10 priests were recently asked to write roughly 4 sentences on the topic of video games. Here is what they said…
Fr. Edward Connolly from Pennsylvania
Reality is where I work out my salvation. Reality is where I meet Mom and Dad, Brother and Sister, Son and Daughter, Wife or Husband, God and Neighbor and, come to think of it, Myself. Video games are Alternate Reality. There I can pretend that I don’t have Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Son, Daughter, Wife or Husband, God or Neighbor. Only Myself. It’s kind of like Hell.
Fr. Peter Junipero Hannah from California
I recall when I was a kid the first Nintendo system came out, and I saved allowance to buy it since my parents did not have a high opinion of such diversions. After the purchase, they suspected my extended use was frying my brain, and I recall defending it to them on the grounds that it improved hand-eye coordination. I now think this argument a load of hooey (I probably knew that then too), and find myself after twenty-five years to have arrived at—surprise—roughly my parents’ views. I wonder how much better off intellectually, artistically, and even physically and morally, young people (especially boys) would be if they unplugged and gave their adventurous youthful vigor to more worthy pursuits.
Fr. Matthew Schneider, LC from Rome
Video games are not necessarily evil—I remember playing video games with friends: my nerd friends and I would play Warcraft II after school. Games like that teach strategy and planning but are also a great way to relax; they’re similar to Axis & Allies. Even today, I like to play Wii from time to time (my sister and foster-niece practice Mario Kart more and always cream me)—however, today video games can cause trouble in three ways: 1. Games that have inappropriate content such as a recent game where you had to fight terrorists in an airport surrounded by civilians (you inevitably shoot at least one) and with graphic death sequences; 2. Where video games put you as the bad guy such as the GTA series; and 3. Simply playing too much where this recreation keeps us from important duties such as work, school, or exercise. If you avoid all 3, enjoy video games in moderation.
[Note: for those of you unfamiliar, Warcraft II is a strategy game where you control a town and army of orcs or humans; World of Warcraft is a completely different game which easily falls into problem #3 because of its addictive nature.]
Msgr. Charles Pope from Washington, D.C.
Video Games are entertaining to be sure. But they are poor training for life which does not unfold at the pace of these games. Much of the ADHD diagnosed today is more likely a poor attention span that results from hyper-stimulation intrinsic to many of these games. One may wonder how a steady diet of these frantic, loud and sometimes violent games can dispose one to pray and listen for the still, quiet voice of God.
Fr. Ezra Sullivan from Rome
Like television, many people make arguments in favor of video games that have little to do with the real purpose of the game. For instance, people say they can learn about history by watching television; or they can perfect eye-hand coordination by video games. But everyone knows that the real point of video games is to have fun by escaping reality. That sort of fun is like a highly-toxic medicine: it should be taken in small, rare doses, if at all.
Fr. Donald Calloway from Massachusetts
Children should be outside playing, doing physical activity, and not sitting in front of a screen all day playing the part of a cyber hero in someone else’s fantasy world. As a norm, adults should not be playing video games; their leisure moments should be more dignified and age appropriate. It’s so sad today to see how many grown men live in a fantasy world of video games; waste of time and money. No woman I know delights in dating and/or marrying a man who sits on his duff all day pushing buttons frantically like a lunatic.
Fr. Christopher Pollard from Virginia
How many hours of Tetris are too many? When you close your eyes yet the pieces are still falling and the music is still playing. After college I banished games from my computer. Now it’s a lot easier to pray when I close my eyes.
Fr. Thomas Longua from Texas
Do the research. There are serious consequences mentally and physically. Morally: ask an exorcist about what he has to deal with because his patients are hooked on these things.
Fr. Edward Murphy from Florida
The very concept of virtual reality is causing our children to have a significant disconnect with reality as we know it now. When our youth are obsessed with video games, they fantasize about things that are inane, ludicrous and violent. Why, we may ask, do we continue to see the pattern of mass shootings in schools and universities? It is a known fact that many of these senseless acts of violence can be attributed to our young people living in a fantasy world.
Fr. John Hollowell from Indiana
The sci-fi thriller “The Matrix” was a film about an alternate world that seemed real to those living in it. One of the characters was rescued from the “fake world” but wanted to go back in. I see this in many young people today – video games are so realistic that people often times desire to “live” in them, but this can only be damaging. God is encountered only in reality, and so those who are enslaved by electronic realities can not encounter God unless they return to the real world where God is to be found.