Is it okay for Christians to play video games?

It's not that simple

Video games have become a controversial type of entertainment for Christian households. A lot of this comes from stereotyping: most of the famous games out there are also well known for having less than wholesome content, and if that's all you're familiar with, then it's going to seem like video games are nothing but trouble.

But if we're being realistic, most of the arguments being made against video games should also be made against music, movies, television, and any other form of entertainment. After all, the root of the problem isn't the medium itself, but rather what that medium is being used to depict. If a work glamorizes sin or spreads a harmful message, then it's something to be concerned about. Because of this, we need to evaluate every song, movie, or game on its own merits.

There are a number of ways that your entertainment could impact your Christian walk. To help you make an informed decision, here are some things to consider when you're thinking about playing a video game, even one you're already familiar with.

Does this game contain material that would cause you to stumble?
Everyone is tempted by different things. If you have reason to believe a game will put temptations in your path, it would probably be best to look elsewhere for your entertainment. There are always other games, and odds are you can find many other games which feature similar gameplay and won't pose a risk to your walk with God.
Does this game promote sin?
This may sound like a joke, but there are games out there that explicitly encourage sinful behavior. An obvious example would be pornographic video games, but there are also games that promote racism, hatred, and even blasphemy. Do you really want to surround yourself with things like this?
Will this game keep me from doing something important?
Gaming can eat up a lot of your time, especially since many modern games more than ten hours of content. Now, there's nothing wrong with playing games to relax if you have the time for it, but you can't allow them to become a priority. Are you going to be able to set them aside when something more important comes around? Along those same lines, are you going to be able to put the game away when it's time to eat or go to bed?

What about adult Christians?

Your age really shouldn't have a bearing on what hobbies you're allowed to have. Yet, some people feel it's wrong for adults to spend their free time gaming. When it comes down to it, there's nothing inherently wrong with playing video games as an adult; like everything else, it's a matter of priorities. If you're keeping games in their proper place, then they are just another form of entertainment.

So why do people feel otherwise?

When asked about this, people generally give one of two answers. The first, and more common, answer is that part of growing up means "putting away childish things". Thus, they think it's wrong for adults to spend their time and money on things like toys, cartoons, comic books, or other activities that are geared towards children. Verses like 1st Corinthians 13:11 are sometimes brought up to back up this point, though this takes Paul's words out of context (more on that here)

The other common answer is that adults should focus on spending their time productively. We are only here for a brief period of time, so people feel that it's morally wrong to spend it doing something that won't matter in the long term.

Both of these viewpoints have their flaws, especially when they are used to criticize someone who is gaming responsibly. It's important for us to remember that God doesn't have a problem with us taking a break from time to time. After all, the Bible provides many examples of God explicitly instructing people to rest or relax, and He even provided an example by resting on the seventh day.

If you want to spend your free time watching movies, reading books, playing video games, or playing the guitar on the front porch, that's up to you. Your choice of recreation only becomes a problem when it causes you to stray or when it takes priority over your responsibilities.