Gaming is cool now. Playing video games is not what it was even 10 years ago. The “gamer” stereotype is no longer the 30-year-old living in mom’s basement. It’s an athletic teenager. A young mom on her tablet. Even a 43-year-old dad unwinding from the day.
In short, society has changed. Video games aren’t going anywhere. That doesn’t mean we compromise. It doesn’t mean we don’t draw lines. But to believe our kids are social failures because they enjoy gaming is of the past.
The following is not a real letter I wrote to my parents. Rather, pretend it’s a letter from your child. It’s a glimpse into his/her heart concerning video games. You’ll see what I mean:
Hey Mom and Dad,
I know it can become a fight between us, a source of tension. I’ve seen how it worries you—even though I don’t show it. And, honestly, I don’t like how I overreact to your rules. I just wish we could handle this in a healthy way.
Really, I just wanted to explain why I love video games. Hopefully, it’s in a way you can finally understand.
I desire significance
I know you think I’m special, but I’ve learned that I’m pretty normal. Kids at school are better than me at most things. It’s difficult for me to stand out.
But when I get home, log in, and immerse into the game … there’s no stopping me. I make decisions, grow in power, destroy evil, save the innocent. I can do things there that I can’t do IRL (that’s “in real life,” by the way). Finally, I am the one in control. For whatever reason, that feels good in my heart.
It’s so fun
I don’t handle boredom well. Even though I enjoy movies and YouTube, sitting passively watching just doesn’t cut it. I’d rather move the characters around. I’d rather choose my own fate.
The gameplay these days is incredible. The graphics, the soundtrack, the competition—gosh, it’s the best feeling. How can anything compare? How can anything be this fun?
I play with my friends
I mean, it’s not like I do any of this alone. My friends are with me. That’s what the headset is for, duh! So, I am being social.
Some of my best memories are teaming up with my best friends and crushing the competition. I’d tell you stories, but you wouldn’t get it. You seem allergic to my games, like it’s totally foreign to you. Just know that when you take away my privilege to play, you take me away from the conversation at school. You take away my society.
I can’t get enough
It’s hard to explain. I crave gaming all day at school. When I get home from school, I feel relief. It’s fun. My friends are there.
But … something’s missing. Maybe if I unlocked that level, or beat that boss? I don’t what it is, but I play more. Then more. I get better. I achieve my goals. But then I want more. It’s a cycle—but it’s a fun cycle. I enjoy it.
I long for more
The games I play beat real life. It’s almost like the perfect world exists inside these games. The landscapes are gorgeous! The people are lovely. I have a clear mission. With clear abilities. With a clear bad guy. I don’t know, the real world can’t compare sometimes. In my heart are longings for more than it offers. So I pursue the longing—and, so far, the best outlet is my games.
Why your kids play video games
As you can see, these are wonderful desires. Oh, how they must be affirmed! (Here’s a free eBook that can help.) The world of gaming offers a new world for them, an entirely new experience—where they are the ones with power. You begin to see the lure.
But clearly gaming can’t satisfy these desires. Your child is looking for God. So, press into their longings. Explain their identity, quest, friendship, and joy found in Jesus. Sit down and play a game with them. But then, yes, set healthy boundaries about the type of game and the amount of game-time.
You kid is awesome. Their heart is awesome. Affirm the desires. But then shape them.
Copyright © 2019 Justin Talbert. All rights reserved.