Someone asked a question recently that has had me thinking quite a lot; are violent video games alright to play?
After a lot of thought, I believe the answer is yes, because in almost every case you are playing as the hero fighting evil. There may be death portrayed but no one actually dies. In general, there is nothing wrong to be found here unless you are someone playing games with a lot of hate. Just like lust is adultery of the heart, if we hate someone Jesus says we have murdered them in our hearts, and just like lusting after a character in a game counts as adultery/fornication, I believe it counts as murder if you truly hate a character in the game because it is a heart issue.
Now this thought process led me to think even harder about things and I think there is something to be said about the types of games we are willing to play. Violence isn't automatically evil but there are other things that are, like murder, sexual content, stealing, and so on. After thinking about it for a long time, I have concluded that as Christians we shouldn't be playing games that make you do these things. There are many games now days that either straight up make you the villain or give you the choice to be the villain if you want to be. I believe the former should be avoided altogether because why would any Christian want to be the bad guy on purpose? It goes against everything we are and we should not indulge in sinful behaviors we would be against in real life. I personally am incapable of it, even back at a time when I started to play something as a bad guy, I was never able to get very far at all. It really just bothers me despite it only being fictional characters. I don't think I am the odd one out for this, and until now I wasn't that worried about it, but as Christians games like GTA or God of War shouldn't even be on the table because why would you want to be the villain? I think this speaks to what is in our hearts and if you actually enjoy running around being terrible, that is something I think you should take some time to really think about.
This leaves the games which leave the choice up to you, and I think these fall under your discretion mostly whether you want to play them or not. If the game has made it so that to 100% it you have to do the bad play through, that is something that you should keep in mind because that is a game pushing you to make very immoral choices intentionally. If you are someone that seems to hang out more on the bad side and actually choose to be evil on purpose when you play these games, I would say avoid them because they aren't healthy for you. If you are someone who always wants to be righteous, than I don't see any issue so long as you have no intent to actually do the bad side of things just for the sake of it.
We always need to be cautious with what we do as Christians, we never want to enjoy being evil, even in a fictional universe. We need to avoid even appearing to be evil and do all that we can to follow Jesus Christ. That means never playing games with sexual content, with grotesque violence just for the sake of violence, and games that make you the bad guy. I am not saying this is an easy thing to do, especially in modern times where we seem to slip more and more by the minute, but it is what I believe we are expected to do. So please try and keep all of this in mind when you are looking for a new game to buy.
Finally, if you own games like GTA, my advice is simple: break the disk and throw it out. You will be much better off without those types of games in your life, I promise.
I play a lot of video games and watch a lot of shows, it's my main hobby and it's a pretty safe bet that I am doing one of those things most of the day. Despite how much I enjoy these things, though, I actually can't play or watch the majority of things that are produced today.
The reason for that is simple; Sexual content has been shoved into just about everything.
Cursing is also something that is infecting just about everything despite the fact that neither really adds anything to whatever they are in. The point I am trying to make is this; if it has sexual content, I won't involve myself with it, if it has cursing I won't stream it or have it around my son. These things are straight up bad for you regardless of how old you are, which is why they are what I care most about when it comes to determining if something is family friendly. That leads to one major question though, why isn't violence a major factor in determining if it is family friendly or not? The answer is actually pretty simple.
Violence is very different from sexual content for one simple reason, and that is the impact they will have on your real life. Violence, cursing, and sexual content all actually have an impact on us, even if we don't always perceive it, but they aren't even close to the same level. Violence is sometimes a problem when it gets gratuitous with limbs flying off and heads popping and blood in absolutely insane amounts flying everywhere. In some cases this is just trying to be realistic, but in most cases it is just gross and trying to appeal to a very violent and terrible part of us. This isn't a good thing, obviously, and we need to consider it so that we don't cross the line, but as a general rule, most things don't get that violent, and the level of violence we do see doesn't even cause us to think violent things towards people. It just doesn't affect us that way aside from a very small part of the population, if any at all. The impact violence does have is actually seen more in the change of mindset we see today. We live in a time where there is a very good chance when you ask a man if it is okay to hit a woman, he will say yes, but this would have been unthinkable just a while back. Sure, you should absolutely defend others if you see violence coming from anyone, of any age, but as a man you can restrain a woman or child without hitting them. Even more crazy is out of those guys that believe it's okay to hit a girl, many won't need particular circumstances for them to think that is okay! I can't help but think that the change in mindset has its source in media, where you are constantly seeing men and women fight as total equals. This is wrong, and this matters obviously. Don't be fooled into thinking it's okay.
All that being said, the main thing that matters is this; even if you see horrible violence, you do not want to recreate that violence in real life. There are some people in the world that are unstable and might do something to mimic the violence they see in shows and games, but those people didn't do it because of what they saw. That is the key thing that everyone needs to understand. Seeing violence does not cause you to become violent, in fact it will generally cause the opposite. I have played violent video games my whole life, and despite that, when I saw a video of a man actually being killed on the news, it traumatized me. I still haven't forgotten that video, and I am the sort of person that can't remember conversations from earlier in the day.
My personal experience obviously isn't enough proof to go on, I am simply using myself as the example for how most people actually are. No one playing Call of Duty actually wants to go shoot a bunch of people, they would freak out in real life. They can do it only because no one is actually being hurt in the game. Even guys who have been led to believe that it's okay to hit a woman in most cases will never even think about doing it themselves. The other types of content aren't like that though, and now its time to talk about them.
So next is cursing. When you watch a show or game with a lot of cursing, no matter how old you are, you will find yourself starting to think about cursing or even curse without realizing it. The same thing happens when you spend all of your time around other people that curse, it just happens because you hear it over and over again and normalize it. At a certain point you say "meh, it doesn't matter," and then you curse all the time without any restraint, unless you go to an interview, job, or other situation where you need to maintain a polite appearance. This happens even if you start out genuinely hating curse words. You need to be careful with it. You can still be around cursing and listen to it without being in too much danger, but we need to be careful not to deal with it too much and avoid it where we can. Hearing cursing over and over again can and will lead you to curse yourself, and that is why it matters when determining if something is family friendly. Now that we have covered that area, we have to talk about the thing even worse than violent content or cursing: Sexual content.
Sexual content is by far the most dangerous thing of all, and it barely even matters how severe it is. Unlike violence, sexual content has an insane ability to infect the people that see it. It works similar to a drug with how it numbs you to things and how it affects you physically and mentally. This shows the most in men, but it is also true of women.
In modern media, it's basically expected to have some form of sexual content, and it's only getting worse. Girls' armor in games is basically underwear, sex scenes are common, characters that would otherwise be moral are being sexualized for the sake of “fan service” in everything, it's actually to a point where even commercials are dangerous to watch! You never know when they are just gonna throw some naked people at you, usually to advertise stuff that has nothing to do with naked people. That is the world we live in today and, to be honest, it is something that we caused by not fighting it as it started, but that is worth an entire article and video by itself. The reason it is dangerous is simply the fact that just like cursing, it infects your mind and makes you want more of it. It leads you down horrible paths and the fact of the matter is, sex is meant specifically for the marriage bed. We should only know what our spouses look like naked, not every star in Hollywood. It causes you to look at people as just objects to be used instead of seeing them as people the way you should. It creates distrust in marriages and even destroys many of them because oddly enough, wives aren't going to be comfortable with their husbands seeing other borderline naked women, assuming they aren't just actually naked considering things today. These are only a couple of the problems it causes but the fact is, sexual content causes you to lust, a sin that harms you and anyone else involved. Even if it's an animated character of some sort, it still hurts you because you are lusting, it translates into the real world more than any other type of bad content.
The most simple summary to what I have explained here is this; violence doesn't directly lead you to sin, cursing can be moderated, but sexual content does lead to sin and can't be tolerated. There are always going to be exceptions to the rule, but we don't base these things off of what the exceptions are like. There are some things that are just black and white, wrong or right, and sexual content definitely falls under wrong. Finding the line that shouldn't be crossed can be hard because of how sexualized our culture is, and it might even be scary because it means avoiding most media. I am here to tell you though, that is exactly what God expects of you. I am not saying you can't play a game that has one or two characters poorly dressed (depending on how bad that is,) but if it has a sex scene it's just not even an option. And if poorly dressed characters are an issue for you, then yes, walk away and avoid literally all of it, for your own sake and for the sake of those around you. while it might be possible to see this trash and not lust, that doesn't mean you should risk yourself and no matter what we shouldn't just be dealing with it just because it's starting to infect everything. We need to straight up boycott this stuff and make the world a safer place. There is nothing more important in deciding if a thing is family friendly. If it has sexual content, ditch it. I sincerely hope this has answered the question for everyone so we can all understand the severity of these three types of content and make better choices with that knowledge in mind.
Dedicated to making strong disciples of Christ.