Steam says I’ve played Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for 98 hours. And I’m not gonna lie, some of that was while I should have been doing other things. Like sleep. But to be honest with you; I’m not a hundred percent convinced I’ve been a bad steward with my God-given time. For those not awash in church culture, “bad stewardship” is shorthand for when you waste God’s resources. That typically means time and money. But I’ve heard of it applying to property and business resources as well. Still, there’s not been enough discussion about time spent playing video games.
Questioning our use of God-given resources makes sense. But I wonder if we can’t ask better questions. Like, “God, what do you think of this thing I’m doing right now?” Or, “Why does this bring me so much joy?” What if our “bad stewardship,” becomes our platform for conversation with God?
I wrote an article about how Metal Gear Solid V let me love my enemies. It was good enough that a few folks picked it up. But the key is how the game encourages a generous attitude towards enemies. It subverts the tropes of military action games. It’s intrinsically good. No, I don’t think it justifies the 98 hours spent in the game. But it does validate the basic idea of spending time with the game.
I don’t have to justify my use of time to you (that’s between me and Jesus), but I’m really trying to provide something of value for those of you who still ponder the value of the value of nearly a hundred hours of time invested in a “time-sink.”
This really is a public question to be asked for all Disciples of Christ:
“What are the Kingdom benefits of a hundred hours in a video game?”
I’m not sure of the answer to that. Not all my time was Kingdom-benefited time for sure. But I think some of it was: I saw demonstrations of kingdom values in the game like disarmament, self-sacrificial characters, and the tools and options to play self-sacrificially. These game-virtues are all very specific to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. But they may not be as virtuous in another game. Some of my time was totally a bad waste of resources. Especially when I cut into my sleep. Or when I should have been investing time in prayer. But I did spend some time talking to God while playing. And I think that was super valuable. But ultimately I think that the Kingdom benefits is something that’s got to be discerned by you.
Discernment is your responsibility. Followers of Jesus do have a duty to their King to be faithful with what they have. I hope you take time to talk to God about the time you spend in games. He’s the most gracious and merciful King ever, so I’m sure he’ll help you out if you lag behind. But just ask God about your time with your favorite video game. If it takes up your time, he cares.
You might be surprised in how much he takes joy in the things you enjoy.