Gaming Theology 005: Violence in Gaming

How can a Christian play such violent video games?

What is it about games that we love so much? Well, there are many different reasons: some love to race for the gold, to clear blocks in a puzzle game, and some just love to blow stuff up! The spirit of gaming goes a little deeper than just enjoying yourself. Look deep down within yourself. You’ll see that there is a want… a need to conquer… to win!

When God created man, he also instilled the need to build; to progress. In gaming we see a lot of parallels with this. It’s that goal, that achievement, the platinum trophy via PSN that drive us. We love to compete and to experience being the hero. Maybe even the villain. In doing so, you may be required to stomp a couple of goombas, or use a Barrett 50 cal. sniper rifle to take out an enemy from afar. Whatever the objective, you do it, and you do it well no matter the means.

When you quit your play session on Friday night or Saturday early morning, how do you feel? Let’s get deeper into it – after consistently getting 20+ kills and under 5 deaths after a match in your favorite shooter, how do you feel? Do you feel hungry for more? I’ll admit that sometimes I do! There’s nothing like that rush of defeating the enemy and advancing your team to the top of the scoreboards! You and your comrades just defeated the enemy team and you stand tall in the victorious state… ahh just feel the glory!

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How I feel after me and my buddies emerge the victor in TDM in Call of Duty games.

Now after winning a match in Call of Duty, blasting through a horde of wretches in Gears of War, or beating your opponent down in Street Fighter, you just acted violently… well… in the game you did. When we assume the role of these heroes or protagonists, the game may prompt us to act with deadly force in the game. Does that mean we are sinning if we are ‘acting’ as these characters, being the puppet that controls their actions? Is it sin when you move your pawn to take out the queen in a game of chess? Is it a sin to ‘kill’ your buddy in paintball?

See the parallels there?

When I have killed my brother’s character in a bloody game of Gears of War, there’s no loss of life, or despair. There’s only laughter roaring about the friendly competition. The only cause of concern would be if one of us  raged violently after losing a match… then there’s a much deeper problem.

“The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” Psalm 11:5

There are those games that have controversy attached them, especially in the realm of violence.

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I have my own convictions… I could never play a game like “Hatred”, nor do I even desire to.

Not only in Christianity are violent games been looked down upon, but even in the media. A lot of tragedies we’ve seen with active shooter incidents in schools have been widely blamed on video games. Violent video games did not mold these young men into killers; there could have been problems in the home. Some of these young men may not have even had a Christian upbringing. Without the biblical worldview, an angry spirit may fester all the more. Teenagers especially are on a roller coaster of emotions and it’s up to the guardian to recognize any changes to their behavior that may be a cause for concern. We that are called into the ministry of parenting need to be wary in what we let our children take in; not just in gaming, but in all aspects of life.

In the Christian community, gaming is still largely looked down upon from it being a time-waster to it being sinful. My advice is to pray about the games you may question about playing and, if it causes you to feel a sinful nature rise up within you, then by all means don’t play it! I’d leave that for you to reflect on, because only you can know what your convictions  are regarding this kind of entertainment, and what you take in.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 ESV

“…by testing you may discern what is the will of God, What is good and acceptable…” If you truly seek to God’s will, then you will be able to discern what is good or acceptable.

GG & Amen my good brothers!

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