What I Learned from the Red Ring of Death

December 3, 2010 — 3 Comments

On October 29th, Fallout: New Vegas was released for the Xbox 360 and multiple other systems. I was very excited to play this game, but I resisted the temptation – for a little while. I had a really busy week at church, and I forced myself to hold off playing the game until the week was over.

Once I began playing it, I was sucked in. Similar to Fallout 3 that was released in 2008, New Vegas sets the player in a futuristic dystopia. The game vividly portrays Las Vegas in 2281, 204 years after a gigantic nuclear war. You encounter various factions who are warring for control over the Mojave Desert, Hoover Dam, and New Vegas. Each faction vies for your assistance and you can help or hinder whomever you want. You get to decide the fate of the entire Las Vegas area and you encounter mutated scorpions and ants, people who’ve become ghouls from prolonged exposure to radiation, security robots who’ve gone rogue, and just about anything else you can imagine in a horrific post apocalyptic world. This game is totally immersive.

32 hours into the game I saw something horrible.

Anybody who owns an Xbox 360 knows what this hideous symbol represents.

Death.

Your Xbox 360 is dead.

There have been so many cases of people reporting Xbox 360 failure that a term for it has been created: “The Red Ring of Death.” A cursory Google search of that phrase will give you an idea of how many people have been affected by this phenomenon.

In an effort to keep thousands of their customers, Microsoft extended their one year warranty to three years for all those who have suffered from the Red Ring of Death.

I had owned my Xbox 360 for three and a half years.

Microsoft was not going to bail me out. Sara and I have been trying to follow Dave Ramsey’s financial guidelines which means that we can’t just go out and blow $300 on something that we don’t really need when it’s not in the budget.

However, like good Dave Ramsey fans, we’ve built up an emergency fund. I was convinced that losing my Xbox 360 in the middle of playing New Vegas was an emergency, but Sara wasn’t convinced.

Until I reminded her that we watch many Netflix movies on our Xbox 360.

Then we had an emergency.

24 hours later our new Xbox 360 was ordered through Amazon.com and it was on its way. Phew! Crisis averted!

I got the new Xbox 360 and resumed my conquest of the Mojave Wasteland all the way until Thanksgiving Eve when I finished the game late at night. Upon beating the game I discovered that I actually had free time again. With this extra time I realized something.

The blinking red lights on my old Xbox 360 represented more than the death of my game system. They seemed to represent a spiritual death as well. Not a complete or irrevocable death, but still, a death of sorts.

I am reminded of Hebrews 12:1 that exhorts Christians to follow the example of great men and women of faith described in Hebrews 11. The writer asks us to, “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

When I look at the hours spent on Fallout: New Vegas, or my Xbox Live gamer score of 12,345 points, I know how many hours of my life have been spent with video games . I’ve begun to think of my Xbox 360 as something that hinders my race, something that I need to throw off, to use the language of Hebrews 12.

All of the heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11 were people who followed God’s calling with wholehearted devotion. I have to admit that while playing video games for hours upon hours, I’m not following God with wholehearted devotion. I spent very little personal time with God during the month of November, and I am confident that my late nights in front of the TV are the cause of that.

I need to tread carefully with this, though. It can be very easy to get extremist and say that all video games are bad for all people at all times because they are distraction. That’s not what I’m trying to say. However, I am trying to acknowledge that the amount of time I was playing video games began to hinder my ability to grow closer to God.

This might not be the case for others. Some people might be able to play a video game for an hour and be done with it. Others might struggle with the amounts of sports programming they watch or the amount of junk food they eat. We all face temptations that hinder our ability to follow Jesus more effectively.

So I’m trying to cut down on my solo video game playing. There are many other activities that I greatly enjoy that don’t have the same effect on me, such as reading and writing. I have to admit that this won’t be easy for me, but I know that it will be for the best. So if you don’t see another blog post in a week, (now you know why you haven’t seen one since mid October…) you’ll know that something is probably up and I’m probably playing another game. I invite you to ask me about it. Call me out.

Now what about you? What areas of your life act as a spiritual weights, taking the life out your spiritual gait? How is your walk through life affected by them? What might you look like without some of those things weighing you down? Is there anything holding you back from shedding those weights?

Let’s run this race together.

Austin

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I'm a pastor, writer, speaker, husband, father, and follower of Christ, to name a few titles. You can find my contact information in my About page.
  • themchadley

    Great post! We really tend to look at these things that aren’t really big deals and in and of themselves harmless and think that it’s ok, that it won’t really hinder us one way or the other. But if we look at everything in the scope of doing all we can to run the race, and through the lens that God is with us 24/7, we begin to see things differently and maybe some things we should change. After reading this I know I have.

  • austindhill

    Thanks for your positive comments! I spoke with a friend about some of the issues in my post and he described something helpful. He explained that we can think of the choices we make as a way to set the trajectory of our lives. No, my small choice to floss my teeth before bed won’t have an immediate impact, but it sets me on a trajectory in life. So that after 15 years of that same choice I’m in a very different situation in the dentist’s chair than I would have been if I had decided to floss my teeth instead. This was a helpful idea for me to consider. It helps motivate me to do things that don’t have any immediate impact but are still important. Best of luck as you continue to run the race!

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