Monday, October 27, 2008

Rubik's Cube, Tetris, and the Image of God

I just read an article on which contains an interview with the creator of Bejeweled, a very addicting internet game. As an expert on creating simple games that people can't get enough of, they had him comment on several other simple games that have drawn people by the millions to put in literally billions of hours playing them.

In this interview, they walk through the different games, explaining what they are, and then he comments on what makes us drawn to them. Some of what he said really caught my attention as a theologian.

About the Rubik's cube:
A clear example of a game in which the pleasure is in creating order. You randomize it, it becomes a big mess, and then you have to bring it to an organized state.

About Where's Waldo:
For thousands of years, we've derived satisfaction from searching and uncovering...

About Tetris:
Fitting pieces together feeds the same pleasure center of the brain that gets off on packing a suitcase really well or squeezing all your groceries into a single bag.
Think back to the Biblical creation narratives, then think about the creation of Man in the image of God. If you don't go any farther than the creation story as all you know about God, what does it mean to be made in God's image?

God is an organizer of disaster. God is an architect. God is a planner. God derives great joy from seeing everything in its right place, and works tirelessly until it is so. God has hidden beauty in the design of nature that it is our pleasure to discover. These ideas seem to be the understanding that the other Biblical writers took as the meaning of the creation account.

In Job 38:6-11, God describes his putting the sea in its place, instructing the waves exactly how far they are allowed to go onto the shore. Isaiah speaks of God measuring and balancing all aspects of creation.

I think we could argue that the image of God includes much more than a mere desire for order, but is this not a significant portion of what it means for God to make us in his own image? Where there was chaos, God molded it into a beautiful creation. God is the one who proclaims good news for the poor and suffering, and who releases the slaves from captivity. Christ came to seek and to save the lost.

What is it about these games that absolutely sucks us into them? Could it be that in putting the Rubik's cube in order, we reflect God's image in a desire for order? In loving the hunt to find Waldo, are we reflecting an inner tendency to want to find what is lost?

I can't prove it, but it is interesting to ponder.

And for those of you programmers looking for a million-dollar idea, why not consider other attributes of God's personality for game ideas, to see if people are similarly drawn to them?


  1. This is really clever! I liked this blog.

    Sorry, I'm catching up on blog reading today. This was a good one.

  2. Thanks, III!

    Don't you hate it that as preachers we can't think about ANYTHING without finding some kind of sermon illustration out of it! haha