Finding holiness in the virtual world


By Tim Walch
Book Review

“Gaming and the Heroic Life: A Quest for Holiness in the Virtual World,” by Bobby Angel. Ave Maria Press, 104 pages, $14.95

It’s commonly accepted that the Lord works in mysterious ways. So, it should come as no surprise that we can find God not only in the Bible and traditional religious texts but also in the video games and streaming platforms of the 21st century.

That’s the message that Bobby Angel offers in this new book. A life-long “gamer,” Angel is the cohost of the “God and Gaming” video programs available on YouTube. He’s also a devout Catholic with 20 years of ministerial experience.


“Gaming and the Heroic Life” begins with a foreword by Jonathan Blevins, the CEO of Little Flower Media and the host of “Around the Halo” on Twitch. “Video games are not evil,” Blevins stresses, “but they also shouldn’t have a negative impact on our lives.”

“How can we find that balance,” he asks. “How do we navigate new waters? Can we live God’s call for our lives and have video games play a major role in them? Can I have a consistent prayer life and enjoy gaming?”

All good questions and Blevins points to Angel for the answers. “Being a Christian doesn’t mean running away from the world,” Blevins concludes. “It means having the courage and the faith to plunge deeper into it.”

In this book, Angel offers a series of three levels each divided into three chapters. He begins with commentaries on why we love games, what is the good life and what does gaming have to do with God.

He uses stories and vignettes that offer a framework for why we are so attracted to gaming in all its forms. We yearn to be heroes and pursue the greatness we want to find within ourselves. Angel stresses that it’s God who places those desires within us. He asks readers to rise to God’s challenge.

The book has a natural flow that makes it easy to read. The chapters are brief and include examples of what Angel has learned from specific games such as “Fortnite,” “The Legend of Zelda” and even the “Final Fantasy” series. In each game, he finds not only adventure and community, but also beauty. God is the source of that beauty.

The final chapters of the book put the gamer into the real world. “As enticing as all of our games and technology are,” Angel writes, “our human nature is meant to flourish in the real world. No matter how plugged in we are to our digital spaces, our full flourishing is found in the world around us — in right relationships with our families, friends, and fellow humans.”

He closes the book with the story of a young Italian gamer named Carlo Acutis, who felt an intense love for Jesus and built a website documenting eucharistic miracles around the world. Carlo’s tragic death from leukemia at the age of 15 led Catholics to pray to him and urge the advancement of his cause for sainthood. Blessed Carlo may someday become the patron saint of gamers!

So, gaming can offer a path to holiness if we keep it in context. “Bobby Angel’s insight into the world of video games, young people, and the life of virtue,” adds Father Mike Schmitz, “has qualified him in a unique way to offer the wisest counsel for anyone interested in all three.” I can’t put it any better than that.

(Timothy Walch is a parishioner at St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville and a member of The Catholic Messenger’s Board of Directors. He regularly reviews books for The Messenger and other publications and is the author of many books including “Irish Iowa.”)

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *