Games are everywhere, and to a new generation, they are almost everything. They are social, sports, entertainment, education and more. Many young people make money by competing, making videos of themselves playing, or from ads that display whilst people watch them play. It’s a brave new world, and it isn’t going away.
Parents, as you can imagine, are concerned. Maybe you don’t need to imagine because you are a concerned parent. Or maybe you think that the rise of games just isn’t a big deal – Let’s look at the statistics and what we can learn from a new generation about this burgeoning industry.
Here are some stats according to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) ‘State of Play 2016’ report:
- 63 percent of homes have at least one person who regularly games.
- There is an average of 1.7 gamers in each game-playing US household.
- 65 percent of US households own a device used to play video games.
- 48 percent of US households own a gaming console.
- Gamers spend an average of 6.5 hours a week playing online (that’s at least three times the amount of time they spend in church!)
Whether we like it or not, games are here to stay. According to the Entertainment Software Association, parents are catching on to this in a big way. In fact, 62 percent of parents whose children are gamers play computer and video games with their kids weekly. 68 percent of parents say video games are a positive part of their child’s life.
We’ve come a long way since I was a kid, when games were eating our souls and sapping our children of imagination and future productivity.
Across the world there is a new movement that takes this love for gaming into the area of education, and it’s my hope that we, as Christian parents, get on board. For the last five years I’ve been working with a studio out of New Zealand, to capitalize on kids’ love for games as a way to engage young people with the Bible. We’ve created The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance, to excite the biblical imaginations of young people. This immersive game indirectly opens up the narrative of the Bible by bringing the stories to life through an allegorical world. We’ve created a game experience that invites kids to not only know the story of the Bible, God’s story, but to see their place in it as a member of the Resistance, called to live right side up in an upside down world.
Games provide a safe sandbox to explore, learn and grow. While critics might talk of this as isolation, it is in fact, preparation. An opportunity to prepare, build and plan for outworking things in their lives. As a result, we’ve seen iPads become required learning tools in classrooms being used to teach everything from science, English and math to video editing and game coding—all the more reason for parents to be supportive and engaged in the process of learning through games.
We are not the only ones realizing the power of reaching (and teaching) kids through games. Curriculum providers are doing it, as are Bible publishers, because there is an understanding that games teach in new and dynamic ways. Games offer young people a space that is fun and engaging where they make decisions, learn and see the ramifications in a virtual world. They are able to forge relationships that aren’t simply based on face value, while overcoming extreme obstacles through perseverance or teamwork (if not both!)—all things that will set them in good stead for life going forward, within the church and the marketplace.
Consequently, games are not always an evil on society waiting to rob our kids of their exuberance and vitality or even their souls. They can be a new way of teaching, learning, collaborating and sharing that God can use to reveal himself to pre-teens immersed in a digital universe. With parents around the world embracing them with their kids and games being purposefully created with families in mind, why not introduce a game to your children and get involved yourself? You just might learn something and have fun doing it!
Parents, find out more information about the game series at https://Parents.TheAetherlight.com.
Want to win a copy of The Aetherlight Bible? Tyndale Publishers has created a companion Bible for the online game, and Tim is giving away a game key as well. The key allows you to play for free! Enter to win this combination prize through our social media campaign in the Rafflecopter box below.