Does playing Skyrim or other such games constitute grave sin?

Skyrim is a game that includes magic and even the worship of Pagan gods (which were specifically invented for the game). It also includes violence and coarse language (not unlike many video/computer games), as well as a few sexual themes (nothing overly graphic). My chief concern is with the magic/Paganism. I’ve had different Confessors offer different opinions. I tend to think that fake magic is no worse than fake violence in games, and for that matter, other forms of fiction such as books and movies, although perhaps the interaction required in a game sets it apart?

I used to play Oblivion, the precursor to Skyrim. Those games have beautiful graphics and are very immersive, but they are also rather dark and can be quite addictive. I got rid of my copy for those reasons. You don’t have to say “It’s a mortal sin to play this game” in order to decide for yourself it’s better to let it go.

This was my biggest problem with video games. It’s not so much their content that was the problem, but how much time I was wasting on them. Some people can play a game here and there, but to me it was a daily activity which often took up hours of my day.

Is it a sin? Perhaps not. But think of the words in the Confiteor: “I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, …”

I know there is quite a bit that I have failed to do because of video games. Quite a bit. That’s why I got rid of them all. It was simply a problem for me that had to go. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

But not everyone has such problems. To the OP, you really just have to evaluate what video games are doing for you and what are they keeping you from doing. Determine if they are affecting your life in any negative way. Fantasy is fantasy, there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. But if you find it is starting to make you question your faith or you feel the desire to look into occultism or anything like that, then it very well could be a problem you need to eliminate.

It does not constitute a grave sin unless you allow it to absorb your life to the neglect of other duties. If you can play them (even play them a lot), while maintaining the more important aspects of your life then I don’t believe it would be gravely sinful.

Personally, The Elder Scrolls is my favorite game series along with Bioshock, and I have dropped… a significant number of hours wandering Skyrim, Cyrodil, Morrowind and the like. The inclusion of the Nine Divines, or the Daedra does not make the game inherently bad, so long as you remember to recognize that they are purely man-made; nor is role-playing your character being a devotee of one of them (Generally, I tend to seek out Azura, because Azura’s Star is one of the best items in the game if you’re a mage character / into enchanting). Just remember to keep a focus on what’s really important, and you’ll be fine.

I’m the original poster and I’m concerned that by discussing what has occurred in my Confessions, I have violated the Seal of Confession…

Your post was really general. I’m pretty sure it’s fine.

EDIT: I was also under the impression that only priests were bound by the seal of confession. If you’re not sure, you can ask your priest, but I’m pretty sure you’re fine. The point of the seal is to protect the person confessing, not the priest.

You, the penitent, can talk about any and all aspects of your own confession that you like. The seal only applies to anyone who hears another’s confession, usually the priest celebrating the sacrament, though also translators (if necessary) and, I’d assume, by extension anyone who accidentally overhears a confession. (You’d be surprised! At one parish that I go to, with thick brick walls that include permanent confessionals within, I still sometimes have to plug my ears or hum to myself to avoid hearing the odd particularly strong-voiced penitent… :slight_smile: )

The point of the seal is not to place a gag on you, but to give you confidence that your deepest, most intimate secrets will not be divulged by anyone else involved.

I’m sorry to be late to post to this thread, but I also have a question about the morality of skyrim. I don’t think it is a grave sin to play the game because of violence and the fact that there are made up “gods” in the world of skyrim. I think these at least for me, can be easily ignored.
My question is in regard to the way that some female characters are dressed in skimpy outfits. I started playing the game without knowing this and when I encountered characters like this, I felt uncomfortable especially when talking or fighting them. Based on what I have seen of other games though, skyrim isn’t too bad. I wish this wasn’t in the game because I think every other part of the game is amazing. There are actually modesty mods that eliminate this for the pc version of skyrim but I have the xbox version:(
I tend to over think things sometimes and I am not sure if this is overscrupulous since I have stopped playing the game.

There is also a US Catholic bishops review of the game, but they don’t mention the skimpy outfits of female characters. Perhaps they didn’t play that far into the game.


Impure thoughts are a sin. If the game causes you to have impure thoughts, and you recognize this but continue to play, it would be a sin to play the game. This is because part of the promise we make to God during penance is to avoid near occasions of sin. If we know a game is a near occasion of sin, then it is a sin not to avoid it. So it won’t be a sin for everyone, just those that have trouble with impure thoughts while playing the game. If you have no impure thoughts while playing, you are not committing any sin playing this game. If you are not sure, you can always ask the priest in the confessional.

Pornography is always a sin, however. If the game had full nudity anywhere, it would be a sin to play it always, even if by some miracle looking at nudity causes you no impure thoughts. It is assumed that pornography is a near occasion of sin for everyone.

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