Video Game Addiction or Internet Gaming Disorder is a tricky subject. Perspectives and approaches differ from East to West. In general it seems to be a stereotype of video games… or is it?
This topic is still a developing field of study, however, I want to share some of my research and initial thoughts. This is an important topic to discuss, however it is one that will continue to develop over time.
Video Game Addiction is a real ‘thing’, it can happen and it does happen. However this should not be the controlling narrative of video games or a fear that we live with when approaching video games. Harvard Medical School (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-health-effects-of-too-much-gaming-2020122221645) has its own criteria of Video Game Addiction/IGD. The WHO has less stringent criteria to the topic (https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/addictive-behaviours-gaming-disorder) . There is a common theme in the deterioration of psychological health and social relationships. However, they fail to take into consideration that what may seem to be a decrease in physical social relationships may simply mean an increase in online friendships.
As Christians we have to take into consideration the scientific facts and data, we have to acknowledge the research and the warnings from governing health and medical bodies. It should also be very clear that they do not paint the whole picture. For example, they do not take into consideration the new emerging field of media psychology and how experts like Courtney Garcia advices people to practice mindfulness when approaching media consumption and actually suggests that we use video games to deal with out moods, emotions, and processing of life events, the opposite of what Harvard is saying. Check out Courtneys youtube channel here: (https://www.youtube.com/user/TheEdgedBubble)
More important to the Christian life is the obvious lack of reference to God, Christ, or spiritual and religious practice. It is general knowledge that any overexposure to violence, leads to a desensitising of violence. Meaning, that if you watch too many violent acts, there is a tipping point and you may begin to do this yourself in real life. As Christians we have to be careful about what types of video games we play, the same way we perhaps choose certain genres of movies to enjoy. An additional warning should come when speaking about the amount of money you spend on in-game features. These mechanics can sometimes dupe people into spending exuberant amounts of money to create an advantage in game performance.
Video games are great, they are amazing, however there are priorities in the Christian life. I believe that we have to take into consideration our relationship with God. I speak more about this in our Learning Center. Make sure you sign up. It’s really, really important to know and understand how media affects our spiritual and religious practice, our relationship with God should be cultivated and protected, from things like video games. If approached mindfully and wisely, video games can supplement our Christian with and help us experience God. If used unwisely, it can lead to things like addiction, anti-social behaviour and can deteriorate our relationship with God. Game wisely.