Christians are starting to pick on video games. I've heard pastors say that being a christian man means you don't play video games. I've heard people report that video games are addictive behavior and has no place in a Christians life. It's a medium of entertainment under attack, but attacking video games is not only unjustified, it's unnecessary.
The general arguments against video games is anecdotal at best. They are a detraction from real life; They are not edifying. We can't waste our precious minutes on video games that we could use for the mission of God. On a surface level, I can see why anyone would buy these arguments. These arguments, however, are absurd when carried out to their logical ends.
To really ask the questions, "should a christian play video games?" certain things should be first clarified. First, video games are not addictive. No altering of brain chemistry occurs when a person plays video games. People don't develop withdrawal symptoms from leaving video games for a lenth of time. Video games can, in fact, be overly obsessed over, but so can football and stamp collecting. No Christian believes obsessing and worshiping the material is OK.
Second, one has to ask what category of distraction do video games rest in. The simple answer to that is, video games are a game. Webster's Dictionary defines games as "a physical or mental activity or contest that has rules and that people do for pleasure." Video games easily fall under that definition. From here, it's simple to see how the anecdotal arguments of disgruntled and misguided Christians quickly decay.
If video games are bad because they distract from real life, so is every game. The argument would have to attack every medium of entertainment. And really, where would the appropriate level of distraction be drawn? For that matter, anything that could potentially be a distraction. (eating, having friends, sleeping, art, music, literature ect..) Concerning general life activities, the scripture says "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31) Video games are not a topic like murder or lying; they are not in a branch of activities God warns us to keep from. They just fall under the "life" category. Our time would be better spend asking, "how can we be sure we approach this medium with God's glory in mind.
The edification argument breaks down too. Unless your willing to say that football, (watching and playing), reading novels, or other pastimes should be be left alone, you can't attack video games in general.
For those who say it's a waste of minutes we can use for missions, others may equally argue that it's a gateway to a new mission field. Gamer's (as they are called) make up a global community. It includes most demographics. This shows a wonderful example of why Christians are called to be in the world, but not of the world. Given that we are approaching video games in a Godly way, it gives avenues of communication to a wealth of lost souls. We can reach those Satan has trapped in a virtual world. Games are largely a social experience. Even single player games result in conversation and cooperation with a larger community. Properly engaging in the medium would let Christians be a light in yet another dark corner.
So we can scoff at video games like the Puritan did plays, or we can treat them for what they are: a part of life. Instead of tearing down believers that play video games, our time would be better spend edify those who wish to serve God in whatever aspect of life they find themselves in. We should be helping believers understand a healthy approach to video games. We should be enjoying this beautiful art of story telling and community that God has let us find. Though, as with anything material, we keep 1 John 2:15-17 in mind:
"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever."