It was 37 years ago that Nintendo changed gaming forever.
The introduction of the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1986 revolutionized how people spend their free time and socialize with friends. It pioneered the hobby of using the imagination to immerse oneself in new environments and explore new worlds they would otherwise be unable to visit.
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When we look back on the past three decades, it’s easy to see that no other entertainment medium has evolved so quickly in both quality and complexity. With all that gaming offers the player, it should be no surprise that gaming is the entertainment choice for Gen Z and beyond.
With revenue of approximately $180 billion in 2020, the gaming industry is more than four times the size of the film industry ($42 billion in 2019) and more than eight times that of the music industry ($22 billion).
Unfortunately, the storylines and visual images of many popular games today have embarked on a slippery slope that has the power to damage the hearts and minds of today’s youngest users.
Harnessing Progress for Good
Video games today are not bound by at-home consoles like Nintendo’s earliest products. They’re available to the world via internet-based platforms which offer layers upon layers of content.
While some games have educational components, many of the most popular games emphasize negative themes which aren’t age-appropriate for younger users. They feature gruesome violence, criminal behavior, disrespect for the law, sexual exploitation of women, drug use, and foul language.
Game developers have an opportunity to either build up or tear down the current generation of gaming enthusiasts. Determining what’s appropriate for a person’s household is subjective, but it’s impossible to deny the latest facts and figures as it relates to children engaging with online media.
The current younger generations are growing up with unlimited access to the internet, unprecedented online connection, and instant “infotainment.” Consequently, this generation also has the highest-ever levels of loneliness, social anxiety, and mental health issues, according to American Psychological Association.
Suicide and depression rates are currently at all-time highs for children, specifically tracking with the use of social media.
These statistics are not limited to social media, but they are outcomes of time spent on certain gaming platforms, as well. While the internet can be a wonderful place for education and socialization, we can’t afford to be naïve about the hidden dangers that lurk there as well. It’s important to be vigilant in guarding what our children consume.
Christian and non-Christian parents desiring fun, high-quality games and other digital entertainment is a massively underserved market in the technology industry. The demand is there, however. Parents want better choices.
An Ideal Medium for Faith Exploration
Surprising to some, gaming is an ideal medium for faith exploration. Faith, like gaming, is experiential, developed through trial and error. God gives each of us the will to live out our faith as we choose. He even gives us grace to try again when we fail.
If more talented game developers and those with deep industry experience would choose to enter the Christian entertainment space, we could really make a difference in the lives of the next generation.
This is why companies like TruPlay have created transformative digital experiences for children in the form of games and products that embed a faith message into an engaging and interactive medium. It isn’t just a business. It’s a movement to help draw children of all ages, including teens, to engage with Christ and with the Bible and to help set them on a path to a Christ-like life of love and encouragement instead of one of despair and destruction.
Advances in the gaming industry represent a world of endless possibilities. We should harness those possibilities for good. This is an opportunity we shouldn’t miss. Given the undeniable cultural importance of video games, it’s time for this to change.
Brent Dusing is the CEO and founder of TruPlay, a gaming platform created to bring high-quality, fun and biblically-sound entertainment to audiences worldwide. Committed to seeing the betterment of children around the world, TruPlay is building games, digital comics, video content, and Web 3.0 content to bring light to a world in need of God’s love, hope and truth. For more information, visit truplaygames.com.
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