May 9th is a special day in my book. It was this day, 8 years ago that I conceived a game idea that changed my mindset and even pushed me towards God.
For privacy's sake, we'll just call the game Project Awakened. Now, if you've read one of my blog entries from earlier, you would've seen that I originally wanted to work for Nintendo and make games as an American subsidiary. I was great at creating ideas based on already-existing franchises like Mario and Pokemon, but for the first two years I had no original games. I was very proud of some of my ideas for Mario games, yet there was a void that I had nothing of my own. This was something that never worried me, though, because I knew an idea would come in its own time. I had a history of good ideas coming to me naturally; I never had to force anything.
Some assumptions I had about the game before I conceived it: 1) I knew that this original game would become my proudest work, even more than my previous ideas. 2) I knew that this game would acknowledge God somewhere in there, I just didn't know at what capacity. Now, why I had these assumptions built in, I don't know, but I've got a sneaky suspicion God put that there.
The conception of Project Awakened led me to become a more knowledgeable Christian as I began to really work on the game and its spiritual themes. But more importantly it challenged me to become more committed to my walk with Christ. It was because of this game that I myself was reawakened to God. I was the first fruit!
This course of events tells me that God was in control of my plans and goals and visions the whole time, and that He will use whatever He desires to bring me closer to Him, even my own creation. It told me that I was a co-creator with God, a partner with Him as He does His work in reconciling the world to Himself. It tells me that I, too, needed to be saved. Like a prophet who hears God's Word, it convicted me first. It also told me that God embraces our creativity and welcomes our multiple ways of spreading His Word. Too often we think of preaching the Gospel as having a megaphone out in the street or passing our tracts or speaking from a pulpit. How about through lyrics and a good beat? What about through dance? What about through a video game? What about through a TV series?
As I began to really cultivate the game and shape it, I realized how creative God is. And if God is creative (as we look around the wonderful world He's made), surely a video game is nothing to Him. So I thought I should consult Him on game ideas and what could make this thing excellent. After all, why shouldn't a game that represents God be superior in its execution? God knows what He's doing; maybe He's got a better approach than I or anyone else can come up with.
As I saw the great ideas He poured into it, I then turned my attention back to all the other game ideas I came up with, from Mario and Pokemon and Zelda and Metroid. I submitted them to Him for approval. Was there anything He was displeased with? And I found out that as I invited Him into the creative process, some games did get the ax, true. But most others were enhanced. And so I learned to trust God in game design. Looking back, that seems like an obvious thing, but at the time, I also had the major concerns that 1) Christian games are inherently low-quality, and 2) God may or may not approve games as a ministry tool, and that maybe they should stay separate.
That's what church culture sometimes does to people. Unintentionally, they can make you to feel that you aren't serving God unless you're opening your mouth directly to spread the Gospel. But I remembered the evangelism efforts of one man, Jack T. Chick. I remember reading his comics when I was a kid, and I remember them building a foundation for my understanding of God, concerning salvation specifically. I looked up his bio and found that Chick was too afraid to talk to people about Jesus, so instead he drew comics and distributed them. And they got read! This innovation for Christ impacted my life and the lives of many others to this day. Perhaps my games can do similarly.
Project Awakened has become a tremendous part of my life. And it's been a vehicle for God to both minister to me directly and to others. Currently there is a book, "5th Grade Challenge" that is based on the game. I'm currently seeking to have it published within the next year, and for readers' sakes, I will post an excerpt in the coming days. But I wanted to first take this time out to thank God for His faithfulness to me, His planning the events and inspirations of my life, and for His using me to minister to others. I count it an honor.
You can follow my personal spiritual journey at http://jwmfridge.blogspot.com