How I Quit Video Games
VIDEO GAMES WERE MY LIFE
I started playing video games when
I was in elementary school. Back then my parents had very strict control over
what kind of games I played and how long I got to play them. But as I grew up,
I found ways to evade their control.
As time passed, video games slowly
became the center of my life, even though I did not want to admit it. I really
liked to barter with my parents about how long I could play video games.
Whenever my parents left the house, I would stop whatever I was doing and go
straight to my computer or X-box. It was like second nature to me. I used to
evaluate the quality of my day by how many hours of video games I played—the
days without video games were considered bad days.
If you have played a game called The Sims, you know that the characters
have eight kinds of needs, or desires, which are represented by bars. If the
character eats something, the bar for “hunger” fills up, and if the character
plays video games, his or her “fun” bar fills up. However, reality doesn’t work
that way. I played video games thinking I could satisfy my “fun” desire, but
after playing hours of video games, the desire was never fulfilled. Instead, I
just wanted to play more.
The desire for video games was so
strong that it appeared on my mind all the time. I thought about video games
when I was asleep, when I was taking a test, and even when I prayed for the
After a period of time seeking
after God, I received the Holy Spirit and got baptized when I was in ninth
grade. But I still didn’t see video games as a problem in my life, even though
they wasted a lot of my precious time, made me forget to keep the Sabbath, and
caused me to lie a lot to my parents.
I didn’t realize video games were
a problem to my spiritual life until I attended the 2003 Winter Student
Spiritual Convocation (SSC) for the first time as a junior in high school. The
special topic on video games was very powerful and touching. It made me realize
that video games occupied so much more of my time than God. I also learned how video
games subconsciously influenced me in many ways that I was not aware of, such
as affecting my temper and desensitizing me to violence.
But I didn’t have enough strength
to quit or even cut back on video games.
THE TURNING POINT
Before attending the 2006 National
Youth Theological Seminar (NYTS) in Southern California,
I had mixed feelings about going. I had heard a lot of “bad” things about the
event, like people quitting video games and TV after attending NYTS. I didn’t
mind the TV part, because I had no habit of watching TV. But I couldn’t imagine
myself without video games. I thought video games were one of the most
important components of my life.
As usual, video games kept on popping
into my mind during prayers at NYTS. Before, when I heard pastors saying that
we cannot serve two masters, I always told myself I wasn’t serving two masters;
that video games were only part of my leisure activities. But during the
prayers I slowly realized that I had a problem.
I remembered Jesus Christ said,
“‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest’” (Mt 11:28). So I decided to throw the heaviest
burdens to Jesus Christ, which were video games and my parents, who were not
I said to the Lord Jesus, “If You let my parents, both of them, get baptized, then I will
quit video games.” I thought I was pretty smart by throwing the responsibility
onto God, because I knew that even if my parents decided to get baptized, the
next spiritual convocation and baptism was five months away, and in those five
months, I could still play as many video games as I wanted. Problem solved.
However, my prayers got worse and
worse. By Thursday morning, I felt that my faith was even lower than before I
came to NYTS. I was ready to go home because I missed my games so much. I also
felt that I didn’t need to stay because I hadn’t committed any major sins, so I
didn’t need forgiveness.
Thank God my counselor and other
counselors encouraged me with Bible verses and their life experiences, and I
decided to stay. That’s also when I realized I needed God’s forgiveness and
mercy more than anyone else needed them.
EXPERIENCING GOD AND SATAN
During the evening prayer on
Thursday, I had the most wonderful experience in my entire life. As I was
repenting in my prayer, I felt that God touched me so much and held me so
close; I even saw Him give me a new heart. Unstoppable tears of joy poured out
during that prayer. After the prayer, I felt weightless, completely without
burden, and I hadn’t had that kind of feeling since I received the Holy Spirit.
I felt like video games were not a
problem anymore, not because I quit video games, but because video games quit
me. I felt I was completely free, that video games had no control over me
anymore. I was so joyful, that I really wanted to share my joy with everyone
That night I was so happy that I
couldn’t fall asleep until very late. Strangely, I had a nightmare. I was
falling, falling, and I could even feel the wind blowing on my face as I was
falling facedown. On my way down, I saw the devil falling down ahead of me.
The devil had a body similar to an
octopus, but with a lot more legs. Its face was so hideous that I do not
remember how it looked. There were many computer monitors around the devil,
falling down with it. As we were approaching the ground, I could see a huge
fire pit down below, blazing with lava.
The devil and the monitors fell
into the pit, and they were no more. When I was about to fall in the fire pit,
I suddenly woke up with a verse on my mind. When I looked up the verse in the
morning, it literally took me only about five seconds (normally I am not that
fast) to find it.
The verse read, “Then he goes and
takes him seven other spirit more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell
there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Mt 12:45). From
this experience I knew I must fill up my life quickly with God’s words and
other meaningful things, or else I was going to end up falling into other
MAKING A DETERMINATION
I enjoyed my new freedom in the
Lord for a little while. But two days later, the temptation for video games
came back again—this time stronger than ever. I could feel my spirituality diving
straight down, and video games were about to take over me again. I felt just
like an ungrateful Israelite; that even after experiencing God’s powerful
miracles full of grace and mercy, I still turned my
head around to remind myself of the fish I ate in Egypt.
For the rest of NYTS, I
experienced great struggles between the spirit and the flesh. I knew I couldn’t
let the battle go on anymore. I knew I would go back to that same old lifestyle
once I left NYTS—enslaved by video games, regretting that I wasted my time, yet
unable to do anything about it.
I realized I needed a strong dose
of medicine in order to completely cut off video games from my life. I decided
to take a vow before NYTS ended. I knew we shouldn’t make vows lightly, but I
knew my God is very merciful, so I decided that taking the vow would be more
beneficial to me than not doing so. My vow was, “I will not touch video games
anymore in my life, or else may God punish me severely, such as let me fail all
After my parents dropped me off at
home from NYTS, they had to go to a friend’s party. My grandmother was away and
my little brother was also not home. It was an empty house. The temptation for
video games appeared. I could hear it calling me, “Come on, spend the last
night with me, then you can destroy me tomorrow.”
Thank God that I had just come
back from NYTS, and I knew what to do. I knelt down and prayed. After thirty
seconds I found enough strength to turn on the computer, delete all the games I
played, and resolve to wash my hands of video games.
A NEW DIRECTION
It was a little difficult to
adjust at first. I suddenly had a huge chunk of free time, and I didn’t know
what to do with it. Gradually, I discovered the joy of working in the garden,
the sense of accomplishment in helping out in the kitchen, more patience to
read English books (English is not my first language), more time to spend with
family, and more time to read the Bible and pray.
When I got back to college for my
sophomore year, I had more time to spend with the campus fellowship, more time
to focus on academics, had the desire to volunteer in the recycling club, and
was more willing to attend Friday night services and join the choir. God also
blessed me in many ways, such as a dramatic improvement in academics; I even
received an A+ for the first time in my life, in a difficult organic chemistry
During Winter SSC, I discovered
that there was no more emptiness after the prayers like previous years. Most
importantly, I found my future path to be clearer—I had a sense of direction, a
goal to press towards.
I want to be a professor in the
scientific field, so in the future I can preach the truth to scientists and be
a good testimony for Christ. A professor can also influence students in a good
way, and help the campus fellowship. I don’t know yet if this is where God is
going to place me, but I know if I set my goal on the final prize—going to
heaven—and am determined to put God first in my life, God will lead me onto the
Quitting video games can sometimes
feel like bondage, like the time last year when my dorm friends got together
and played video games but I couldn’t play, or when someone invited me to play
video games when I went to their house. But I know true friendship is not built
upon video games. Video games are a virtual world where you can shed your real
identity and don’t have to take any responsibility for what you do. The real
world we live in is not that way at all.
Video games sometimes bring up
wonderful memories, such as when my little brother and I beat a game together.
But what is past is already past. Paul said in Philippians 3:13, “forgetting
those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are
ahead.” I am pretty sure there are many things other than video games I can do
with my brother to strengthen our relationship.
Learning to Fly in Line
I saw a very encouraging short
video on Taiwan’s
True Jesus Church website (http://www.joy.org.tw). It is about a kite that
enjoys flying very much, and thinks that if she can break off from the
restraint of the line, she can fly even higher than before and observe more
things. So she asks the wind to blow her away.
She enjoys the freedom but soon
begins to descend. She gets caught between the trees, gets away, but falls on
the ground. Bullies kick her around, and she is filled with mud and full of
wounds. As she is crying and regretting, the little boy who owns the kite finds
her, cleans her up, bandages her wounds, and sends her to the sky again.
The kite now enjoys the freedom
of flying with the line. Tears came out when I saw this video, even though this
video is intended for children. Sometimes we may view our family, our church,
or even God, as a limitation that prevents us from achieving higher things. But
the truth is, without them, we are nothing.
I hope my experience will
encourage you to never lose hope in God. We don’t need to be afraid to make
determinations for our God, because our God, the Lord Jesus Christ, is indeed a
very merciful God.
Since writing my testimony in the
beginning of 2007, I have realized that it’s not as easy as I thought to stay
away from video games.
By the time summer came, I had
stopped my daily Bible reading and prayer. Because of that I felt far from God,
and when I started to feel overwhelmed by my classes and research work, I was
not able to withstand the temptation of video games. Thank God, I stopped and
repented after playing video games twice.
Once school started again in the
fall, my faith and spirituality stabilized. I think this is due to Irvine
Campus Fellowship. It’s always good to have a lot of brothers and sisters
nearby to fellowship with them consistently.
I know that I can have the
determination to quit video games, but without God’s help I cannot do it. If I
think I can do it on my own will and own strength, it is pride and I will not
be able to win.
But I know that I can still live a
victorious life with God’s help and the love from brothers and sisters.