Is it possible to explore themes of spirituality within computer games and gaming? FYT and StreetSpace have previously engaged with young people using a practical way of bringing a popular computer game to life.
As part of our work on Active Spirituality, FYT has recently been working with Andy Robertson who has been reflecting and learning on Spirituality in Video Games for some time. Andy is a freelance video-game expert for the BBC and runs the Family Gamer TV YouTube channel. He has been developing work to explore spirituality with adults, families and in a wider context significantly including a TEDx talk on the subject.
We recognise that theological themes can be addressed meaningfully in films and books but to connect the same notion of learning and refection to the themes raised by computer games is still a rare occurrence and FYT believes it is a rich vein of treasure left yet to mine. This review and reflection on Spaceteam, a game based on co-operation and communication is a vibrant example of how humanity can both thrive and fail at being a fruitful community:
By drawing in the text of the Tower of Babel the reviewer has found an immersive way to help game participants to reflect on how communication and the lack of it can reveal our humanity. As a relatively simple free game to download and with a variety of popular devices (iOS and Android) it will work on, it is well within the reach of many youth workers to facilitate among the young people we work with.
So often many of the issues we come across in society between young people and other communities of interest initiate at the point of communication breakdown for a variety of reasons. The reflection provided has some telling insights and gives lots of options for future study or reflection.
Currently the attitude towards young people in society is distressing and helping them to increase their communication capacity as well as our own we can reflect on what the Kingdom might look like as we learn to hear and understand each other in a meaningful way. Playing a computer game is not going to heal thousands of years of misunderstanding however it can teach us and those we learn with better cooperation and transferable skills.
FYT have linked up with Andy Robertson to explore how to explore meaning and identity within gaming for young people. Last year Alastair Jones, FYT’s CEO was challenged by Andy to play through a game “Limbo” to reflect on how it affected him spiritually. You can read about Alastair’s experiences here. Over the past year FYT has been intentionally playing through “interesting” games that have meaning with groups of young people at Greenbelt and with a group of young people in Manchester.
In order to help resource those looking at Active Spirituality, FYT is working to explore how we can find meaning and Shalom in the digital world. We would love to hear about your stories and ways you are engaging with young people in this manner and we hope to continue to facilitate and share thinking, reflections and learning on this. Please email your thoughts, feedback or reflections to: Alastair.Jones@fyt.org.uk
If you enjoyed this then why not watch some more reviews on some games you may like to explore meaningfully and intentionally with young people…
So far he has facilitated Eucharist services in Exeter Cathedral at Greenbelt Arts Festival utilising an appropriate game played in community. To view this and other work visit the YouTube List of games with a meaning /theme.
…but please read the small print and make sure you are playing a game which is appropriate for you and of course any young people you are working with. (A helpful website for gaming moderation and advice: www.Askaboutgames.com and usually good practice suggests to play through a game before facilitating young people)