6 myths about video games

It’s what every pastor loves to hear – a young man meeting with a group of non-Christian friends to read the Bible.

‘That’s amazing!’ I responded, surprised he’d had the opportunity in lockdown, ‘how did this come about?’

They’d met through online gaming. After finding out he was a Christian, his friends were interested. It was no different from the situation of a University footballer studying the Bible with teammates but even having grown up playing video games myself, I was surprised.

And you probably are too. Part of Affinity’s mission is to ‘Equip Christians to engage effectively with society’. Increasingly that involves an online world including video games. Over the next month, we will release three blog posts discussing different aspects of gaming.

The first of the three blogs seeks to address many Christians’ misunderstandings about gaming. Therefore, here are six common myths about video games Christians believe.

Myth 1: Video games are for kids

Next year marks 40 years since the release of the first Mario game on Nintendo. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that 73% of 35-44 year olds are gamers.[1] Despite this, many Christian resources about gaming are aimed at young people and parents. The reality is most middle-aged adults are as likely to play video games as watch TV.

Myth 2: Gaming is for men

If I asked you to draw a picture of an adult gamer, you’d probably draw a bearded 20-year-old in his parent's attic. Yet gaming’s biggest growth area in recent years has been with women. In fact, during the pandemic women played more than men.[2] This settled down in 2021 but the gap isn’t huge. Again, how many Christian women’s resources do we find that address gaming?

Myth 3: Video games cause violence

Many Christians worry that video games cause violence. However, a 2019 review of available evidence concluded that violent video game engagement does not cause aggressive behaviour in adolescents.[3] Whilst Christians should consider the content of games (just as they should TV shows and films), there is no need to have a major concern about the effects. Just like youth group games of blink murder don’t make serial killers, video games don’t cause violence.

Myth 4: Gaming addiction isn’t real

Gamers often flippantly claim to be ‘addicted’ to games however, true video game addiction is no joke. It is a recognised condition by both the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and World Health Organisation (WHO). The APA’s nine criteria include diagnostic questions such as: ‘Do you lie to family, friends or others about how much you game?’ and ‘Do you risk or lose significant relationships, or job, or educational or career opportunities because of gaming?’

It is estimated that 3-4% of gamers are addicted.[4] There is some debate over which comes first – do people with mental health conditions turn to games as a release or do games cause mental health problems? Whichever it is, pastors need to be aware that there may be those within their congregation for who this is an issue. At the same time, we must recognise the majority of gamers will not be truly addicted.

Myth 5: All games are violent

Did you know the game That Dragon Cancer follows the story of a Christian couple who’s 12 month old has cancer? Throughout the pandemic the name Call of Duty became widely recognised however, not all games are war-inspired shooters. Indeed in 2021, the most popular game by some distance was the virtual football game FIFA 22, which other than the occasional bad tackle has no violence at all.[5] Just as there is a difference between an 18-rated film and a Pixar film, so we shouldn’t assume all games pose the same concerns.

Myth 6: Christians aren’t engaged in gaming

As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, even having grown up playing video games myself I was still surprised to learn that more Christians are engaged in the gaming world. In his book Of Games and God, author Kevin Schut interviewed Christian game producers, clan members and casual gamers. The Reformed Gamers Podcast engages with games from a Reformed worldview. In recent years, a number of helpful books on the topic have been released. The bottom line, Christians are engaged in gaming.

No doubt this article has left you with many questions:

  • But surely playing games is a waste of time, isn’t it?
  • Does my Christian life have any effect on the games I play?
  • Where can I get resources to think through this seriously?

We’ll begin answering these questions next week so make sure you’re following Affinity’s Facebook and/or Twitter so you don’t miss out.

 

Tim Wilson is the pastor of Wheelock Heath Baptist Church. He is a graduate from Union School of Theology and lives in Cheshire with his wife Natalie and three children. You can follow Tim on Twitter.


Footnotes:

[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/300513/gaming-by-demographic-group-uk/

[2] https://www.statista.com/statistics/300513/gaming-by-demographic-group-uk/

[3] Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein, ‘Violent Video game engagement is not associated with adolescents’ aggressive behaviour: evidence from a registered report’, Royal Society Open Science, Royal Society Publishing 2019

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33028074/

[5] https://www.gamespot.com/articles/the-best-selling-games-and-consoles-of-2021-revealed-for-the-uk/1100-6499706/


Previous article Next article

Comments

There are currently no comments on this post

Post a Comment

Your comment will have to be approved by a site administrator before it is shown on the site so please be patient.