I am wondering what others have found effective in talking about spiritual things with young people today who’s heads are so distracted with video games? I’m finding this with my own grandchildren, one of whom told me that video games have changed her life and make her happy. It seems that there is a shallowness and no desire to dig into anything else, an alternative life, so to speak. As a grandmother, how can I speak into their lives?
I don’t have grand kids. But my approach to conversing about meaningful things with my kids while they were growing up was to be honest and up front and passionate without being heavy and solemnly oppressive.
Also, I think the bridge to talk about spiritual things is to jump right in and talk plainly about relevant meaningful things and to discuss why they are meaningful.
Honestly, I think if one of my children or if it were…grand children got hooked into the video game thing, I think I might try to start playing the games with them, and actually learn how to shoot the bad guys on the screen (or whatever it is they do) while being completely frank and vocal and shameless about voicing my concerns (the concerns which you mentioned). I would be audaciously open about my scheme to guide them in a healthier direction (away from the video game playing) and I’d bank on the likelihood that I’d be welcome to continue expressing my honest concerns about this as I did so with playful tones of non-condemnation with a spirit of fun and enthusiasm and participation while learning to articulate the intimate details of the adverse issues I was concerned about. Meanwhile I’d be learning what the appeal and the attraction is for them.
It would at least be a starting point to reach out into their world and perhaps to understand them a bit more, and to lay a reciprocal basis for them to listen to me too.
If a “bridge” like this could be built, I think I would have more and more of a “license” to possibly say more things like "Hey there grandson, why don’t we pause the game after this round and put this nonsense on hold while we spend some time around the kitchen table with some ice cream for a while. Honestly I’d like to get to know you a little better and have some good-old-fashioned meaningful conversation with you. What-do-ya-say? "
Here’s a link I’ve cued up to part of a video (in a completely different context) which kind of speaks along these same lines of this approach:
I like what Tim said about joining in and pick up a controller and engaging as much as possible with them.
I won’t play any games that are excessively violent - the same as I don’t like watching movies with excessive violence in them; but you can ask your grandkids if they have a ‘game that grandma can have a try’ at; tell them you don’t have the coordination on the controller for the first person shooter games as these are the ones that are the violent ones generally. a couple of fun and good ‘party’ games with multiple players on the consoles are ‘Overcooked’ and ‘Tumblestone’; maybe offer to buy them a game as a present (one that you can play along with)!?
once you are joined in their world and starting to build a bridge; start to ask them questions to make them think about parallels about the real world. go slow and leave questions with them to think about.
for example; the games nowadays have such amazing graphic design in them and feel very real; ask them if the games that are beautiful reflect the person’s mind that designed them (on the flip side, what are the designers of dark and gritty worlds minds like). Link that to God’s design in the real world; ask them to imagine what our real world would be like if there was no colour and no taste; ask them why would God go to the trouble of making beauty; when he could quite easily have made it completely functional with no beauty at all.
and even if you can’t join in or there is a favourite game they like to play; you could also bring in morality into the discussion; ask questions such as ‘why are we kind of attracted to the hero that saves the day, and defeats evil?’, ‘why do we not want to see the bad guy win?’; perhaps ‘does violence to stop the bad guys fix the problem in real life, or could it just perpetuate a continuing cycle of retribution’…
I had a really interesting conversation from facebook ages ago; we ran a paid advert on facebook and asked the question ‘were Adam and Eve read people?’; and had a guest speaker coming to church that we were advertising. We had a number of interesting responses to the advert to which I tried to respond. One person put up this post, which was quite an interesting analogy and I had a go at responding to them.
from this person:
Matthew Western I think of it like this. I’m a programmer, and essentially when I write a game and run it, if you were to live inside of the game, everything would seem to have come out of nothing. Whereas actually, the code was in place to carry out the orders of loading the graphics in, positions everything correctly as designated in the code, etc. The big bang could just be a universal seed, which would promote the multiverse theory as well, or the simulated theory, where multiple instances of the same “program” exist, much like one of our computers running more than 1 instance of a program. A universe seed will grow a universe, but it falls more into the bracket of ‘RNG’. There will be a universe grown from this, but no 2 universes would be remotely close to the other. If this is the case, which is almost impossible for it to not be, from a programmers stand-point, than no god like what most religions believe in actually exists. Just a higher being with a more advanced computer. Also the fact scientists dont know what dark matter is, is because dark matter is nothing but a void to be filled with data, or another way to refer to it by, is empty space. When I run a game, there’s allocated “empty” space for the data, graphics etc to fit into, Virtually or Physically, data still needs to go somewhere, our PCs have virtual dark matter(not actual dark matter) that operates the same as I believe dark matter does. Anywhere where there isn’t physical space being occupied, you find dark matter. For me there’s just way too many signs of design, code, etc. Hope this was an interesting read for someone
I like your thinking, very interesting reading.
So if I’ve understood the logic:
A programmer exists, outside the game and creates the game.
a person inside the game, thinks everything came out of nothing;
So I could ask the question at this point “did your game self-create”; or was there a designer?
to suggest a multiverse that seeds universes exists doesn’t answer the problem of first cause; it just pushes the problem of first cause one step further away. What caused the multiverse?
(this article might be of interest?)
The other thing to consider is the complexity of the ‘game’ (to use your analogy); life could not exist in our universe without astonishing fine tuning of the design.
Your last statement "For me there’s just way too many signs of design, code, etc. " implies a Designer; but your statement “no god like what most religions believe in actually exists.” is very interesting…
If the Designer has not revealed Himself; then yes the people in the ‘game’ (to use your analogy) would not know anything about the Designer. God would be unknowable; but the Bible makes two claims. God is eternal; and created the universe, and has revealed Himself. Jesus Christ is this Eternal God, come as a human to show us Who God is and what He is like.
i’m not sure i fully understand your analogy with dark matter being like a computer hard drive; (although as a fellow worker in the IT industry I know what you mean by virtualised software)… very interesting reading…
Yes video games can be a form of escapism from the problems of real life, and can make people happy for a while. Actually RZIM put up a podcast and answered the question well about video games, which might be worth a listen…
Good luck and hopefully you can make a connection with your grandkids; it’s a challenge; I have a 16 year old daughter and it can be really hard to show unconditional love that Christ shows us. we can only do our best.
I guess try to try and summarise; lead your questions back to 2 points
- Morality “How do we differentiate right from wrong”. see the Moral Argument: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxiAikEk2vU
- Origins “How did we get here” see the Cosmological Argument: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CulBuMCLg0
because these two points lead back to our innate knowledge of God’s existence shown by creation and our conscience.
This recent video from William Lane Craig is quite good; he points out why the Moral Argument is the most powerful; because every day we go out and live our lives making moral decisions every day.
hopefully a little helpful… God bless as you show your family Christ’s love…
Thank you Tim and Matt for all the ideas and resources! I do like the idea of trying to engage them where they are. You both gave me lots to think about and o really appreciate the input.
Kathy, I love your desire to connect with your grandchildren. You are right to be concerned that their brains do not turn into mush. @timotto and @matthew.western have already posted detailed and helpful responses, so I wish only to familiarize you with some vocabulary that you can use.
- Cheat code: almost everyone who plays video games regularly knows this one. Players spend a lot of money buying books that give cheat codes that enhance character abilities and change things in the game environment. These directly correspond to miracles in the Bible. A miracle is God entering his private cheat code in order to do something special within the universe that he created.
- Gib (pronounced jib): derived from “giblet,” it refers to the anatomically correct depiction of violent destruction of enemies in video games. If you hear your grandchild say, “Ooh–I just gibbed that dude!” you might want to take a look at what they are playing because it is probably violent.
- Level designer (or similar): a lot of video games have corresponding level designers, sometimes built into the game itself or provided as a separate program. These do what the name implies: they allow the player to create his or her own layouts and character traits. This can lead to interesting conversations about intelligent design.
- RPG: refers to a Role Playing Game, which is a video game that has a lot of artificially intelligent characters that may interact in various ways with the player character. Most modern video games involve varying degrees of RPG-style elements.
- Levelling up: this is commonly associated with RPG-style games. It is not the same as designing levels. Levelling up refers to increasing or adding character properties as a result of continuous action and success. It is equivalent to personal development in the real world.
- MMO: stands for Massively Multiplayer Online, which is–you guessed it–a game that is, or can be, played by a lot of players on the internet. MMORPG is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. Watch out for these! These can be highly addictive and risky because they enable people to create pseudo-relationships that can make them vulnerable to tricksters who may take advantage of them.
Keep in mind that many video game developers hire psychologists as consultants in order to make their games more attractive to buyers. Video games, especially smart phone games, are designed to be ever progressing, never ending, time wasting money makers. Be alert to this!
Thank you Brendan! I would never have known any of those terms, and I really appreciate that you not only explained them but also let me know how I might tie them to Gods miracles and creation. This world of gaming is so foreign to me. I bet the kids will be surprised When I use these!