Thursday, August 6, 2009

Just a Game?

The following is an excerpt from this month's Ensign. The article is titled, "Just A Game?" If you wish to read this article in its entirety, click on "Just A Game"

"Online role-playing games may be more than a way to pass the time. For some, they can become addictive, leading to lost spirituality, lost opportunities, and lost relationships.

Two weeks ago, Jason* quit the high school track team because the meets and practice times conflicted with his online “guild quests” and “raids.” The trumpet he used to love to play now sits in the corner of his bedroom collecting dust. Instead of being at track practice or band rehearsals, Jason spends his free time playing an online computer game. He often stays up so late at night playing his game that he has begun to sleep through early-morning seminary.

Or consider Michael, at his typical spot after midnight: in front of the computer, headset on, playing an online adventure game with his “friends,” none of whom he has actually met. When his wife, Jenny, gently reminds him, “It’s late, and we haven’t read our scriptures or prayed together,” he replies, “I can’t come right now. We’re right in the middle of a raid, and my guild needs me.”

Then there’s Sara, who discovered online gaming** about a year ago. She was a top salesperson in her department, winning prizes and earning bonuses for outstanding performance. Online gaming, however, has negatively affected her work. She now plays most evenings and weekends, and she has stopped attending singles activities in her stake to make more time for gaming. She often leaves church early so she can continue her online adventures.

Jason, Michael, and Sara are representative of the growing number of people who demonstrate compulsive behavior in playing massive multiplayer online role-playing games (or MMORPGs). In these games, social networking meets virtual computer fantasy to bring players into exciting, collaborative quests. Tens of millions of players are active worldwide, with new players joining every month. The growth of the activity shows that an increasing number of men and women enjoy MMORPGs as a relaxing, recreational activity. But some people (like Jason, Michael, and Sara) are letting recreational, virtual life interfere with their actual lives.

Although many online gamers do not become addicted or even compulsive players, prophetic warnings about the use of our time in this mortal life indicate that online gaming is an activity that warrants caution. Of course, MMORPGs are not the only form of recreation that have the potential to cause problems. There are many activities that can become so absorbing that they rob participants of spiritual, intellectual, and social development. We hope that the explanations, suggestions, and prophetic counsel included in this article may be helpful to individuals and families as they seek the guidance of the Spirit in finding balance in their lives.

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