Thursday, September 04, 2008

Guitar Hero Worship

Cath and I were introduced to Guitar Hero by hard-rocking friends Mark and Nicole.

(My niece Nicole was with us too, but that makes two Nicoles which might be too confusing, so I won’t talk about her much; for example, I won’t mention how badly she beat our butts in wi bowling and tennis.)

As we figured out fingerings and the whammy bar to the beats of Aerosmith, we joked about what the Christian version of this game would look like.

We giggled at the idea of the wailing guitar solo in the middle of “It Only Takes a Spark,” or using the whammy on “A Mighty Fortress.”

Okay, there are actual rock songs of a spiritual bent out there, so a religious music version wouldn’t be a great leap. But would it come as a “Guitar Hero” plug in, or a separate, more sacrosanct stand alone game?

Just a few short weeks after that, the announcement of “Digital Praise,” the religious-minded alternative to Guitar Hero, arrived.

And not long after that, games specialist, Simon Parkin weighed in on the bad word of mouth “DP” was getting.

As I am not a gamer, I skimmed the first part of the article. But then the dissection of what makes something “Christian” caught my attention.

Insights like:

“The word Christian is, in the strict sense, a noun. It literally means somebody who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. People get themselves in all manner of trouble when they turn the noun into an adjective to describe their work, community, bookshop, painting, tee shirt, video game or song.
“A book or song cannot ‘follow Christ’. As an adjective the word is, in essence, a term of marketing targeting a product specifically at Christian people. “

Or this:

“Christians should not be demanding video games prefixed with a faith label, as if that cheap and easy classification provides some kind of invisible moral safety net for their and their children’s media consumption.
“Rather, believers should simply be demanding good and beautiful games that delight in creativity, make people happy, present or explore the world in interesting ways and maybe, just maybe enable us to catch a glimpse of their God, from whom all good things are claimed to flow.”

Interesting take from the outside.

Just my thoughts,



David Goulet said...

Insightful. But I would counter that not all "marketing" is intrinsically bad. I agree that calling something a "Christian video game" is spiritually presumptious. But as a way of drawing attention to something that a Christian may find interesting I've got no problem with calling it "a Christian-themed video game".

We have to be careful not to swing that pendulum too far in the opposite direction. Though in the context of an increasingly materialistic Christian culture, a warning about what we label "Christian" is well timed.

Gaffney said...

As usual, I am with you on moderation. Part of the problem seems to come from the confusion on the part of the seller between "a product marketed to Christians" and "a Christian product" -- such as the complaint by the Zoo folk that they were being subjected to religious persecution because no one would give them gobs of cash for their product. As we all know and can agree on, there is nothing more Christ-like than materialism.

Last thing to say: as my pastor is fond of reiterating, "The problem with Christian art is that it usually is neither."

David Goulet said...

Your pastor's observation would make for a good Act One slogan.

Janet said...

Interesting article, Sean... I didn't know about "Digital Praise," and doubt that I would buy it...

And yet...

As the mom of two Guitar Hero "Experts" who could more than hold their own in any competition, I have to say I do get concerned from time to time about the lyrics they are drumming into their minds as their fingers fly over the buttons and whammy bar -- over and over and over again.

A concern that goes all the way back to watching my kids dance along to "Dance Dance Revolution" singing along to REM's "Losing My Religion."

Moderation, yes. But I don't know where to buy that moderation. Where is a middle ground available in the marketplace?

Gaffney said...

If only we could convince Guitar Hero to create a plug in of Keaggy, Taylor or the like. Quality all around -- if only.

Sarah said...

Reading those quotes from the review of the game, I wouldn't be so quick to assign them to an "outside" writer. They sound remarkably in tune with C.S. Lewis' thoughts on being a Christian in a profession.