From the Synodical Modern Media Committee and also published in the January/February 2018 edition of “Insight Into“.
A rising epidemic of our times is (online) video gaming. It is a source of mindless entertainment that results in addiction, social isolation, violence, sexual fantasies, and physical harm. This article shows how these activities are contradictory to God’s Word.
Online gaming is mindless entertainment used by the devil to keep us busy, so we have less or no time to search God’s Word for matters crucial for our eternal welfare. A minister once said that the word “BUSY” stood
for “Being Under Satan’s Yoke.”
Boredom is a common starting point for all kinds of wickedness such as gaming. We know what happened when David walked in boredom upon the roof of his palace, don’t we? He fell from one sin to another! Well, that’s what often happens when we in boredom use our precious time for (online) video gaming, too.
Most will acknowledge the fact that there is no benefit to gaming, but so many precious hours are spent behind a computer or gaming console. What benefit is there to playing games? Why are we wasting the short amount of time we have on earth? For, “man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away” (Psalm 144:4). We all have but one soul for eternity. Instead of filling long hours with mindless entertainment, we should search the Holy Scriptures and beg for that one thing needful. Paul says in Ephesians 5:15-16, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” While we mindlessly play games or watch videos, we are not redeeming our time.
A growing concern with online gaming is addiction. While many gamers manage to balance their online lives with work, school, friends, family, and church, there are more and more that simply “live for the game.” One young man admitted freely that video games were at one time a severe addiction. He was a student in honours and AP classes but became addicted to online gaming. His grades dropped significantly, he lost most of his friends, and he rarely spoke to his parents. Eventually, his parents recognized his addiction and found help. However, looking back, he states that he was just like a drug addict, living solely for the excitement of playing his games. Alarmingly, recent studies have found that 10% to 15% of gamers fit the criteria the World Health Organization has set for addiction.1 This issue has become so large that there are digital detox or digital retreat centres that allow individuals to overcome their addiction to gaming and technology in general. In China, they recently found gamers who daily spend up to 17 hours online, without stopping for washroom breaks. Shockingly, in China alone, 24 million people are believed to be addicted to the Internet.2 We may start gaming with innocent intentions and only play games with “safe” content and for short periods of time, but that is not where it usually ends. Due to our sinful nature, we will slowly allow for more questionable content and begin playing longer and longer. Soon the games we are playing are like those described later in this article and we become addicted to gaming as the young man described above. Satan is very patient and he is very willing to give us all the time we need, as long as we continue to corrupt ourselves in the vices of the world including gaming, and as long as we are not searching out God’s Word. Our time on earth is so short and so precious. Isaiah 55:6 clearly teaches us to “seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.”
Closely associated with addiction is social isolation. One young man wrote that he became a social recluse. He avoided social situations because they gave him panic attacks, which only started after he began excessive gaming. He lost all his friends and the only contact he had with others was with gamers via the Internet.3
Many studies have found and continue to find a strong correlation between online gaming, video games, and violence. There are many video games where the intent is to go on a killing spree, killing as many innocent civilians or villains as possible. Is it really a wonder that we see violence in the real world? Children, teens, and even adults exposed to the violent graphics begin to accept that as the norm. While researching for this article, snapshots of the many games appeared. The blood and death depicted were vulgar and sure to make one nauseous. There are also games which allow for teaming with others online to increase your ability to kill more effectively or to get into further levels of the game. This is another example of where killing is the norm and makes killing or being killed a matter of no consequence. After all, if you “get killed,” you have multiple lives and you will get more if you obtain the next level. In 2011, 16-year-old Daniel Petric unleashed a flurry of shots on his mother and father after they confiscated his violent games. His mother died instantly and his father spent two weeks in a coma. Petric, who was sentenced to 23 years’ imprisonment, is now fighting violent gaming. He believes the video game producers are essentially putting weapons into the hands of innocent young ones.4 What truth there is in that statement. The commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13), not only applies to the physical act of murder so commonly found in our society today, but also applies to our thoughts. If measured in this light, it is clear how these games directly contradict the commandments of God and how those who play them willfully transgress this commandment for hours on end.
Sexism and sexual violence, common themes in online gaming, are also clearly apparent in many games which portray women in a degrading manner to entertain the male characters. Hebrews 13:4 clearly reads, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
While the physical harm is less than the social, psychological, and spiritual harm, it is definitely a component of online gaming. Many gamers frequently get migraines because of the continual strain on their eyes. There are also new injuries being documented such as “gamers thumb,” which is a strain in the ligaments of the thumb due to excessive gaming. One of the largest health effects is sleep deprivation, where gamers become too caught up in the virtual world to think about reality. Also, the violence and constant motion in the games can cause nightmares and overstimulation. Eating irregularities and poor personal hygiene can also be found in serious gamers.5 Newer games on the market have been the cause of a growing number of relatively minor injuries, including broken bones and black eyes. Authorities were concerned when it became evident that there were individuals playing these games even while they were driving! Instances like this are a safety hazard to the general public and not only to the individual playing the game.6
When we look critically at online gaming, and especially in the light of God’s Word, we must honestly acknowledge that we should keep ourselves separate and avoid such temptations. Gaming is a slippery slope that is very difficult to stop once one enters, similar to other vices of the world such as drugs and alcohol. Gaming starts as an innocent activity with “safe” content and good intentions that one will only play good games. As discussed above, all gaming must be measured in light of God’s Word and whether this activity is wise use of our short time of grace. We must be as the people of Berea who “searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). If we examined our lives in accordance with the Scriptures, we would find that gaming would not be an acceptable way to spend our time, but rather that we should be searching the Scriptures for our eternal wellbeing. My dear friends, is that what you may be doing? Time is so short, and eternity is never-ending. That’s why we all need a Nathan in our life. When he came to David with the words “thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12), his heart broke under all his sins but also under the goodness of the Lord for such a wretch. He had spent his precious time in sin, but then there came a desire to spend his time in the service of the Lord. Don’t we see the same with Paul who then learned to ask, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). Is that already the choice of your heart?
1 CRC Health Group. (2016, September 19). Video Game Addiction.
2 Geary, B. (2016, September 21). Inside China’s ‘digital detox’ camps …
3 Skylar. (2016, September 21). A story of depression, friendship, addiction, isolation, and hope.
4 Zurowski, C. (2016, September 21). Daniel Petric …
5 Physical Consequences of Gaming Addiction. (2016, September 21).
6 Brooks, C. (2016, September 21). The ‘Pokémon Go’ Injuries Are Already Piling Up.