Video Games are Not the Enemy

Video Games are Not the Enemy

I generally don’t use this blog to “rant” about things. I want it to be a positive place primarily focused on faith, family, and life as a full-time homekeeper. That said, sometimes I just get so bothered that I have to say something. Thus, a rant.

I read a lot of Christian marriage & parenting blogs. And there is a common theme among them that has been growing in popularity: the vilification of video games and those (especially men) who play them. There are the Q&A posts where wives write in complaining that their husbands play video games too much and the comments are filled with ladies women bashing men for enjoying this hobby. There are the advice columns written to Christian women warning them that guys who play video games are not worth their dating time because gaming is a sure sign the guy is still a child. There is the nationally-known pastor who categorizes all men who enjoy video games as immature, useless boys. And so on. The problem with this popular “Christian” stance on video games is that it is deeply flawed and is causing more harm than good.  Most of the articles condemning video games revolve around a few common points. I’d like to provide a counter-argument to these popular talking points in hopes that the Christian culture can move toward a more balanced, Biblical stance on video games.

Please understand that while this post is primarily written in terms of defending men’s right to game, I know there are women gamers out there (I’m one of them) and I think that’s great. But since most Christian anti-gaming posts focus exclusively on men (probably because they don’t want to believe lady gamers exist) my rant is written with that bias in mind.

1.) All video games are created equal. This is perhaps the biggest flaw in the “video games are bad” logic. Every post I’ve read about the evils of video games lumps them all into one category. However, that just isn’t reasonable. MarioKart is vastly different from Grand Theft Auto in terms of content and morality.  Angry Birds can’t be compared to Call of Duty. There are some games out there that are not appropriate for Christians (of any age) to play due to sexual content and other immoral situations. But the vast majority of games fall into that “personal conviction” area of acceptability in terms of content. If there is to be a discussion about the rightness of grown men, and women, playing games there needs to be an understanding that the content of each individual game matters. All games should not be condemned as evil just because there are some out there that truly are immoral.

2.) Addiction to video games is a sin. This is the most popular argument laid against adult gamers. Examples are trotted out of “World of Warcraft (WoW) widows” and men who play to the detriment of every other area of life. And those situations do exist and absolutely are sinful. However, the sin is the addiction, not the video games themselves. Video game addiction is no different from alcohol addiction, shopping addiction, or gluttony in terms of sin. Yet we don’t see many Christians out there arguing that no adult should ever drink a beer or take a second helping of cake. But have a wife write in to a Christian blogger complaining that her hubby games too much for her liking and the only response you’ll see is confirmation of his “failings” as a husband and father and calls for him to “man-up.” Now, if the husband is truly addicted, yes he needs to be confronted and fight the addiction. But the “addiction” card is thrown much too casually, and often just because a wife is unhappy her husband is using his free time for something she doesn’t enjoy.

3.) Video games are marriage killers. Well, no. The correct statement is “video games can be marriage killers.” And that’s true; just like every other hobby. Internet surfing, knitting, working out, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, blogging, watching TV, reading, any of these can kill a marriage if a person overindulges or doesn’t correctly prioritize. Moderation and time management are key. Any hobby should be lower in priority than God, marriage, kids, church, job, and any other necessary responsibilities. But video games in moderation are a perfectly acceptable hobby, and not the bane of marital bliss. Gaming can even be a mutually enjoyable activity. Big Man and I both enjoy gaming, so some nights we’ll spend an hour or so on the couch together while he plays XBox and I play on the laptop. We enjoy each other’s company, relax, and have fun.

4.) Playing video games is a waste of time. Ok, this one is true. Video games are purely entertainment, and in general don’t offer great mental stimulation or lasting benefits. However, this argument is generally just a front for what anti-gamers, particularly women, really mean. When a Christian woman complains that her husband is wasting his time playing video games, what she really means is that she would prefer that he waste time in the same way she does. It’s OK for her to spend a few hours on Pinterest or watching TLC but her husband shouldn’t spend a little time gaming? Talk about a double standard.

Usually at this point the Reading Trump Card (reading is a better use of time) is thrown. I’ll agree to a point. Reading the Bible or a piece of challenging literature is better than gaming. But usually “reading” refers to what Christian women are reading, that is, Christian fiction. And the vast majority of that is no more mentally stimulating than a Call of Duty online match.

5.) Video games are childish, and not an acceptable hobby for grown men (and women). And this right here is my biggest beef with the Christian anti-video-game crowd. The ever-present “boys play video games, but men have better, more mature, and holier hobbies.” Really? Sitting on your couch for hours watching the NFL or UFC or NASCAR is more mature? It’s holier? Puh-lease. Video games are no different from any other entertainment in terms of maturity. Choosing to spend a few hours gaming rather than armchair quarterbacking a sports team doesn’t make a guy less of a man, or too immature to be a husband and dad. I don’t know why the Christian sub-culture has decided sports-fan-dom is socially acceptable while gaming is not, but it is a position that desperately needs to be changed.

I’d like to mention one less-obvious side of this anti-gaming stance and that is the ongoing attempt by the Christian sub-culture to feminize men. The church has worked hard, especially in the last 20 years or so, to uplift women and “tame” men. This is a problem that has resulted in a large percentage of men giving up on church altogether because they are tired of being told they are disappointing husbands, bad fathers, and oversexed animals compared to their wives who are emotionally mature, spiritual angels. Traditionally masculine careers like military service, construction, and law enforcement are discouraged and hobbies like martial arts, hunting, motorcycling, and adventure-type sports are looked down upon. Men can’t even have a poker night with the guys anymore lest they indulge in “gambling” and smoking a cigar or two. And so as the feminized church worked to destroy every shred of masculinity, the men retreated into the only source of adventure and manliness they could find: video games. And the church wants to take that away too. It’s a very sad situation and one that I hope changes before it is too late.

So there it is. My “rant.” I hope this has provided a different viewpoint than the standard Christian anti-gaming post. I’d love to see more support out there for Christian gamers and hopefully work toward removing the stigma attached to an adult who enjoys video games. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so if you’d like to share your views the comment section is wide open. Thanks for reading!

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6 thoughts on “Video Games are Not the Enemy

  1. Wow, intelligently said. I wholeheartedly agree. Even though I’m the only gamer in my house, there’s respect for my “taking a break” hobby. And the double standard from both men and women in the church, is usually out of self-imposed ignorance.

  2. I love your rants! I know you don’t generally post those, but I completely agree! And the part about Christian fiction literally made me laugh out loud! Luke and I aren’t huge into gaming, but I still hear complaints about this on blogs and christian websites, and it seems a little silly to me. So thanks!

  3. Thank you Amanda! You put it better than I could have. I usually just break down into incoherent angry noises at some point, or Eric has to sit there and listen to me rant about how aggravating I found a blog post. Christian girls who won’t consider gamers/geeky boys don’t know what they’re missing out on. Plus I have a lot of fun playing games with the guys, and I take it all the way to tabletop rpgs and crazy obscure board games.

  4. Loved this rant! I agree wholeheartedly. I see way more problems with Pinterest and Facebook (primarily women’s entertainment) than with most video games. Moderation is the key…and a whole lot less judgementalism. Oy.

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