A syzygy of game development!

I’m privileged to be part of a mailing list maintained by the admins of Project Horseshoe ( http://www.projecthorseshoe.com/ ). To it I posted a question about the right way to teach game design and development to novices in the 21st century.

The replies came quickly; they were all…very thoughtful and thought-provoking. They were also all different. This led me to modelling the situation in my head:

We are all comets whipping around the twin stars of computers and creativity, executing highly elliptical (and individual) orbits. When we get together (in person or in e-mail exchanges) it’s a sudden and temporary syzygy; we quickly babble at each other, before whipping away again into our remote orbits, striving for a lonely apogee.

I don’t know that it has to be this way. I DO know that since we are all striving for apogee, we have little time or patience for matching orbits or even pausing. But even this small amount of communication time is valuable. Thank you, Linda, Teresa, and George.
http://www.projecthorse…

Corinthians 13:11

Corinthians 13:11 "When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things."

I just ran across another doddering old fool throwing this bible quote, like a dart, at video games and the adults who play them. So I set out to educate myself about this quote, and see for myself if God sez "No videogames for grown-ups!"

What I found (with the super power of the Internet) is…NO! This bible passage doesn’t really say that. Let’s examine it, shall we?

First, this passage is found in the bible, as part of a letter that Paul (an original follower of Jesus, or apostle) (also a priest of the Christian community in Corinth, a seaport in Greece) wrote. He was away, but decided to write a letter to them ’cause they weren’t being nice to one another.

Although he addressed specific issues (one guy was in bed with his step-mom, others were arguing about who was the boss of whom) the letter is long and rambling. Here’s the part we’re interested in:

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(New American Standard Bible)
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love is patient,
love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
5 does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,
is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails;

but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
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So, to recap (after studying several online commentaries):
1-3 Love is necessary above all,
4-7 Love is great.

Then he takes a turn into discussing what happens when we die and meet God.

8 All your mad skillz are meaningless in Heaven,
9-10 Finally knowing makes all your guessing moot,
11 when we grow up, we understand and know more, and so make better decisions,
12 so will it go when we go to Heaven and God explains everything face-to-face.

and finally, to recap:

13 Faith, Hope, Love are good; Love is best.

What does this mean? Well, it certainly doesn’t mean that we adults need to put down our controllers. Sure, as adults we need to pay the bills and do the laundry and might not have as much time to spend on, say, beating every extra boss in Final Fantasy XII. But Paul wasn’t saying that.

Paul was saying, "Don’t get a big head about what you know and what you do here on Earth; it’s a whole new ball game in Heaven. Until then, embrace Love."

Now, there’s plenty of text to suggest that Paul (if he were a living priest today) would be down on video games. He was a total ascetic. Didn’t drink, smoke, dance, or have sex. And while he started his letter saying "Don’t follow me, follow God.", he quickly moves to saying (more than once) "Be like me. Do what I do."

So if I really believed that critics of video games were simply using the 13:11 quote as shorthand for "What Would Paul Say", I would at least applaud the courage of their convictions. But seriously, that’s not what’s going on. Those who say video games are for children, those who say adult gamers haven’t really grown up, are simply grumpy and misguided. They are using 13:11 as an out-of-context, holier-than-thou crutch. People only find fun when they ALLOW themselves to have fun (I’ve seen this behavior so many times). And when they can’t see something as fun, they don’t understand why other people can.

If you can find joy and love in other art forms, you can find it in video games. And there’s no "if"; we who play have already found joy and love (Which Paul and Jesus were both fans of) in our games. So I’m happy to get off yer lawn, but I’m not going to put down the controller.