Is magic and other things bad in video games?

Hi everyone,

So I recently started playing Skyrim, and I think it’s an incredible game. However, something that’s been troubling me for a while concerning games is, is it ok to do things that would be wrong in real life in video games? I don’t do things like killing innocent people, stealing, etc in games, but obviously in real life you shouldn’t kill random bandits and stuff. But on the other hand a game isn’t real, they’re programmed in the game for the player to level up on them.

Which leads to my other question; Is magic ok in games? I don’t use magic at all in Skyrim, I didn’t even choose a sign at the stones near Riverwood, but I used shouts. I would like to explain these things in a sci-fi sort of way, saying that the dragonborn has genetic abilities inherited from dragons, however in the game the gods of Skyrim’s religion are actual characters, making them real in the game world. They’re the ones that you get magical abilities from I believe, even shouts. Some of them are good and I guess you can get power from them and do magic but wouldn’t that be like worshipping false gods in real life, even though it’s in a game? And what about shouts? I’m honestly quite stumped on this; maybe I’m over thinking, but maybe I’m rightly worried.

Thanks, God Bless :slight_smile:

You are over thinking this. Don’t be scrupulous.

It is a game. You are not trying to invoke demons or spirits that will give you power, you are not trying to contact the spiritual work or talk to the dead, or gain occult powers or contacts. You are engaging in a fictional word, that has fantastical elements (they are not even occult). If you are having trouble seeing the game as fiction, if you find yourself trying to use the shouts at your job to get rid of idiots, or think the game characters are going to jump out of the game and use their “deadly magic” in the real world, then it is a problem, and you should stop immediately and seek spiritual help. :smiley:

disclaimer I do not play this game (it makes me motion sick) but my husband owns it and plays it, so I know a little about it.

Have fun! I love the music!

On the other hand, the church frowns upon enjoying simulated sex via softcore porn, so why would simulated killing and simulated spell casting be any less sinful?

The church not only frowns upon pornography; it downright declares it a mortal sin.

The church does no such thing concerning video games and violence.

These games are not intrinsically sinful, but, as in all situations, the player should judge whether or not the playing of the game could be desensitizing, or if it’s just a waste of time.

All things in moderation.

Which still begs the question: Why is simulated sex wrong, but simulated killing is OK?

Casting spells in video games is not sinful. There is no relation between Tolkien-esque magic and the magic described in the Bible. A person casting spells in a fantasy game is not communing with demons.

Assuming you’re not an evil character, you’re not going around arbitrarily murdering people or stealing things. You’re fighting bad guys to protect the realm.

If you do choose to go into playing as an evil character, I think it becomes far more questionable. I wouldn’t personally consider it healthy for the soul to exercise your imagination in such a way, and I would avoid immersing yourself in such situations for entertainment.

If playing the game still makes your conscious uneasy, then I would not play the game. There is an excessive overabundance of things in this world with which we can occupy ourselves. Abstaining from something for the sake of holiness is ultimately a joy and not a burden.

The fact you have only just recently started means you’re not desensitized or disarmed by the game yet. What this means is you are less likely to defend it if you are uncomfortable now, but as time goes on, and you settle in, you will form a biased opinion for the sake of maintaining that enjoyment, whether it is morally licit or not.

What I see here is you are doing what you can, with your discomfort aside, to do the right thing and involve yourself with the game’s more positive options and choices. I think this is a good thing because it lets us know, in our attempt to help you, that you are engaging with your conscience, morality, and intellect, to try and create a positive outcome.

[quote=Garvnis Tercrat]Which leads to my other question; Is magic ok in games? I don’t use magic at all in Skyrim, I didn’t even choose a sign at the stones near Riverwood, but I used shouts. I would like to explain these things in a sci-fi sort of way, saying that the dragonborn has genetic abilities inherited from dragons, however in the game the gods of Skyrim’s religion are actual characters, making them real in the game world. They’re the ones that you get magical abilities from I believe, even shouts. Some of them are good and I guess you can get power from them and do magic but wouldn’t that be like worshipping false gods in real life, even though it’s in a game? And what about shouts? I’m honestly quite stumped on this; maybe I’m over thinking, but maybe I’m rightly worried.

Thanks, God Bless :slight_smile:

I’ve never played the game, but what I can tell you is that if your heart is troubled by this, take a step back, pray on it, ask your priest for advice, etc. Some things are not for everyone, and depending on your level of spirituality and sensitivity, this game may not be for you and it may not affect everyone else the way it affects you. I suggest taking some time away from it to find out of this is the case. I would not suggest getting opinions from people who are hardcore into the game, because they will be biased, and I do not suggest asking people who know nothing about it, because they may not be able to help you, for lack of any practical knowledge of the subject matter.

If you want my personal opinion, I think that if you have these feelings that make you feel guilty for playing the game, and you only just started playing recently, then perhaps it’s a game you should already not be involved with, even if just for the simple fact it makes you uncomfortable. If you have an aversion or negative feeling toward what is going on in the game, why would you go against your honest feelings?

You can either not play the game, or do your best to avoid the parts that make you uncomfortable, take the good and skip the bad, if you can. A word of caution, however. Alot of these video games are made to be addictive, since they require alot of time to achieve something usually, and whether you are on the side of good or evil, it’s all the same, and it drains you of your time for more productive things, and responsibilities. Now, if you have all your responsibilities squared away (foremost your responsibilities to God), and this is how you choose to spend your free time, that seems ok so long as it’s done in moderation.

There usually comes a point where what you’re trying to do hits a dead end, though, and you end up having to do the things you feel uncomfortable with in order to be good at the game or proceed. For example, if you have to pray or do whatever for/through those god characters you discuss, in order to get a buff or advantage, or power up, etc, and this is the only way to proceed or make the game an optimal experience, (especially if it involves other players who have better power ups or weapons because they’re not as scrupulous) then you run into a dead end where you have to choose between accepting what makes you uncomfortable so you can fully enjoy the game or compete with others, or else putting the game down and realizing it requires more of you than you are willing or wanting to do.

I will say this, however, in agreement with the others: you are not worshiping these ‘gods’, this is just a function within the game to increase your character’s bottom line; it’s more about whether you’re willing to do that and are comfortable with it.

Again, take a step back, pray on it, and decide for yourself. It’s just a game, not a friend; it won’t miss you if you stop playing, and it won’t like you if you keep playing. It can be hard if you make actual friends because of games like this, and then decide to leave the game; I’ve seen this happen and have had it happen to me with different games, so there is some separation anxiety at first, but if your friendship with these other players are strong enough (and diverse enough) to expand beyond the game into other interests and hobbies, then the game hardly matters, and the friendships will not be lost. :slight_smile:

Thank you all for your replies, they were very helpful :slight_smile:

I’m going to ask a priest to see what he thinks about this :slight_smile:

And yeah I definitely need to play for shorter periods of time.

Thanks a lot and God Bless :slight_smile:

Sounds good. Thank you for your willingness to be receptive. :slight_smile:

I might add this suggestions also:

If you are going to speak with a priest, try not to generalize the information you give him or purposely be non-specific. Be specific and do not intentionally leave the points out that you might be embarrassed to admit. I say this because chances are high the priest will not even know what you’re talking about, especially if you’re being vague, so it’s good to have an idea of what you plan to say to him beforehand. I would recommend you make an appointment with him if he is not able to give you a good enough amount of time after/before mass, etc. I would also not use confession to ask a question like this; it puts the priest in a situation where he has to think on his feet when his job in this moment is to be forgiving sins. As a result, you don’t want to risk him giving you a quick answer that might not answer your question. Make an appointment instead, so he can focus, you can focus, and you both have the time to discuss it.

Because the first leads you to lust, but the second doesn’t lead you to kill…

Thank you fdeunha, the questions above are such a jump in logic, they seem almost ridiculous. Does the Church also condemn children from playing cops and robbers, since that is simulated killing (involving other people no less)? Of course not, it is a game a fictional, imaginative experience that does not lead one to anger, violence, gluttony, pride, lust, envy, or sloth or any other vice. Viewing simulated sex acts falls within the very definition of lust, which is not the case with using “magic” or violence in video games.

The problem with all video games (or indeed most leisure activities) is if it is leading you to sloth, (are you neglecting your duties and responsibilities). Since in a video game you are not using magic, but rather a fictional character is using fictional magic, you can in no way be participating in the sin of using magic. (It also might be helpful to note that magic in video games/books is fictional as well and does not generally mirror real occult magic which the bible warns us about).

The psychiatrists I keep seeing interviewed on the news every time there’s a mass shooting seem to disagree with you there.

There’s a big difference between cops and robbers as little kids and the graphic, simulated murder in something like GTA. Common sense can tell us that.

Ok well my take on the violence part would be that men, it seems, have a tendency for some form of combat. I don’t know if this would be considered instinct or something put into us by God to be better people, but I think that this aspect of ourselves makes us more willing and able to fight for our religion, for our families, etc, as men are supposed to be the protectors. As long as we’re not killing innocent people and we’re fighting for some good cause, for example catching the bad guys in cops and robbers or fighting dragons or Thalmor or whoever ends up being in Skyrim, we’re sort of exercising our will to take a stand and to defend. That’s my opinion, might be wrong.

Also, like the others were saying, if killing in the game desensitizes you to killing and/or makes you want to kill, then take a break for a while, tone it down, or just stop.

As for the gore you can most likely turn that down, many games have that option. Not too sure about Skyrim though. Like, it’s still not real so I guess it’s alright if you don’t start thinking it’s ok to kill.

And couldn’t all the same be said about sex? The instinct is natural, God- given, and as long as you’re not actually fornicating, where’s the problem? That’s the argument that could be made. But if simulated sex is a problem, simulated violence has to be as we’ll so far as I can tell.

No it doesn’t have to connect. Simulated sex is bad because it falls within the very definition of lust, it also is a misuse of the sexual function. However, I don’t know what this would even look like in a video game. Is there a game that depicts graphic simulated sex? Pornography is not the same as a video game anyways, since it is real people engaging in simulated sex (or real sex) solely for other people’s sexual pleasure. I suppose if you are making your video game character engage in sex for your own or others’ sexual pleasure than, yes that would be a sin.

On to violence. So if you let a person play Skyrim, they are going to grab some fictional swords and bows and arrows, and go be violent? It doesn’t compute in a linear fashion the way you seem to suggest, (or that sexual acts in media do).

This thread originally about magic:
The same with magic. Like the (non historical) fictional swords, the magic is also fictional, (with little or no connection to real magic) being utilized in a purely fictional environment. That fact that we are talking about Skyrim, is even better, because it can have no application to the real world.

Think of it this way. is it ok to read about violence in a fictional book? (Maybe some historical fiction on the civil war perhaps, or even a murder mystery). Now is it ok to read about sex in a fictional story? (This romance novels and erotica, 50 shades of Gray…). You would admit that there is a difference in these two subject matters. Magic in a book is fine to read about too (Lord of the Rings, Narnia, etc). Thus like books, violence and magic in video games is not inherently wrong, unlike explicit sex.

(Disclaimer: I’m afraid the tone of this could seem contentious, b/c debates always run that risk. Not meant to be, though. You’ve made good points, and personally I agree with many of them. Just so ya know…)

And simulated violence simulates hatred of neighbor - a misuse of our whole being, really, considering how clearly Jesus spoke about hatred.

Again, I’m just echoing what the experts say every time there’s a mass shooting. I don’t necessarily agree with them, though. But my view is irrelevant (as much as it hurts my pride to say that). We’re talking about Catholic teaching regarding what goes on in the heart and disordered desire.

For that I’d refer you to Catholic writer Michael O’Brien. He was featured on EWTN a few times. Very much against run-of-the-mill magic fantasy lit. (granted we’re talking about a game, but I think the same idea applies) And he had the Catholic teaching to back it up (made an exception for Tolkien, though, seeing as how he was Catholic and framed magic differently than most).

Within the context of this discussion, I would have to say no. 50 Shades is read to stimulate the sex appetite outside of the marriage bed. It’s no different than a guy looking at porn, except that one uses images, the other uses words to invoke those images. In regard to violence in literature, it would be like sexual content – dependent on context and intent to incite disordered desire, or desire outside of the proper context. If you’re going to make an exception for something like historical or some sort of “noble” violence, then I think you have to make the same exception for sex. Internet porn would be bad, sex (real or simulated) in a loving context would be a-ok (by that logic).

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not Catholic, and my personal views are rather different than the ones I expressed above. But I figure this is a Catholic forum, and the OP was looking for an answer within a Catholic context, in accord with Church teaching.

Indeed, the whole point of the that paragraph was to show that sexual literature, pornography and the like are inherently different than violence shown in movies, video games, and literature. (And I am talking about graphic pictures and descriptions, the passing mention of sex or of the marital act is not the same as simulated sex). Thus showing that violence and sex are not inherently the same even when depicted graphically.

I am aware that experts are trying to pin violent behavior on video games (Of course how do we explain all those violent people before video games, which is a rather new phenomenon). But the difference is, that people don’t play a video game and then go on a violent rampage, but many people do watch or read erotic media and either get sexual pleasure from the watching or reading, or then engage in sexual immoral behaviors. The connection between erotica and sin is very linear while the line between violent media and sin is not linear, for some if could be a sin, or the near occasion for sin, for others it is not. (I personally do not like games like GTA and Call of Duty, and would not let my children plat such games, but they are not per se sinful).

Yeah, Micheal O’Brien has no credibility with me, because from what I have read, he doesn’t read what he criticizes, he never defines “magic” and thus criticizes everything that uses the word “magic” (but gives “the force” a pass), and gives other books like Lord of the Rings and Narnia a pass, despite LOTR not being exlicitly Catholic, and the magic in Narnia being closer in resemblance to occult magic than the books he criticizes, based on criteria that he won’t apply to other books with “magic.”

Well, I’d never allow my children to play GTA… but seriously: I don’t know any boy who doesn’t gets sexually aroused when watching simulated sex (i.e. softporn), and I don’t know anybody who have asesine instincts when playing violent videogames.

Anyway, if somebody notices that he becomes very violent when playing those games, has the duty of stop playing them.

[quote=Garvnis Tercrat]Is magic ok in games?

Why shouldn’t it be? Why would it be a sin to pretend that God gave humans magic powers? Or, even if your power comes from some kind of devil or something in the game, I don’t see why it should be a sin to pretend something (that doesn’t lead you to sacreligious, morbid, or otherwise immoral thoughts).
BTW, St Padro Pio of Pietrelcina was given the power of bilocation by God. It wasn’t just a one-time miracle thing, either; he was able to control it with his own will. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

I agree that it is not wrong for a game to have magic, but disagree that there is no limitation. There comes a point at which playing with dark magic in a game will affect your mind.

Care to evidence this? As far as I am aware, this is not true. St. Padre Pio’s gift of bilocation was certainly a recurring miracle, and there is no evidence that Padre Pio, or any other bilocationist for that matter, was able to “control it with his own will.” The way God usually worked this miracle was to transport the saint to a location where he was needed, for example, to the deathbed of a sick person, and the saint would do the necessary work and then be removed to his original location by God. This is not some kind of saint superpower that enables the saint to bilocate whenever and wherever he wants.

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