Lately, I have been playing through Batman: Arkham Asylum on the PS3. The game features impressive controls, voice acting, and the dark and gritty environments of Arkham Asylum itself. (Side note: At times the game has reminded me of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Both feature a dark color palette and stealth action mixed with all-out brawling.) If I were to make a Batman game this would be it.
Now I normally play video games once my son has gone to sleep. This way I can play guilt-free and enjoy myself with little interruption. The other night I was watching “the boy” as my wife was at Bible study. Trying to unwind a little, I popped in Batman and started killing the bad guys. As my two year old sat there watching me play, a small thought entered my brain, “should you be playing this in front of him?” I quickly dismissed the thought. I was enjoying myself far too much and wanted to progress further in the game. My son soon lost interest in watching me play and went and grabbed my wife’s “hi-pad”. As he sat there playing his educational games, I continued my quest to return order to Arkham Asylum. Something nagged at me though later on in the night; something that has caused me to question the very games that I enjoy and use to de-stress.
My son is used to the sugar-coated worlds of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Veggie Tales. He has never spent much time watching something set in the hellish environment of a prison. In fact, I know that he never has outside of what he has watched me play with Batman: Arkham Asylum. This has led me to ask the question:
What type of an example am I being to my son?
Ever since purchasing a PS3 last year, I have indulged in hours filled with high body counts, floating flower petals, and exotic locations. The PS3 has taken me to places that Nintendo’s Mario would never dare tread. But at what cost?
Last night, I went to bed playing The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass on the DS. The cell-shaded graphics, brightly-lit landscapes, and fun gameplay reminded me of why I enjoy Nintendo games. Here was a game I could easily play in front of my son. Though there might be evil in the world of The Phantom Hourglass I ultimately know that good will triumph.
In closing, I do know that there is a difference between maturity levels, adult vs. kid appropriate material, etc. What I am trying to focus on here is two things:
What type of an example am I setting for my family with the games I play?
Do I really have to indulge in games that feature mass amounts of violence to be satisfied as a gamer?
The Bible is clear in it’s call to:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. – Philippians 4:8 (The Message)
The Bible only wants us to fill our minds with the best, the beautiful, and the things worthy of praise for us. What does that look like in your media choices? This is something I’m going to have to think more about.