Video games: a point of much ire for many parents, the enjoyment of many teenagers and college students and a topic discussed in a poor manner for an extremely long time.
Video games can be an incredible force in building community. Many games involve social skills such as cooperation, teamwork and, in some cases, even problem-solving skills. At the same time, video games also serve as a buffer between a number of individuals in building authentic relationships.
Video games consume an individual’s presence while he or she is playing. Their entire focus is on that game, especially in the context of games like “Fortnite” and “Call of Duty.” These games tend to be 10-15 minutes with a necessity of high awareness of what is going on in the game. The implication of this is that not much conversation can happen outside the gameplay.
There might be games that involve less focus, but these are less popular amongst the general population. Many people choose to play these games with their friends and even develop new friendships through these video games.
Frequently, the friendships that are centered around video games are solely about playing these video games. These communities do not go any farther than the task at hand: to win the game. Video games can be and are a clear part of people’s rest and relaxation.
Recreation and relaxation are essential to our existence as human beings. God’s seventh day of creation being a day of rest and the concept of Sabbath should be present in each of our lives. However, these relationships tend to only scratch the surface of the types of friendships we should be developing as Christians.
Christ calls us to love God, love our neighbors and make disciples of all nations. These callings hold bearing over our lives, even in our leisure time.
The relationships Christians build while gaming should be looked at in a similar way as other relationships we build. To love our neighbor, we should recognize their dignity and humanity and display love and care as we would with any of our other friends. If we merely view them as the people we play video games with, we have lost a sense of their humanity. These spaces should not be treated any differently than spaces we operate in in the “real world.”
To continue, the way we should conduct ourselves in our leisure time should be God-honoring and respectful of others as individuals. Often, there is conduct that comes out of an individual while gaming that no one would be comfortable with in normal everyday life, but somehow, it is okay when playing video games.
This conduct is quite rude and even reaches the level of cyber-bullying. There is plenty of space for passion in competition without being disrespectful and acting poorly towards others.
In gaming, poor behavior has been normalized in the name of a “competitive spirit.” As Christians, we must look more critically at our conduct during these times to see what this might be revealing about our hearts.
Video games can clearly be an effective means to an end of authentic community, but due to overspent time, poor behavior and a focus merely on the games themselves, they become more of a barrier than a tool.
As Christians, if we take the call of Christ over the entirety of our lives seriously, we would choose not to engage in shallow relationships and poor behavior. Instead, we would choose options of leisure that drive us toward deeper relationships with others, but ultimately, a deeper relationship with Christ.