This paper was written for my Games & Identity class at HPU, where I was tasked to do a qualitative research assignment of my choosing. I interviewed two Christians about their reactions to video game violence in Dead Space 2.


FullSizeRender

A Crossroads: Christian Gamers on Video Game Violence

Introduction

In the vast field of academic research done on video game culture, it is common to examine and discuss the effects of video game violence, ranging from studies that determine if they leave people in high states of aggression (Wiegman & Schie, 1998) to violent video games’ potential roles in famous shootings connected to shooters like Doom (1993) or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009) (Bond, 2011). What of individuals’ interpretations and reactions to video game violence? In other words, how much do people’s beliefs and/or worldviews influence how they perceive this violence, and what are the differences between them all? Generally, the interrelationship between these two things is rarely addressed, specifically in regard to religion, which leads to many intriguing questions. Not only about what religious people think about video game violence, but also how they might deal with and have experienced online harassment while playing video games and what video games mean to them in the context of their religion.

The scope of multiple questions like these is too expansive for anyone to cover in one article, which is why this study will be more specific in which religious group and topic is addressed. Here, Christians will be the primary subjects with two interviewees, and the issue of video game violence will serve as the main issue explored. While other topics such as video game portrayals of gender, race, sexuality, and religion as seen through the eyes of Christians would prove to be interesting and equally worthy research avenues to take, violence is one of the more popular hot button topics, which has been and still is a prominent controversy among Christians (“What are your thoughts,” 2013; Schut, 2013, 59-62), which has led to some interesting stances and actions taken by some as well (Richtel, 2007). The effects of video game violence should be studied, but the divergences in how different people view it could lead to insights into established research on video game violence and new questions to explore, and this can start by analyzing the moral stances and contexts in which Christians approach life through the Bible in regard to violent video games.

The vehicle being used to study Christians’ reactions to video game violence is the sci-fi, survival horror game Dead Space 2 (2011), which has been chosen due to its varied, graphic displays of blood and gore within its first story mission. The game’s alien antagonists, the Necromorphs, murder human NPCs in several disturbing ways; the player must kill Necromorphs with a weapon that can amputate limbs from their grotesque bodies; and there is even a sobering, graphic portrayal of human suicide. I believe the interviews will address the questions I have for the most part, but the overall violence of Dead Space 2 should help as an instigator to bring out fascinating explanations from Christians on how they perceive video game violence, why it may or may not bother them, how it relates to their religious teachings, and more. To be clear on one more detail, one of the participants playing this M-rated game is 16 years old, but I reached out to confirm if this was okay with him and his parental guardians, and both were comfortable with this aspect of the study.

Literature Review

In the field of game studies and game culture, it is unfortunate to discover that so little research is done on how religious identities affect players’ experiences with video games, what kinds of online harassment they might uniquely face, and so on. While this particular area may be lacking, there are plenty of studies conducted on the complications and debate surrounding video game violence. One essay explores the idea of this in relation to how it affects players’ behavior or fun during gameplay, with violence serving as a minor motivator during gameplay involving two studies with hundreds of participants. Factors such as feeling autonomy and competency were far more important to the players during gameplay; violence did not add much to this enjoyment (Przybylski, Ryan, & Rigby, 2009, 244-251). This does not answer if enjoyment of video game violence is affected by identity or beliefs though, which my interviewees’ will help me discover in the realm of Christianity. However, there is one article that addressed the gaming preferences of religious versus atheistic individuals, which discovered that the former were more entertained and captured by the imaginative, “unseen” nature of tabletop RPGs, whereas the latter enjoyed games with more concrete, visual, and structured experiences (Buris & Petrican, 2011). The nature of this study examining how identity affects gameplay enjoyment heavily relates to mine, which might be applicable to some of the things I uncover, but since it is a comparison study between religious and non-religious people, applies more specifically to fantasy RPG games, and had results with violent and non-violent games that were essentially the same, its relationship here will be taken lightly. Another study does not target the “what” of video game violence, but the “why,” instead testing out how much the morality of players is disengaged while playing these kinds of video games. Familiarity with the game, dehumanization of enemies, justification for violent behavior (e.g. an enemy kills a civilian), and fighting for a reputable authority had both unexpected and hypothesized influences on the guilt and enjoyment players had while playing violent video games (Hartmann & Vorderer, 2010, 98-112). Morality plays a large, complex part in Christians’ lives, so this will be a major point of discussion and relevant basis for a few questions in my study. Christopher Kneifer’s extensive study relates to this issue of morality, which takes it on in a roundabout way with a qualitative study involving 10 students, which sought to analyze violent video games’ direct impact on players upon exposure and if they cause desensitization (2014, 15-18).

Scholarly analyses of Christians’ or their broad culture’s opinions on and reactions to violence in entertainment media are dismally low. However, this doesn’t mean that scholars haven’t explored these issues in more general ways or in different areas of media. An article explores topics like why overtly “Christian” video games fail, whereas those with subtle ties to the religion succeed in appealing to players of all beliefs. It also discusses how Christian identity relates to killing in video games and how believers approach stories that deal with belief, sacred spaces, etc. (Detweiler, 2010). Practical wisdom from Christian authors comment on how believers should respond to entertainment media, like John MacArthur, who says, “Those who claim Jesus Christ as the Lord of their lives are called to submit to His authority in all areas of life. Every choice we make, including how we are entertained, must be submitted to His lordship. […] Glorify Him in every area of life, including entertainment choices” (“Entertainment,” 2013). Craig Cabaniss advises how Christians should discern how they should watch television (which could be applied to video games), saying, “We can watch television or go to the movies and glorify God by it. To do so, we must be motivated by grace, and we must view selectively, proactively, accountably, and gratefully” (Mahaney, 2008, 67). This exploration of television and Christians extends into a qualitative study conducted by Todd Rendleman, where he observes five evangelical Christians (their beliefs fall between the views of fundamentalist and post-evangelical Christians; they hold sincerely to the Bible’s teachings and laws, but desire to participate and transform the culture around them) reactions to a religious film called The Rapture, which portrays nudity and sexual activity near the beginning. All of them responded negatively to this and thought the film could have done without it (Claussen, 2002, 91-98), so I will see – with my participants belonging more so in the evangelical camp – if my interviewees say the same about Dead Space 2’s violence. James Y. Trammell and Daniel A. Stout dig deeper into this by analyzing Christian film critics and their reviews of the film A Serious Man, but each one represents different Christian beliefs, being fundamentalist, evangelical, or post-evangelical. The study’s purpose is to “better understand how ideological differences operate within the same religious tradition to produce alternative interpretations,” which is what I am attempting to accomplish here. The observations range from critical, harsh reviews of the film that point out every aspect that is not supportive or compatible with the Bible to critiques that merely judge a film on its own merit, usually never pointing out inappropriate content but instead focusing on how Christians can learn or benefit from secular media (2013, 86-97). But there is one other book of a rare variety, which even the author, Keven Schut, recognizes early on, referring to Detweiler’s work as the first book to solidly look at video games through the lens of Christianity (2013, xvi). Schut’s extensive book covers a ground of video game topics, but one in particular concisely yet deeply cuts into video game violence from multiple angles, such as its psychological effects and history from the arcades to the present. He provides a fair, overarching view of how Christians should respond to violent media by presenting polarized perspectives: Jacques Ellul advocates that violent attitudes and actions never bring about any good and should be cast aside; Bill Romanowski argues that violence in American culture and militarism can be justified if it involves “righteous application” against evil forces; and C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien take the middle ground in seeing violence as inherently bad, but is necessary at times in life and can be enjoyable and beneficial to one’s life through entertainment when approached solemnly and believably (Schut, 2013, 59-61). Lastly, Schut also explains what part morality, interpretation, and personal conviction have in interactive media, providing his own opinions and thoughts on video game violence as well. I expect to refer to him the most since his work is highly applicable to this study’s goals.

The interviewees will need to relate these issues of video game violence to their Christian identities, which will lead to questions about how violent games fit in their lives, how violence impacts their decisions and reactions in these games, and more. Overall, despite the loose connection of the majority of the cited literature to my research, each source uniquely relates in minimal ways to the primary objectives of this study.

Method

This analysis is qualitative in nature. First, I organized a list of questions for my 40-minute interview with two Christian brothers over a Skype video conference call. Although these individuals are personal friends of mine that I have known for several years, I got to know their personal gaming tastes, personalities, and individual relationships with God in a more direct, specific manner here. Once the interview was done, I asked them to record each of their 1 hour-long play sessions with the introduction level of Dead Space 2. Not only could I see the gameplay, but I was also provided with secondary footage that allowed me to see their physical and emotional reactions to every moment, which was a necessity since the participants live out-of-state. I analyzed all of this footage and composed more questions based on it, also including others that were more appropriate to ask after they’ve played this game. The final interview – which was done separately with each interviewee due to their conflicting schedules – was done over another Skype video conference call, where I asked about their gameplay experiences and topics relating to particular in-game moments, allowing for great discussion on the issues of video game violence from their personal and moral perspectives.

Observations

The Alpha Interview

Throughout the course of this study, I will refer to the older brother as Peter and the younger brother as Andrew. Starting off the conversation with both brothers present, Peter introduces himself as a 20-year-old male student who loves to write and listen to music, watch Japanese anime, and play video games. He describes his personality as being cynical yet realistic, also including his Christianity as a trait since it “dictates a lot of [his] life.” Andrew describes himself as a 16-year-old guy who does school and is currently looking for a job while he mows neighbors’ lawns in the meantime. He plays “a lot of video games,” but one of his main hobbies is playing pinball machines and creating his own digital pinball tables. He points out he is a naturally shy person, but opens up around friends and family as a comical figure. He makes the interesting contrast of being an optimist compared to his brother’s pessimism, but Peter interjects that they get along well.

I ask about their Christian identities and Peter responds that although he does not know when he was saved, he knows he was at some point. “It affects my daily life in…how I interact with others and what things I’m going to do, what ideas I’m going to support, what lifestyles I’m going to support,” he said. “It affects me and my hobbies, […] the things I watch and play, that sort of thing.” He views his hobbies and faith as somewhat separate, but clarifies that there are things he will not watch or play based on his beliefs. He acknowledges this might cause confusion, but affirms that his faith affects everything he does. Just in a more “liberal” way with his entertainment choices. Andrew says he was also saved through a gradual process, but is not sure when this occurred. With entertainment, he avoids “stuff like violence and swearing” because he does not believe it would be “good for [him],” going as far as to not play certain pinball tables that depict inappropriate art or themes. He seems to exhibit more self-regulated restraint over himself due to his Christian beliefs, but he appears to have as deep of a connection with his religion as Peter, who is impacted less by dubious content. This is reminiscent to the concept of moral disengagement from video games since both brothers are affected differently by their interaction with questionable video game content (Hartmann & Vorderer, 2010).

Peter’s history with gaming goes back for as long as he can remember, starting with computer puzzle games and Nintendo’s SNES and Game Boy. Since playing on those systems, he has continued collecting games and multiple consoles and mentions Ico (2001) and the Kingdom Hearts series (2002-2014) as some of his favorite video games since they provide linear, focused gameplay and stories. Andrew says he became a gamer when his parents bought the family a Nintendo GameCube, but says the Nintendo 3DS is what he plays on most. His favorite games include Portal 2 (2011), Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (2014), and Kirby Air Ride (2003). He prefers multiplayer games with equal amounts of chance and skill, but specifically loves puzzle-based experiences. “I love games that make you think,” he says, calling out Little Inferno (2012) as a prime example of “art [that is] not necessarily a game.”

I proceeded to ask about how their Christian faith influences the kinds of games they play, and Peter expands on his comments from earlier. “I don’t really have issues playing games that contain, like, swearing or violence, even if it’s the character you’re partaking in because […] you can put yourself in the character’s shoes and become that character […] but you’re also kind of observing from the outside, like, ‘Yeah, that’s not what I would necessarily do,’ but I feel like when you play as a character that makes immoral choices, you can learn from that,” he said. But he does draw the line somewhere. “When anything – sexual content, violence, language – is really pointless and isn’t accomplishing anything […] it’s stupid. You’re not learning anything. There’s no moral lesson.” He appears to ascribe to an ideal that secular entertainment is fine and can even be beneficial to grow in wisdom and maturity as a Christian, as long as the material being handled has meaning, purpose and is not over the top, using The Last of Us (2013) and Bayonetta (2009) as illustrations. This is something that Jeff Purswell’s chapter in Worldliness touches on lightly, saying that “a Christian’s enjoyment of [the material world] should be deeper, more authentic, more satisfying, and more enduring than that of those who have no share in this inheritance [that Christ provides]” (Mahaney, 2008, 148), which is what Peter seems to get at; he actively looks not “at” explicit content, but “through” it as something to learn from.

Andrew establishes that his discomfort – though not complete aversion to – violence in video games is not strictly due to his beliefs, but is personal, too. This does not mean he is not drawn to the fun that, for example, the Grand Theft Auto series (1997-2014) promises. He loves the idea of “a giant sandbox world […] being able to go anywhere and do anything, but I obviously wouldn’t play it because of all the junk and trash in it.” He understands Peter’s stance that you can learn from video games with explicit content, but the willingness to delve into it is something Andrew believes would be more detrimental than helpful, pointing out that his revulsion to intense violence always take precedence over his initial interest in a video game.

In regard to how the participants felt about playing Dead Space 2, Peter merely said that he had “no qualms” about it, expressing great interest and desire to play it since he has heard many good critiques of it. On the other hand, Andrew is honest in saying that he has “no idea what ‘Dead Space’ is” or what to expect, but might enjoy it despite the violence.

In Space No One Can Hear You Scream

Since the objectives of this study are primarily achieved through the questioning of the interviewees, Dead Space 2 nevertheless serves as an instigator to talk about video game violence with more focus, especially since the game’s publisher pushed an advertising campaign highlighting its intense gore as an actual selling point (“Your Mom Hates,” 2011). I will bring up sections of it involving cutscenes displaying human violence in intense detail, including one depicting human suicide. Beyond this, I will observe the reactions of Peter and Andrew to other moments I have not taken into account.

During the majority of Peter’s playthrough, he looked impassive and emotionally disengaged from the game. During all instances of cutscenes with human violence, he had very little reactions, but he did slightly contort his face upon viewing the suicide section, where a man slits his own throat. There was another part where he accidentally picked up half of a human body with Isaac Clarke’s (the main character) Kinesis ability and muttered, “Oh my gosh,” perhaps in realizing he could do this or in response to that sight. Other than that, gameplay sections with heavy action made him lean forward with the controller, and when enemies were downed, he went up to their bodies and effectively used Isaac’s melee stomping mechanic, which can sever limbs with grotesque audio and visual feedback. When doing this, Peter shifted up and down with his body in the same motion as Isaac on-screen. This aggressive game mechanic seemed to immerse him in the moment, which is interesting to note.

Andrew – expressing his dislike for strong language – requested if he could turn off the voice volume and subtitles, which I agreed to since this was not a major factor in my study’s goals, so his experience (or lack thereof) with the narrative and dialogue plays into how he experienced the game. Overall, Andrew was a visibly more vocal and emotionally invested than Peter. In any instances of intense violence, he would have his eyes focused on the screen if action was required of him, but struggled to do this at times. When he did not have to be engaged, he closed his eyes and looked away, most notably when he got to see the gory deaths Isaac undergoes when a player fails to defeat certain enemies. Although killing the Necromorphs did not seem to bother Andrew, anything involving human violence perturbed him. He usually contorted his face in shock several times, commenting on how gross some scenes and gameplay sections were to watch. However, Andrew did walk past the man who commits suicide and did not even turn around when the shrilling music kicked in while this character loudly chocked on his blood. Another intriguing detail is that Andrew did not utilize Isaac’s stomping ability to smash corpses, which act as essential item droppers. This seemed to be a part of him not realizing its purpose, but at one point in the video, he managed to do it by accident and immediately regretted it when he dismembered a human’s corpse, so he seems to have deliberately avoided this even though it put him at a disadvantage.

The Omega Interview

I interviewed both participants separately this time and their responses were still surprisingly different and consistent with what they professed in the first interview. We will commence with Peter first. When asked what he generally thought of Dead Space 2, Peter immediately and concisely praised the game’s survival-horror gameplay, story, and its ability to scare him when he least expected it. He said these things motivate him to go back and play the first Dead Space (2008) so he can play the sequel, which he is looking forward to doing someday. As for the violence, he starts off by treating it as simply another element of the game that helped sell its atmosphere and goal in grossing out players. “I can tell a lot of the [horror] games…centers [sic] around that kind of, like, over the top violence: people getting their bodies blown up from the inside-out or whatever.” He admits the beginning scene (where a human transforms into a Necromorph) and human suicide bothered him a little, but would not get rid of or turn away from these scenes if he had a second chance. “That’s part of, like, horror. I mean that’s part of the setting, you know? There’s these aliens basically kind of, like, eating these humans alive…or taking them over. […] That seems to be part of the horror of the game.” He goes on to stress that the developer should have the freedom to make its game this way since that is how its team wanted the game to be experienced; disabling the graphic violence would be hindering.

However, that is not to say he was not emotionally affected by some violence, which I found surprising given his usually expressionless face during gameplay. One part requires the player to retrieve a weapon to save a man, but is too late as a Necromorph stabs him multiple times. “I felt really bad. I felt angry. I was like, ‘dang, that sucks that guy had to die,’ you know?” Peter said, which steered us to the topic of violence against human and human-like characters, saying the former affects him more personally than cartoony and non-human violence. “And I didn’t even know him. He wasn’t even like […] a main character.” He says context (usually in serious settings), the type of game being played, and other factors carry into the emotional weight violence can have. “Humans are – from a Christian perspective – made in God’s image, so when one gets slaughtered it’s, like, impactful.” Hartmann and Vorderer may have found that the way violence is portrayed does not have a big influence with how players feel about a game, but Peter’s comments put this into question since his feelings for characters –since he has played games his whole life – alter from game to game depending on multiple variables (2010, 98-112). This led us to an unexpected discussion about how the most graphic of media violence, no matter how realistic or over the top, will not phase some people, but observing a real person’s wound or violent act will usually give cause for a person to pause, which heavily plays into whether desensitization to all violence from playing violent video games occurs or not (Kneifer, 2014, 4-6). Kevin Schut adds to the issue of desensitization, saying, “…but for some gamers at least, it is not a lust for destruction: eventually, some gamers start treating the representation of violence as the fiction that it is (2013, 68).”

When asked about his immersion with the game in regard to the stomping action of Isaac, and if this meant the aggression of the move made him enjoy the game more, Peter explained that he likes to tie himself emotionally to every game because he wants to feel like the main character and act like he makes his or her decisions, which might add weight to Buris and Petrican’s observations that religious people can become more invested in games than those who are not religious (2011). “I try to put my emotions into a game so I’m invested,” he says, and Dead Space 2 is no exception. Moving on, he is not entirely sure how to articulate it, but Peter says violence can be intensely satisfying when done the right way, and concludes with more insight into how this ties with his Christian faith. He cites one of the Ten Commandments about murder and 1 John 3:15, which quotes Jesus stating that if someone hates a brother or sister, that can be compared to murder. He brings up the relation between these Biblical ideas and acting out violence in a video game. “Is committing murder in a game, you know, like committing murder in your head? I don’t think it is because when you hate your brother, you’re hating a real person that actually exists,” he said, concluding this with violent video games: “I think there’s a gap between the fake and the real…that makes me comfortable enough at least to play them as a Christian and not be convicted.”

Trammell and Stout would classify Peter as a cross between an evangelical and post-evangelical Christian consumer and critique of secular media. Respectively, Peter engages “with the mainstream culture in the possible goal of redeeming it” and is mostly “comfortable in consuming mainstream media as [he is with] consuming Christian media,” but he also somewhat “embraces mainstream culture for what it is instead of rebuking it for what it is not,” and does not “attempt to transform it but to be transformed by it in ways that [affirms his] faith” (2014, 94-96). Kevin Schut’s personal opinion on the matter is sympathetic as well. “When video-game violence is simply titillating and nothing else, it is sure to have an uneasy relationship with a faith centered on redemption, peace, and shalom. […] But I believe the meaning of video-game violence and its rightness or wrongness should be judged in context” (2013, 70).

Moving on to Andrew, I asked him the same series of questions. I also inquired him of his general thoughts on Dead Space 2. “Well…I thought it was very violent,” he said first, also pointing out that turning down the voice volume to avoid strong language put him at a disadvantage in terms of knowing what was going on with the story. “I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, but I didn’t, like, not enjoy it either. […] It’s not like I was totally bored, but it wasn’t something I would say, like, ‘Yeah, I want to keep playing that.’ […] It really wasn’t my kind of game.” Even if the core of the gameplay were presented in a more family-friendly light, Andrew thinks this simply isn’t a type of game he would like. This led us to another humorous topic about how – to both of our surprises – that he missed the human suicide. He explained that he wanted to leave that room as fast as possible, and seemed glad that he did in retrospect. But as for the most violent moment he did see, he points out a different one from Peter, citing a scene where you can hear people screaming in pain and grotesque sounds from a room the player has to enter. “I hesitated to go into that room. […] So I eventually just decided to run and try to, like, not look at it […] that was what probably bothered me the most.”

Whether or not this has to do with Andrew’s lack of knowledge of what Dead Space is about, he believes the violence could have been toned down since it was over the top. He understood the point of scenes like the introduction where a character transforms into a Necromorph, but the prolonged death scenes were something he expressed annoyance over since they showed the main character’s body being mutilated and sometimes decapitated for over 20 seconds in a gruesome fashion, which Peter did not experience. Andrew also confirmed that he purposely avoided using the stomping mechanic to gain items because he “didn’t want to stomp on dead bodies and watch them explode and stuff.” Generally, he saw the violence in Dead Space 2 in a more negative light despite the purpose it might serve, echoing the caution Kevin Schut shows toward this issue. “Many video games deploy violence or all the wrong reasons: to provide cheap emotional thrills, to provide shock appeal, to get publicity, to satisfy bloodlust. Christians should be very cautious in approaching these games,” and although Peter does this, Andrew is far more discerning due to his personal concern with it (2013, 70).

In regard to whether or not certain types of violence bother him, he remarks that non-human violence is easier to watch than human violence, which is in line with what Peter said, but he was not able to articulate why this was the case. Vorderer’s study is worthy to note here since he analyzed the dehumanization of enemies as something that could make violence more acceptable to the player (2010, 98-112). One thing I did not expect Andrew to agree with is that violent acts can make a game more enjoyable, but he does agree. Although excessive violence deters him from many games, he provides Punchout!! (2009) as an example. “It’s a boxing game and it just kind of feels good as you get further in the game and you see Band-Aids appear on [your enemy] and his teeth kind of fall out, and then you get like three stars and you can do a super punch, like, hit him back across the ring and stuff.” He stresses though that this is cartoony, but agrees that violent types of moves you can perform in video games can make it better; it is more about the skill involved in doing it than the violence itself.

But Andrew does not believe that other Christians who play more violent video games are in the wrong. Indeed, he thinks it is more of a matter of personal conviction than something that the Bible warns against indirectly. Using Dead Space 2 as an example, he says, “I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody, but at the same time, if someone I was friends with who was a Christian was like, ‘Yeah, I’m playing Dead Space 2,’ I wouldn’t be like, ‘Whoa! Wait, what? You shouldn’t play that! It’s too violent!’ […] It all depends on how it’s portrayed and stuff.” He expounds on that by saying you are playing as a human killing those aliens, that is fine, but if the roles were reversed, that would give cause for concern, especially something like Grand Theft Auto since the violence is carefree and graphic. I inquire if there is anything specific in the Bible that relates to this issue in some way, and he states that the general idea of “trying to keep your mind clean. […] My personality just doesn’t really, like, care for the kind of violence [in those games], and I definitely do think my faith also adds to that even more.” Though he was not able to come up with a particular verse or passage, I believe he would wholeheartedly agree with Craig Cabaniss’ recommendation for Christians even though it applies to television. “If we can’t thank God with a clear conscience for a particular program or movie, we shouldn’t watch it. But if we’re wisely investing our time and watching something that’s true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8), then by all means we should thank God for it” (2008, 66-67). Pointing back to Trammell and Stout, Andrew is at a midway point between an evangelical and fundamentalist outlook on media, being someone who engages with secular media, but takes a slightly cautious approach to it in believing that what it “says about the world is less important than what appears on the screen, and what appears can be detrimental to a Christian’s life” (2014, 93-94).

Conclusion

The field of research conducted on video game violence has recorded people’s reactions to, opinions on, and the effects of video game violence, but this is one of very few that delves more deeply into the whys behind these issues and more specifically by taking an uncommon demographic of gamers in the religious sector. While the studies in gender, race, ethnicity, and whatnot have contributed so much to video game culture research, I believe mine touches on the equally important aspect of identity of religion. By clearly conveying and addressing the confusion related to how some Christians justify playing games that contain any sort of violent content, and by dissecting and presenting the in-depth explanations provided by two Christian gamers, I hope I have opened up the opportunity for a host of other questions and areas that remain to be tread. The ranging opinions of all people who identify as “Christian” mean that this qualitative study ignores more extreme and unique viewpoints, as exemplified by Trammel and Stout’s study of fundamentalist, evangelical, and post-evangelical Christians (2014, 91-96) and Schut’s demonstration of the dichotomous opinions on violence from Christians like Jacques Ellul and Bill Romanowski (2013, 59-61). Why not go further? How do Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Catholics perceive violent video games? What about other religious groups, like Muslims, Judaists, and Hindus? The interviewees also mentioned and compared video game violence to sexual themes and strong language, and those issues could lead to limitless studies with all these religions and denominations in consideration. It is a crossroads with many diverging paths, so it is up to others to go down them with what I have only scratched the surface of. It is no question that identity plays an incredibly influential part in how everyone thinks of and sees video games, and Christians are certainly no exception as seen here since their affiliation shapes their view of video games and their habits as players.