BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

© John Denney, 13 June 2007


Violent Video Games


Have you heard about "Resistance Fall Of Man"?  It's a computer game, and among other things, it involves the player shooting at the enemy around and inside a depiction of Manchester Cathedral.  And that's caused a big fuss. 


The worry about it is that cathedrals are viewed by many as buildings that carry a special spiritual significance.  It is offensive to them if the building is misused in the way the game uses it.  It seems that the computer company didn't even ask permission of the Dean of the Cathedral to make use of its plans and architecture in their profit-seeking.


So at this level, the issue is about causing offence to people who love the cathedral and the Christian values it stands for - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control[1] - none of which seems to be in evidence in the game in question!


And at the widest level, it is a concern that the realistic shoot-'em-up games, of which this is a prime example, serve to desensitize gamers to the horrific reality of violent death, and the pain and misery of the grieving relatives.  We remember with sadness the murder three years ago of 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah in Leicester by a youth who was obsessed with violent video games.


Is it time to call a halt to the glorification of fictional violence?  Saint Paul put it in a nutshell: you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.[2]

[1] Galatians 5:22-23 (NIVUK)

[2] Philippians 4:8 (MSG)