I watched a college basketball game today. Which, those of you who know me know this, is quite a strange thing. I love to play basketball, and I used to pretty much live for basketball, but even during those times of my life, I never really watched much. I was too big of a nerd playing video games to enjoy sitting down and watching someone else play ball. Whenever I did watch though, I usually would just get up and go play shortly thereafter. So I never spent much time just watching others play.
That’s really a good summation of me. I don’t like to watch others play, I want to “get in the game” myself.
I’m the type of person who wants to “do” instead of “watch.” Growing up, I couldn’t sit by and be entertained by others for very long before I wanted to be up there with them. Whether it was magicians, or sports players, or ninjas on TV (or ninja turtles), I was very seldom content with simply watching others do the “cool stuff.” As a matter of fact, I think that’s why I loved video games so much (and still like em lots…). I’m pretty sure that there are lots of guys (yes and girls too) who enjoy video games, not just because they’re an escape, but because they allow you to be “in the action” in a way that movies and TV never could. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to defend video games, I’m simply saying that some people enjoy them because it’s as close to the action as they’ll ever get.
I was reading an article about this the other day, and it struck a cord with me. It was about the effect of video games and pornography on young men. The article wasn’t written from a christian perspective, but in spite of that, was still able to see the damage that both video games and porn do to men (and women). Now, pornography is evil and wicked, and one of the most damaging forces of our time, and so it’s no surprise that it’s destroying people. Video games on the other hand, aren’t inherently evil, though I’m sure some of you would disagree. They aren’t though.
What was most interesting to me was that the article spoke of how with video games, you can get the “adrenaline rush without the danger” and with porn you get “sex without romance”. In both instances it’s a real “no strings attached” environment, and that is certainly dangerous. As I said, with video games (and with porn too) you are given a front row seat in one sense, and this allows you to be able to experience some of the excitement and adrenaline rush, just like if you were doing the real thing. Whether it’s sports games, RPG’s, or world war 2 battles, when you’re playing those games, you really feel invested….at least to a point.
The trouble with games like that is that when you lose, there are no real consequences. When you fall off the cliff, or lose that battle, or take too many bullets, all you have to do is reload from your last “save point.” Now again, I’m not saying video games are bad, but when this mentality begins to take over, they are not just bad, they’re volatile and destructive.
I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen people who spend so much time engaging with a world without consequences, that they 1) don’t know how to handle a world with consequences and 2) begin to move further and further away from that world. That’s part of what this article was saying. It was saying that part of the problem with video games (especially war type games) and porn is that they are both proving to men that they don’t need any “strings attached” to be have both an exciting and fulfilling life. I’m sure I could go on, but you get the point.
It reminded me though, of Romans chapter 1:23, where Paul talks about exchanging God and his reality for “images resembling” man. That’s what these two mediums have done to so many young men. We’ve given up reality for a false world. Many people have been fooled to believe that it’s better like that, but now, even the secular world is writing articles about the dangers of abandoning reality. And I think that when the lost world sees the dangerous effects of sin, that we really need to take that to heart. Now, I feel like I’ve said this quite a bit lately, but I don’t know what all this means for our every day lives. I of course hate pornography, but when it comes to video games, I don’t know what the course moving forward should be…even for me and my family. I know many would say to simply give them up, but I’m not convinced that that’s the answer.
I do know that this is an area that will only become a greater and greater battlefield for all of us. But, on the flip side, maybe the fact that the secular world is noticing some of the detrimental effects of these self-destructive practices is a good thing…
As I’ve said, I don’t know, but I encourage you to think through these things with me!