“Half of American gamers report missing sleep in order to play. A third have missed meals, and a quarter have skipped showers. More than 10 percent have missed work because of games.”
Read or Listen to Zylstra’s deep and winding message, Gaming Alone: Helping the Generation of Young Men Captivated and Isolated by Video Games, and you’ll be compelled to consider aspects of gaming culture you may not have thought about, especially if you happen to be a Gen Z outsider.
While teen girls seem more affected by social media, gaming culture affects our boys. “In America, among teen boys, 97 percent play.”
We are familiar with some of the adverse effects of gaming, but can it be used for God’s glory? Take a look at the good, the bad, and the redeemed of video games.
Surprisingly, some resources suggest there might be benefits for the brain by playing video games within reason. They’ve also been associated with some mental health benefits – with a big but!
“Video games stop being good for you when you play an excessive amount. More than 10 hours per week is considered ‘excessive.’” WebMD
Addiction, violence, and sexual content are three BIG BADS associated with gaming.
“The World Health Organization added ‘gaming disorder’ to the 2018 version of its medical reference book, International Classification of Diseases.” WebMD
“One systematic review from 2017 links excessive gaming to psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), particularly in young adults and adults.” Gillette
The ESRB’s ratings for video game content include a range of blood, gore, violence, nudity, and sexual and intense violence.
So then, what good can we make of the gaming culture? Can it be used for God’s glory?
In Gaming Alone, Zylstra introduces us to real-life gamers whose lives have been drastically improved because of it. “It’s not an exaggeration to say God used video games to reach Brad, even to heal him a little, and to connect him to healthier human relationships.”
Others have fun, build community, and create.
“But should Christians value fun at all… Yes! Recreation is a form of rest not only because we cease labor, but also because we honor the fecundity of creation by using our God-given minds and bodies to draw out hitherto unimagined worlds and possibilities.” Miller
THE ULTIMATE QUEST
As Zylstra puts it, “Let’s play games—just like we strive to do everything else—under the lordship of Christ and before the face of God.”
Paul writes to believers, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Paul’s exhortation here is not to be more time-efficient. He’s talking about the pursuit of holiness. In all things, we can pursue righteousness. It requires discernment and wisdom, but it would seem gaming can have benefits as an outlet for friendship and community if our focus is where it should be.
Guys are forming friendships while they’re gaming. “Men grow their relationships shoulder-to-shoulder, forward-facing, onward-marching toward a common goal or purpose.” As we guide our teens to pursue holiness in all they do, including gaming, we can challenge them to transform their shoulder-to-shoulder screen time with buddies into shoulder-to-shoulder service time for the Kingdom.
RESOURCE FOR PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS
Video Games Resource for Parents | Axis.org
How to Form Your Band of Brothers | Noble Warriors
Video gaming and creation rhythms | Concurrently: The News Coach Podcast By WORLD Radio
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