I was not very popular when I took the Halo game out of the youth room the day I started running the youth program at my second church posting. The previous youth pastor, a green 20-something jock, had been playing it with the boys. He would host Halo tournaments and other events featuring the game. He was oblivious to the damage this violent game was inflicting on his youth group. Not only had he alienated all of the girls, one boy was actually seeing a counselor at school because of violent anger related issues. The suggestion that this students issues might be exacerbated by playing violent video games was met by scoffs and excuses.
Dude! You really don't have to look very far on an Internet search to find the headline of ghastly crimes blamed on mimicking video games: In 2004 a British boy murdered a friend with a claw hammer emulating the game "Manhunt". In 2005 a man in Alabama killed two police officers and three other people simulated by his video game "Grand Theft Auto." In September, 2006, a man beat his 17 month old daughter to death after she disrupted his six hour marathon playing of "Ghost Recon." I could go on and on but what's the point.
Holy smokes! Are you not horrified by these headlines? No you're not.
Gamers and developers of video games will pounce all over anyone who makes such allegations claiming that anyone can say anything on the Internet. It's true. I found a story posted June 9, 2004 on the USA Today website by Mike Snyder, saying, the video game, "Full Spectrum Warrior, which grew out of Pandemic Studio's creation of an Army training simulation, is "technically, tactically very real," says retired Army captain James Ytuarte, who served as a consultant on the game." The same system the army uses to desensitize soldiers to killing is being sold as video games.
In his book, "On Killing," (shown below), another soldier, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman "argues that the breakdown of American society, combined with the pervasive violence in the media and interactive video games, is conditioning our children to kill in a manner similar to the army's conditioning of soldiers: "We are reaching that stage of desensitization at which the infliction of pain and suffering has become a source of entertainment: vicarious pleasure rather than revulsion." This was written in 1996 and the downward spiral continues unabated.
On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society
Using Pavlovian and operant conditioning have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The psychological cost for the rest of us is even more so: contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques and, according to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder among the young.
This was a problem even in Jesus' time. He said, "For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes" (Matthew 13:15).
The Apostle Paul says, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the
faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron." (1 Timothy 4:1)
Warnings from the distant past. It sounds like Jesus and Paul were aware of someones directed efforts to bring man to an evil end. Someone a lot older than video game makers.
Want to wake up your kids? I spell it out in my teen Bible lesson, "Calloused Hearts."
Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
You are training tomorrows church. Re-sensitize them. Awaken their consciences to God and His love. If you must, first convince yourselves, then convince them of what is happening. Do everything you can including standing against violent video games. "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes" (Ephesians 6:11).