From Atheist to Believer: God Speaks in Pixels

By Victoria Vargas, GUG Contributor

This article was edited to Geeks Under Grace standards, and the personal opinions of this author are not necessarily that of Geeks Under Grace.

Pokeball on Pokemon cards

In the tapestry of life, sometimes the most unexpected threads weave together to reveal the bigger picture of Truth Himself. 

I suppose it shouldn’t be too surprising Jesus drew me to Him through my love for gaming; Jesus used Peter and Andrew’s familiarity with fishing to draw a parallel between their work and their new mission: “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people’” (Matthew 4:19). Still, when it happens to you, it’s a shock. 

Growing up atheist, I spent my Sunday mornings gaming rather than praying, and Pokémon was the main game series I favored. I would take my 3DS to school and shiny-hunt under my desk during classes, accumulating over 500 hours doing so in an attempt to finish the “Shiny Dex” with a friend. (I later learned if I had spent that time studying Spanish, my mother’s native tongue, I would have become fluent in it! But that’s beside the point.)

As an adult, I found myself revisiting the franchise through Pokemon Black, a game that resonated with me on a deep level. The theme of “Truth vs. Ideals,” a central conflict in the game, carried layers of philosophical depth that struck me more profoundly than before. I found myself sympathizing with N, a character torn between these opposing forces, much like the tug-of-war I had experienced within my own belief system. 

Person holding a Pokeball

I was a staunch vegan and environmentalist, but whenever people asked me why animals’ emotions mattered, I replied, “They just do.” I couldn’t explain why morality mattered, other than that it was hypocritical to think serotonin in humans or dogs mattered more than serotonin in pigs or bees. 

Without an objective standard to hold to, however, I wondered why I even bothered to get out of bed. We would all be forgotten. I battled with pessimism and existential thoughts for a decade, many times succeeding at repressing the train of thought, but the effect on my subconscious always manifested as a lack of energy and motivation. 

One day, I read an article about how zoos have to give intelligent animals, such as chimps, antidepressants to convince them to breed, and thought to myself, “Well, that’s just it. Since I can’t live in a tribe foraging all day outdoors like in nature, I have to block the consequences of living unnaturally with a chemical. Then I can enjoy life, even if it’s meaningless.” I started taking 40mg of Prozac, and after five weeks, it kicked in. 

I crashed my car, got handcuffed, and was hospitalized. 

A battle waged over my soul. I had visions of heaven, as well as lies implanted by the enemy, but didn’t know how to discern between the two. Locked up in an isolated cell without food or water, unsure of whether I’d ever see my family again, I sang to myself to calm my soul. I didn’t know any gospel music, but I recalled how in the game Mother, the protagonists fought the villain Giygas with a lullaby instead of physical attacks, so I hummed Mother’s “Eight Melodies.” 

While I did, the friend I had shiny-hunted with years ago but hadn’t talked with in years came to mind. I got the impression he wanted to take his life, so despite being at rock bottom in a crisis myself at the time and not knowing how to pray, I started praying for him, like how Paula in Earthbound used prayer to defeat Giygas. (Later, I found out he did want to kill himself, but said he was too much of a coward to act on it!) 

An outstretched hand

In my darkest hour, the melody and prayer became my lifeline. Thankfully, just as the protagonists’ friends and family chimed in and their combined prayers did enough damage to Giygas to kill him, I didn’t know it, but my mother and her cousin had been relentlessly interceding for me. 

I was still trapped in the hospital, but after eventually regaining my wits, I asked for a book and received a New Testament. I had never read more comforting words. 

After a couple of weeks, I was discharged and kept reading the Bible daily. The enemy would attack with vivid nightmares, but I eventually was able to fend them off with the name of Jesus. 

One night, a dream enveloped me. In this dream, words blazed forth with an otherworldly intensity: “Natural Harmonia, Reshiram is coming.” This cryptic message underwent a transformative metamorphosis, evolving into, “Victoria, Truth is coming.” The connection between Reshiram, a legendary Pokémon who helps those who seek truth, and the Helper or Spirit of Truth crystallized before me. 

Much like N, who acted as a bridge between humans and Pokémon, Jesus serves as the bridge between humanity and divinity, leading us to reconcile our relationship with God. The words of 2 Corinthians 5:18 echo the notion that through Christ, God had reconciled us to Himself, granting us the ministry of reconciliation.

The parallels between the Pokémon world and my spiritual journey extend further. Just as N advocated for a genuine love of Pokémon, valuing them for their sentience rather than what pleasure could be derived from them, my newfound faith taught me to appreciate God for who He is, rather than what I could gain from Him. The comparison between valuing Pokémon beyond entertainment and valuing God beyond personal gain became a poignant lesson in humility and reverence.

As the layers of time unfurled, the threads of intercession and my personal experiences intertwined, revealing a tapestry of divine orchestration that guided me toward an inevitable transformation. The evolution from atheist to believer was not a mere chance occurrence; it was a symphony of events orchestrated by a Higher Power. Through a Pokémon game that ignited contemplation, a dream that birthed revelations, and the power of prayer that carried me through the darkness, I found myself standing at the crossroads of belief. The road was illuminated by the beacon of truth, and my heart was receptive to its call.

My journey, rooted in the unexpected convergence of childhood fascination and spiritual exploration, stands as a testament to the profound ways in which life’s threads intertwine, ultimately leading us toward the light of understanding. God knows what will be best to reach us. From the depths of atheism, I emerged as a believer, transformed by the realization that truth, faith, and prayer are not random happenings, but rather, intricate steps in a carefully choreographed dance of destiny.

About the Author

Victoria Vargas is a Pentecostal animal lover who volunteers in prison ministry and is seeking a Bachelor’s in Christian counseling. In her free time, she loves animating and gaming and previously enjoyed fanfiction and roleplaying.

This article was edited to Geeks Under Grace standards, and the personal opinions of this author are not necessarily that of Geeks Under Grace.

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2 Comments

  1. Gordon on August 21, 2023 at 11:30 am

    Thank you for laying out your heart and telling us about your finding God–even through the themes of video games! I hope your bachelor’s in Christian counseling is going well. I’m sure your life experiences will help so many others going through the same existential dread you struggled and then triumphed over through God’s help.

  2. Joan Leah Kane on August 20, 2023 at 9:10 am

    very powerfully written. Very real feelings , just as depression is very real.

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