Biblical Example of Tilting and Mental Booms

Imagine holding one of those classic kaleidoscopes to your eye while a baby is babbling incessantly in the background. The colors. The movement. The unrecognizable shapes. Language you don’t understand.  That’s what it was like watching my first League of Legends game play video.  Five minutes with a League video was all I needed.

League’s Tilting and Mental Booms Can Be Leveraged for God

But it’s all good, because I’m only using League as a gateway into a conversation about repentance, obedience, and salvation through references to the game play vernacular of tilting and mental booms. For this I don’t need to understand League in any kind of detail.  (But if you do want to understand it better, read this League game description.)

Having seen League once and hearing about tilting and mental booms, I had enough to open a conversation about a teen’s game play experience. Do you know a League player or someone who watches game play videos about League?  Does anything they ever say about League elicit in you a memory of something described in the Bible? It did for me; I thought of Jonah.

What is Tilting and Mental Boom?

I have heard that playing League is emotional and stressful.  A player may find himself “tilting,” or losing his composure, when things don’t go his way. Once he is then “taxed or exhausted to the point where [his] decision making becomes compromised,” he is “mental boomed.”  Being mental boomed, his performance is typically negatively affected.  He may no longer care if he wins or not.  Teammates, worried about losing the game, may become anxious about his game play.

Those common gaming terms are effective segues into similar concepts or examples in the Bible.  In this case, where in the Bible have characters “tilted”?  Use your imagination—and your teen’s—to introduce comparisons between his game play and his Bible knowledge. He may not naturally connect League to anything he has heard at church, but there’s no reason you can’t show him a connection.

Jonah Tilted Until He Went Full Mental Boom

Didn’t Jonah tilt in fear when he felt threatened by having to preach in notorious Nineveh? The fear compromised his decision making, and he had a mental boom: He fled to Tarshish to hide from God’s request.  He had forgotten 2 Tim 1:7.

The fuller story is that Jonah was a prophet whom God asked to preach to the very large city of Nineveh. He was to encourage them to turn away from their wicked, murderous ways. Jonah was to exhort them to repent and be saved from God’s wrath.

Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. And he didn’t really want Nineveh to be saved, because he hated and feared this enemy. Jonah tilted so far at this request that he bolted.  He ended up in a boat on the sea, fleeing in the opposite direction of Nineveh.

Jonah’s Phone Died

Although Jonah sailed away, some fearful seamen threw him overboard. Jonah himself felt God had “hurled him into the deep” (v 2:3). That’s where the very well-known, very large fish swallowed him. So, his mental boom was to flee from his God-ordained assignment. It gave him some thinking time in the belly of a fish. “The currents were swirling around him” (v. 2:3). “Seaweed was wrapped around his head” (v. 2:5). He had a sad, momentary thought that it would have made a decent TikTok video. Alas, his iPhone had died. (Release the tension of your ‘instruction’ with an unexpected anachronism like this last point.)

With nothing else to do, Jonah prayed (v. 2:1). He knew that only God could hear his cry and rescue him.  And God did. But when the fish spat him out, God again instructed him to go to Nineveh.  This time Jonah didn’t tilt. He didn’t lose his composure and run away out of fear.  He obeyed God and told the people there to repent. And they did. Because of their repentance God was compassionate, and He didn’t destroy Nineveh for its wickedness.

Key Takeaways from This Biblical Connection

Jonah learned obedience from that experience. (And that he should avoid schadenfreude.) Jonah was instead to be concerned with people who weren’t living godly lives. He should help people repent and be saved. And to do it in the power of God, without all the tilting and mental booming.

 The Bible is about real life (as well as the supernatural life). Learning Bible narratives helps you to show your teen how pertinent the Bible is to his life. You can use humor and anachronisms to help your listener stay tuned in.  Ultimately, the connections you offer will help him draw his own connections through time.  And that will lead him through this game of life—if not League of Legends—and help him gain biblical insight.

The ABCs of NPCs

Have you seen the meme on TikTok in which unsuspecting strangers on the street are treated like NPCs?

NPCs—Non-Player Characters—are computer-led characters in video games that serve to assist a player (a PC, or player character; a real life player). One way is by giving him hints about the next step in his quest. NPCs also provide a game function such as to help the player buy something. Or, they simply advance the game’s storyline.

What do our kids know about NPCs? How do we redirect their thinking toward who God made us to be and how to treat others?

The main point is that the NPC typically acts and reacts based on the programming behind it.  Since, therefore, NPCs aren’t directed by a human will (a real life player), they are considered to be unthinking.  That’s why we are now seeing young adults treating real human beings as unthinking NPCs in videos. As pawns in a larger game of which they are supposedly unaware.   The meme translates the concept and motivations of NPCs to humans, typically resulting in unkind or dehumanizing interactions.

How can we explore what our kids know about NPCs and redirect their thinking towards who God says we are and how to treat others?

A – All Are Created in God’s Image

Your child may mention an NPC in either a game or meme context. If not, ask them about the term. Then dive in with the little bit you now know.

“I understand that when you play a character in a game, sometimes NPCs show up that help you.  But they can’t do a lot, because they are programmed to do limited things. Have you ever heard of people making fun of real people for supposedly acting like NPCs in real life—maybe on TikTok or in a game chat?

“Why do you suppose it’s so easy to make fun of real people like that?”

He’ll likely describe how it’s just fun, and funny, and who knows what else.

“Well, I hope you remember that everyone is a player character (PC) in real life.  And an equal PC to you.  We’re made in God’s image—created to be like him. And, of course, since God is all about love, he put us here to be that way…to be kind. To be kind to others, not to make fun of them. Did you know that God put you in this particular high tech time and place for a purpose that fits His plan?  Just like he put everyone else here?”

Now, after your child pats himself on the back for being so important as to have been born in the age of TikTok, remind him that it comes with an obligation—in part, to treat himself and the other with dignity and charity.

B – Believers Lead with Love

Continuing the conversation, you ask, “Have you ever heard the quote, ‘God don’t make no junk?’ He knows everything about us.  And he created us to be a (air quotes) “PC” who follows his lead. And that means leading with love by valuing other people.

“Yet society finds all kinds of way to assign greater value to one person over another. But it just isn’t true in God’s eyes. We are all sinners, imperfect. We all need his grace. That leaves no room to mock or insult a friend or stranger as an NPC.  It is dehumanizing.

”We need to be sure we’re acting and reacting like the believers we are, instead of laughing at someone else’s expense.”

C – Created with Free Will

NPCs are given simple game functions or dialogue, but they don’t have programmed ‘freedom’ besides that.  So remind your child of how his own free will is a powerful tool to be rightly employed.

“Although an NPC doesn’t have freedom to say and do whatever he wants, you, my dear, were granted free will by God. Do you know what that is?”

He may use this opportunity to tell you he suspects it is something he would like to use for all manner of generally unapproved activities.

Free will means we get to make choices. But still, those choices have to make sense. They have to fit into the gravity of this earth and the physical body he has given us, for example.  You may want to use your free will to walk straight up over your own head.  But gravity keeps your feet on the ground.  You may want to be a unicorn, but God has made you as a male or a female.

“You may also want to do whatever you want tonight, but you were given parents (or a grandparent, etc.) who care about you, and so a family structure was created to help you use your free will within guidelines. Just like parents have free will, but we are to obey God’s guidelines when we use it, too.”

Now that you’ve explained free will in the vernacular, read a little deeper so you’ll be prepared the next time it comes up (and it will).

Now I Know My ABCs of NPCs

While NPCs are generally pre-programmed with only basic, prescribed functions, they do have a game purpose. And every person has a God-given purpose in this life.  Encourage your kids not to blithely dehumanize others.

And although NPCs don’t have game play freedom like your child does as the PC, they are recognized for their role. And you are reminding your child to recognize and respect other people for who they are as well.

NPCs appear only in games, not in our homes, our schools, or our communities.  It is up to us to offer a moral foundation to our kids to help them understand that. Technology won’t offer it to them.[1]


[1] Neil Postman, “Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology” (Vintage Books, 1993), xii.

Hairy Crowns All Around

It was last year when I ran across the term “hairy crown” in the Bible.  I was immediately struck by how my imagination ran with that fun descriptor, although in context it was being used with serious implications. Still, I could imagine my kids and grandkids being intrigued by it enough to talk about it.  Psalm 68:21 is its source.

But God will strike the heads of his enemies, the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways [sins]. (ESV)

David is singing a song of praise and also describing how God would judge the wicked.

Unreservedly I announced aloud (yeah, to myself), “Hey, you, with the scruffy, hairy crown!  Whaddya doin’? Something right or something wrong? “

A Colorful Phrase Enlivens Biblical Curiosity

So I looked into what a hairy crown meant in Bible terms—I suspected it meant more than just a hairy head.  In fact, it signifies pridefulness (Benson Commentary).  That is certainly a topic worth exploring with our kids—and with a good visual, in this case.

Your teen has seen enough shaggy-headed middle- or high-schoolers to have an image of a hairy crown. And they probably recognize when those scholars are prideful, even if only prideful about their growing mane.

You ask, “Hey, Son, have you seen any hairy crowns recently?”

Hairy Crowns of Pride in Video Games

With an unamused expression, he answers, “Are you talking about an actual crown or a head?”

“Yeah, you’re right…I’m talking about a head. But I like that term “hairy crown.”  I ran across it recently in the Bible. It doesn’t only mean a hairy head.  It means prideful people who weren’t valuing the things God values. Where it’s used in Psalms, it implies they are enemies of God because they refuse to walk in alignment with Him.

 “Do you know some prideful people whom God would call ‘hairy crowned?’ Maybe even in video games…prideful characters or players. Those who think they are the best; they’re cocky or conceited?”

Then hear what he has to say.

You should be able to elicit from him a description of a cocky video game character he’s encountered. Explore pridefulness with him through that character. If you need more understanding of pridefulness, go here.

Hairy Crowns That Intimidate

You may want to color the conversation more: “In Bible times, beastly warriors grew long, shaggy hair, so they might look more threatening to their enemies” (Matthew Poole’s Commentary).   Are there video game characters who are super hairy to be more scary?

He may offer that, in fact, most modern, militaristic characters have close-cropped haircuts, which ties in with their extremely disciplined nature.  That in itself could be a conversation (about appearance, about discipline, etc.).

Wherever he takes the conversation, you are learning about the games he plays, his impressions of various game characters, and his thoughts on pridefulness, just for starters. You are helping him to notice the virtues of God (or the antithesis) in his video games and to teach him biblical language in the process. All toward helping him gain a greater readiness to listen to Him.

Note:   I wrote a recent post about Samson, an Old Testament warrior with a full head of well-maintained hair (hair being part of his consecration to the Lord). I draw a comparison of Samson to Halo’s Master Chief. Today’s dialogue would segue nicely into the Samson post.