As the gaming hobby grows, so does its influence.
The gaming industry is seeing revenues reach new heights with the array platforms that players now have possess. Players are more than happy to gratify their gaming appetites—the fun seems endless. But like how I saw Neo-China in G Gundam, there is a dark side to this shiny coin. The luster isn't as strong in gaming addiction.
According to Emily Battaglia of Video Game Addiction:
A recent article published in the journal Psychological Science indicates that youth in the United States may be at risk for addiction to video games. According to a 2007 Harris poll of 1,178 American children and teens (ages 8 to 18), 8.5 percent of those who played video games exhibited six of 11 addiction symptoms. These symptoms included skipping household chores or homework to play video or computer games, poor performance on tests, and playing video games to escape problems.
Experts are comparing video game addiction to other pathological non-substance related behaviors like compulsive gambling. Researchers at Iowa State University, who conducted the study, actually utilized gambling addiction criteria to help develop the self-administered questionnaire. Currently no clinical diagnosis exists for video game addiction.
I pull in this information not to set my sights on the youth, but to glean some of the symptoms they exhibit from gaming addiction—namely the lack of balance. Adults share this addiction also.
Poll aside now, there are factors to increase the hobby, such as mobile devices, free to play games, streaming services, etc. But how do we get to an addiction of gaming? I believe the issue begins with two errors in thought:
- Comparing oneself to another
- Lack of direction with one's life
Adults and children alike are prone to see their situation and compare it to what appears to be better or rather what's simply different. Ex 20:17 tells us to do the opposite of what we all do from time to time—long for what someone else has. What I mean by this is that players will subconsciously suspend disbelief in the fantasy and treat it as real.
Playable characters lead all sorts of lives and this may be alluring to anyone who is willing to covet what they don't possess. Going to work for eight hours a day, five days a week may be mundane for many and so they begin to desire more time being who they'd rather be—someone who's situation isn't theirs.
In the quote above, a child may see that a game is devoid of parents, chores, responsibilities they don't take pleasure in and opt-in for a reality that only gives them the satisfaction of leading an exciting life. The reason God says to us, "don't desire what the next person has," is for keeping us grounded in thanksgiving to Him. With gaming addiction, or any for that matter, there's a lack of thanks to God for what one does have. Our situations may not be what we'd like them or need them to be, but God knows best and He's working! We must trust Him.
Another reason why he says to avoid coveting, is to help us retain our identity. If we're always comparing, we're never really focusing on what our specific direction is in life—we're just following someone else's footsteps. A game may present an exciting experience, but nothing competes with living the exciting life of faith in Jesus that God has designed for His people.
Which leads me to the second point, the lack of direction. If you really knew who God is and who you are, you wouldn't waste time in preference to virtual reality. I've had my rounds with gaming addiction and they were rooted in my lack of direction. I worked long hours standing at low wage jobs, barely getting bills paid. But it wasn't that God wasn't sufficient—at that time I'd rather forget about it all in gaming. Thus the cycle began.
So what broke the curse of gaming addiction? The blood of Jesus and His word (Jn 8:36). That is reality. I was stripped of all competing interests and fleeting pleasures, left with Jesus—the truth. Over time, He's removed the insatiable appetite for gaming and given me a hunger for the Bible.
If you're brave enough to admit this gaming addiction you have, trust in Jesus. He'll give you the strength to overcome the addiction. You'll be surprised how exciting He is and the life He has for you—no game in the world gives more pleasure than Jesus does.