Press Start for Glory

Pursuing God’s glory while engaging what’s inside a game.

Digital games are filled with all types of stories, activities, grandeur and adventure. But no matter what game you decide to enjoy, they all begin in the same place—press start to play.

Every game is designed to achieve a goal,  whether direct or not. So whatever that may be, success is at stake. For instance, 30 GAME OVER screens later and I’m usually still going to attempt to overcome the difficulty.

Maybe you play the same way. Hey, I even tune into someone else’s stream to see them get the win. And why? Well, for glory.

So we see that what’s at stake from the action of pressing start, is glory—the game’s, yours, God’s.  In short, glory is the awesomeness or weight of something's or someone’s worth. It can certainly be more of this, but not less.

Forms Of Gaming Glory

For a game, glory can function in many ways. I think of the evolution of sports games, always reinventing themselves with fresh content. Glory can be the thrill of creation like Minecraft. It can be the grand-scale of a No Man’s Sky or a rouge-like experience, where every time the game is played, it’s never quite the same challenge.

Next, there’s the player’s glory. Sometimes it’s measured by leaderboards. There's Xbox Achievements which measure the challenges satisfied throughout the games an individual has played. For many players, it’s a badge of honor. Others still seek out the most difficult mode in a game to show that no setting is too difficult to master.

And don’t forget streamers and speedrunners. More often than not now, they end up being the same people. Gaming for some streamers is about the number of subscribers and followers, being part popularity contest and part income-driven.

The key to being free is to keep your eyes on Jesus.

Speedrunners have the ability to exploit whatever game is on the table for the sake of completing it in the least amount of time! For players globally, gaming is an investment of the soul. And, who wants to be subpar at anything?

In the sea of digital games, the waves of discovery drop gems on the shores of our memories, like the wonderful reality of a player’s excitement and a developer’s vision merging on-screen. Chiefly a game’s glory lies not in being the best in any particular category, but rather its capacitiy to engage the player.

From One Glory To The Next

For me, Tomba! is my stellar gaming achievement. Why wouldn’t I aid this pink-haired boy, who has his grandfather’s heirloom stolen off of his wrist by evil swine while sleeping? Ah, a PS One classic…

Anyway, it roughly took me 21 hours to beat the game the first time. But I wouldn’t stop there. Having some frame of reference, I played it again, this time with the goal of not getting so lost along the way. The end result: I completed the game in 14 hours.

I didn't rest there. With what would be my final attempt at the game, I focused intently on moving through the game as flawlessly as I could, having written down a flowchart of sorts to keep my mind from wandering. The last time I played Tomba!, I completed the game under four hours, clocking at 3:40!

I didn’t run and tell it at any remaining arcades or comic shops in town, but I knew the victory was the stuff of legends.

Pointing To God's Glory

Then there’s God’s glory. Pure glory. Lovely glory. Ultimate glory. Nothing in the universe stands to be more precious, more grand, more supreme than God’s worth. The works of our hands speak to His goodness. The earth speaks of His creativity. With the rising of the sun every day, His faithfulness is on display. The universe shouts the depth of His power (Ps 19:1). All creation is for the purpose of communicating His perfections. His glory is holy; unique. Everything that we do, every time we press start to play, His glory comes first. That's what you need to know.

All good things we see in life reflect His goodness. What we play matters to God, because it either brings Him glory or attempts to remove it. Does what I play help me see God and enjoy Him or lead me away from Him? Does it make sense for me to play Street Fighter after having struggled with pornography? Just because the activities are digital, doesn’t mean they don’t affect your heart towards God—what gets in your eyes and ears gets into your heart.

Do I play through the “bad” parts of a game, just so I can get to the rest of it? Isn’t what I try to ignore the message? Will I abandon friends, family, work and education just to satisfy the lust for being entertained? Gaming must always be performed in light of God. Does the game played reflect God's qualities or attempt to pervert them?

Being Free For Glory

If you’re battling in some area with your gaming habits or what you play, the key to being free is to keep your eyes on Jesus (Hb 12:2). His power is extended to all areas of life, including gaming. Don’t let gaming become an island of slavery. If all a game offers you are lusts and pride, you have the power of Jesus to turn your back on it. Run from it. See the trap that such games are.

Make a quality decision that if you play digital games, you're going to check in God first. No game is worth missing out on seeing God. In His presence there is fullness of joy. At His right hand are eternal pleasures (Ps 16:11). Live in that place and even gaming will be something that serves true joy.