Video Games: A Glance in the Mirror


The phrase ‘rules are made to be broken’ is probably more meaningful than most realise. In Catholic tradition there is an understanding that charity always trumps any particular “rule”, or way of life.

I decided to break my rule of “one hour of video games a day” so that I could spend the night with my roommate during his birthday doing what he wanted to do.

I have given much thought to the conundrum of our continually blossoming habit of electronic entertainment.

Though I err on the side of less is more, and none is probably the best, I can see some redeeming qualities.

There is most forward in my mind the capacity of video games for bonding. Also, there is a certain form of excitement and feeling of accomplishment when all goes well. In addition there is a relaxing component to most video games that is desirable and there is intriguing research being done on the possibility of video games to help minimize PTSD. Most gamers will be quick to point out the artistic and creative elements that go in to making a game.

I do not consider video games to be bad by nature, but I regard them with great caution because of their effects on the human being. While it is true that many people can enjoy this entertainment in healthy moderation, I have seen far more of the opposite side of the spectrum: addiction.

I will not be surprised when authorities state that an enormous percentage of my generation (20-25 year olds) and the younger generations are bearing the burden of both video game addictions as well as pornography addictions.

The latter has already proven to be the case.

Someone once said to me, “There’s nothing wrong with playing video games all day.” When I heard this statement I did not respond outwardly, but internally I felt a great pain in my heart:

There is something wrong with playing video games all day.

The reason is not because of some silly argument like “video games are bad” or other related ideas, but stems more from our human side of the experience. There is something wrong with spending a sizable portion of a lifetime mindlessly manipulating two thumb sticks and some buttons in order to accomplish, arguably, next to no real world change or accomplishment.

Playing eight hours a day to achieve the highest level and the best items in World of Warcraft, for example, will be of no use on a person’s resume and in addition will probably lead to behaviours that are exactly the opposite of what employers are looking for.

Every addiction wears away a person’s capacity for self-motivation, clear and honest self-reflection, positive self-image, the capacity for active and lively compassion, as well as a number of other ramifications.

For example: my physiotherapist once told me that she is finding an increasing number of young individuals who now have the spine of a fifty year old. Hours and hours bent over playing games has warped their spines into an unnatural position. The negative results of a lack of exercise should be no mystery to us. Yet, few activities lend themselves to total inactivity more than video games and television.

If our physical bodies are ailing from this habit, what about our emotional, intellectual, and spiritual lives?

We can be assured that these suffer just as much.

I resent the ongoing movement which claims that playing video games is just “another way to spend your life”, because we might as well say that being an alcoholic is just another way to spend your life.

Even the best athletes do not practice nearly the same amount of time as many of the gamers I know spend playing games.

In order to believe that it is harmless spending ten hours a day playing games, I must also believe that human life is meaningless.

For how else could I rationalize such enormous amounts of valuable time to doing, essentially, nothing?

We all need relaxation, we all need a day every once in a while to just “veg”. I am not against that. On occasion I will spend lots of time playing games with my friends. For many people it is not an occasional day to veg, but every day off work, every half day after work, is spent with proximity to computers and consoles.

It is, in the fullest sense of the word, a waste; it is a waste of the awesome potential we have as human beings, having free thought, the ability to think, to be creative, to ponder the mysteries of the universe.

We are throwing away our capacity to reach out, to be loved, to love.

We grow in knowledge and wisdom in the areas of life where we spend the most of our time.

It is no surprise that those who spend more time on game consoles than in full time jobs have poor social skills. Many games employ active social elements in their games, but these interactions are not what any reasonable person would call deep or profound. Many of these gamers are very capable of having like minded friends, but their capacity to be strong, loving components of these relationships, or to be the stronger and more caring half of the relationship, is lacking.

I have seen the bonding that occurs around an X-Box console, and it is lacking in comparison to real and authentic conversation and mutual discovery. I have seen it a thousand times: it is impossible to have any meaningful conversation while one or an other participant of the conversation is engrossed in a video game, television show, or their cell phone.

They simply are not listening fully, and that is an awful person to have a conversation with.

It could be said that without this form of entertainment some people would never get to bond.

While this may be partially true, holding this opinion will only help to further isolate such people into these pseudo-relationships. If a relationship can start over video games then that is a good thing, but for it to grow it must never remain there indefinitely.

Video games have become a little nook to hide in where we can reside instead of facing the world, its challenges, and the very real adventure of creating new friendships and fostering them, of taking risks and leading a meaningful life.


Being Clothed in the Real “I”

Sliding into public awareness with a new intensity is the discussion over dress codes; what should, and should not be allowed in schools.

While some are outspoken against the methods in which dress codes are enforced, others attack the very existence of them. Discipline can take on an unhealthy form and efforts should always be made to right these excesses.

However, dress codes in and of themselves are a powerful witness to the dignity of our children.

One man quoted on argued that “as far as I’m concerned, what a woman wears doesn’t give a guy a right to do anything to them [or] say anything to them.” This argument quickly gains an audience because it invokes emotion, but it completely sidesteps any meaningful point in the argument.

We can all agree that clothing says nothing of permission. It cannot be denied, however, that clothing can make an invitation, whether intentional or not. But even to discuss this is missing the point.

In the same article the author provided the suggestion that men and women just want to be comfortable in the summer heat. Wearing a t-shirt and shorts is not putting anyone in danger of overheating; not the point!

We could discuss the fact that men’s and women’s clothing choices do create distractions in the classroom, but even this is missing the point.

We could delve into how dress codes supposedly violate freedoms, but that’s a bit like saying I have the right to shop naked, or drive on the left side of the road if I please. Even still, this is not the point.

All of these arguments are straw man arguments in comparison to the heart of what really matters for both our children and for ourselves. 

There is a greater and more profound issue underlying both sides of this debate.

What is a woman or a man?

Is a human being a person?

Or an object, like a bowling ball?

Or, are we people with personalities, with love to give and receive?

What is unavoidable about clothing is that it alters how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. Our clothing is a reflection of our self-worth.

Any man or woman is free to believe that their worth is derived from being sexually attractive. They are free to believe it, but that doesn’t mean it is not a lie.

We are greater than that.

Sexual attraction is a necessary and enjoyable part of a loving and devoted relationship. To treat it as the means to which we find love is a recipe for disaster, landing us in relationships with people who are emotionally or physically abusive, self-centered, and unloving.

Why would we encourage this understanding of our sexuality?

What message is a fourteen year old girl going to learn from being allowed to wear a miniskirt at school? What message will she take to heart when some of the boys at school pay more attention to her because of her choice to bear skin? Is that the attention that is filled with love and respect, the love and respect our children deserve?

Highly unlikely.

If the only factor which motivated someone to speak to me was the fact that I wore more revealing clothing, then I would be far better off without their company.

If my skin is what motivated them, then clearly they only have their own selfish ends in mind.

Lust; not love.

To confuse the attention we receive from being loved with the attention we receive from being lusted after is a great tragedy.

I am not arguing that sex or sexual attraction are bad things, quite the opposite. Sex finds its greatest fruition (and its greatest pleasure) in a loving, monogamous, and committed relationship. Neither am I arguing that we should neglect our physical appearance, for doing so would be to ignore a healthy part of living in a community.

I am arguing that our intrinsic worth demands more out of our clothing choices, and that this “more” is reflected by balanced dress codes.

Some feminists claim that men seek to control women by controlling their clothing choices, reducing women to objects, things in their area of influence.

However, men and women of integrity argue that dress codes should be in effect because men and women are more than objects.

What many feminists do not realise is that rules and regulations are often designed to protect and mature the very people who obey them.

I argue that a parent who encourages or is unconcerned with their child dressing provocatively both misunderstands this inherent value and hurries their child along a path which leads away from authentic love.

No human person knowingly would ever take this path, but if it is the only path we know, then we walk it willingly.

Having dress codes is a meaningful first step (one of many hopefully), to teaching our children that they have dignity and value, that they deserve to be treated with love and respect.

It is not about distraction, it’s not about freedoms, it’s not about permission or invitations, and it’s certainly not about being comfortable in the summer.

It is about understanding the true meaning of living within human dignity.

It is about living in accord with the undeniable and bottomless value that every human being has for no other reason than that they exist and that they are loved.

This value is never earned, never increased, never diminished, and definitely not altered in any way by our sexual or physical appearance.

To teach anything contrary is a lie.