Dear Young People,

In the royal tombs in Ur, archaeologists found an interesting-looking board game. Ur was the land from which our father by faith, Abraham, came. No one knew the original name of the game and so it was called the Royal Game of Ur. Isn’t it exciting to know that people played board games 4500 years ago?
Games have entertained human beings for thousands of years.

Games before Video Games
Some decades ago, little girls played “House house” where they pretended to have a house and cook with a little kitchen set. To be sure, they had their dolls with them that were their precious “babies.” Little boys imagined that they were policemen or firemen driving fire engines. Children needed very little to stay occupied. Even those who did not have dolls or toy cars could play. A cardboard box in the hands of a child might be a car one moment and a push cart the next.

When we were teenagers, youngsters generally played outdoor games like cricket and badminton. They rode their bicycles everywhere. Indoor games like carrom and chess were terribly popular. Apart from these prestigious games, we played board games like Ludo, Chinese Checkers, and Monopoly (or Trade). Friends spent hours chatting and talking. We read quite a bit too.

A generation before that, people had some very interesting indoor games that involved a lot of skill, such as Pallangoli and Daayam, and many others. Young people of those times were happier and more content than today’s youth.

All these activities were good for overall personality growth. They improved motor skills, imagination, and social skills.
Today children have fascinating toys. Little girls have gorgeous dolls with womanly figures and realistic kitchens. No cardboard-box cars for today’s little boys. Their toy bikes, scooters, and cars look very real indeed.

Video Games
Children as young as five play video games of some sort. If left unchecked, they would soon forget about their Barbies and toy bikes and get engrossed in their video games. Thankfully, being little, most small children have schedules set by their parents.

But parents find it difficult to control older children and young people. As a result, these young people often get addicted to video games. Video games are absorbing. The newer games are very complex and challenging and motivate young people to work at improving their skills in playing the game. This is not wrong in itself.

The problem results when young people spend less time on other important activities because they go on playing for long hours. The fact is that video games are addictive and many young people lose control of their playing. They cannot stop. They have to play and play and play till they are exhausted. Moreover, the content of some of the games leaves much to be desired. Games showing violence and using bad language must be avoided.

Some Questions about Video Games Answered
What is an Xbox or a Playstation?
Video games are generally played on ordinary computers or on special entertainment computers called videogame consoles. The popular consoles are Microsoft’s Xbox, Nintendo’s GameCube, and Sony’s Playstation 2. The TV screen or computer monitor is used to view the output. The controller (with joysticks, lever, and dials) is the input device. These consoles are just like video players. The actual games are on CDs and DVDs.

Is it a sin to play video games?
No, video games need not be sinful. Sure, there are many video games that Christians must not touch, games that are violent and use bad language, for instance. Those would be sinful. People exposed to violent games are less troubled by real-life violence. The troubles and difficulties of people moved our Lord to compassion on several occasions. Anything that tends to make us insensitive to violence and pain is sin. Do not play games where the purpose of the game is to kill people. Do not play games that show blood and gore. But video games could provide clean fun if you are very selective with the games you choose. For example, games related to sports and car racing are quite interesting.
But just because it is not sin, does not mean that you need to do it. I Cor 10:23 is a very a precious scripture. Open your Bibles and fill in the blanks. It is a good verse to memorize.
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are __________. “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things ________

Should I start learning to play video games if I have never played them before?
If you are one who can manage without playing these games, by all means stay away from them. You do not lose anything, and gain a lot of time for more useful things. If you live next to a tennis court, and your uncle was a tennis coach, I would say, “Go and start playing tennis. It is good for you.” But about video games, even if your uncle owned a video games store, I would not advise you to start playing these games.

My friends play video games but my parents will not buy me an Xbox. What can I do?
Videogame consoles are very expensive. Video games are not important for your overall development. So young people must not make it hard for your parents by asking them to get these for you. They make many sacrifices to supply you with your real needs like healthy food, sufficient clothing, an education, and a good home environment. They must not be asked to sacrifice even more for a luxury like an Xbox or a Playstation. It is not fair to expect that. If you have friends who play video games at home, perhaps you could occasionally go over to their house and play provided you are sure that they will play only clean games.

Rohan’s Example

Rohan is a boy studying in college who has an Xbox at home. He wanted an Xbox when he was in Plus 2 but knew that his parents could not afford it. He did not want them to feel bad about it, so he waited. When he came to college, he was able to work in the holidays in a shop as a sales boy. It was hard work but he was able to earn some money. With this money, he bought an Xbox. He decided from the beginning not to play for more than an hour. He was very careful about being in control. He really enjoyed his car-racing games. But he was always in control. He did not let his video games interfere with his studies. In fact, he took a break from his games during exams and tests. He also did his chores around the house. When he came to his second year of college, the portions were so vast, that he decided to pack up the Xbox for a while. He did not touch the games for three months until his exams were over. This is a true account of a godly boy, with some minor details changed.

(Nahomi Dhinakar; Published in Youth Column of Dhyanamlar August 2006) Click here for other Youth Column articles