Some have said life is like a video game.
This statement reminds me of a recent movie review by a mother claiming the Lord of the Rings borrowed heavily from Harry Potter.
Video games are loosely based on life, not the other way around. Life is like a video game only because video games are sometimes like life. That said, some of us really do get a fresh look at real life by recognizing a pixellated version of it’s reflection in our gaming adventures. C.S. Lewis did say that if you want to see things anew, you should look at their reflection in a mirror. We have to be careful when we do that, though—some mirrors are funhouse mirrors, bound to skew your perspective in bizarre ways. God can speak to you in a brothel, but you shouldn’t then dub prostitution a sacred pathway.
Good video games can draw out virtues like courage and heroism and paint pictures that encourage nobility from time to time. On the other hand, gaming tends to speak the language of our flesh, and flesh can only give birth to more flesh (John 3:6). “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls,” the Psalmist says. I would add, “Flesh calls to flesh, and flesh always answers.”
Think about it.
I believe all this, and yet I haven’t given up gaming… in moderation. I game somewhat regularly, but I also put gaming down regularly, as soon as I find it’s taking more than it’s giving.
When it’s giving, I’m refreshed by working on problems, chipping away at difficult levels, and blowing up bad guys invading earth from who knows where. I’ve often joked with Shauna after gaming a bit, “You can sleep soundly tonight, hon. I beat the bad guys. The world is safer now because of me.” It’s my cheeky way of drawing the line between pixels and reality.
When gaming is taking, I’m frustrated, irrational, and become less effective in my real life. The pixellated reflection begins to pixellate my real life with fleshly consequences. How many gamers have (to their surprise) struggled to banish Tetris blocks or gaming levels that live on in their mind’s eye as they need to focus on something else, fall sleep, or try in vain to pray?
See, I know you.
When gaming is taking, I happily pull the plug and I’m always better for it. I would encourage you to do the same: Go, take a walk. Eat a taco. Kiss your children. Worship the God of heaven. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Savour the word of God. Love on the (real) world Jesus came to save.
In the meantime, I’m going to talk about some of the more important pixellated reflections of real life we find in video games—and more importantly, the realities that inspire those imperfect reflections. In the process, I hope we’ll better learn how to use our geekish tendencies to engage in life instead of merely escaping from it.
See you in my next post!