A Parents’ Guide to Living with Gamers

Kevin Schut

Kevin Schut
March 8, 2016

For Christians whose kids play video games, there are at least four main issues to consider.

Peter Brassington
March 10, 2016

"theres no scientific consensus on what video games do to players"

For a long period of time tobacco companies were arguing that there was no scientific consensus on the health risk of cigarettes. I'm not wishing to unjustly compare the risks but to say that lack of scientific consensus should be an encouragement to parents to read and critique current research rather than ignore it.

Excellent comments on the value of healthy lives, and the value of entertainment. I'm exploring the use of games in mission and discipleship and digging deeper into Christian attitudes and wider research.

I look forward to reading more of your work and seeing where you go on some of the open questions.

Kevin Schut
March 10, 2016

Thanks for the comment, Peter!

I certainly wouldn't encourage people to ignore the scientific literature, so if I gave that impression, I apologize! What I was trying to indicate is that there is no clear evidence that gaming really destroys people. There is some mixed evidence for measurable short-terms effects when it comes to playing violent games and aggressive attitudes, but nothing that says, "these things are too dangerous to touch (for most people)."

The tobacco analogy is an interesting suggestion that I hadn't considered before. I've given it some thought, and aside from the differences in severity that you mention above, I think there is another significant difference. The scientists who muddied the consensus on the negative effects of scientists were almost entirely people employed by the tobacco companies. This is not the case for social scientists who challenge the research showing a connection between playing violent games and aggressive attitudes. The researchers who doubt the effects claims aren't paid (as far as I know) by the video game industry (or the tobacco industry, in case my antecedents were unclear). They may, in some cases, be video game fans, and thus have their judgment clouded by this enthusiasm, but my perception is that the current social scientific debates are much more about the merits of the competing research than the politics or employers of the researchers.

Regardless: you are right that parents should care, and they should continue to follow developments on this.

Thanks for the encouragement, and I hope my book proves of some use to you as well!

March 11, 2016

I was 6 yrs old when the first Nintendo was released and Mario came into my life - sparking my enjoyment of playing video games.

My son is 5 yrs old and likes to play games on the iphone/ipod.

My father grew up with the radio, TV came along in his time and that is his love affair with entertainment - movies and shows etc. - he is also a pastor of 30+ years.

I think with the pushes in technology certain generations grow up or are heavily involved with the item of the day. Who knows what it will be down the road.

We usually set boundaries for things and try and keep everyone well rounded by not letting TV, phones or video games run over certain amounts of time.

What I think we really need is a Christian company to make great video games, not solely Christian themed games (Wisdom Tree and their old Nintendo games) but make mainstream games (sans the 'shock and awe' of the decadence we see today) that are fun and have replay-ability.

Just think if it were to come out that Christians or a Christian company made Madden, or FIFA or Halo - that would be some serious headway into people's lives, lives that might need Jesus.

March 14, 2016

In Reply to Aaron (comment #27958)

"What I think we really need is a Christian company to make great video games, not solely Christian themed games ... that are fun and have replay-ability."

Amen. I think we need for the video game industry what Walden Media (and similar groups) have brought to the film world: great, enjoyable work that stands on its own merits, that is family-safe without needing to be self-justified as "family safe" on the label.

Kevin Schut
March 15, 2016

Aaron & JKana, it's worth mentioning that some of these things do exist. There are Christians throughout the games industry making a difference in their worlds. I'm going to the Game Developer's Conference this week, and there's a group of Christians that get together for a prayer meeting every morning of the week. And I can assure you that many Christian developers share that same vision of producing high quality games that don't rely on twisted themes. The kids' game site Club Penguin was founded by Christians (the game is now owned and run by Disney), for instance. Some of the leaders of the company that made Scribblenauts and Drawn to Life are Christians. The head of Cyan, which made Myst, and is about to release Obduction in the next few months, is also a Christian. Those are just a few prominent examples. There are many more.

I'm also impressed by Christians who are leading in making games that have serious artistic aspirations. If you've not had a chance yet to experience That Dragon, Cancer, it's on sale right now on Steam. It's not a *fun* game, but it's very powerful, and the faith of its makers is built with integrity into the title. You can read Drew Dixon's review right here at ThinkChristian (https://thinkchristian.reframemedia.com/that-dragon-cancer-and-finding-grace-in-grief) to find out more about it.

Keep asking for Christians to get involved in the industry, and support the ones you know about!

March 15, 2016

In Reply to Kevin Schut (comment #27967)

Thanks for that elaboration, Kevin. It's encouraging to know there are Kingdom voices already at work behind the scene. :-)

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