Can a game like Dark Souls teach us something about the Christian life?
Games like Dark Souls, for many, do not spark joy in the lives of gamers. The steep learning curve combined with some truly challenging (some would argue impossible) enemies is, understandably, a huge turn-off. However, what if games like this had something to teach us about the Christian life?
I have only recently gotten into the series over the past year. So many times I had wanted to give up while playing Dark Souls 2. But I stuck with it. In a few ways, I learned a lot about myself as a gamer. I also learned a lot about how games like Dark Souls parallel the life of a Christian.
So how do Dark Souls and other difficult games fit?
They Remind Us of Our Imperfection
One of the things I admire about Dark Souls is its smart game design. When you play Dark Souls, you cannot complain that the game isn’t fair. The game is designed in such tight fashion that when you make a mistake, you know exactly what happened. While there are the occasional random segments where an enemy will knock you off the ledge, or you’ll miscalculate a roll, you will always know exactly what you did, or didn’t do. This reminds me that we are not perfect. We always have room to improve. But how do we improve? Through leveling up.
For the Christian, we are in a continuous state of sanctification, or growing in our fellowship with God. Romans 12 reminds us to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind”. As we live our lives as Christians, we’ll continue to make mistakes (some of them the same mistakes). But due to the Holy Spirit, our eyes are opened to the reality of sin. Through reading God’s Word and having our minds renewed, we gain experience and grow stronger. The next time we face a trial that knocked us down, we can remain steadfast through it all. Which leads to the next thing.
They Teach Perseverance
Believe me, there were many times I wanted to chuck the game disc out the window. But through perseverance and maintaining a level-head, I would defeat the trial ahead.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4
Rather than running from the trial before us, our response should be to prayerfully embrace it. Trust in God to get us through it. As we continue to seek Him and are renewed, mentally and spiritually, our trials seem less and less intimidating. Through our trials, we then are able to minister to others who are encountering the trials we just overcame in Christ.
They Teach Community
In Dark Souls, there’s an item called the “White Soapstone”. This item allows you to leave a brand, or mark, that allows other players to call you into their game to help with a task or a boss. Alternatively, you can call another play into your game for help.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
One of the great aspects of gaming is the community. As Christians, we know and value community highly. It’s through leaning on our local body of Christ that we are able to overcome various trials. Through sharing God’s love with others and the wisdom of the trials we have gone through, we can lift our brothers & sisters in Christ up. So many times, in both life and Dark Souls, I’ve only overcome certain trials, and avoided some, because of the community of believers I lived life with.
These are just some of the parallels that came to mind while playing Dark Souls. If you’ve played Dark Souls, or a game similar to it, what are some things you learned?