Good Morning December 16, 2016

Good morning on this the sixteenth day of December, in the year of our Lord 2016.

I recently started playing the game Dragon City:

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It’s a mobile game, which means it’s played on a phone or tablet. My two boys have been playing it, so I decided to start playing too in part because it looked like fun, and in part because I think it’s good for me to be playing the same games that they do. It gives us a connection, both personally and as parent/child so that adulthood is not as foreign a thing to them. A lot of people lose sight of the nature of the parent/child relationship. It is not an equal relationship, but it’s purpose is to raise the children up to adulthood so that it can become an equal relationship. There’s a reason why God is analogized to a father within christianity; he created us out of nothing so that he might give us more, and even more than that incorporates us into himself so that we might become more like him. As the ancient Christian saying goes, God became man that man might become God.

On the one hand, playing games is part of adulthood, and not showing children that is misleading. On the other hand, it’s also the case that to raise someone up, you have to be able to lower yourself to meet them. If they could meet you on a higher level, they wouldn’t need your help.

There’s also an interesting aspect to such games that they are nearly perfect skinnerian training devices for playing them. A descendant of games like farmville which was itself a descendant of Sim City, it’s in the genre called resource management where you farm for some resources and then allocate them in order to maximize your resource acquisition. You can also buy things enjoyable for their own sake; in this case dragons where you get to enjoy the pretty art. That last part is crucial because if your game is purely utilitarian in the way that materialists assure us that real life is, we lose interest very quickly because it’s utterly pointless. No one takes a boring game and attempts to give it some other meaning like atheists constantly assure us is why we are not without meaning if we are without God. In real life, we only consider activities meaningful if they are related to something we inherently know is meaningful, beauty being perhaps one of the clearest examples. I think that game makers are increasingly discovering that allowing people to unlock beauty as the reward for playing the game is one of the best motivations there is. (Which is not to denigrate other motivations, like the excellence of action which is the reward in many games like first person shooters, etc.) It’s an interesting trend.

And of course there is also the risk of such easy rewards becoming addictive. That’s the flip side of it being a skinnerian training device for playing it. On the other hand that’s why such games are fun at all—that you can get lots of success and rewards with enough effort to feel like you’re doing something but the minimum effort so you get the rewards much faster than in normal life. Like most good things, it can be abused.

God bless you.

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