Ever since the conception of this Reasoning Gamer ministry I’ve noticed a recurring response by many Christians. If I put out a blog that has the title: Can You Play A Video Game For God’s Glory?[i], what many people see is: “Play A Video Game” or even just “Video Game”. As a result, many Christians may give a “shunning hand-wave” to this article.
Why is there a lack of interest in video games among many Christians? Here are three hypotheses:
- The view that video games are just another form of entertainment is one reason that causes apathy towards this entertainment medium. It is true that, from one perspective, video games are on the same level as watching television or movies and reading novels; that is, they are activities that people do as pastimes. Many people approach the subject of video games with the “whatever floats your boat” attitude. They don’t care about video games and so they won’t invest any time into them.
- The love of one’s position regarding video games is another reason for a lack of interest in discussing them. Most people love their view on things. The degree of love for one’s worldview varies from person to person. There are many people who are willing to entertain the notion that their deepest beliefs are wrong; there are, likewise, many whose knee-jerk reaction toward any challenge to their views is to simply run away. In my experience, many Christians have a set view on video games and any discussion regarding video games is met with the attitude, “I have my views, and I’m not interested in discussing them and or having them be challenged.” For example, someone may believe that video games are inherently non-glorifying of God and to see an article show up in their Facebook timeline, for example, that asks, “Can You Play A Video Game For God’s Glory?” is met with their answer of “NO!” They do this and scroll on to the next article posted in their Facebook timeline.
It should be noted, however, that there are Christians who do enjoy playing video games but won’t discuss them with others (unless, perhaps, the discussion is favourable to their views.)
- In complete contrast to the second hypothesis above, there are many people who have no opinion on video games, and have no interest in getting one. Therefore, an article entitled “Can You Play A Video Game For God’s Glory?” is met with the attitude “I don’t know. I don’t play video games and therefore I have no concerns about glorifying God through playing them.”
Why should Christians care about video games?
Video games are NOT “just” another form of entertainment:
To reiterate, for many, many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, video games are simply a form of entertainment preferred by some and not by others. However, there is a significant difference between video games, movies and television, or video games and books or even, video games and music.
One of the biggest concerns many people have regarding video games is how much time people are spending being entertained by them. Video games are best compared to an onion. There are many layers to this form of entertainment. Some of the layers are shared with the aforementioned forms of entertainment. For example, novels, movies, television shows, theatre, music and video games all give happiness to their users. In many cases a worldview is offered. All these forms of entertainment tap into one’s imagination, etc.
It is true that there are people who could spend many, many hours in front of the television or even on the sofa reading novels. However, video games seem to be especially good at keeping one’s bum on the sofa for many hours on end. Why? This answer is huge. Here are three examples.
- Self-esteem: Having successfully achieved beating a hard villain in a video game can give someone a sense of success.
- Reputation: Furthering the discussion on self-esteem, sometimes people’s sense of importance is due to their ability to plow through very difficult video games. They aren’t good at academics. They are not the life of the party at school or in the office; however, give them a keyboard or controller and they become the person to whom you should be paying attention.There are, of course, millions of very socially developed individuals who play video games. They are very academically minded, many of them are the life of the party, their self-esteem and reputation is not centred around beating a video game villain. However for some people, perhaps more than a mere few people, the video game villain is, for them, a sense of social pride.
- Looking for a challenge: Watching movies and television and reading novels are not challenging. It doesn’t take skill to turn a page of a book. It doesn’t take skill to stare at the television set. It takes skill to play many of the video games that are out today.
Video games are taking over the world:
Focusing on Canada, according to The Entertainment Software of Canada, (THEESA) in 2017, “37% of Canadians [defined] themselves as “gamers”; however 52% of Canadians [were] actually “gamers”,[ii] THEESA categorized over half of the country of Canada as “gamers” because at the time of the research Canadians who participated in the study showed that “they have played in the past 4 weeks.”[ii]
So, in 2017 over half of the country played video games regularly; and considering that 37% considered themselves to be “gamers” perhaps that showed that over one-quarter of the country probably played a lot, and not just regularly. It should be highlighted that this does not include those who enjoy playing a video game irregularly. When we include those folks in the mix, then it is shown that in 2017, in Canada, well over half the country played video games. How much over the recorded 52% we should we go? I don’t know, but let’s assume that it doesn’t raise the percentage to 53%.
Canada is not the only country that has been bitten by the video game bug. At the time the research was being done Statisica projected that “by the end of 2017 there will have been 2.21 billion gamers worldwide.” [iii] The www.worldometers.info website records that in 2017 the global population was “7,550,262,101” people. [iv] So this means roughly 29% of the global population played video games to varying degrees.
In hindsight, my claim that “video games are taking over the world” was a little bit of an overstatement; as over one-quarter of the world being involved in video games isn’t quite world domination. However, there are countries in this world, such as Canada, that are being dominated by this form of entertainment.
So, why should Christians care? As Christians we should hone in on what is affecting our local communities. In lands where video games are not such a huge social phenomena local Christians need not be so conscientious about video games. However, where over half of the country is involved in video games in some way, as in Canada; Canadian Christians should take a closer look at the affect video games are having on our fellow human beings and how video games can be utilized for God’s glory.
To conclude, if you have a strong opinion about video games, be willing to put it on the examination table and look at it. You need to hold to an objective view on video games if you are going to approach this situation properly.[v] If you do not have thoughts on this issue, please consider developing some and get involved.
[i] – https://reasoninggamer.com/can-you-play-a-video-game-for-gods-glory/ – accessed August 6, 2018
[ii] – http://theesa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/ESAC2017_Booklet_13_Digital.pdf – accessed August 6, 2018
[iii] – https://www.statista.com/statistics/748044/number-video-gamers-world/ – accessed August 6, 2018
[iv] – http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ – accessed August 6, 2018
[v] -This phenomena however doesn’t just apple to video games. It applies to all issues; we all ought to look at everything with as much objectivity as we can muster.