Video games get the shaft.
To see where I’m coming from with this assertion, check out part one of the topic here. Stay tuned for parts 3 and 4 coming soon.
Now, on with debunking the criticisms that are lobbied against video games.
4. Video games cause antisocial behavior. There is a perception that the typical video game player spends the majority of their time playing video games alone in a dark room, pouring hours into a personal experience that nobody shares. If the gamer isn’t playing alone, the other perception is that the only interaction shared is immature, obscene, or inflammatory. Although my response to this criticism is anecdotal, I still believe it’s powerful nonetheless.
I will never forget when the original Halo came out. It was such a good game that I bought an Xbox for it. It was perfect for a college student living in a dorm. See, every dorm room was connected to one another through the Internet. Halo was one of the first console games that allowed for multiple systems to connect together. It was revolutionary technology. No longer were you just playing games with 3 friends, but you could now play 15 other people! Four different students could connect their Xbox console to the network outlet in their room and play in one massive game.
My friends and I would play Halo together, and it would involve literally half the floor of guys. During my sophomore year, I would frequently play with fellow students in my room, and we’d the door open to holler at players down the hall. One day, one of my neighbors noticed what we were doing. He lived across the hall and didn’t interact with the rest of the guys on the floor too much.
It just so happened, though, that we were playing Halo when he came out that day, and he noticed. Stepping into our room he asked, “Oh, you guys play Halo too?” That simple question marked the beginning of a new friendship. He became much more involved in the life of the floor and even started attending a small group that I was a part of.
As a youth pastor, I’m always looking for ways to reach out to students who don’t feel connected to the church or to Jesus. When teenage guys discover that I play Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and computer games, we quickly exchange our contact information for these systems. For example, on Xbox live, probably 40 of my 50 friends are people I’ve met from my ministry.
Something amazing has happened while I’ve been playing these games. Through the advances in gaming technology, and the ability to have ongoing conversations while playing, I’ve been able to have hours of conversation with students that never would have occurred in a church.
As cooperative games like Borderlands grow in popularity, the potential for dialogue grows exponentially. Over the course of a few months, I spent 40 hours playing through Borderlands with a college student from my church. Granted, not all 40 of those hours involved deep conversations about the meaning of life, but I do know that deep conversations did occur while we played together.
Going further, I’ve moved frequently in the past ten years. So I have friends all over the country. Two great friends from seminary live across the country from me. I can’t tell you how many meaningful conversations we’ve had about how to lead session meetings, manage our time in the office, or what we are preaching on while we slew zombies on Dead Island, or battled droves of Orcs in Lord of the Rings: War in the North. I would even go so far as to say, our friendship has remained as deep as it is because of the Xbox 360.
I can’t resist sharing yet one more example. Diablo 3 recently came out for computers. This game has an interesting feature of connecting with your Facebook profile. It will instantly connect you with any friends who also have the game. Since playing this game, I have rekindled friendships with friends I haven’t spoken with in years as we work together to rid the world of skeletons, and demons.
Video games have become intensely connectional over the last decade.
In what ways have video games enhanced your social interaction? How have they made it more difficult to communicate?