Bible Study Blog

Non-playable Characters

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by Jeff Reed

Video games have been a part of my life since I was very young. I remember playing pong on a television when I was five then later playing computer games and consoles as they technologically advanced through the decades. One of my most memorable game experiences was playing the Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo NES. This was one of the first games where the player could explore an open world and interact with various characters. These non-playable characters (NPCs) would have very simple preprogrammed dialogue. If you interacted with one more than once they usually would repeat the same phrases over and over. There was one unusual character that kept repeating the phrase “I AM ERROR.”

As games have progressed they have become larger, often photorealistic, and still include many NPCs. These characters now appear to be very complex and are given much larger interactions with the player to advance the story. But despite all of the technological advancements the interactions still feel shallow, scripted, and easily identifiable as preprogrammed dialogue trees.

The term “NPC” has recently started being using as a pejorative. The Urban Dictionary describes an NPC as “someone using no critical thought or reasoning skills. Simply regurgitating a set of arguments and non-sequiturs bequeathed to them by someone else.” The idea is that certain people when arguing for a position are not thinking for themselves and are just repeating talking points that have been programmed by society.

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Most humans are coded from birth to develop a certain worldview. Your religion, political beliefs, and culture are determined mostly from where you were born and grow up. That is why most Muslims are from Muslim societies, most Hindus from Hindu societies, and most Christians from Christian societies. In our Christian society we are generally raised believing that God is a trinity, we go to heaven or hell when we die, and that Easter and Christmas are important holidays for Jesus. None of these beliefs are actually supported in the Bible, but we are attached to them because of our preprogrammed worldview. Many who identify as Christians will adamantly defend these cultural beliefs. It is what they grew up with. Muslims, Hindus, and other religions will defend their beliefs just as strongly. It is human nature.

Jesus doesn’t want us to act like NPCs. He wants us to think for ourselves. We are instructed to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). Becoming a follower of Christ gives you an obligation to seek the truth. We need to be open-minded and use critical thinking to evaluate all the facts when forming our new worldview. Receiving God’s Holy Spirit in our minds will give us that ability.

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). When we begin this process we start realizing how different the truth is from what we’ve always thought. No society teaches it. They actually actively teach against it. Living your life by the Bible is a completely different culture.

Satan has deceived the entire world (Revelation 12:9). The funny thing is that when you are deceived, by its very definition, means that you don’t know you are deceived. And if you are not living your life by the Word of God, you are deceived! The good news is that you don’t have to stay deceived. You don’t have to live your life like an NPC. Jesus will open your eyes if you let Him. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).