The youth ministry blogosphere continues to buzz with passionate opinions regarding the recent New York Times story about churches that use violent video games to attract teens. Youth minister Zach nicely articulates, I think, what the main problem is with integrating this type of gaming into youth group activities:
"...[V]ideo games are divisive. Essentially there are winners and there are losers. The winners are the cool students, and the losers are the rejects. Video games endorse this idea of performance and competition. In many areas of the students’ life there is this ideology of performance. Some of the performance activities may include: sports, co-curricular activities, youth programs, peer relationships, and even in school. The idea of performance tells the student if you meet the standard and make it, then you are accepted and can participate. If you do not meet the expectation, then you are rejected and on your own to figure it out. .... Video games divide the participants that are playing them and fuel the competitive and performance spirit that is everywhere around them in their everyday life. Youth Ministry’s goal is not to create winners or losers, but to create and disciple authentic followers of Christ. It is about following, not winning or losing.
In the broader perspective, I'm not totally opposed to using video games, on a rare occasion, as part of youth group activities (no more than I'm opposed to occasional game nights, movie nights, etc.). But I would draw the line at video games that are part of the culture's glorification of violence.
Check out what others have to say on this issue: Calvin, Ingrid, Nick, & Dan. See another excellent post here followed by a robust series of comments from other readers.