Modern technology has allowed people to connect in ways they never could before. People across the country are now able to play games together via the internet and online gaming services. I know that I personally appreciate the ability to play Halo with my close childhood friends who now live in different states.
Online gaming also gives us the opportunity to meet people who play and enjoy the same games that we do. I have made friendships by playing a few games with strangers and then continuing that relationship.
The only downside to this whole thing, is that you cannot control the people you encounter on the internet. Often the people using mics are, to put it nicely, less than polite (to put it more accurately they are deranged, hate-spewing children).
Anyone who has played an online game like Battlefield or Titanfall has probably encountered a screeching, pre-puberty voice that swears worse than a drunken sailor, someone playing heavy metal loudly over their microphone, or a player who yells at his teammates or sends messages of hate.
So, is navigating the toxic wasteland of what online gaming can be worth it?
That’s your choice.
However, I believe that playing online does not have to be a negative experience. Most games like Halo allow you to mute or block negative players, and some games give you the option of disabling chat altogether. If you do not want to run into annoying people, deactivate chat, and if you have it activated and run into someone who is negative or swears all the time, use the mute button.
The fact is, we can no more avoid negative interactions with people in gaming than we can in real life. Bad experiences with people happen in life. They just do.
I personally believe that the benefits to online gaming out way the negatives.
Not only am I able to play games with friends in faraway places, I can meet new friends too.
Working with people to accomplish a goal in an online environment helps us practice real-life skills, just like sports can.
I find it interesting when I hear Christian leaders talk about the benefits of sports: the team-building, the mindset of never giving up, the competitiveness. These are all things that online video games can give us.
If you like competition, than online gaming is one of the best places to find real heart-pounding competitive environments.
Another aspect of online gaming to be aware of is its opportunity for witnessing as Christians.
I once struck up a conversation with a gentlemen I met while playing Halo: Reach who had the word “atheist” in his Xbox gamer tag. We had a good talk, and I was able to explain to him what I believed, and I was able to answer many of his questions.
I never would have had the opportunity to meet him if it was not for online gaming.
My sister streams Destiny and Overwatch on Twitch. She has had many conversations about the Christian worldview with both players she meets and viewers who watch her stream.
As Christians, interacting with non-believers in any environment should not scare us. We have been called to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15 ESV).
“All the world” includes the internet, in my opinion.
Thanks for reading, and God bless.