How much is too much? – Part 1

Catholics sorta have a bad rap among non-Catholics in the sense that people seem to think that every little thing is a sin and this limits our freedom or makes us feel depressed or beat up all the time. The truth is that very small things can be sins, but it’s more about achieving perfection to the tiniest of detail. In other words, in heaven we’ll be perfect, but we should start to be perfect now by avoiding sin, no matter how small. But we also shouldn’t stress out about all the minute details of perfection either because this can distract us from sharing God’s love with others.

The sin I’m talking about in this post is multifaceted. It’s a combination of wasting time, over indulgence, addiction, reality avoidance, and sins of omission. To have one of the first posts of this blog be about sin almost leaves a bad taste in your mouth doesn’t it? “Man… Is this whole blog going to be ‘this is a sin and that is a sin?’ What a Debbie Downer Blog.” The answer is no, it just happens to be that way. It’s about answering difficult questions related to gaming while guiding players in a morally responsible direction.

World of Warcraft

So, how much gaming is too much? How much gaming is required before it turns into a sin? Let’s look at each facet one at a time. I will tackle each facet in a separate post.

Wasting Time

Gaming can be used to have a little fun, relax after a day’s work or even used to vent frustration. At some point it’s no longer about relaxing and venting, but rather it consumes hours and hours of your life. This prevents you from interacting with the real world with real people. In a game people are usually interested in one thing, playing the game. Having a real conversation in a game is more difficult. When you do interact, it’s more like you’re interacting with fake characters rather than real people.

Many games are virtually unending such as MMO’s. There are goals and quests, but there’s no real end to the game. The game keeps you coming back because games are money making machines designed to do so. That threshold between relaxation / fun versus wasting time is a grey area and different per person.

Time is a resource and a gift given to us by God. Once you use it, you can not get it back. Money you can get back. Food you can get back. Air you can get back. Time you can not. Wasting time therefore is a sin if left unbounded.

I can’t tell you where that line exists because it’s different per person. But what I can do is offer advice on how to avoid wasting too much time. These are only suggestions to keep in mind.

  1. Allocate x many hours per week for gaming in order to limit it.
  2. Only play games when the sun goes down, not before.
  3. Avoid games that require you to grind. Not all MMO’s, but some, require lots of grinding to level up. If you think this is fun, great, but avoiding the grind fest games will give you a larger reward sooner. Grinding ultimately makes you feel lonely in an otherwise social game.
  4. If you notice that you forget to eat, drink, or shower, this is a sign you might be wasting too much time.
  5. Mix gaming with charity. Don’t just game, but rather mix gaming with acts of kindness in the real world such as participating in church events, praying at an abortion clinic, or other things not virtual.
  6. Set a limit on the number of games you play per year.
  7. Only play games that have near excellent ratings or games that have lower ratings (cheaper to purchase too) that don’t take long to finish such as short indie games.
  8. Use http://www.howlongtobeat.com to see how much time a game takes to beat on average so you can plan ahead. Using this with #6 will help limit the amount of time wasted while maximizing your fun if used in conjunction with your search for good rated games.

Game Designer Responsibilities

The designers have a responsibility to make sure time isn’t wasted for millions of people but rather they need to make sure people achieve their goals and reach their “high” in a reasonable amount of time. In particular for MMOs and the “grinding problem”.

Rejected Metal Gear Solid – Image from Kotaku

I love spending hours grinding to level up. It’s super fun.
– said no gamer ever

Grinding is a huge problem for several reasons:

  1. It’s not fun for the player. I have yet to meet a gamer who said they like to grind.
  2. It consumes large quantities of time. This prevents the players from doing things such as spending time with their family, performing acts of kindness and charity in the real world or in the virtual world, and other good deeds. It essentially steals potential charity from the player.
  3. Everyone who plays an MMO are simultaneously grinding, which means large quantities of time are being wasted for everyone in total. If there are 100,000 players who waste 1 hour each grinding for 30 days, it really adds up, which means lots and lots of hours in total are wasted.
  4. It consumes electricity and manpower unnecessarily. Someone has to pay people to manage the servers and it wastes electricity ultimately killing the environment. And for what? The player doesn’t like it and the developers don’t care either. The designer now has a great responsibility in protecting the environment and protecting the theft of potential charity of the players.

Obviously there’s a line between the “hard work, achieving a goal, feeling good” game flow and the area of grinding. What that line is depends on many factors I will not discuss in this post.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that gaming isn’t the only thing that has this issue. Netflix binging also has the same problem. Vast quantities of time are wasted. What you should set your goal to be is to achieve a suitable amount of fun while wasting the minimum amount of time. In either case, when time is wasted the potential for charity is robbed from the person and potential charity given to others becomes nonexistent. In other words, the gamer is unable to perform works of good deeds to assist people in the real world. Remember, the dragon doesn’t need you to perform evil works to destroy you. He just needs to stop you from performing good ones. One way he does this is by wasting your time. Your maximum potential charity points have been decreased in the real world. This is a real life perma nerf no patch can fix.

Quest

Every post there will be action items. I call these quests or bosses or maybe powerups! This is your quest for this post.

  • Take the amount of time that you game and cut it in half for one week.
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