Bo Knows Time Wasting

I remember the day video games forever changed in my eyes, for better or for worse. (Back then it seemed like for better; looking back today it definitely seems like for worse.) Tecmo Super Bowl had just come out for the original Nintendo Entertainment System, the destroyer of all things Atari and everything else far inferior to its mind-blowing 8-bit graphics. Admittedly, in retrospect, it wasn’t really all that great of a football game. You only had a few plays to choose from on offense or defense. Whoever controlled Bo Jackson and the Raiders inevitably crushed the other team as he literally broke 18 tackles every single time he touched the football. Ah, the good old days. (Don’t believe me? Check out YouTube “Bo Knows”) But it wasn’t the slow motion high-five celebration scene after every one of Bo’s 85 yard touchdown runs that forever changed video games for me. It was this amazing new feature of getting to play an entire NFL 16 game season (and playoffs) while keeping your actual stats for the entire year. The whole goal changed. Now it wasn’t about winning a silly Nintendo football game. Now it was about amassing the single greatest season by an NFL running back that the world had ever seen. Two thousand rushing yards? Come on, that’s child’s play. Five hundred yards per game wasn’t out of the question. This was about pure unadulterated fantasy–about being the greatest athlete the world had ever seen, and amassing yourself in countless hour upon hour of NFL glory.

OK, so what in the world am I talking about and what does Bo Jackson have to do with wasting time? Video games used to be fairly simple and fun. Over time, however, they got more complex. You could save your place and come back to a game and pickup where you left off. Games became huge, complex digital worlds, rather than a half-an-hour eye-hand coordination competition against the kid from across the street. That pattern has only increased exponentially into today. Games are less about a quick diversion and more about immersing your entire life into a different world and new persona. You can literally become someone else and can be caught up for weeks and months and even years in fantasy. It’s escapism on steroids.  People get fired from their jobs because they’re so caught up in a fantasy world that they can no longer commit to their real world job. People have even died from playing video games for so long that they forget to eat and sleep or do normal, everyday staying-alive-type-of-tasks. Tecmo Super Bowl and Bo Jackson weren’t just one small step forward in video game football stats, they represent for me a giant leap for mankind into a whole new world of digital time wasting. This is no longer child’s play we’re talking about; we’re talking about millions of people caught up in an obsession and one of the greatest displays of idolatry the world has ever seen.

Don’t believe me?  According to a recent study referenced in Darrin Patrick’s book, Church Planter, here’s the reality:


  • Half of American males between the ages of 18 to 34 play video games every day—for almost 3 hours.
  • The average video game buyer is 35 years old. 

If these statistics are even remotely close to being true, we’re in trouble. To put it simply, video games are stealing away an entire generation of American males. Men would rather waste their lives away in fantasy and escapism, then accept responsibility, grow up, and be men. Just think about this–if over half of us are spending three hours a day in digital fantasy, who is leading families? Who is teaching young men to become men? Who is doing normal everyday things like spending time with the wife and kids? Who has the time to serve at church or lay down their lives and follow Christ?

Clearly, this isn’t just an issue for the kiddos anymore. And to be completely honest, this isn’t just an issue for the world or unbelievers. In my time short time as a pastor, I’ve observed far too many Christian young men who have bought the lies of the world around them. It’s ok…  this is what men do. This is who we are. You’re alright. Serve Christ tomorrow. And tomorrow never comes.

Men… we must call our video game playing habits what they really are: sin. Rather than calling it innocent recreation we must call their stranglehold of our time heavy-handed idolatry in the face of our King. We must truly confess and repent and beg for the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, and we must love Christ more than our toys and the fantasy that they bring. In reality, every moment of our day today belongs to Him and should be spent for His eternal kingdom because of what He has done for us. Would we today redeem the time, choose to live in reality, forgo fantasy, and follow Him.

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