Peasant games

Confession: I am confused about how nonresistance plays itself out in games.

I used to scold Someone I knew for enjoying computer games of conquest and domination (Civilization, Age of Empires) until Someone took me to task for enjoying board games like Battleship. And what about chess? said Someone.

Excuse me? I said. What about chess? Chess is the epitome of innocence and antiquity.

Oh, said Someone. So it’s all about the graphics? If the king bleeds and the pawns cry, then you object.

Now I’m royally confused.

I feel certain of several things—that games are practice for real life. And that they shape us more than we’d like to admit, that they train us by repetition.

But this further confuses the issue. What about competition, a key component in every game but the Ungame, which drives me nuts? Competition can be healthy, says I, but simultaneously I see it as the ultimate evil, the Me First mentality poisoning modern culture, as propaganda and television give daily proof.

If Jesus taught us to love our enemies and put others first, what does this mean about our games? Does it affect what we play, or merely how we play it, or what? Is it better if I shoot the horses from under the soldiers instead of shooting the soldiers? If I play Sorry with you and am really Sorry when I bump off your piece, is that better than if I play Sorry with you and laugh?

I see you rolling your eyes. What kind of radical is this?

Well, Shari asks herself these things, and in the meantime has a cupboard full of games: Taboo and Pictionary and Uno, Othello and Phase 10 and Chutes and Ladders, Acquire and Scotland Yard and Chess. I play them all, though Ryan and I are forced to renew our wedding vows each time we play Acquire, and my sister and I refuse to play Pictionary with our parents because we can’t afford the counseling their marriage requires afterward.

(As with all of my jokes, this is mostly nonsense.)


And anyway, I will just hazard a guess that, ridiculous as it sounds, graphics do have something to do with gaming ethics after all… Think about it. If I told you to aim a gun at a square of cardboard and pull the trigger, you’d do it. If I cut the cardboard into the silhouette of a human, you’d find it harder, right? If I painted the silhouette to look like a portrait, suddenly you’d be facing some serious resistance. And if I add animation, the cardboard image crumpling, grimacing, bleeding, very few of you would you be able pull the trigger.

Don’t you think we train our souls what to be okay with?

Of course I don’t play games of first-person-shooter. But for me, Battleship had to go. Chess remains.

What do you think? Push on me.


PS–My husband is boss for the month. Wretchedness! But here’s my sweet consolation prize.

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11 years ago

Hi, nonboss.

Wendy Zook
11 years ago

You play Aquire? Wow! I mostly wrote it off as a guy’s game. Maybe I should try it; although it could be dangerous to our marriage. I have seen what happens when Travis and his friends play it. 🙂

Good thinking on the nonresistance and games. I have never come to any conclusions on the subject.

Got to run! Baby just wandered in soaked to the skin. She was trying to join her brother in the bathtub. 🙂

Mom Coblentz
11 years ago

You have me howling…again. I loved the ‘royally’ confused.
So THAT’S why nobody wants to play Pictionary anymore??? 🙂 🙂 Hoo-boy.

11 years ago

The cost of marriage counseling is EXACTLY why I don’t play Monopoly with my husband. 😀

LaDonna Nice
11 years ago

Shari, you made me laugh! About competition, I think that it’s just apart of life. There are positives and negatives in competition. I see playing games with my children as an opportunity to have the right sort of competition, or the right response to competition. We practice saying good job, and good try, encouraging losers as well as winners. Sometime in their lives they are going to have to learn what it means to be a good sport, so why not let it begin at home. Just my personal opinion there.
Disclaimer: This comes from a mom whose oldest cried hysterically after losing one too many games of uno….it took him a while to get to the good job part…a work in progress he is 😉

11 years ago

Love this! So I’m not the only one who let’s competition get the upper hand sometimes. Cities and Knights of Catan will do it to me, but Risk is even worse. I refuse to play it anymore:)

mama zook
11 years ago

…and I always hated the game SCUM!! Got so I didn’t let them play it!

11 years ago

Your puns have me laughing. Geryll says this hitherto unknown side of me comes out when I play games. I am mean and just love it. He’s right. Somehow, I love the chance to not have to be nice. I’m not sure what that says about my “niceness” in the rest of my life. It’s just so fun to compete over something that is not serious.

11 years ago

Would you do anything in a game that you would not do in real life? Why?

11 years ago

Lots of good food for thought – told in your humorous unoffensive way that I love! I like that you are not taking for granted something that was a big part of most of our childhoods and are seeking to apply God’s Word to the nitty-gritty of life.

My confession: I can get stewed at my husband just playing Scrabble! Or maybe I just need the reminder that he is smarter than me!

11 years ago

Oooooo, this is where I get the radical label, too. 🙂 I draw the line at the same place you do with games you’re okay with. I am competitive, but I think that when I have a non-resistant attitude I can be competitive while keeping it in fun vs. seriously getting angry at an opponant. Oh, Steve and I have had fights over games. Don’t think I’m perfect, but that’s my aspiration. 🙂 What about physical games—football, especially? Sigh. My husband and I don’t agree about where the line should be drawn on some of these. Oh, and what about children pretending to be animals and the hunter shooting them? 🙁 Can you tell by the frown I’m not a fan, but I’m not sure if I’m being too strict?

11 years ago

I am howling. And also far behind on my Reader posts.
I have another game that frankly I love to play, but alas gave up. Risk, may you rest in peace.
Why do the strategy, calculation games violate my non-resistance?
And for a very different take on such games, I know someone and co. who once set out to make their own version of an Aquire game. I don’t recall what they were going to call it but it was to represent the conservative churches of Mennonite America. Sad but true.

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