Having just spent hours watching my friend race through the Marioland Galaxy on his Nintendo Wii gaming system, I have a few reflections to share.

I had trouble re-orienting my vision at first. I kept waiting for streetlights to spin or rotate, and it was actually disorienting at first when they did not.

That's not right.

I think that video games, especially of the three-dimensional variety, play on the same part of the brain as drugs. I wasn't even at the controls, but I had an insatiable need to know what level came next, what was the next star to catch, what would come over the next horizon. It became an all-consuming appetite.

And I wasn't even playing- just watching.

This is the same drive that moves addicts to seek their next fix. It's the same appetite and torpor of the seeker of porn, the online shopaholic, or the mad scientist-- just this next thing, this next move, this next thing-- just once more, once more...! almost got it...

Yes, it's only Mario trying to collect stars, but look at how he's rewarded with twinkly things after striving relentlessly through increasingly difficult obstacle courses. This is not athletic; it's not like you've actually pushed yourself. You've pushed the buttons, like a lab mouse frantic to receive the shock or the food. It's really quite alarming how I could not pull myself away from the screen for hours.

I can't imagine this has had a healthy effect on my generation. Hours of this would result in inertia, dissatisfaction, and stress. Not all at once-- increasingly worse over time. And just as the drug addict can't be content with the next fix, so we have upgraded to this level of gaming cosmos, where Mario can whirl and spin and up is down and down is left...and right...has become harder to pinpoint...

It's unsettling.

It didn't take me to a good place. And it never will. It's an empty promise, with an entire industry built around it. What is it that we really seek? Why are our brains wired for this quest? Behind it all, the drug addict, the shopping addict, the porn addict, and the gaming addict lies the insatiable need for God.

Athletic pursuit can be like this. Creative passions of artists, too. But I think most of the mystic in prayer, seeking that next plateau with the Divine.

These are healthy expressions of this need, this drive, this desire. On the one hand we reach fulfillment, and on the other hand, we never will...

Seek the Lord. Love never fails~

How timely, then, that our Holy Father has decided to explore the teaching of St. Augustine in his audiences. Here is a man who knows my generation's yearning. Here is a saint who knows where that yearning leads IF given over to God.

That's a BIG 'if'. Offer this generation in prayer, especially as World Youth Day approaches.


Amy said...


I must agree with this post and video games. Children need to imagine and go outside and experience the real world!

Mark said...

Here here! :)

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