Gaming and Community

Do these two go together? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am listening on Audible to Reality is Broken. It’s a book about the importance of gaming in our world and how gaming can help fix problems outside of the game. Over the weekend, I am listening to the book and I hear two statements that I think go together and are worth writing about.

The first is one that I’ve thought for a long time. Kids born after 1980 are generally more miserable than kids that were born before. Why? Because there was an emphasis on the self-esteem movement and self-fulfillment. Look within yourself to find your value and goodness.

That movement failed. Today, one of the supposedly most important things you can learn is to not hurt someone’s feelings. It’s as if this is the worst thing that could possibly happen to a person. It’s not. I am not saying to be needlessly cruel, of course, but too often we are walking on eggshells.

The second lesson is that those who are kind to others in gaming worlds are more prone to be kind to others in real life, even total strangers. Why should this not be? Being kind to a stranger in a virtual world can easily equate to being kind to strangers outside since after all, those people in the virtual world are strangers.

Many readers know I play Final Fantasy XIV. At one time, I remember being a character who was a miner trying to get some goodies from rocks in the field when another player comes by. He sees my equipment and says “You need something better. Wait here.” I do and a few minutes later, he returns with equipment he has bought or acquired through some other means (Though most likely bought) and just gives it to me. I couldn’t even tell you their name, but I remember it.

Another time, I had finished a dungeon raid with some other players and one of them stays after and works to tell us strategies that we could do to improve our gameplay. Again, I don’t remember who it is. I can’t even tell you what the strategies were. I can tell you that kindness was shown.

How do these two work together? Because if you try to look inside yourself constantly to find joy, you will be miserable. If you seek to do what you can to help others, you will often find greater joy. It’s almost as if that guy was right several centuries ago who said “It is better to give than to receive.”

“Yes, but if you’re going to say gaming kindness leads to real-world kindness, does the same apply to violence?” I don’t think so because first off, the literature I have read leads me to conclude that doesn’t happen. The second is because we all have within ourselves somewhere still a moral revulsion to certain actions. That can be overridden by many, but not all will do that.

We don’t come with a moral revulsion to helping others, though some of us do convince ourselves of one. If we can teach ourselves that that is good virtually, we will be more prone to doing that non-virtually. Not only that, but even virtually, if we are playing with real people, we are still helping strangers.

The self-esteem movement failed because it did the exact opposite of what we are to do. It told us to look within, but our own selves are a fragile foundation for joy. What does bring joy is community and knowing we have brought other people joy. So what about the idea though that many of us who are gamers are loners?

Also not really true. If anything, this is a societal problem. I live on a campus and I know that many of us just come home and stay in our own places and don’t really visit neighbors too much. Like many people though, if I meet a fellow gamer, we can connect instantly in talking about games like Zelda or Final Fantasy. Can that happen in many other fields? Of course, but there’s a special delight for us still when we meet someone with the same interests and can bond, especially helpful for someone on the spectrum.

If you have kids today, don’t raise them on self-esteem nonsense. It doesn’t work. Raise them to love their neighbor as themselves. That will give them true joy.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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