I just finished reading a Wired Article entitled “Why Aren’t Games About Winning Anymore?” by Jonathan Liu. Liu uncovers a recent trend in video games where modern games are less about actually getting to the last level (a la Super Mario Brothers) and more about gaining achievements during the game.
For instance, I have become addicted to the iPhone app Angry Birds.
Angry Birds is a great game built on a ridiculous premise: catapult birds into fortresses made of wood, ice, and stone so you can destroy green pigs. As I have played through the game, I noticed that every once in a while a message would flash across the lower part of the screen indicating that I had reached one of the game’s “Achievements.” The game all of a sudden became less about defeating the green pigs (which is relatively easy) and more about the achievements.
I’m wondering about how this applies to children’s ministry. One of the most addictive things about a video game is the constant feedback and rewards. Can that sort of feedback and reward be built into children’s ministry programming? Would it be harmful to include “achievements” into children’s ministry programming? What do those look like?
Our ministry context has been integrating some Bible Reading Schedules into most of our K-5th series. The struggle has been finding the right reward for the kids completing the reading schedule. Frankly our efforts have been lackluster. But what if the reading schedules were web-based and as the kids read the passage, they received a little message (just like I did in Angry Birds), letting them know that they accomplished something. Each accomplishment was tracked and ranked. I’m sure there are a host of issues with this, but what will we sacrifice to get kids to make reading God’s Word a priority?