Video games

Not sure if this is the right place for this thread but I’m wondering about first person shooter games. I play these and look at them like video paintball. I realize some of them have realistic blood and guts but I also think this is a matter of personal maturity much like watching a movie. I’m also not about to let my kids play these games but I wouldn’t let them watch a movie inappropriate for their age either. I am recently divorced/annulled and spend a lot of time alone. This helps pass the time.

Hi, and welcome to the Forums.

I’m a long-time gamer myself with a new wife and 15 year-old son at home.

The content of games should always be in the forefront of your mind, in my opinion. But such caution with games is as justified as in what you watch on TV, at a movie theater, or read in a book. As long as you are strong, practicing and studious in your faith, these expressions of art (however dystopian they might be) will never shake your faith or its principles. In fact, knowing that there can be and is something better in life than what is portrayed in the arts and media allows you to keep a marked contrast between fantasy and the reality of the grace and love of God.

But one thing troubles me. You noted that you are recently divorced. I’ve been down this road. It is very easy to “pass the time” after such a traumatic event in such a way that you are literally gaming your life away. Based on what you say, be very careful that you are not passing the time for escapism. Do step away from the computer and throw yourself into work. Not just the work that pays the bills, but work that helps others.

These energies that you pour into gaming, like my own, do not glorify God, do not better yourself in the real sense. There can be a real danger for using gaming as an excuse to wall yourself away from the real world and the truth (both pleasures and pain) it always proclaims. Too much gaming is an anesthetizing drug–and can even turn addictive.

Give yourself a limit to gameplay. Consider other acts to better yourself (the gym, time out of the home with friends, volunteer work, daily Mass, et al.). Keep your life balanced and fixed in the real world, the place where everything matters. God bless.

I’d say that’s arguable if we consider the traditional concept of leisure. He could certainly practice being in the presence of God and contemplate some of the beauty and meaning of the art and story of these games, he could improve his skills by being mindful of various virtues like prudence and temperance when he decides to sneak around instead of go in with guns blazing, he could wonder at the technology and thank God for human talent and the laws of science, he could be mindful of God’s blessing of pleasure and reasoning, etc. etc. Anything (non-sinful) can be turned into prayer. However, he best exercise prudence and temperance in ALL of his life and not let the games eat up all his time and detract from his responsibilities, but I just personally think it would be equally unhealthy for him to throw himself into a life of duty and work. Interior and exterior life need to be balanced.

Or, IOW, acedia can manifest through laziness and irresponsibility, and through workaholism.

This ^

I game from time to time [used to quite a lot but highschool, even when its at home, takes quite a bit of time] and FPS games are my favorite genre. Everything in quoted post hits the nail on the head.

I am typing this on my Microsoft X6 gaming keyboard with my Razer “Naga” mouse on my Razer “Vespula” mouse pad by my side and I might add to what was said already that gaming can be added to one’s life but is can easily take over it if one is not careful.

The main point I think is that it is not about doing something as long as you don’t lose your faith but that any game considered should be an addition to that faith. I have seen terrible things in reviews of games that I would consider antithetical to the dignity of man as made by God and would also fall far short of the adoration we must show God through our use of His Creation. The virtual world is not ours alone but is an extension of God’s world that He created.

What we do when we “pass the time” will also be judged.

Morlar in Skywall and Earnestbunbury, er, somewhere in SWtOR. :cool::manvspc:

I don’t think Catholics should ignore the outside world but consider what is happening in it from a Christian standpoint. Not long ago, a friend showed me part of a computer game that included all the action one would expect, but as his virtual character passed a scene of a young lady, clothed and in bed, a suggested sex act occurred off camera that included some pleasurable sounding moaning from a female voice and the activity causing a vase (on camera) to tumble off its stand near the bed.

I’m only pointing out that we need to use discernment in what we do regarding such games. The level of graphic blood and gore is not something we should get used to. It is certainly not representative of any kind of creative progress, and I work in the media so I have a broader perspective on the issue. More sexual situations and more graphic violence in computer games just mirrors what’s going in most media out there. This is not a good trend.

I think it’s totally false to use words like mature to describe something unacceptable as being not potentially harmful to your faith. The Bible tells us that our eyes are the lamp of our body:


When all is in balance in life, yes, one could thank God for the aesthetics of a game world.

But a game world is not real. The people you save there are not real. The time you use in playing is very real, and we have so little of it.

We are not Buddhists that choose to see reality ultimately as illusion. As Christians it is important that we keep ourselves fixed in the real world as much as we can to help real people with real problems, including ourselves. A Christian who is merely being “mindful” is practicing faith and not works, where Church teaching tells us that both faith through expression by works is required.

I often play characters that are like the stereotypical Shaolin warrior monk. While I could role-play in their contemplation and meditative aspects, I am still just playing. I am not really a monk. It’s important to have recreative time (the very meaning of recreation, of which I have a Bachelor of Sciences degree). Yet, too much play is also bad. Contemplation for contemplation’s sake is also not too helpful. Do enjoy the art of a game or anything (we all do). However, it took the actual work of creative minds on a computer to make that virtual world that we can look at. They didn’t just “contemplate” it into existence.

I don’t agree at all with such sexual content in games. Violence I don’t have too much of a problem with.

I don’t see much of a problem with being used to violence - provided you are not influenced to inflict it yourself. I myself am fairly desensitized to the stuff - I’ve played most of the Call of Duty games, watched countless war movies, including Saving Private Ryan, which I’ve viewed twice. I believe its good mental training, plus it helps to hone your motor skills. I do think people need to be more strict about age limits though. I’ve heard of an 8 year old girl being allowed to play Grand Theft Auto before. :eek:

This would depend on whether or not the games are actually bad though. Personally, I find GTA and Saints Row unacceptable and dog-like as concerns content and moral choices. Call of Duty I enjoy though, and I can’t say it has hurt my faith. I actually say more prayers whilst playing it than I do otherwise. I’ve picked up a habit of saying a prayer nearly every time a level loads, so as to carry out my duty well as a cyber soldier. I’m always striving to do better than the last time but sometimes being in the heat of battle makes me reckless, and then I die or get injured. I then realize I need to stay cool and collected in order to maintain a good score, and a prayer usually gets me on that road.

But a game world is not real. The people you save there are not real. The time you use in playing is very real, and we have so little of it.

But that can extend to anything – books, movies, TV, even solitary activities like cards, personal gardening, etc. It is important to get involved with the world and improve it, but at the same time, perhaps someone finds deep intellectual stimulus and satisfaction through video games or some other medium, and is called to/is living a lifestyle where that stimulus is extremely beneficial. I guess, as you note, everything in moderation. I would add that the correct approach depends on the person involved as well.

I agree with this.

Assuming of course that those other real people with problems don’t lash out at you to mind your own business, are not too stubborn/arrogant to receive help, or are simply not really hostile individuals.

As for helping our real lives, one can argue that gaming is a way to help oneself: help oneself staying sane at least.

Not that I’m really disagreeing with you but some people wouldn’t be going for that kind of work if they didn’t enjoy playing and want to take it further.

Besides, I would argue that the computer is only half of the actual effort. Seeing the concept art of so many games as well as people writing entire novels from, let’s say, the World of Warcraft universe, it kinda shows that there’s more to games now than just the digital aspect of it.

Are there any games which are genuine works of art and not merely works of kitsch? I doubt it.

At an aesthetic level, Halo. Final Fantasy. Xenoblade Chronicles. God of War. Uncharted. Tomb Raider. Mario Galaxy. Kirby Epic Yarn. etc.

Many RPGs also have better stories than most novels and are very involved, even ones on portable consoles. It is easy to dismiss a new medium without thinking about it. But if that approach were to guide us as a whole, we would still be in the 8th c. BC culturally.

Depends on what you consider art. If what comes to mind when you think of it is classical art, then no. But there’s more to art than that. Games like Jet Set Radio Future and Okami are good examples however. Not to mention the music in games like Final Fantasy. Listen to the track Dancing Mad on youtube and it ought to click. High levels of classical influence.

But mindfulness is mental prayer, which is considered a good work. Also, you seem to be saying that unless one is being practical they’re wasting their time. But that would reduce all forms of recreation, art, and culture to mere frivolities used mainly to recoup so that we can head back out and work, as opposed to them being essential parts of human culture, means of wisdom and health. If practical works are the holiest thing we can do, than why are we commanded by the Church to take part in recreation on Sundays and Holy Days? Wouldn’t it make more sense for those days to be set aside for the most practical activities then? And where does this leave those called to contemplative life? Are the active orders more important to you than the contemplative? All I’m saying is that video games, and other forms of art, culture, and recreation, are means for the the laity to engage in contemplation.

You seem to think that pragmatism is a Christian ideal. It’s not. It’s a Western cultural ideal. The value of things cannot be reduced to their expediency.

Sorry, I’m being a little rough. It’s just that I see so many Christians here in my culture focusing so much on practicality, expediency and usefulness that art, personality, wisdom, and contemplation are getting roughshod over. And as a young artsy/intellectual Autistic person with other disabilities that keep me from school and work it makes me feel really hurt that people would consider me less valuable because I can’t be “productive” and am “wasting” my time “thinking too hard” and enjoying art and such. When people think God doesn’t want me to be married because they focus so much on practical considerations. Etc.

Maybe I should just ask you to read this:

The Value of Leisure

I’m not thinking just in terms of classical art. I just think the art in games like Final Fantasy is meant to draw out sentimental responses - a girl with wind blowing through her hair, silence as she confesses her love (no sound), tears which run down the cheek with eyes not shown as the male walks away rejecting her etc. all gimmicks. Now I accept that that may appeal to emotion and people like that, but is it art? Perhaps it was art when this convention first came out in Japanese manga in the 70s/80s but now it’s just repeat of the same old, same old and used as a cheap gimmick to elicit quick emotions. :slight_smile:

One can easily argue the same for classic artwork, classical music, and even classical literature.

I for one would love to point out how Oliver Twist is rife with class-struggle cliches.

But when you’re the first or one of the first to include such cliches and your work draws on far more than cliches, I would argue that it’s still a great work of art. It’s also a great historical piece and musters in insight into the human condition. But JRPG video games are just money making projects, churned out on an industrial scale to suit the aesthetic, sex appeal and emotional tastes of teenage kids who long for escapism surrounded by a harem of morally pure girls. Other games are also money making projects willing to use awe inspiring backdrops to create an illusion of being on a distant world. The rest is cheap cliche - lonely hero or hero abandoned by mates or reluctant hero who lost his entire company to demon aliens (DOOM3). It’s like the plots in pornography (and yes in my younger years I have watched some pornos sinfully etc) but the plots were meaningless and basically excuses for the “action”. Same in video games. Some terrible event occurs, the hero becomes enraged, picks up his machine gun, starts killing bad guys. Think of the movie Punisher here or Batman Begins.

And I do admit I like some of the cheap gimmicks, but it’s not art. My ex girlfriend had the most amazing mannerisms which seem common of East Asian women and seem repeated in anime/video games. I really like those. But it’s not art. :slight_smile:

The same then could be said of some of the games you’re bashing because they’re actually the first in their time. Cloud popularized big swords. Sephiroth helped popularized bishounen (and hence began traumatizing all men via girl-stealing).

This isn’t considering the many horrors that result when many people become too obsessed with ‘originality’. (Yes, such horrors exist. coughSchool Dayscough)