Are Video Games a Problem?

The Problem Behind the Problem with Video Games

I have been involved with mentoring apostolates for young men since I was in high school, and I can tell you that in the last 5-10 years there has been a major shift in the topic of video games. Prior to this shift, proposing that video games might not be a good thing resulted in benign reactions, maybe a little pushback, and usually just a reinforcement about moderation in all things, blah blah.

But now, the defensiveness of those wrapped up in video games reveals deep insecurity and disordered love. Recently I was in a room with hundreds of young men, and the talks were ranging from the problems of abortion, masturbation, pornography, adultery, gay marriage, transgenderism, and every other hot-topic of the culture wars. But then someone brought up video games, and suggested that perhaps young men should put those aside in order to grow in maturity. Outrage! The roar in the room and the backlash was astounding. You would think someone propose that they castrate themselves. Someone was attacking a disordered love and insecurity.

His title implies that there is a problem with video games. Maybe the push back he’s getting is because he’s lumping video games in with abortion and pornography and is trying to take games away from them.

In America, young men who are the same age as Don Juan of Austria was when he won the battle of Lepanto are rallying for few things, but they rally to defend their games. Usually this includes talk of “all things in moderation,” which is actually not a true statement. Lots of things – like love, compassion, and virtue – are not done in moderation. Moderation, then, needs moderation. And the inability for modern man to distinguish between leisure and amusement makes that a difficult conversation to have anyway.

Perhaps in some other post this fellow elaborates on what he means by the difference between leisure and amusement and what that has to do with anything. Who knows. On topic he then dismisses the possibility that games might have some good effect on coordination or problem solving because “the ends don’t justify the means.” The ends don’t justify the means IF the ends are evil. Are games intrinsically wrong?

I had games (Scorpion’s fatality is done by holding block and pressing up up), but when Mortal Kombat came out the game industry was just starting to capitalize on male boredom as a 13 billion dollar industry, and I was blessed with opportunities for real experiences too, but by college the growing addiction was clear among us. Addiction to games is similar to addiction to pornography, and both are growing the masculinity crisis. Today the industry is over 30 billion, and if pushers of drugs and porn are any indication, the focus on getting and keeping males addicted will continue.

I’m so impressed that he played Mortal Kombat. That sure makes him an expert. Or maybe it just means he’s old and out of touch. The idea that game addiction is the similar as pornography addiction is absurd. Is my addiction to caffeine the same as a heroin addiction? Excuse me a moment, I need to step out and go see the coffee bean dealer behind the dumpster in the McDonald’s parking lot. I gotta get my fix.

The things that typically draw in young men, even when unhealthy or imperfect, share a sense of loyalty and solidarity, with the nobility of self-sacrifice being praised and selfishness being punished. The military, gangs, and sports – things dominated by males – all share a belonging, a hierarchy of codes and authority, and the call to do daring and dangerous feats. They are ways of living and belonging, and the dangers is are not just for the cheapness of “thrill” but in the willingness to sacrifice for a cause – to be for others and for a mission. What, beyond economic security, are we for today? If you have ever felt repulsed at the disrespect of a young man absorbed in video games, you can usually count on him being absorbed in a game that attempts, however feebly and pitifully, to reproduce the things forgotten by a society gone bored. That’s the problem behind the problem.

The problem is that society has crushed everything that is noble, interesting, and fun out of men’s lives. Woman have invaded almost every male only space, and SWJs poison is creeping into even things like sports. And now this fellow appears to be saying we can’t have video games.

First, video games are not evil. They are not porn or drugs. Second, you can consume them in moderation. Third, men need an outlet which allows them to do these things. They need an outlet in a man dominated space. (This is not to say that there are no female gamers.  It is to say that there’s nothing wrong with more guys playing games than girls do.) This is good for men. While the author of this dismisses the possibility that video games can have good effects, don’t you think that something that encourages men to behave in heroic and loyal ways might be helpful in inculcating these good traits which aren’t being encouraged anywhere else?

Certainly you could be addicted to video games, and when life sucks, it’s pretty easy to sink deep into a hobby which is fun and escapist. But if guys have the right incentive they’ll come out again. In GamerGate you’d see people talking about how with their games they’d trained for years for this moment, the moment where they get to fight a boss in real life, and they trained to win. If you think guys are spending too much time withdrawn, playing games, then be constructive not destructive. The trick should be giving men a real world outlet for things that men naturally want to do rather than telling them that what outlets they have are no good.

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2 thoughts on “Are Video Games a Problem?”

  1. Nixon, I think you’re on to something. It seems to me that attachment to gaming (or even an obsession with it) is more of a symptom of our culture than a factor causing problems. Like you said, they’ve taken away all the things that men are naturally good at and drawn towards. It’s no longer ok in real life to be masculine so guys have to have an outlet.
    I think that gaming can become a problem, BUT it’s not equivalent to something as serious and damaging as a porn addiction. And if you’re going to escape this crappy world (self-medicate if you will), there are much, much worse ways to do it. And if you’re going to start criticizing video games as potentially addictive, you’re going to have to criticize a whole lot of technology, social media, the internet in general – too much time spent on/with any of these can be damaging – and potentially addictive, which many people (and even studies) have begun to note.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Right. The focus people put on video games while ignoring the addictive possibilities of TV, social media, etc. is weird. Especially when, I’d hazard to say, that video games have a greater potential for having good effects than say binge watching forty hours of TV. You are at least exercising a part of your brain.

    Liked by 1 person

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