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A Few Thoughts On Video Games

Rusty - November 11, 2004

After years of anticipation, Halo 2 was finally released this Tuesday. (For those who don’t know what this is, it was one of, if not the most anticipated video game release of all time. It is a “first person shooter” game where you walk around with guns and kill as many aliens as you can.) Across the globe celebrations were held in honor of Master Chief and the Covenant. The minions were truly kooky.

Now I admit, while not chanting the name of Captain Keyes, I, as well, was eager for Tuesday.

A little background:
I grew up with an Atari and a Commodore 64. We were a little late getting a Nintendo, then we had a Sega Genesis, a few PC games and while on my mission the family got a Nintendo 64. Since then me and my brothers both have all had either a Playstation and/or Xbox. The Atari joystick was the best controller for my dad (as it was the least complicated) and he hasn’t caught up since. Therefore, he hasn’t been a huge participator in the family fun that I call “family fun with video games”. However, my brothers and I have maintained a fairly decent rivalry in the video game world (that is, when we are all together). Of course, they always beat me because they have no life and nothing better to do all day. (do you like how I have to verbally abuse them to feel superior to them because they are better gamers than me? I like it, it’s a little game I play called, “being prideful and vindictive”) Me and my brothers-in-law have also had some of our greatest moments together playing games until 2 or 3 in the morning.

These are all precious memories. “Family fun with video games” and “being prideful and vindictive” (which are not mutually exclusive) pretty well sum up my life with video games. However, now I rarely play. Too much school, homework, work, teaching seminary, husband duties, etc. At times I will play with friends or for relaxation, but it’s not a significant part of my life.

The video game industry is enormous. Depending on the source of information, the video game industry has surpassed Hollywood in revenue (I think that’s games/consoles vs. ticket sales). Considering it didn’t exist 30 years ago, it’s size is impressive and will only grow. There have been a few mentions of video games in conference talks and Ensign articles, usually exhorting us to not play them in excess, with special emphasis on young priesthood holders. However, there is little talk about video game addiction. In our culture there is also a lot of talk about how violent games will lead to violent behavior. While I don’t disagree, I think they affect each person differently. I know many people who don’t let video games into their homes (people with and without children). I’m not quite sure the rules I will employ in my home when we have kids, but for now, things are good. I play every once in a while, my wife has no problem with it, and I don’t go out and kill aliens in real life. All is well.

How about you? What rules, habits, experiences, exhortations do any of you have? Please share.

1 Comment »

  1. It’s obvious I’m powerless to control my children and their gaming habits. I got hooked on “pong” and played video games like crazy when they were only at the bowling alley and cost .25 per play.

    I was fine with video games up to Mario Kart, then the “joy stick” became too much for me, I can’t work 5 buttons, a joy stick and more at the same time….so I had to retire from gaming.

    It’s lucky for my sons that I retired, because I hate to loose…and that might be one of the big problems with gaming. I hate to lose so much I would probably get angry at the game and or the other players if they were beating me.

    I know my limits, I’m out of gaming. But as for my sons I see some more involved than others, but I really don’t see any harm in it. They have to have some diversion from reading their scriptures all the time.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 11.11.04 – 5:42 pm | #

    First of all, let tell everyone that I probebly play less videogames then Rusty does and that he just stinks so bad and I’m obviously better then he is in everything, EVER!
    Secondly, I’m not sure what your point is, Russ, but my take on videogames is like everything else, moderation. There’s nothing wrong with video games, even with large chunks of time doing it, as long as those large chunks of time are very infrequent. I plan to use one of those this weekend to beat Halo 2, in fact. Other then that, I’d rather play ping pong, or read or something if I ever get the free time to do so.
    Thirdly, I was just thinking about doing a seperate post on video games and being de-sensitized to violence. Personally, I’ve grown up playing violent video games (some quite harsh) and watching violent movies but I am in no way a violent person. I’ve never been in a fight in my life.
    P.S.–I’ll also confirm the fact that my dad does NOT like to lose! But at least he just sits and pouts whereas Rusty yells and gripes and attacks his oppenant’s character.
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 11.11.04 – 6:34 pm | #

    I didn’t really have a point. Just rambling. What’s funny about you saying that I yell and gripe (which is true) at least I don’t say that the computer cheats and knows I’m playing.
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 11.11.04 – 7:11 pm | #

    For some people it’s R-rated movies, for others, it’s caffeinated beverages.

    For me, it’s violent video games and gambling. I can’t abide either.
    Chris Williams | Email | Homepage | 11.11.04 – 9:13 pm | #

    My hubby has a Game Cube, Xbox, Gameboy Player (hooks up to the Cube and plays GBA games), and the new PS2 (but he only likes a couple PS2 games, so we’ll give it to my brother for Christmas). He’s also a big PC gamer, but he’s had problems with his PC, so he hasn’t done that in a while. I myself have a Game Boy Advance SP, but I play easy games like the original Mario and Kirby. ^_^
    He was anxious for Halo 2, but was disappointed, as it lost it’s fun-ness after a while.
    I don’t mind him playing games, especially while I do homework. And he does stop every once in a while and give me a hug or something, so I don’t mind.
    Games do affect people differently; he may steal cars in a game, but he wouldn’t want to in real life.
    Sister T | Email | Homepage | 11.11.04 – 10:58 pm | #

    I must admit I am quite alright with the fact that my husband could really care less about video games, though he certainly enjoys opportunites to play during vacations. I’ll also admit that “Super Mario Brothers” was about as advanced as I ever got in the video world.

    So with that limited first-hand experience, I’ll simply agree with the statement of “moderation in all things.” I can see the good in “family bonding” over the Playstation or taking time out to unwind over the X-box at the end of the day. But limits should obviously be set. I’ve known too many people who’ve closed certain windows of opportunities in their lives because they wasted too much time gaming instead of doing more productive things.

    So I say go ahead and play once in a while, but be sure to ask yourself what better ways could you be making use of that time? To quote a classic from Elder Ballard, “What will you say to the Lord when He asks what you have done with the precious gift of life and time? Surely you will not feel comfortable telling Him that you were able to pass the 100,000-point level in a challenging video game.” (“Be Strong in the Lord,” Ensign, July 2004, p.
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 11.12.04 – 12:24 am | #

    That smiley said p. 8 before it turned itself into a smiley. Sorry!
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 11.12.04 – 12:25 am | #

    Just because I like Elder Ballard’s article so much, here’s what he said just before the part I quoted above:

    “…one of the ways Satan lessens your effectiveness and weakens your spiritual strength is by encouraging you to spend large blocks of your time doing things that matter very little. I speak of such things as sitting for hours on end watching television or videos, playing video games night in and night out, surfing the Internet, or devoting huge blocks of time to sports, games, or other recreational activities.

    “Don’t misunderstand me. These activities are not wrong in and of themselves (unless, of course, you are watching salacious programs or seeking out pornographic images on the Internet). Games, sports, recreational activities, and even television can be relaxing and rejuvenating, especially in times when you are under stress or heavily scheduled. You need activities that help you to unwind and rest your minds. It is healthy to go onto the soccer field or the basketball court and participate in vigorous physical activity.

    “But I speak of letting things get out of balance. It is not watching television, but watching television hour after hour, night after night. Does not that qualify as idling away your time?”
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 11.12.04 – 12:27 am | #

    OK ok I know you were all waiting for me to comment, and yes I kick the junk outta Rusty and Bret when it comes to video games. Now you can only expect them to whine about how I don’t have a life or something, but ya know what? Meh.
    I’ve been playing games since I can possibly remember. I’m 20 and hey, it sums up my generation. I’m the guy with a PS2, XBox, PC, GameBoy SP, and even a cell phone with more games than my PS2. Its my hobby, its been my passion, and my escape. A couple of hours playin’ after a VERY long day at school was my norm in High School. My mom has read the paper for hours on end after a meal my dad has watch tv them same, and I sat at the computer as well. We all need escapes and we all need some hobbies too. But I could still have a 2 hour conversation on the economics of viedo games and how they’ve affect the worlds entertainment industry etc. So yes, you think I might not have a life cause Halo 2 came out on Tuesday at midnight and I was already holding a Halo party. Or that I picked up my copy after work on Tuesday night and had it beat before I went to bed. BUT HEY, I have the time to do those things. All I do is work and come home every day, thats a lot of hours of free time. I’m not in school, have a wife, have a church calling, have a high matinence job etc. I’m 20, and it’s what I am choosing to do with some of my time.
    Now, I am not condoning a game addiction, no addiction is ok. And I do know many people who are addicted. I have a friend here in Utah whose 19 year old brother wakes up at 3 in the afternoon everyday just to play Final Fantasy 11 until 4 am and then go back to bed. The kid’s never even had a job before nor even applied to one!
    I think video games get too much blame for things. These different youth crimes keep on being blamed on them, when as Rusty said, the bussiness is doing better than the movie industry. So if so many people are playing these games, how come only a few of these crimes are their fault. Grand Theft Auto 3 has been the most controversial game to date, it has a mature rating (as in equal to the content of a rated R movie) yet it is the highest grossing video game to date!(probably to be surpassed by Halo 2 shortly) This game alone sold 150 million PLUS copies world wide in less than a year of distribution. Thats roughly 7.5 BILLION dollars. Know a movie thats made that much?
    Video games need to be regulated by parents. They have a rating system for this specific reason, if only people would take note of them before giving them to thier 13 year old this Christmas. Hey, my parents gave me Grand Theft Auto 3 for Christmas one year, and I know they weren’t looking at the rating on the box, and I KNOW parents arent looking when they give they’re 14 year old the same product.
    Bryce | Email | Homepage | 11.12.04 – 4:59 am | #

    So, Bryce…

    Because you don’t “have” to have any other responsibilities to take up your time, spending 2 hours a day (let’s see, that’s 14 hrs/wk, 60 hrs/month, 730 hrs/year) on video games is a good thing to do?

    Now I’m not saying video games are bad or that you need to stop playing them. I’m just saying we all need to analyze our use of “free” time: we’ll do what it takes to block out a half hour or hour for our favorite TV show, but do we give the same priority to scheduling in our daily scripture study? If we happen to have more free time than the next guy, wouldn’t Heavenly Father rather have us use some of it giving service to others, reading uplifting material, getting involved in the community, attending the temple more, etc.?
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 11.12.04 – 8:47 am | #

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be doing those things. All I am saying is Rusty really doesnt have the time to put into playing a video game. I do. So does that make me lazy? Or some how make it a waste of soul because I enjoy some time I spend playing video games?
    Bryce | Email | Homepage | 11.12.04 – 9:02 am | #

    I would like to point out, since we’re talking moderation and all that, that my husband has had health problems for almost eleven months, and all he can do is play games. He doesn’t mind, but then again, he does get tired of it every now and then and wants to be able to take a walk in the park or do something productive.
    Sister T | Email | Homepage | 11.12.04 – 11:57 am | #

    Two things: First, Amy has a point about what we do with our free time. There’s two forms of entertainment and we need both of them. One is the kind that involves no engaging of the mind (i.e.–movies, video games, etc)and when I say that I mean it makes you a better person and expands your horizons type of thing. This is ok. However, much more entertainment time should really be used in the type that expands your mind and helps yourself and others become a better person. Examples would be reading good books (as defined in D&C), learning a language, being in a club, physical excercise, etc.
    Second, addictions can be good or bad, depending on what it is. I’m addicted to reading and I think that is a good thing. The only way addiction could be considered to always be bad is if you mean it takes you away from your priorities. Like with reading, if I decided to read instead of go to church or something. Does that make sense?
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 11.12.04 – 2:33 pm | #

    Isn’t it less-evil to get frustrated and yell and degrade an inanimate object then at another person/opponent? >:p
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 11.12.04 – 2:36 pm | #

    When I got Halo I was up until 4:00 every morning playing it until I finished. I rarely played the XBox after. (I should note that I was single at the time) Some roommates loved it, other hated it because when they weren’t playing there was no one being social – they were playing the game.

    I don’t play games much, although I do play Star Wars Galatic Battlegrounds late at night sometimes on my Mac. (Basically like Warcraft, only in the Star Wars universe) My wife got mad at me a few times for doing this. But then it really isn’t much worse than staying up late blogging, is it?
    Clark | Email | Homepage | 11.12.04 – 5:28 pm | #

    My husband and I both play video games. We love it. We have all systems, and we do enjoy all kinds of games.

    I get somewhat upset at these kinds of discussions. I don’t feel the need to defend our recreation, and yet, there seems to be undertones that playing video games is somehow wrong. Also that watching TV is wrong. And the list goes on.

    We are here to grow as people. We are also here to find joy. If something isn’t sending away the spirit, then I see nothing wrong with it.
    Aimee Roo | Email | Homepage | 11.13.04 – 11:04 pm | #

    Thank You Aimee Roo. I feel the EXACT same way!
    Bryce | Email | Homepage | 11.14.04 – 3:21 am | #



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