I loved Jason Gardner’s post in the LICC mail out on War Games
I don’t blame my parents. Banning guns as toys when I was young was their attempt at curtailing a love for violent play. But, boys being boys, that didn’t stop me from playing war games with friends, even if my ‘props’ were a little lacking. Whilst other lads ran around with an impressive variety of plastic sub-machine guns, I made do with the nearest decent-sized twig and emitting a noise that sounded like a car engine being turned on a flat battery.
Of course, my Mum and Dad’s efforts to keep me from mock battles couldn’t withstand the onslaught of the video games age. After all, what was Space Invaders if not an attempt to repel alien invasion by blasting them with a gun turret?
Now evolution has brought us to this, with two major releases in November 2012 – Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Halo 4. Both are first-player ‘shoot ’em ups’ – war games and then some. Halo 4 made £138m in global sales in its first week of launch. Black Ops 2, a sequel to the world’s bestselling console game, is set to reach similar heights. All this in an industry reportedly worth £47bn in 2011.
Popular culture idolises men and, increasingly, women of violence. Solving world problems through legal wrangling and political campaigning doesn’t always make for thrilling film or TV. Why make speeches when a Magnum .44 can do all the talking for you? And clearly, when not many of us have the physique of Dwayne Johnson or the skills of Jason Statham, controlling a game character who does can be empowering. We get to step into the shoes of the ‘hero’ for a brief moment, even if it’s only in virtual reality.
The Bible contains accounts of violent acts – some of which are sanctioned by God – but they all show that the world is not what it should be. King David, a man of war, is refused the privilege of building God’s temple on the basis that the new place of worship was to usher in a time of peace during Solomon’s reign (1 Chronicles 22:8).
Pursuing peace on earth, not war, is God’s ideal – and ultimate goal – and Christians are called to practical peacemaking. If we’re looking for a mission to complete, there is no greater call than to take part in God’s kingdom work here and now.
What do you think – are video games making young people more aggressive, should parents ban guns and games with guns? Comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.