Monday, 26 September 2011

I'm getting rid of all my video games

Well, not quite all, but I'll explain that later.

I've blogged a few times about video games, and even listed five reasons why they should be appreciated. Now I'm culling my collection of PS1, PS2, PC, DS and GameBoy games down from about 70 to under ten. This was a really difficult decision to make, but in the end, I think it's what God wanted me to do, so I'm doing it. To help me explain, I'm going to pretend you're asking me questions...

Q. You're getting rid of some old games, what's the big deal?
Video games have been a big part of my life for the last 14 years or so. I must have spent thousands of hours playing them. I could spend hundreds of hours playing a single game if it's good enough, and there were lots that I really, really enjoyed. This is not like giving up TV, which was easy and painless because I didn't care about TV. I'm giving up doing something I love doing.

Q. So why are you doing it?
I still don't think video games are bad, but I think they've been a big distraction in my life, and at times stolen my heart away from following Jesus and being fruitful. For a while God has been leading me to make this decision.

Q. How do you know this is what God wants?
I've suffered for years with what I'll term gamerguilt; a lingering feeling of guilt that stems from doing something that other people consider a waste of time. I don't agree with making people feel guilty for how they choose to spend their leisure time, and I have had to convince myself that it is actually ok to play games. However, recently I've been thinking about my love of gaming more, and it's often sprung into mind in situations like prayer meetings, quiet times, sermons and worship. I'm starting to learn that if you can't stop thinking about an issue when you're meeting with God, then He might be trying to tell you something about it.

Q. So why aren't you getting rid of them all?
Ok, well out of the ones I'm keeping...
- 2 are actually music-making programmes
- 3 are games for the dance mat
- at least 1 isn't really mine to give away
- 1 is a favourite for me and Lis to play together (it's Super Monkey Ball 2, by the way)
- 1 is Final Fantasy VII. I'm keeping it more for the historical significance, and a few childhood memories.

Q. What are you going to do with the extra time?
It's not like playing games was all I did. Maybe eight hours per week average, but now that's eight hours I can spend doing other things. Hopefully some more song writing and recording, more reading books and more times with Jesus.

Q. Are you giving up games for good?
No. I enjoy playing games socially, and I won't stop Wiiing with mates, or Monkeybowling with the wife. I'm not going to buy any more consoles or games though from now on.

Q. Until when?
Maybe a few years. Maybe forever. I guess it depends on how it goes. If there are huge benefits to cutting gaming out of my life, then would I ever want it back?

If you are a gamer yourself, the last thing I want to do is pour on the gamerguilt. However, if you really idolise video games (and the industry tries very hard to persuade you to idolise them) then you need to do something about it. To be honest, I am still gutted at the thought of saying goodbye to Morrowind and Star Wars Battlefront II, but if it brings me closer to Jesus then it's totally worth it.


Brian & Sarah said...

Thanks, Andy, for being obedient to God. I feel like I have to make the same decision. I am not going to the same extent as your purge, but am going to rid myself of all games that I wouldn't "play with Jesus", so to speak. I, too, have given much time to these games, I had a lot of fun, but now I realize that I have sacrificed time with Jesus for their purposes. Your post has given me affirmation of my decision. May God, from whom all blessings flow, bless you richly as you seek Him out. BG

Andy said...

Hi Brian, thanks for your comment. The idea of doing everything "with Jesus" is really helpful it lots of cases. Also asking the question "can I thank God for this from my heart?"

I experienced some real blessings almost as soon as I acted on the decision, so it's definitely worth it!