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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grand Theft Auto IV as a test of Christian conscience

No doubt I'm going to draw flack for suggesting this, but it needs to be said. Yesterday afternoon I bought Grand Theft Auto IV.

And having played it for a few hours, as a follower of Jesus Christ I would like to recommend that my mature brethren in the Christian faith (both spiritually and those who are not teenagers anymore, parse that as you will) play Grand Theft Auto IV as well. And not to gleefully look for reasons to condemn the game either.


Because I think that a lot of people who play Grand Theft Auto IV are going to end up condemning their own sense of self-righteousness instead. And I can't say that it would be a bad thing at all if they did.

Grand Theft Auto IV, whether by design or not, might be the closest thing there's been to an actual "Giant's Drink". In the classic science-fiction novel Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, the child Ender Wiggin is given a computer simulation called "the Giant's Drink" as part of his battle training. Nobody is supposed to beat the giant. The whole point of the exercise is to test a student's morality. After countless times of getting killed in the game Ender finally tears loose from the constraints of his scruples and murders the giant in grisly fashion. He becomes the first student to defeat the giant but instead of elation he feels disgusted with himself and abject shame. Ender doesn't like the fact that in order to save his own life he had to kill another... even if it was just a computer game. He "wins" the game, but he finds himself crushed for violating his own principles.

It only took a few hours of playing Grand Theft Auto IV to finally understand what Ender went through after beating the Giant's Drink. And I don't know if I would have fared as well as Ender did either. Because every time I accidentally hit a pedestrian in Grand Theft Auto IV, I have to stop and re-start from my last saved game, and attempt it all over again from there. Because you can do lots of things in Grand Theft Auto IV: Drive cars, shoot guns, make calls on a cellphone, change radio stations or watch television, even eat food... but saying "I'm sorry" is not one of them.

And I'm feeling so bad about the people that I inadvertently hurt in this game, that I feel compelled to go back and try it again, and try to do it right this time, without the wrongfulness of my actions being something that weighs on my mind. If only real life could afford that kind of opportunity...

The technology of Grand Theft Auto IV at last drives the nail into the coffin for the clean kill in video games. This isn't the "twinkle and they're gone" effects of bygone days. When you hit an innocent person in Grand Theft Auto IV, and you hear their realistic cries of pain and you see them grimace in agony and trying to nurse their injuries as they limp away, it becomes a very hard thing indeed to want to have to experience that again. It's even worse when you run over a person and they don't get up again. Ever.

I bought this game expecting something like Death Race 2000. You know: over-the-top cartoony pseudo-violence. Instead Grand Theft Auto IV's graphic ultra-realism completely horrified me. Intellectually, I know that Liberty City doesn't exist. But the depiction of this world and its denizens is so convincing, that it's almost impossible to completely disassociate myself from having empathy for these people.

I don't know if God will ever judge me for an action that I take in a video game. And that's why I think that Grand Theft Auto IV might do a lot more good than harm for many of my fellow Christians. Make no mistake: the world of Grand Theft Auto IV is a lawless one where malicious behavior runs rampant. But the real world is no less vulgar and cruel, and rife with temptation.

But it's not the temptation itself that is sinful. Even Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by no less than Lucifer himself. It's whether we choose to succumb to the temptation that makes a sinful act.

Here, with Grand Theft Auto IV, you can at last confront the evil world like never before... and be confronted by it in turn. Without fear of eternal consequence: the ultimate exponent of the lure of temptation.

In Liberty City, there is no "Christian counter-culture" to run and hide behind. Not that you should try to hide either. It's just you and whatever conscience you can claim to bring, set loose in a world that will destroy you if you're not strong enough in your convictions and your faith. In short, it's exactly the kind of bold life that the Bible instructs us as believers to live in the real world. It's just too bad that it takes a video game to demonstrate that. Maybe Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive should have been given the rights for what became the disastrous Left Behind: Eternal Forces game instead, but I digress...

So if you are someone who considers himself (or herself, no chauvinists we!) a righteous Christian, consider this a test of your character. Either buy Grand Theft Auto IV or rent it or borrow it from a friend. Don't just merely play Grand Theft Auto IV: immerse yourself completely in the character of Niko Bellic. Let your own raw morality become his own.

Just know this: here, in the game, there are no everlasting consequences. You can be as sinful as you wish, and you won't be condemned by your peers. You can steal cars, beat up defenseless people, commit vehicular homicide, and brutally murder your enemies without turning the other cheek. You can supposedly even pay prostitutes for sex. And then kill them in order to get your money back, if the fancy strikes you.

All of these things and more, you can do in Grand Theft Auto IV.

The question is: Will you choose to do them if given the chance, if you knew for certain that there would be no real-world ramifications of your actions?

I have to wonder also: there are a lot of people in America who cheer for the war in Iraq, or even war in general. Too many of those are professing Christians. They cheer for war, I've little doubt, because they themselves have never had to face meaningless death. Deaths in a foreign land are just a statistic to them, and if "one of our own" is hurt or killed then all too often I only hear something about "prayers for the family".

These people don't see past their own lives. They don't bother to realize that God has blessed others with life too, deserving of as much opportunity to seek Him out as anyone else. To such people, a reasonless war in a foreign land is like a video game. And they don't particularly care to understand that those killed in the real world are neither a high score or flickering sprites that quickly vanish when shot.

Could a game like Grand Theft Auto IV actually soften the hearts of people who have such callous disregard for the sanctity of human life?

If there's the slightest possibility of a game like Grand Theft Auto IV driving it into these people's heads that the lives of others are precious and worth fighting for, even at the cost of laying down our own if need be, then all I can say is that I hope that Rockstar Games has many more Grand Theft Autos on the drawing board... because this world sure as hell needs 'em.


Anonymous said...

Finally a wise and mature Christian opinion about GTA IV. Could you send this to Jack Thompson?

Anonymous said...

As a fellow Christian I liked your review of this... the only thing I have to say is that I doubt this will make people feel bad about killing, it actually adds fuel to the fire of people becoming desensitized to violence, you talked about the Iraq war... what do you think those boys played when they were over in the states? Counter strike GTA... I've seen interviews these people say they enjoy the killing, when a nation becomes desensitized to violence, death, prostitution, etc.. there can only be bad consequences.. this nation will be judged and is being judged...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for saying this. My husband just purchased this game last night and didn't tell me that he'd had it reserved for more than 2 months prior. I think he was afraid that I would be mad at him for it. Now that I've heard your side of the story, I hope that I can rely on him to make a good show of Christian character while playing the game, even if no one else sees.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your thoughts on this tricky issue (and Amanda's for being a cool-sounding wife--guess I should tell mine I picked this game up too).
As a Christian and a long-time gamer and a father, this can get complicated. I don't think we should only see Christian movies and only play Christian games and only read Christian books. Those who are firm in their faith can enjoy all three and should not be shaken in their beliefs at all. I can play GTA and not be moved to violence, running people over, etc.; in fact such games may actually help serve as a non-real-life outlet, which can be a good thing.
However, there are certainly books/movies/games that are OK for adults but definitely NOT OK for kids. So can I play GTA and have my 12-year-old son see the "achievements" up there without looking a hypocrite, or without him thinking what's good for the dad must be OK for the son?
Truthfully, I love playing GTA but I haven't opened this one yet since I'm still working through the issues, and I appreciated your non-knee-jerk thoughts.

Bildo said...

I'm not a Christian, but I asbolutely applaud what you've written here.

I only wish the mainstream media understood what Rockstar was trying to accomplish as much as you do.

The real world is harsh, unwaivering, and unforgiving. But that doesn't mean people have to be as well. GTA IV (and all the games in the series really) give you a chance to choose, just as we do every day in real life.

Excellent post.

Chris Knight said...

To anonymous posting at 10:47 am above:

"So can I play GTA and have my 12-year-old son see the "achievements" up there without looking a hypocrite, or without him thinking what's good for the dad must be OK for the son?"

My wife and I were talking about about this yesterday, and I was telling Lisa about how I've been thinking about when, Lord willing, we have children too: how do we limit some things to them without limiting them to ourselves, without appearing like hypocrites? Because kids are smart: they WILL ask themselves in their own mind about why that is.

For the past month or so I've been substitute teaching. And there've been a few classrooms that I've been in that had, let's say a "profanity problem". The first time I heard an "F" word in a class, I told them that I wouldn't be having that in my room. And I told them something like this:

"How old are you? Fifteen, sixteen? You think that's old enough? Well you're wrong. And you are NOT old enough to use profanity. You haven't EARNED the right to use language like that. You haven't been knocked around by life at all. You haven't seen how the world really is out there. You haven't the experience to know how things are. That's why you won't use swear words in MY room! Because you don't know HOW to use language like that. And you don't know HOW NOT to use language like that, either. It comes down to whether you're wise or not... and I'm not seeing how any of you have enough wisdom to use words like that."

That was the gist of it.

It wasn't a "trick" I was using against them. I sincerely believe that: that some things in this life, we shouldn't play with unless we have enough wisdom to know not to get hurt by it. Yeah, I don't think that harsh language ever did harm to one's own health. But what if those kids are using that language like second nature when they're interviewing for college or a job, and they don't think about it. Suddenly, it's not so amusing anymore.

That's what you might want to tell your own children. That it's NOT that you don't trust them or that you are being a hypocrite. But instead, that you love them and that you want to do everything you can to give them the wisdom to handle the world out there. After what I saw in response to my own stance as a substitute teacher with those kids, I do believe your own will not only understand your perspective but will *respect* you for it too.

And if you think they've got plenty of maturity already (you'll have to be the judge of that though), then yeah... I'd say go for it and let him play Grand Theft Auto IV.

Because I know: there are MUCH worse things out there than anything in any video game.

Anonymous said...

I see a lot of 1 Corinthians in what you say. Can it be assumed that you've studied that book?

A remarkably fresh essay. I applaud you, brother.

Anonymous said...

Chris, thanks so much for taking a moment to post on my blog, and for posting a link to your review.

When I saw an ad for GTA IV on a Christian game review site, I think I said that my first reaction was to snort and think something cynical like "Oh, you can complain about the game, but you're willing to make money from the advertising."

But then I realized I didn't know who the "you" was that I was talking to. I don't know the person who runs the site, I haven't bothered to talk to them about their viewpoints, and my reaction would have been inappropriate if I had posted something snarky like that.

I was thinking about people like you, even though I didn't know you, when I backed off my initial cynicism. I know full and well that there are thoughtful, compassionate people who are Christians, atheists, Muslism, Jews...the religion doesn't and shouldn't define us.

Too often, a discussion of choice or belief is binary. With us or against us, right or wrong, black or white, American or "insurgent" or "terrorist". Your review properly reflects the complexities of choices.

Chris Knight said...

To Jason: I was led to study 1st Corinthians in considerable detail (we're talking one book over the course of about six months) when I was in college.

It's probably the single book of the Bible that's influenced my beliefs the most so far as the concept of God's grace goes. So yeah you spotted that one well :-)

Anonymous said...

"Could a game like Grand Theft Auto IV actually soften the hearts of people who have such callous disregard for the sanctity of human life?"

No-I don't think so. Obviously, if they already have such a callous disregard for the sanctity of human life, brutally murdering pedestrians in a video game will likely not help them out any.

I realize you're talking about people who support the war in Iraq but I do not believe they are all like what you described. I find it kind of unfortunate you take such a stance. I mean, anyone who has lost a son/daughter in the war realizes war is not a game. Sure there are people who view war as just a cheery event but playing GTA will not change their opinions. As you said, "... in the game, there are no everlasting consequences." Thus, they will likely not feel any remorse for pixelated game characters.

This is not really addressing the question though. I believe the question is, "We as Christians, want to play GTA but we want to know if God will condemn us for playing it?"

Here are a few scriptures:

1 Samuel 16:7

7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

The Lord "looketh on the heart." We can see that God judges us both upon our actions and the thoughts of the heart.

So if you play GTA to live out your violent fantasies, let's say to have sex with a prostitute and then you kill her and steal her money, I believe God will judge you for that. However, I don't think he will judge you for the real act, unless you would commit the crime in real life given the oppurtunity.

One more scripture: Philipians 4:8

8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

I think we can all agree that GTA does not exemplify any of these values.

The author of this article said it is a good test of our faith to play it. But let us not get caught up in such a little distraction. Let the real world test our faith, and not some video game meant to break our faith. It's too risky of business playing with our faith like that. We should be fortifying it instead, by reading the scriptures, or indulging in other uplifting forms of entertainment.

GTA makes a mockery of human life and the sanctity thereof. I can't in good conscience recommend it to anyone. I don't condone anyone for playing it but I do not see any positive benefits to playing it. Life in general in video games is a joke. GTA's stunning visuals won't change that.

I really appreciate the author's views on this touchy subject.

Anonymous said...

Christian Teenager - "Jesus, would you like to come over and play GTA IV with me?"

Jesus - "Will it be for my glory?"

Christian Teenager - "Not really...it's just for fun. You see, there are all these cool things to do like shoot people, steal cars, find prostitutes, use vulgar languge...you know, fun stuff. None of it is real. It's just a game."

Jesus - "How about we play a game of Uno instead? That's a fun game and we can invite your little sister to play as well."

Christian Teenager - "I used to play Uno, but that's a kids game. I'm not a child anymore."

Jesus - "I'm sorry. I was hoping you still were..."

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:2-4

Anonymous said...

Whoever made that last comment doesn't understand what you're saying Chris. He or she wants Christians to stick with the milk and not eat the meat: 1 Corinthians.

Anonymous said...

The braindead at Free Republic are talking about this essay. They don't like that you wrote about being against the Iraq War. But they would lick Bush's balls if he put them in their face so that is no surprise haha

Chris Knight said...

To "anonymous" directly above this comment:

1. I know the person who posted my article at Free Republic. He is a good friend and is most assuredly NOT "braindead". So I take offense that you would make such a blanket implication about everyone at Free Republic.

2. That said, most of those active these days on Free Republic probably ARE mind-numbed robots who can't think outside of their own self-imposed prison of the Democrat/Republican paradigm. I remember when Free Republic was something much better but those days are now long gone.

I already understand that most of the people still over there do not appreciate me or anyone else who "goes off the reservation". That I am currently the treasurer of a REPUBLICAN state-wide political campaign would mean nothing to them either. That I oppose their idol George W. Bush and his little war (I noticed that they took offense with my calling this war "reasonless" but they can't offer up a reason for it either) is enough to condemn anyone, per their lock-step mentality.

There are still some good and free-minded people on Free Republic, but they are very few and far between. Wouldn't surprise me at all if the founder posted some screed between now and November declaring that it's the "God-given duty" of every true American to vote for John McCain. And the FreepSheep over there will holler "Amen!" It's that kind of lack of principles and consistency which is one of the reasons why nobody takes Free Republic seriously anymore.

But there are still a few over there with principles. And I know enough of them to tell you that you are VERY foolish to put down *everyone* on FR.

By the way, how is the weather in Kansas tonight?

Anonymous said...

Free Republic is a cesspool of losers mostly. Wouldn't let it bug me if I were you Chris. You ran for office and hell how many Free Republicans have the guts to do that? Cowards behind keyboards they are.

Anonymous said...

are you guys freakin serious? grow some balls, be a man. if you can't handle games like that don't play them... let me guess your all mormons right? you're are going to hell anyways cause your wrong. if you take games like this so to heart i wonder if your even over 13yrs old, xbox was created for gaming and socializing with others and the best part is arguing... so stop cryin and don't play and please don't post stupid reports anymore.

Anonymous said...

I'm just pissed that somehow this came back as a result of a search query in my quest to discover new ways to maim, kill, murder, etc. the innocent population of Liberty City.

Well I'm off to pull an old woman out of her car, punch her until she falls to the ground, shoot her in the head with my pistol, steal her car, and see how many pedestrians I can make fly through the air before they paint my front bumper red.

Have fun in church.

Anonymous said...

If you are devout to your religion, this game probably isn't for you. It is very graphic but it is also JUST A GAME. It's not teaching teens of the world to go and kill. It's simply a game. It's also a waste of your time to buy this game if you are going to restart every second because you did something "wrong". It's a GAME, it's not real. If you hit or kill someone it doesn't matter because the person is computer generated and NOT real. I'm sick of all these people trying to ban this game. It's meaningless fun! If someone is going to commit a crime & say "grand theft auto made me do it!" then something is seriously wrong with them and they need to undergo psychological evaluation. Other then breaking a ton of sins, if has nothing to do with or around god. And same applies for this earth. Not EVERYONE believes in god. So if you can see from advertisments & the game box that this game is against your morals, then don't rent it & feel the need to post a blog against it. Not everyone is christian, and if you are then you have NO NEED to even look towards this game. Instead of trying to "clean up video games", stop wasting your time and go do something more meaningful like shelter the homeless and feed the hungry.

Anonymous said...

first off man, grand theft auto isnt meant not to hurt people in the game, ur suppose to thats y they are there, the game involves sex, violence, drugs, and alcohol, and some of the missions, u have to do this, thus said Grand theft auto 4 is not for christians, its for people who like violence and ect. Its for people that dont have christian mentality. Its no better than playing with witchcraft, sure i played the game, and thats why i stopped

Anonymous said...

A very thought provoking post, Thank You.

I had been thinking of buying the game myself but am put off by a memory of a previous experience on GTA 3 where I hit an old lady in the street with a bat and then felt incredibly guilty, even though I knew it was just a game.... it felt so wrong.

If some of the missions require you to do awful things, I am not sure its a question of resisting temptation to do things ... you have to do them in order to play!

I think for now I will avoid it but thanks again for the post.

Anonymous said...

interesting. i agree with you that temptation itself is not a sin, but purposefully exposing yourself to it---?

i think that cynicism and apathy are some of today's greatest sins- they harden the hearts of ourselves and others, and dim the kingdom of god. games like this magnify cynicism and apathy.

i believe we must guard our own spiritual health the way we would care for the mind and heart of a young child. if you practice this over time, the apathy melts away, opens you up to more fully experience the joys and hurts in the world, and leads you to an authentic life.

jesus went to the desert to pray, to get away from the culture, to know himself and abba. today's equivalent? step away from the screens, the ear buds. sit in the grass and watch some bugs. meditate. sit in a quiet church and feel god's love for you.

the christian faith is in and about relationships, the good news, god's kingdom: "seek ye first..." let us practice discerning god's kingdom, and then do our best to participate.

Anonymous said...

Liked the article. Liked even better the skit between Jesus and the teenager. The latter made my decision for me- I won't buy GTA IV even though I REALLY want to.

Reasoning? I have enough things going on in my life that are not in line with the statement "Is it for My glory?". GTA IV, while it may or may not be sinful/harmful to play, definately doesn't line up with where God wants me to go (I'm pretty sure of that one!). thanks.

Anonymous said...

What is everyone talking about?!?!? Its a video game, not a test of morality. Having grown up with video games we would always want to hit the pedestrians in every racing game but somehow they moved too quick. Now, we can. And its FUN! Thats all...FUN!

Next your'e going to want to feel empathy for the wooden ducks that have been masecred for decades by little kids with BB guns at carnivals. Poor little ducks...wah wah wah.

Children should NOT play this game. If you are a parent, dont let your kid play it. Be in their life and hold them accoutable for their decisions. But for adults who know that its just a game....

Have some freakin FUN!

Anonymous said...

Like many posters, I have a relationship with Jesus. From my experience, the Lord guides people in different directions based on the things they will be tempted by. For example, I don't have a tendancy to abuse alcohol, so I can have a 1/2 glass of wine some nights to help me sleep.... that same situation wouldn't be the case for an alcholic. My recommendation for them would be to take a tylenol PM... different strokes for different folks, ya know? In any case, I think that encouraging mature brethren to pick up the game is a bad recommendation. You really need to be encouraging them to seek God's will in the matter, not expell your opinion that could lead them into a place God doesn't want them.

Anonymous said...

I think I understand what you're saying here and it's one that a lot of believers would be well to meditate on. Another commenter brought up 1st Corinthians and I'm presuming he means about strong believers able to eat meat and some still on milk. If GTA4 offends or would cause to stumble then don't play it but if one is strong enough spiritually there is nothing wrong with it. I play it too and there is a very good message in the story about materialism and going after money for happiness that is not heard often in our culture.

Anonymous said...

Whether somebody wants to play GTA4 or not is their business but to say that we should play it in order to test our "Christian conscience" is not wise.

As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, meaning that God is with us all the time. A question that any believer should ask his/her self playing the game is if they would be cool playing the game if Jesus was sitting right next to him/her at the same time?

Furthermore, the way we examine ourselves is in light of God's word, not a video game. There is enough evil in the real world and more than enough temptations that we as believers are ordained to face throughout our lifetimes so why would we be running toward temptation? Doesn't the Bible say to "flee temptation"?

Lastly, it's one thing to watch a movie that has immoral elements but to take on the role of a criminal--even in a make believe setting--goes beyond just watching something on television.

These are some things to think about.

Anonymous said...

I am not a Christian, but I admire your approach. Running from what is in the world never questions or strengthens faith. Your head on approach makes you much stronger, and I admire your willingness to step "outside the box" as it were.

Anonymous said...

Drugs, prostitution, crime, alchohol and murder.

Aren't all these things in the real world?

Face it, the real world is way worse than any video game.

Anonymous said...

“I love video games.
They are very violent.
I want to design a video game where you have to take care of all of the people who have been shot in the game
‘Hay man what are you playing?’
‘uh, Super Busy Hospital… 2
Pleas leave me alone
I have to concentrate.
I’m performing surgery on a man who was shot in the head 57 times.’”
-Dimitri Martin

See the rest of Dimitri Martin's Jokes at:

Anonymous said...

I'm a Christian. In that I try to follow Christ in my actions. I rented GTA IV the other day... played it for a couple of hours. Man it just made me feel sick.

You HAVE to kill to progress in the game. There is no path available for those who do not favour Violence and Murder. Every radio station is full of swearing and sick humour. You bump the wrong car and the driver will get out and shoot you in the face with a Shotgun...

If this was to be a game that could work as a moral experiment... then you could be re-warded for bringing criminals to justice... rewarded for sacrifice (trading your life for another) you would be able to talk or reason your way out of situations... not shoot your way out.

They need to make the game more real and balanced.

At the moment you can shoot 2 or three people in cold blood, run over another few people and only get a 1 star rating! Try that in the real world and see if you drive 3 blocks away the cops will forget about you!!

This is an interesting topic and needs to be explored further. But I would not recommend people play the game expecting some deep and meaningful experience. It just opens your heart and thinking to vulgar violence... and yeah i'm like a child violence still makes me feel sick.

Tim 27

Anonymous said...

You are joking right? You actually feel bad for injuring computer AI?

You reccomend this game to christians and I think even kids to try and do the right thing? You forgot to mention evey other word is f*ck.

Also do you realize that you HAVE to kill people in order to advance in the storyline. Otherwise driving around trying (not) to hit people will get boring pretty quick

kill 100 cops without dying for the one man army unlock.

SageRiku said...

Yeah, I just did that trying out GTA:VC recently. I stood on principle, so you know it got boring fast. I uninstalled it...merrily.

I despise *repeat* DESPISE when I kill innocent/uninvolved AI in video games. It makes me think, if I did this in a video game, how easily could it be done in real life?

We know that the characters are not gone, or have not died permanently. They'll probably respawn again just down the block...

Still, there is something about seeing a human being, albeit a computer-generated representation, being brutally/accidentally murdered/killed that makes the Christ in me shudder with disgust...

Games like GTA and, say, Manhunt are good for feeling the emotional and spiritual consequences of doing evil, providing we suspend disbelief, without any of the nasty physical consequences that go along with them in real life (e.g. being killed by police, getting AIDS, etc.)

Maybe that's what the developers had in mind? Prodding the numbness of the morality in their players? Making us aware again of the consequences of our actions?

What happens then, when our spiritual awareness of our deeds awakens? I can't speak for anyone but myself: I uninstalled it.

If Rockstar intended for anyone playing their games to develop a moral code or start suspending disbelief midway through their game to continue playing, perhaps they would have made an alternate character playable, one that is not chained to murder, but upholds justice in such an incredibly brutal place as Liberty City.

So I agree. GTA IV is an excellent concept for testing morality, but it doesn't test morality very well, as players who even refuse to kill will be at a loss for any story value and will be stuck with driving around...and around...

Although I might wait up for the Batman mod. =D (Grand Theft Auto: Gotham City, anyone?) Maybe I'll library up and make it myself, because a game like GTA:VC loses a lot of depth if criminality is the only path through the storyline. There's no decision in that. You have to be a predictable thug.

I despise being predictable like that.

Good games are built on giving the player relative freedom of choice. Likewise, our relationship with God is built upon free will: the decision to either go your own way, or give up your desires in order to do what is right. A game that forces you to do either really stinks in my book. xP

...I think it's time I stretched my modding fingers. >D

Anonymous said...

Oh...wow. I always thought that I was the only one who thought like this while playing the game. I enjoy the challenges and the storyline, IMO, is kind of cool. The man seeking for closure for his past. But I HATE when I kill accidentally. I was speeding and crashed into the back of a lady's car and the impact killed her. I felt terrible! I actually went into thinking "oh man! that was somebody's mom/wife/gf waiting for her to come home!" Maybe I took it too far but then again. I don't think so because my mom was recently in a car accident and had to go to the hospital. She still has a scar on her nose. I praise God to this day that she lived because it could've been another way. (I'm starting to ramble now) but my main point is that I know EXACTLY what you mean. I even try calling 911 in hopes that they see the body I'm standing over and heal them when they don't see me. I walk away and pretend that they were healed because I know most times they don't =____= I think I was only successful with this ONE time. I hope in the future they make it an option to call the ambulance for someone else!

Anonymous said...

Each Christian will have to decide for themselves whether the game can be played. If you choose not to then you can't judge someone who does as "less Christian" than you are. Likewise if you can play, you can't mock someone who chooses not to as 'weaker' in faith.

I haven't made that decision yet..

KF said...

I've been playing GTA San Andreas on my Xbox (original, not 360), and I experience the weird sensation of guilt when I plow into people.
I have to shake my head and say to myself "IT'S A GAME". I'm not even online!

There aren't any real-world, legal consequences, yet I feel terrible
if the character steals a car, shoots someone, and otherwise acts in a way contrary to how I choose to conduct myself.

As a Christian I would automatically be horrified at the same events in real life, but in the game environment, I view it as a valuable stress release.
I can use it to vent frustrations, put faces to my problems, and direct my anger at computer code. It's a safety valve.

We all have a dark side, and if you feed it junk, that's how your outlook forms. I use the game as a toxic emotion receptacle.

Tell me your thoughts on this.

Chris Knight said...


The blogger who is responding to your comment is not the same blogger who wrote this post more than five years ago. And the blogger tonight... has to agree with you.

Chalk it up to growth as a Christian, I suspect :-) I like how you put it: this sort of thing can be and is a "safety valve", letting us blow off steam that we otherwise couldn't or shouldn't.

I also know more than I did five years ago, about correlation between video game violence and real-world violence. Very interestingly, the amount of violent crimes have DROPPED significantly since FPS games like Doom hit the scene two decades ago. And there are some theories that depriving children of "violent" play-acting (aka "cops and robbers") can possibly *increase* tendencies later on to commit those acts in real life. That such acting-out really could be a critical part of moral development.

But yeah, I have come to agree: this kind of entertainment can help vent that "dark side" when we need to.

Good thoughts there :-)