Author: Michael C. King
Publisher: Kings of Eden Press
Having been reared in a Christian household, entrenched in a couple different denominations, and a fond gamer, I was eager to peek through the pages of Michael C. King’s The Gamer’s Guide to the Kingdom of God. What I found were fun relations between God, Christianity, and many of the tropes and quirks you’ll find in classic and contemporary role-playing games (video games or otherwise). However, while the author managed to convey the fundamental concepts in pithy and easily-absorbed metaphors, the book itself was a little hard to digest.
In terms of vulgarity, sexual content, drug content or anything of related stature, The Gamer’s Guide to the Kingdom of God is appropriately devoid. In lieu with his convictions and beliefs, the author neither condones, nor utilizes anything inappropriate while informing the reader of the subject material.
Because gaming has a history of possessing ideas such as ‘dark magic,’ the author does talk about that, both in gaming terms and Real Life (a proper noun in the book). King discusses spiritual warfare, visions of Heaven, battles with demons, and stories of demon possession in and outside of the Bible. These are not negative concerns necessarily, just things that some audiences may be wary about, so I include them in the review for such ends.
The Gamer’s Guide to the Kingdom of God wields several life stories from the author, his friends, numerous cited materials, and gaming culture to help alleviate the reader to Biblical concepts that might be tricky to understand otherwise. Whether it’s describing God as our own personal, cosmic Game Master or how we as Christians are able to find and deploy buffs upon ourselves and our brethren in Christ — King jumps from one topic to another, starting with the basics of relating our world and history to a fantasy world’s history, and building from there.
Essentially, King wrote this book to help people with gaming knowledge to apply that information to Biblical ideals and idiosyncrasies in the
hopes that the reader would be encouraged to see life as more of a game; A game where we can grow, commune, and fight for God’s Kingdom as His own soldiers.
Pacing is probably the weakest point in all of The Gamer’s Guide to the Kingdom of God. Much like a ‘grinding’ session in video games, sometimes working from one didactic mob of ideas to another with no reprieve between each, the information becomes dry. Useful, but boring. King is able to lessen this problem by including stories and cutaway segments from other cited materials for the audience to read, but it only helps so much. The book is completely lacking in comical substance.
However, it does most other things rather well. King’s metaphor and general comparison prowess is on point throughout the entire book. The Gamer’s Guide to the Kingdom of God subscribes to encouraging readers that we ought to begin our days with Heavenly activities such as Bible reading and speaking tongues which will help to “jump start” your spirit.
The author applies his own names to ideas to help explain points. A couple examples are “Dampening Zones,” being locations where debuffs are in constant application, or “Open Heavens” for the inverse. Just as how spiritual trails are likely to be more difficult in certain areas of our world than others, he applies the idea that maps in-game are level oriented, providing more powerful adversaries depending on location. Ministries are also said to be level-based, just as most guilds you can find in online video games. I was particularly fond of his analogy of how spiritual impartation works like a debit card to a magnetic card reader.
Having spent time in the presence of many different circles of Christianity, I know some audiences will cock their heads more than once while reading this book. Within, the author speaks of many of God’s miracles, which could seem extravagant to people (especially in America) or even absurd. To his credit, King is aware of this cultural stigma and covers his bases by saying, perhaps with some accuracy, that America only finds miracles absurd because we’ve spiritually weakened our society and/or put God in a box to limit the influence of his power in our lives. Whether you agree with the minutia in the author’s theology, you can’t doubt that he’s put a lot of time and thought into forming his knowledge of God’s Word.
The tone of the book is straightforward, informative, and not interested in being dodgy or leaving things up for interpretation in most cases. The author has a clear goal and writes in such a way that he minimizes any chances of being misunderstood by his audience. He wants to be helpful and enlighten gamers to concepts they might not otherwise understand. He does all of this without speaking to the audience like they are unintelligent or can’t figure things out for themselves.
In spite of the lapses in pacing and the difficulty holding my attention, watching somebody connect different pieces of gaming and Christianity was amusing. The ideals themselves were relatively fundamental, so I cannot say I learned much personally, but it has the composition to teach somebody who is trying to learn more about their faith or see it in a different way. As with all things regarding development of one’s own theology and philosophy, I don’t suggest any singular source as the end-all-be-all for what you believe. But if you’re looking for something to compliment a growing faith, and if you really like tabletop, text-based, or video games, then you may as well check out The Gamer’s Guide to the Kingdom of God.
God bless, level up, and always remember to smile.
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+ Fun gaming-to-spirituality parallels + Emphasizes development of a healthy spiritual and religious life + Does not subscribe to any one theological or denominational slant + Discusses theological issues on a personal level and the nation at large + Optimistic + Handy glossary in back
- Typos throughout book, with first one appearing almost immediately - Lacking any humor in delivery - Purely didactic delivery can make the reading feel repetitive
The Bottom Line
This book relates gaming culture to various concepts found in the church and Christian spirituality, which could serve well as a learning tool, but might come off as dry or off-putting to some audiences.