Quality Entertainment: Video Games and Beyond

June 28, 2011 Posted by zachary

If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. (Articles of Faith: 13)

I find the circumstances around two separate events between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Supreme Court of the United States to be so compelling, it requires some comments from me on this blog.

The first event I want to emphasize is the ruling from the Supreme Court on the issue of violent video games. In this ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that video games of all types, not just violent ones, are protected by the first Amendment. They ruled that a law that would restrict the sales of violent video games was an unconstitutional violation of our rights to free speech.

I liked this ruling as it exercises a very libertarian view of the First Amendment in that the protection of that part of the Constitution is absolute. You can read more of my thoughts on this ruling on my personal blog.

The other event that I find interesting is an article in the New Era, a monthly publication from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aimed toward the youth in the world. This article poses the question “Is the Church against all video games or just the violent ones?” Now this question may have been posed because of recent events, as this edition of the New Era was written with full knowledge of the coming ruling from the Supreme Court. Aside from that, the actual answer is pretty good advice. I want to emphasize a few points.

There are many video games that are clean, challenging, and fun, and some multiplayer games can be an enjoyable social activity. The Church is not against video games, but youth are urged to be smart in their selection of games and the amount of time they spend with them. We have been commanded to use our time wisely (see D&C 60:13). Just because something is clean and fun does not mean it is worth doing.

this is something that is often ignored in the rhetoric of those who are against violent games. They emphasize the depravity found in a small section of gaming and completely ignore or gloss over the fact that there are many good games.

This article also reiterates the idea that we as individuals need to carefully choose the games we play. The supporters of the California law claimed that parents and individuals are not capable of making our own decisions on what games to play and that the government needs to step in and make those choices for us, or at least force us to choose the way they want us to. We already know that this is not how God wants us to live. That ideal is what Satan seeks for mankind.

Speaking of Satan, the next paragraph is on Satan and how he attempts to waste our time on frivolous activities. Yes, we can even waste time on good and wholesome activities. This article emphasizes the need to regulate the amount of time we spend playing games, watching tv and movies, reading books etc. We need a proper balance in our lives.

This article ends with a call to follow the guidelines expressed in the booklet For the Strength of Youth. I want to quote the Church’s view on violence in entertainment.

Depictions of violence often glamorize vicious behavior. They offend the Spirit and make you less able to respond to others in a sensitive, caring way. They contradict the Savior’s message of love for one another. (For the Strength of Youth: Entertainment and Media)

The Spirit of God does not dwell in the hearts of men and women who surround themselves in images of depravity. We need to spend our time in worthwhile activities that  help strengthen the goodwill in mankind.

Now don’t get me wrong here. I am not advocating for any attempt to ban or suppress depictions of violence, vulgarity or obscenity. As a Libertarian, I find such attempts to be just as wasteful as any other form of prohibition. Any attempts to ban such media will only result in a black market for them. In the age of the Internet, this content is easily found on the internet regardless of any such bans. You can look to China and Australia for examples of these types of bans the ineffectiveness of them.

In the end, it is up to the individual, and in the cases of children, their parents, to choose what entertainment they want to immerse themselves in and how much. They should do so based on their own moral or religious views.

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