Video Games: A Good Form of Entertainment or Unnecessary Distraction?
As Traditional Catholics, topics like video games may seem unimportant until they begin affecting those around us. We may be a parent who is struggling with children playing too much, or a spouse whose significant other has become too distracted and is neglecting their duty of state, or even recognize that we personally struggle with an addiction to video games. In any case, small topics like this should be discussed on occasion in order for us to have material to use and think about when a temptation or struggle like this crosses our path.
Our world is doing a very good job with filling our lives with distractions, that if we do not educate ourselves and set boundaries and lines when it comes to things such as modern technology, modern fashion and the like, it will become far too overwhelming and seem impossible to be a Catholic. But it is not impossible at all. In fact, our times offer us the greatest opportunity to fight for the Faith and become the greatest of saints. If God has placed us in this time of the world and this situation, He knows we can become very holy and merit great rewards in the here and now. Let us then take a look at the issue of video games, and what we can do if those around us are struggling
A first point that has to be taken into consideration is what kind of video games are being played. If these games involve anything unnecessarily violent, impure, or promote any other kind of sin, such games should be avoided entirely. This may seem harsh to those who play such games, but how will we resist sin if we are constantly looking at it and becoming desensitized?
Pope Pius XII in his 1954 encyclical Sacra Virginitas on holy virginity, speaks about the occasion of sin: " On this point it should be noted, as indeed the Fathers and Doctors of the Church teach, that we can more easily struggle against and repress the wiles of evil and the enticements of the passions if we do not struggle directly against them, but rather flee from them as best we may. For the preserving of chastity, according to the teaching of Jerome, flight is more effective than open warfare: ‘Therefore I flee, lest I be overcome.’ Flight must be understood in this sense, that not only do we diligently avoid occasion of sin, but especially that in struggles of this kind we lift our minds and hearts to God...."
We can tell ourselves as much as we want to, that even if great amounts of violence and impurity are always in front of us that we will not be affected, but this is only what the devil wants us to think. Before we know it, the impurity online, on the television, and all around us won’t seem like such a big deal anymore and it will become much easier to sin. So regarding whether we should play video games with questionable themes, it is better to avoid them and protect our eternal souls, rather than put them in danger and become unfeeling when we see sin and corruption.
Once it has been determined that the video games we are playing do not have bad content, we should ask ourselves if they are taking us away from our duty. In this article I will not condemn video games altogether, since at the end of the day playing games on a screen is not a sin. Also when you treat something that is not necessarily evil and condemn it, people who are struggling will not find the encouragement and comfort they need to break such a habit. Therefore, if we find the games we are playing are not making us sin or putting us in the occasion of sin, we should look at how much time it is taking up in our lives and if it is distracting us from our daily duty.
If we are saying our daily prayers, doing our duty of state (whether we are a student and are studying properly, or a mother taking care of her children and the house, or a father making his wages to support his family), and having a bit of time to play games as a form of entertainment and relaxation, then there is no evil in such an act. All things should be done in moderation and common sense, and if this is your intention when playing video games, God is not going to look at it as one of your faults.
To give a contrast, St. Anthony the Abbot says: “The devil dreads fasting, prayer, humility, and good works: he is not able even to stop my mouth which speak(s) against him. The illusions of the devil soon vanish, especially if a man arms himself with the Sign of the Cross. The devils tremble at the Sign of the Cross of our Lord, by which He triumphed over and disarmed them.” If we are doing things like fasting, saying our prayers, and doing our best to follow God’s Will, video games are not an evil. As long as we follow the will of God we need not worry or be anxious, but trust that God will take care of us and take us to Heaven.
Finally, if we are going to use video games as a form of entertainment, let us take time to reflect on other hobbies we could get involved with, instead of gaming. Hobbies such as drawing, reading, or playing a sport, all these things not only relax us but help us grow and strengthen our minds and bodies. Video games may be satisfying in the moment, but between what they do to our eyes as well as our minds, perhaps we can spend time in a better way. We should always try to use our time wisely, and considering how video games can be very addicting, it is usually best to try and distance yourself from them as much as you can. After all, we do not have much time here on earth, and would not want to waste the precious time God gives us.
Therefore, if we find ourselves struggling with wasting time, especially with video games, let us pray to God that He will make His Will known and help us find good ways to relax and spend our days. It may seem like God has no time to be prayed to about something like video games, but if we place absolutely everything in His hands, we will find the happiness and peace we are looking for.
As St. Francis de Sales prayed:
“Lord, I am Thine, and I must belong to no one but Thee. My soul is Thine, and must live only by Thee. My will is Thine, and must love only for Thee. I must love Thee as my first Cause, since I am from You. I must love Thee as my end and rest, since I am for Thee. I must love Thee more than my own being, since my being subsists by Thee. I must love Thee more than myself, since I am all Thine and all in Thine. Amen.”
The Saints did not keep a part of themselves for God and a part of themselves for the world, but rather gave all to our heavenly Father in order to reach perfection. At the sound of this, the young might think the path to perfection is too strict and boring; but when the same young people feel empty because they have sat in front of a screen all day and have gotten nothing done, the path to perfection won’t seem so dreary. God did not create us for dreariness; rather He created us to love Him and in turn will give us bliss in this life and the life to come.