Thursday, June 23, 2011

Can we Really Learn from Video Games?

Ok, well first of all, let me say that I am NOT trying to endorse video games. I'm not terribly opposed to the appropriate ones, but I would never recommend having kids sit in front of them for long periods of time. Just wanted to get that out there. HOWEVER, we are on rainy day #2 with 6 kids, and when outside isn't an option, suddenly video games seem like a pretty good idea. Just sayin'.

The thing that I do like about some of these new games is the way you have to play them as a team. You can't win alone. You can only win together. Now another disclaimer: I'm not opposed to kids losing games and learning how to be gracious and confident even when they don't win everything. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that a lot of the political correctness/"everyone wins" business is teaching kids more about entitlement and laziness than anything else. As in, "Don't bother working hard, because everyone gets the same reward in the end." So no thank you on that option. But that is a discussion for a different day. My point for now is that I do think there's value in teaching kids the importance of teamwork and the desire to see others succeed. In many of these games, not only can you not win if you don't win together, but if something happens to your teammate, you have to find them and "rescue" them before you can move on. And then you have to continue to work together to keep going. It's interesting to watch the kids choose different skill sets or tools for their characters so that as a team they are best equipped for whatever challenges they know they'll face. Even little Jack at only 4 years old understands that concept. They know how to "stack the deck" in their favor against the game rather than trying to make sure that only their character is the strongest, fastest, smartest, or whatever.

Seems like there are lessons to learn here. These are the things these games have caused me to think about over the last couple days:

1. It's smart to equip a team based on what makes the team the strongest against a common challenge or enemy rather than being focused only on personal protection. The example that comes to mind here is marriage. It's no secret that the devil is no fan of healthy marriages. But it takes teamwork to fight against him. If each partner is concerned only with protecting him or herself while allowing their spouse to endure attacks of all kinds, this is a recipe for disaster. I have often been burdened for friends who have a spouse who enjoys tearing them down publicly. I understand the psychology behind it. The idea is that this is a wounded person who wants people to understand that his or her spouse is responsible for much of their hurt. But while this person might be trying to protect him/herself and convince everyone that their spouse bears the bigger burden for the marriage's shortfalls, the unfortunate result is further damage to the marriage. This leaves huge points of weakness in a relationship that the devil already loves to attack. But when spouses work together to protect each other, they are also naturally protecting themselves and their marriage as well.

2. Never leave a friend behind. This one is tricky, because certainly we can't control the behavior of other people although it is frighteningly tempting to try sometimes. But there is also temptation to give up on people when they don't quite behave as we would like or expect them to. Neither of these methods is effective. So what do we do? If we can't force someone to come with us, then how do we not leave them behind? This can be difficult and frustrating for sure, but I think our responsibility is quite simply not to give up on people. In other words, if you have a friend who is making questionable decisions and choosing to walk away from the truth, you don't write them off and never speak to them again. You encourage them, you pray for them, you reach out to them and love them. They may not always respond well, but that is not your responsibility. Leave that part to the Holy Spirit.

3. Desire to bring an entire team to a successful conclusion rather than race ahead of everyone else to the finish line. I wonder what would happen if every church in America adopted this mindset. Instead of each individual church hoping to increase their own "numbers," what if we all worked together to make sure the OVERALL number was bigger? And rather than always looking to get the newest, best or biggest (insert pretty much any material thing here), what if all churches worked together to make sure that at least basic needs were met across the globe before we worried about better technology or bigger auditoriums for some? Things like that. I know this is really idealistic thinking, and it's much easier said than done, but it just seems like we should start somewhere, you know?

Anyways. . . those are some of the things I've been thinking about. I'm sure none of those points are as well thought-out as they should be, but then again I've been hanging out with 6 kids for several days, and I haven't even had much coffee. Perhaps you will excuse me if my brain isn't quite as sharp as it should be today. :-D

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