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Multiplayer Etiquette and My Witness

Lately I’ve been thinking about how I can be a better witness when I’m on the Internet, specifically when I’m playing a multiplayer game. While the opportunity rarely comes up to share ones faith during a death match or an epic quest, we should always be ready to answer those who ask. In Luke 9:26 Christ has some strong words for those that know him but don’t tell others: ‘For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.’ This is an area that I struggle with all the time, feeling I should say more than I do about my faith. The best thing I know to do is to keep studying the word so that I will be ready when an opportunity presents its self. And when it does I trust that God will give me the courage to speak up, remembering Paul’s words in his second letter to Timothy Chapter 1:7 ‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.’

But until they ask there is another way I can silently let my light shine: through my behavior. Even though I may never see the real faces of people I meet in games I still a responsibility to live my life in a holy manner. The Apostle Peter, in his first Epistle, gives us an idea of what that means in I Peter: 1:13-16:'Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.'

Holiness is a matter we should always take seriously, even when playing a game. But what does that mean on a practical level? How can I be holy while on the game grid? I think the first thing thing that’s important to remember is the “golden rule,” found in Matthew 7:12: 'Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.'
While the in-game persona may be an orc or a faceless space soldier, on the other side of the avatar is a person that I should treat with the same respect that I would want to be treated with myself – even when we’re trying to frag each other.

It mostly comes down to common courtesy and politeness, traits that are scarce enough on the web as a whole. People seem to feel that, just because they have a certain anonymity, that they can act however they want, without any thought to others. But it is my duty as Christians to be different from the world, as Romans 12:2 says: 'And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.'

Since most of my communication with other players in games will either be written or verbal, one way I can set myself apart by not using profanity or insulting other players. For I am an ambassador of Christ, no matter where I am, and a dirty word can soil a good witness - which is why Paul gives us this command in Ephesians 4:29: 'Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.' And also in Colossians 3:8: 'But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.'

But even if I don’t use any “bad” words, I can still be in the wrong if I reply to an insult or nasty comment in anger. Remember the wise words of Solomon, in Proverbs 15:1: 'A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.' Often just ignoring a “troll’”will make them get board and move on. But if I must speak I try and keep it civil to defuse the situation as best I can.

However, I think there is more to it than just being nice (or at least not being rude). Often times new players are scorned and excluded because of there inexperience. But ignorance is not the same thing as stupidity: just because a player doesn't know where the flag capture zone is, or that clicking on the glowing stone obelisk is a bad idea, doesn't make them dumb. It can be hard to remember what it's like not to know things that we take for granted. Experience will cure ignorance in time, but I can help it happen faster. In Matthew 25:45, Jesus says: 'Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye diditnot to one of the least of these, ye diditnot to me.' The verse here is referring to physical needs, but I think the principal applies: if you see someone in need, can fulfill that need but don’t, you displease God. I'm not saying that we have to hold the hand of every noob we meet. But it wouldn't hurt to help someone along that is struggling, so that everyone can have more fun in the long run.

“I’m not a teacher,” I hear myself say. Well, that's what wikis are for! Most every major online game has a wiki these days. Giving a new player a link to one is easy enough and gives them access to the combined knowledge of dozens, even hundreds, of players. Or I could just quote from it whenever they ask a question and look really smart. Either way, a little display of kindness can go a long way towards opening doors.
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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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