Evangelism, Nintendo Style

June 12, 2006 — 2 Comments

I like video games.

I played video games a lot before I graduated from college (Some of my favorites in historical order: Pong, Intellivision Football, Battlezone, Missile Command, Space Invaders, Pac Man, Galaga, Mario Brothers, and Techmobowl), but after college I didn’t play video games very much. I got busy with life and video games didn’t interest me anymore.

I enjoyed playing them when I got the chance, but, since I didn’t own a gaming system, or play video games very much, I quickly found myself out of the video game “loop”, so when my wife got me an Xbox 2 years ago for my birthday (fantastic gift–by the way–for all of you last minute Father’s Day shoppers!) I felt a little intimidated by the technology.

Back in my day . . . a video controller was a joystick and a red button. The XBox controller had two joysticks, 43 buttons, 17 triggers, and a big red button I was afraid to press because I was afraid pressing it my cause my neighbor’s house to implode.

O.k., I’m exaggerating a little, but my Xbox controller seemed a little complicated, at first, but I eventually figured it out and now I’m an old pro (emphasis on the “old”).

The games–and controllers–have been getting more and more complicated and it takes constant gaming to stay up to speed, which is why I was intrigued with an article my youth minister gave to me.

Josh Van Tassel, our youth minister, gave me an article from the May 15, 2006 issue of Time Magazine entitled, “A Game For All Ages”.

The article describes how Nintendo is trying to reinvent itself by targeting people who are intimidated by gaming. Most video game companies target “gamers” who have been immersed in the gaming world for decades. They go to experienced “gamers” to find out what they like, what they want, and then cater to them, but Nintendo–while not ignoring life-long “gamers”–has decided to try to reach people who aren’t playing video games, yet. Nintendo’s reinvention started with them asking the question, “Why don’t people play video games?”

Nintendo was once the global leader in games, but no longer, so–according to the article–Nintendo is going to change “in the weirdest, riskiest way you could think of.”

So, after extensive research to understand why so many people, of all ages, feel intimidated by video games, Nintendo has invented a wireless wand-type device designed to make video games easier to play.

Nintendo has only one plan for re-taking over the gaming world: Turn nongamers into gamers.

After giving me the article to read, Josh sent me an email. Here’s some of what he wrote:

Nintendo is taking huge risks to reach the non-gaming world as we sit comfortably in church saying “I hope people show up today”. As the church we should be bridging the gap between Christians and non-Christians, and doing so by taking risks. We need to ask ourselves “why don’t people come to church?” then fix the problem . . . I think the church worries too much about what everyone else is doing . . . To reach this generation we may need to do something never done . . . To ask the gamers would be counterproductive and serve those who already play video games. In the church we seem to do exactly that. We ask those already in the church how to make it better and how to build bridges. . . We need to be asking those who are not part of the church . . . They are the ones we are trying to build a bridge to. I think its time the church takes some risks. God did not put us on this earth to hope they will show up but to be innovative and to bridge a huge gap. Nintendo is reaching more people through doing what never been done before. Why can’t we?

Josh thinks our church can learn something from Nintendo. I agree.


2 responses to Evangelism, Nintendo Style


    Heya Aaron, great post.

    It is so important to not only look at how we can make ourselves more accessible to those who have a pre-set bias against the typical idea of what Church is, but to find new and unique ways of going out and meeting them where they are. 🙂


    Your site was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Thursday.

    I’m Out! 🙂

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