Eve Online ScreenshotI am going to guess that most people who read this have never even heard of the incredibly popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) Eve Online.

So first let me briefly describe what it is: an online video game set in a science fictional universe where tens, even hundreds of thousands of people play with and against each other simultaneously.

The game is so engaging, and so popular that many who play the game become fully engrossed by it. Make no mistake– this is not a 5 minute 25¢ game of Space Invaders! This is a game that fully consumes the lives of many who play it. Consider for a moment the following statement by Eyjólfur Guðmundsson, who is the top Economist at CCP Games (the company that owns Eve Online):

“Our mission statement is to make virtual worlds more meaningful than real life.”

WAIT?! What did he say? Eyjólfur said that the stated purpose of their company is to make virtual online worlds that are more meaningful than real life. I find this to be absolutely staggering.

Eyjólfur goes on to say…

“For me, real life has stopped being interesting”

WHAT?! Real life is no longer interesting?! Again, I find this to be absolutely staggering. How can an artificial, fictional world– that can only be experienced through pixels on a screen– become so meaningful that reality is rendered as uninteresting?

Unfortunately I can not explain this because I admittedly do not understand it myself.

What I can say, however, is that there are many who do understand. In fact there are hundreds of thousand of people who do ‘get it’. Eve Online has over 500,000 paid monthly subscribers who each spend, on average, of 18 hours a week playing. By way of comparison if you spent 18 hours a week reading the Bible you could read it twelve times a year.

Most people find it difficult to read the Bible once a year… let alone once a month. Yet half a million people are able to dedicate this amount of time to a virtual gaming world. Also consider that reading the Bible is absolutely free… EVE Online costs about $15 a month plus any in game purchases.

If Christians are sometimes chided for being “so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good” what could possibly be said about those who live out their existence in completely fictional.. sorry… virtual worlds?

Ok, my purpose is not to mock those who play EVE Online or similar MMORGPs. Let me be clear: I also enjoy playing video games. During a few minutes of downtime I like to take out my phone and play a few rounds of Fruit Ninja.

However, I would like to offer a few thoughts:

  • We must be ever on guard regarding the use of our own time– both online and offline. Are we truly spending our time, talents, and treasure on those things that will count for eternity? Matthew 25:14-30 ESV
  • As parents we must be ever vigilant in raising up and training our children. We could overreact by not allowing our children to have access to any video games. We could underreact by allowing our children unfettered access to all video games without any restrictions or guidance. As parents we must do something considerably more difficult– train our children to thrive in the real world– a world that offers endless and addicting distractions from what is truly important. Proverbs 22:6 ESV
  • If we have a friend who is spending inordinate amounts of time in virtual worlds we should have the courage to say something to them in love. We shouldn’t gossip about them, nor should we verbally attack them– rather we should lovingly approach our brother or sister in Christ. Ephesians 4:15 ESV, 2 Timothy 3:16 ESV

I would greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts on traps and pitfalls of virtual worlds in the comment section…

 

Sources:
WikiPedia
Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Graphic: By CCP Games (en:EVE Online) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons