media and communication at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. His research uses video games to investigate the intersection of communication, technology, and culture. He has published articles and chapters on video games and history, games and mythology, and evangelical involvement with video games.

In today’s post, Kevin speaks about common misconceptions about video games.

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What are some misconceptions you think Christians have about video games?

The classic misconception is that all video games are full of violence and sex. There certainly is a group of very prominent and expensive games that fit this description, but there are lots of high-quality, fun, and popular games like Angry Birds or Crayon Physics or Scribblenauts that involve little fighting or innuendo.

Of Games and GodLikewise, many people assume video games are mindless. Again, some really are a lot more about unthinking reaction times than anything else, but most involve some level of strategic thinking, and some of them, like current hit League of Legends, are complex enough to spawn multiple websites with reams of tips, tricks, and discussions on how best to play.

Others assume video games can’t possibly be profound or artistically powerful. This is a bit more excusable, as the vast majority of video games are clichéd, very simple, or both. However, even simpler games often engage different aspects of humanity than movies or books, and some big and complicated games like Dragon Age: Origins can thoughtfully engage mature and challenging topics.

Making broad generalizations about game content is like looking at the top ten summer blockbuster movies and assuming all Hollywood movies feature robots, explosions, and skimpy outfits.

The sheer number of video games put out every year, from small indie programs for mobile devices to art games done by academics to giant commercial titles (usually called AAA games), means there are a myriad of possible experiences. There are stupid video games and thoughtful ones. Ugly and beautiful ones. Clichéd games and games that are profound artistic experiences.

It’s time for us to stop talking about video games as all one kind of thing. Instead, I think we need to start thinking about how to effectively evaluate individual games, considering things like how they were produced, what kind of artistic tools they use, the cultural forces they engage, and much more. That’s what my book tries to set up: a place to start critical engagement of the medium.

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For more information on Of Games and God, click here.
To read an excerpt, click here.

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Enter to win one of five copies of Of Games and God:

This giveaway has ended.

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