By Jaime Nava –
My wife and I have traveled a little bit. We’ve been to England, Ireland, Italy, and the strange and exotic land of Canada. In my younger years I also visited family in Mexico a couple times. Without Rick Steves at hand, I’m not sure how we would have gotten along in some of those countries. Getting directions from locals in Italy was slightly terrifying. I was able to find someone who spoke Spanish in Italy once, which saved our rears.
Each of these places are as unique as one person is from another. From the language to the customs to the humor. I remember quipping something to a girl behind a register in England which prompted her to look at me like I had lost my mind. Don’t make jokes to girls at registers in England. It doesn’t compute. Anyhow, going to a foreign place and navigating can be daunting and that’s not even counting all the stuff lost in translation. Even so, it was a blast and I’d love to do it again. Perhaps without some of those hostels though…
Videogames have their own country too. When you join a community of players, there is a whole language involved. In first person shooters they talk about “quick-scoping”, “slicing the pie”, “repping” something, “holding a point”, and lots more. That’s not including the deeper slang of “pwning” someone or “rekking faces”. Even more casual games like Minecraft have their own lingo. There’s “mobs” and “mob farming” to “griefers” to “skellies” to “stacks”. Join a MMORPG and that might even have the most of them all. They talk about “buffers” and “meat shields” to “pallydooms” to AC and HP to OOC and AFK.
After a while, like being in a foreign land, it all starts to become natural. Words you didn’t even realized you learned start to flow from your lips. You might hear yourself saying, “Incoming sundie that needs reps.” or “That class is OP ever since they buffed it. It needs to be nerfed.” Sounds kind of odd, doesn’t it? It’s actually something people would and have said. It becomes part of living in that community.
These strange and foreign places also have their own leaders. There are people at the top to whom others listen, some with bated breath. They might have a YouTube channel. They might be a high level. They might be at the top of the leaderboards. These are the people who have others that aspire to be like them for whatever reason. These are the people that others want to overcome. It means that drama ensues. It means people’s feelings can get hurt. It means people are let down. It means that there’s an entire social structure within a microcosm.
Each game has its own nationalists too. For them, there is nothing better than that country. They will defend and fight and argue and troll as to why their game-country, their “gamelandia”, is the best thing EVARR.
What actual and virtual countries all have in common is people. These are individuals who have histories, emotions, ideas, and struggles. They are drawn to whatever gamelandia is there for them to satisfy or fill what needs they have. People’s struggles are real even if they spend much of their time living in their gamelandia. These are people looking for social connections, for acceptance, and, maybe for some, even love. Before we make judgments on these foreign lands we need to first consider that there are people who live in these places that need a lot of the same things you do, too.
This is why we need role models in these places. This is why we need digital missionaries in these places. We don’t enter in expecting to change the landscape. We become all things to all people all while carrying forth what doesn’t change; Jesus Christ and His message. We can laugh with them. We can shake our heads at the silly things said. We can help them with their burdens by praying for them. We can most especially take advantage of the opportunity to share the Gospel to those burdened with the Law.
It can be a strange place but, in a way, it’s a real one. Each gamelandia has its own needs for people who are respectable, loving; people with integrity. Each one has people who need to hear about Christ. There’s always resistance and people will poke fun at the Gospel or at you. That happens anywhere. In the face of all that, as we stand for something worthwhile, for the Gospel, people will see your good deeds and praise the Father in heaven. Let us not be quick to judge people who are a part of these communities. They could be someone you know and love yourself. For all those who are entering into a place like this, welcome. Welcome to this new and strange land. We hope that you enjoy your time here and we would love to have you back. Sincerely, Gamelandia.