As a 35-year-old dad of four and husband to Laura, Jay Niblett balances his life as a parish curate in Gloucestershire with an online ministry to the gaming community.
Jay said, “I am part of a generation of gaming people who grew up playing games socially – Sonic, Mario, and as we got older, Doom and Quake, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil…
“Playing games for me is a really social and interactive form of entertainment. It’s the digital version of being part of a football club but there’s more than one game and I don’t get as many injuries. Through the pandemic, being online meant I got to catch up with friends and it felt as though we weren’t separated from each other.”
When people were asked to stay at home, Jay took the opportunity to set up his own streaming channel, with the aim of being a Christian presence in the gaming community.
“I was chatting with a few of my friends about how numbers of people hanging out on chats and streams had increased and I decided to start streaming on Twitch. I thought it was important to be on that platform and be a presence there as a Christian.”
The gaming community tends to reach places that the Church finds difficult. The demographic online is more men than women, and people up to the age of about 50 are getting involved, either playing games or watching streams. Just by being openly Christian on Twitter, Jay has found that he has been able to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives.
“There was one guy who was really struggling with his mental health. I sent him a private message saying that I was here to chat if he needed me. Some of the challenges that he was facing were around mental health but also identity, sexuality and feeling excluded for who he was.
“He was blown away that I wasn’t another Christian writing him off, in the way he had experienced before from the Church. We talked and I asked him if I could pray for him. We’re now friends and he knows that I pray for him regularly.
“People are taken aback that I work for the Church, I’m a curate, and I’m ‘normal’ whatever that means! I drink beer and I play games and get tattoos and have a laugh. Through gaming, I have access to people all over the world who would never walk into a church building – particularly I have made friends with the LGBTQ+ community who struggle to have a positive view of the Church.
“I get a lot of reciprocal support from the gaming community too. I’m surrounded generally by older people in the Church. We have kids and we’re young, this is a place where I can chat with people of my own age and be myself.
“Vicars often get put on pedestals – you’re not allowed to be human, you must have this perfect life, perfect family, everything all together… On social media and in the streaming community, you can just be yourself and I love that.
“My view is that the Church for the next generation needs to be ministering to communities that exist online, and the streaming world is a really massive community.”
“Hopefully even just seeing me, being authentic is enough to make people think they could find out more about God and ask questions. Already I have had people who are not Christians who have said live on their streams, that sounds like a great idea, I’d love to be involved in a Faith chat stream.”
Today (1 September) Jay and lots of other gamers are boycotting Twitch for the day, to show their disappointment with Twitch’s race discrimination policies.
Jay said, “On an open platform like Twitch, people can drop into anyone’s streams. A friend of mine, who escaped from Bosnia during the troubles and is now a single dad in the US had a real problem with bots disrupting his stream. A ‘bot’ (an autonomous program on the internet that can interact with systems or users) dropped a ‘hate raid’ on his discord (audio) chat. There were 30 or 40 people watching the screen and the bot played audio of racist slurs on repeat. It completely blows up the stream, he had to cancel the stream and lost lots of support.
“I want to see Twitch stepping up and stopping this kind of abuse on its platform.”
To find out more about Jay The Gaming Curate, you can find him on