Should Christians Be Gamers?

May 22, 2011

I just read this article (content warning) about the ways in which video game manufactures get gamers addicted. The article presents the following ‘creepy’ ways in which they get people to waste hours:

1) Stimulus and Reward – Humans (like rats) can be controlled and compelled to action with these two processes

2)  Treats – Your brain interprets items and goods in the video game world as if they are real.

3) Lack of pattern in reward – if a lever spits out a treat every time you press it, you stop pressing it secure that the treat will be there whenever you want it. If the lever spits out rewards with no apparent pattern the subject (rat) will be compelled to press it over and over not sure when the next treat will come.

4) Reward and punishment – spend hours and get special rewards. Quit early and lose your progress. Stop playing and lose status.

5) Make the game better than real life in terms of autonomy (you get to make the choices), complexity (not simple repition for rewards but challenges and puzzles), connection between effect and reward.

As the result of these methods, many people get quick addicted to games. People spend hours on Farmville, WoW, EverQuest etc. They also spend a lot of money. Games can cause people to neglect real relationships, jobs, forget finances, and church responsibilities. Some people even suffer health problems by neglecting to eat or exercise.

So, should Christians be gamers?

Well, video games are not intrinsically wrong. It is ok to play a game and not sin. There is no verse in the Bible that says to flee from video games. But as in all things in life that are not intrinsically wrong there is a proper use and an improper use. Food is a good thing; eating food until you weigh 500 lbs and can’t fit through your door is bad. Drinking wine can be a blessing (Psalm 104:14-15); drinking too much wine can be a curse (Proverbs 21:1). Leisure can be a blessing from God; but it can be abused and become laziness.

What makes something that can be a blessing become a curse? When it becomes idolatry. God needs to be the center of our lives. All other forms of entertainment and pleasure should never get in the way of that centrality.

Are video games preventing you from honoring your parents? Are video games preventing you from serving your neighbors? Are video games keeping you from studying your bible or praying at night? Are video games keeping you from church? Are video games preventing you from socializing with those in the world that need Christ? Are video games preventing you from glorifying God in the workplace?

If any of these questions are being answered by ‘yes’, you should beware that perhaps you have fallen into a sinful addiction. And keep in mind that the manufacturers of many of these games are actively trying to draw you into this sort of sin.

One Response to “Should Christians Be Gamers?”

  1. robinb333 Says:

    Really enjoyed your article..

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