Thursday, August 18, 2005

A simple rule

John Hood's comments about video games earlier this week were just a few days ahead of WPTF's Kevin Miller, who interviewed attorney Jack Thompson about his work against the increasing violence and prurient content of video games, and the BBC's story on the same subject.

We adopted a very simple rule with our boys some time ago, based on Proverbs 14:9 (Fools laugh at sin ...) -- whatever would not be permitted in reality, isn't permitted in fun, either. Sin is serious, play is practice for life, and we don't rehearse things which should require repentence.

Carried out consistently, this answers a lot of questions. Combat flight simulators are okay, because there is an honorable service to country; Grand Theft Auto is not. Leading armies into battle is okay -- the boys love the Civilization II and Age of Empires games -- but rapine and pillage are not. Historic simulations and "what if" scenarios that may be played out are educational, but when the secret code unleashes flying sports cars with machine guns to slaughter the knights of the Second Crusade -- you've just stepped out of bounds. It's even acceptable to be Pharoah of Egypt, but we draw the line at building his temples (Thou shalt have no other gods before Me; Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image ... )

This rule works on the computer or off -- for example, you're not allowed to pretend to shoot your brother, but both of you are allowed to shoot imaginary villains and invaders, in order to defend your home or country. To facilitate this, we require the boys to all be on the same "team" when pretending this way; it can't always be done in sports or some other games -- and sometimes we see hurt feelings and unchristian behavior as a consequence.

Some folks have looked at us a bit funny, finding that we allow toy guns but discipline the boys if they point them at each other. Sometimes it's a fine line, I freely admit. But part of being a man is knowing the proper boundaries of the use of force, and the proper application of doctrine and character to life -- requirements of the groups of men we call "governments", too. And I want my sons prepared for both roles.

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