Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Why are some priests against videogames?

There was an article not too long ago at Catholic Household entitled "What do 10 Priests say about Video Games". I can't say I was that surprised about the responses but I really think that most of their points were not that well thought through and were pretty fallacious. I thought I'd just list and respond to some of them.

1) Video Games absorb up your time and your life.

This could be said about any recreation- watching films, playing football, going running, building train spotting, painting, fishing, shooting. The point about all of these is the same- moderation. I personally think for a single man about an hour a day should be the limit. If you have a wife and children it should be less, more like 30 mins a day and really it should be the kind of thing some of your children can participate in in some way. St. Thomas Aquinas actually puts "play" or "recreation" as an necessary element of the virtuous life, no life should be without some recreation otherwise that individual becomes intolerable to live with.

2) Video Games are a form of alternate reality and entering an alternate reality is evil. 

This is a weird argument that can be made about reading any novel, watching any film or participating in any drama production. I think that if within this alternate reality you play as a character whose role is to perform intrinsic evils (such as GTA5 or certain FPS games) then there could be a problem, but generally speaking it isn't the case. Certainly the idea that playing Zelda II for the NES or a car racing game on the PS4 are being sucked into another life where anything goes simply is ridiculous.

3) Video games are full of satanic influences and these are infectious.

Again, we are dealing with a tiny number of games that have satanic elements. I turned off the Persona IV for PS1 because I thought it was satanic. I think that possession and diabolic assault generally requires the viewer/participate to will the evil and to be open to diabolic influence, a Catholic who is going to regular confession and who turns off something that seems to be glorifying satanism would be perfectly safe.

4) Ultimately these games lead to mass shootings in schools.

There may be some links between teenagers in broken families playing endless hours of FPS games and games that reward vice like GTA and violent activities, or at least violent fantasies. The link is very very small though inasmuch as there have been very few of these mass shootings and yet millions of copies of these games sold. There is also a question of causality, perhaps messed up violent teenagers who had had really bad homes tend towards violent games as an outlet and perhaps in more extreme situations they choose to take real life violence as an outlet. So perhaps the real issue is with broken homes, poor parenting and ultimately a lack of relationship with the saviour Jesus Christ. Of course, even if we concede that there are a couple of game franchises that should be avoided insofar as they promote a vicious mentality this wouldn't rule out playing the vast majority of games that are, in moderation, either morally neutral or perhaps even morally good.

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