Escape From The Lonely Christian Gamers Club

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The cars sit in traffic as you pass by. Headphones on, you make your way along the sidewalk, sidestepping those around you. A rain drop hits your arm. Great. Forgot the umbrella today. Quickening your pace, you collide with a fellow passerby. Human contact. You apologize and move on. The rain is starting to come down now. Cold. You are almost home.

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If only your apartment offered views like this.

Walking into your apartment, you take off your jacket, hang it up, and fling your shoes into the corner. Flipping on the TV, you fire up your console of choice and then head to the kitchen. Feels like a cereal night. Bowl in hand, you park yourself down for an evening of gaming. Alone.

As Christians, we often feel disconnected from other Christians. We forget that there are other believers around us who share our hobbies. Fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who enjoy exploring virtual worlds, solving puzzles with friends, and developing muscle memory through challenging play. Even worse, we lie to ourselves out of laziness and embrace an existence that God did not intend. God created us to live in community with others.

When was the last time you played a game with someone else? When was the last time you opened yourself up and talked, really talked, with another human being?

I want to encourage you to turn on the lights. Step out of yourself and invite. Host a game night. Enjoy a meal together. We aren’t meant to go at this alone.

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Throwback Thursday – Biological Warfare

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As I walked into the house this afternoon, I quickly noticed black ants crawling on the wall in the laundry room. Closer inspection revealed that they were streaming out from a crack underneath one of the cabinets. Odd, I thought, they shouldn’t be there. Last week, I had had an exterminator come out and hose the house down in glorious chemicals. The exterminator also strategically placed “ant bait” (clear goop that ants apparently love) around just in case any of the  tiny invaders decided to return. Today they launched their D-Day, their day of death.

Springing into action, I immediately grabbed some of the gooey ant bait and placed it directly in their path. They flocked to it! Soon, the small dab of clear goop was covered in ants. Little did they know that their demise, and the demise of their queen, was but a meal away. All it will take is one ant, carrying the goop back to the queen, to destroy the entire colony. Biological warfare on the insect scale.

For some reason, this scenario of unknowing death got me thinking about bigger life issues. What things am I consuming that could be unknowingly poisoning me? A question I am certainly going to have to spend some time thinking about. What about you?

The Female Perspective: How Do Videogames Impact Relationships?

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I recently wrote an essay entitled “Should Men Put Videogames Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives/Girlfriends?”. Many readers immediately answered the title question in their heads and moved on; others chose to engage the essay and actually read it. (Kudos! I really appreciate it.) For myself, the piece scratched the surface of a much larger issue, how do videogames impact relationships. I decided to post a quick survey to delve into the female perspective on the issue. Below are the responses I received:

Q: What’s one thing that you wish others knew about dating a gamer?

A1: In college, dating a gamer was fun. I was able to play video games with my husband and his friends, which allowed me the chance to spend lots of time with him.

A2: My husband and I started dating at 17. He regularly gamed in his free time and wrote soundtrack reviews, etc. I knew he was really “into games,” but I didn’t think it would continue after college. After all, all the male role models in my life didn’t game so it just wasn’t part of adult life in my mind. Lo’ and behold, times changed- and they continue to- and now many 20 and 30+ people turn to games as their number one hobby. If you find yourself dating an avid gamer, consider that their hobby might not go away with age. It’s something they really enjoy. Take the time to reflect on that, your expectations of hobbies, and talk about it with your partner.

Q: What’s one thing that you wish others knew about marrying a gamer?

A1: Set up gaming boundaries early on in your marriage. Without good gaming boundaries, a wife might have a lot of unspoken expectations. As those expectations go unmet, bitterness and resentment can seep into a marriage.

A2: That marrying a gamer will require solid communication. There is no cookie-cutter guideline of what will work for each couple. You have to have enough maturity to talk about hobbies and their role in your life together, and what a good, healthy balance is.

Q: What’s one thing you would have done differently if you knew what it would be like married to a gamer?

A1: I wish I would have taken an interest in gaming sooner. It took a while for me to learn to take an interest in my husband’s hobbies. As soon as I told my husband that I wanted to play video games too, he began to find games that we could play together. I love his willingness to include me and let this be another way that we can spend time together on a regular basis!!

A2: Along with solid communication, respect is key. Early in my marriage to a gamer, I didn’t know how to properly say I was being hurt by the time my husband spent playing games. And that lack of communication turned into snide comments and disrespect. It still creeps up every now and then, but I have learned I need to take responsibility for what I can control- and that is expressing my observations and feelings in a collected way. Mutual respect is a necessity.

BONUS: What would you like your boyfriend/husband to know about his videogame hobby?

A1: Thank you for your willingness to include me in your world of gaming!! I appreciate your willingness to cut back on the amount of gaming you do, especially as our family has grown and our time is short. I can’t wait until you can take the girls to play video games, because it will be something fun we can do as a family. I love you!!

A2: Honestly, that I think we need to talk more about it. And from both sides. I often feel like a nag when I bring it up; ideally, I’d like to see us both talk more frequently and openly about gaming and whether or not we’re still balanced etc.

Thank you ladies for your thoughtful replies.

A Quick Survey: In Response to Should Men Put Videogames Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives/Girlfriends

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Ladies, I wrote an essay last week entitled “Should Men Put Videogames Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives/Girlfriends?”. This essay skimmed the surface of a far larger issue, how videogames impact relationships. Now, I want to hand the microphone over to you. If you would, please answer one of the three questions below. I will share your responses, anonymously, in the follow up post to my original essay. Thank you for taking the time to offer your perspective on this issue.

Throwdown Thursday: Preoccupation

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Note: I wrote this back in 2011 and still find it applicable today. I want to encourage you to read through the scripture and not gloss over it/skim. Enjoy!

 1 After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. 2 All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.

3 Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” 4 Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.

5 When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. 6 Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes. – Esther 3: 1-6 (NIV)

Notice how distracted Haman is with Mordecai. Instead of focusing on what he had been given, Haman became preoccupied with a single man. This preoccupation with Mordecai and the annihilation of the Jews would eventually lead to Haman’s downfall.

In the age of social media and instant/constant communication, I find it easy to get preoccupied with other peoples lives. I end up wondering why I can’t:

  • Buy a new house, car, toy, etc.
  • Travel with all expenses paid by parents or relatives
  • Eat out five times a week (not that I’d want to)
In looking at everyone else, I fail to realize that God created something special in me. I am not like everyone else nor meant to be.
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Interesting thought: The word preoccupation has the word “occupation” in it. Now, we all work different occupations, there is certainly that definition of the word. But the use of occupation related to Haman’s preoccupation makes me think of this dictionary definition:
possession, settlement, or use of land or property.


W
hen we become preoccupied with something not of God (like lust or greed), we are giving up pieces of our very hearts and souls to things that shouldn’t be entrenched in our lives. We end up becoming occupied territory; slaves to our conquerors.

Should Men Put Videogames Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives / Girlfriends?

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This tale is as old as 1989.

Boy meets girl. Girl dislikes boys hobby. Boy gives up hobby for girl. Girl gives up nothing. Swap the genders; swap the roles. Rinse. Wash. Dry.

I have known countless guys who have given up their favorite hobby due to a spouse or girlfriend disapproving– I am sure that this is true for the female species as well. Once upon a time, these guys enjoyed playing video games. They used them to drop stress levels, rest, and relax. For some reason though, chemistry, the alignment of the stars, who knows, they end up coupling with someone who disapproves/looks down upon their hobby. So they have to quit, have to walk away from something they love to be in love.

I just don’t get it. If you are in a loving relationship, your spouse or girlfriend should accept you for who you are. They shouldn’t be out to change fundamental parts that make up you. Sure, your bad habit of tossing clothes on the floor may need to be corrected, because let’s face it, your mom always cleaned up after you. Too personal? Sorry.

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Video games are often seen as a less mature hobby than following a team of guys in tight fitting clothing. Huh? How is it that working on cars, following a sports team, or going hunting are somehow more respectable and less “little boy”? A hobby is a hobby. Video games are no worse than stamp collecting. Except that unlike a stamp collection, video games deal with:

  • Complex realities
  • Connecting players through interdependent activities
  • Challenging players with complex decision making

My wife has been accepting of my hobby from the get go. She encourages me to sit down and play games. She realizes that I often use video games to de-stress. As long as I am not playing World of Warcraft (the marriage killer), I’m golden. This does not mean that I play games every day of the week. Gaming for me, married, with a kid, looks more like a couple of hours a week. Some nights, my wife even joins me. I’ve always appreciated that about her. She loves me for who I am.

I am tired of those around me feeling guilt, having to change, just to conform to the person they love. If you are in a loving healthy relationship, your significant other will understand the healthy hobbies you chose to pursue.

Note: My friend Scott reminds me that the picture I painted above is painted by an individual who is loving, mature, and self-controlled–most of the time. Video games, as with any hobby, can be distorted and abused in the hands of an undisciplined individual. In order not to feed into the video game stigma your wife/girlfriend might view the hobby through, Scott suggests setting some ground rules:

  1. Be mindful of your wife/girlfriend, even though the game demands attention.
  2. Always be ready to pause. Pretty much everything is more important than your next in-game checkpoint, so put the controller down if you need to.
  3. Tell her how long you intend to play – and stick to the plan.

No matter the hobby, communication and respect are foundational to building healthy relationships. I want to encourage you to let go of any video game guilt you might carry, set some healthy ground rules, and game on.