Just ask any gamer and they’ll be able to tell you: Video games are awesome. As one of my students put it recently: “I can do way cooler stuff in a video game”.
I guess he’s got a point. Only in video games can I create a home, life, city, world of my choice without leaving my chair. I can take part in an epic journey, save an entire universe and get away with dangers, risks and choices I’d never live down, or through, in real life.
Yet saying gamers play video games because of “cooler stuff” is a little too simple. There are over a dozen major genres of games, with dozens more subgenres.
When we look for why our gamers game so much it is easy to simply stop with the list of video game genres. The logic makes sense: Games are fun, people like to have fun, so they play games a lot to have a lot of fun. Yet there are lots of ways to spend your time, a lot of things you can be addicted to. So why video games?
To understand this we need to understand that your gamer is created in the likeness of a creative, loving, communal God and that your gamer has a purpose on this earth that they are called to accomplish.
Then God said, “Let us make [men and woman] in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26)
Your gamer, each of us, was created in the likeness of a great God who is community, who is love, and who out of that created us to be like Him. We’re not created to be God, we’re created as reflections of Him, as images of Him. We’re created to enact, create, love, and care for this world. Yet we’ve found that this world isn’t perfect: We’ve screwed it up and we are all too aware of the suffering that exists.
For many gamers simply escaping isn’t the only goal. Ask any gamer who takes their gaming seriously and they’ll be able to verbalize something along these lines: Video games allow gamers a life as they really want it. In the virtual world they’re creating a world that doesn’t exist, a creative act that itself, and generally the world they choose to create a world that fits the 4 main reasons gamer’s game. To:
- Be independent
- Be part of something epic
- Max Out
In all of this your gamer is pursuing through video games what we all pursue: Knowledge that we have a purpose, that we are on track, that we matter. It is this very idea that drives gamers to game. Gaming is a quick-fix for what, at its heart, is a God issue.
When gaming gets out of hand, it isn’t the games that are usually the problem. We want to control everything, so we don’t trust the good God who created us for a purpose. We create our own purpose and dump everything into that basket. This is also a common reason gamers become dissatisfied: They know that at the end of the day they will only be better at gaming, they will only know games, and something in them is not fully satisfied. All gamers, and non-gamers, want to know the truth behind Genesis 1:26.
If you’d like more resources on this subject, a few posts to start with are: