Most people in this world, including you and I, are not pure bastions of innocence. I’m sure the majority of you have some tales of regretful things you did when you were teenagers, young adults, or even fully grown adults. To err is to be human, after all. We game for our own individual reasons, be it escapism, experiencing narratives, socialising or otherwise, but there are nefarious parts of our grand hobby that we don’t often address. Sins we are all guilty of and it just so happens that a long time ago someone made a convenient list of seven sins, possibly from the very first writer for BuzzFeed.
So we’re going to be looking at the seven deadly sins within the context of gaming. Mark off which ones you are guilty of and we can all go to a confessional together.
Gaming has a long history of trying to implement the… sexy stuff. When you’re creating a grand fantasy world with larger than life characters, what’s the point in giving them realistic proportions and wearing jeans and a t-shirt? Women had the unfortunate burden of being sexualised for young boys to gawk at, which meant big bosoms, tight outfits and perfectly sculpted figures. Men are not left in the dark either, as they are often depicted with eight-packs and muscles that you and I will never achieve in our lives. The far too unrealistic portrayal of the human body has been a mainstay in games for decades and we are all guilty of being complicit in it.
Oh no, don’t you dare tell me that you are some white light of modesty and never gawked at a sexy lady or a handsome stud in a game. Don’t you dare tell me that you didn’t control that camera to look under 2B’s skirt or wish that you were in B.J. Blazkowicz’ arms (I have done both.) We humans are inherently sexual beings because that’s just how evolution rolls and to fawn over the opposite and/or same sex is the most inevitable thing in the world. The Japanese have zero shame with it as well and I’m absolutely sure that some fans have at one point in their lives actually considered ordering a dakimakura.
There’s a lot wrong with sexualisation and objectivity which a discussion for would smother this whole article, but it’s thanks to our lizard brains that it has carried on for so long. And I know you also wish to be in B.J.’s arms.
Gorging on snack food while playing games is not only real and common but a trope. Cheese puff dust is the fall of many controllers and there’s always a bottle of something nearby. Gaming is like a long road trip but infinitely more fun and sometimes has a better soundtrack. You’re in it for the long haul since some games require you to spend hundreds of hours in them or you have your favourite multiplayer game that you’re “totally not addicted to”. You get hungry and you figure you’d double dip the euphoria by also going for the fatty, sugary treats that you know for a damn fact you shouldn’t have. Or you just drink two litres of coffee to try and stay awake during that raid or trying to get to max level.
There were times in my life after marathon gaming sessions where I had this sudden inner awakening that left me looking at the carnage I had created around me as I was lost in some digital world. Empty chips packets, chocolate wrappers, an overturned bowl of cereal, a piece of bread that is just there, way too many empty glasses and an awful pain in my chest. It’s easy to lose yourself for a while and absent-mindedly created an entire minefield for your digestive system to handle and an overwhelming sense of diabetes-infused regret. Let me tell you, I really need to get to a gym.
I was initially going to write about publishers and their scummy ways in this particular entry, but we’ve beaten that particular dead horse, turned it over, beat it again and also made meatballs out of it. Instead, I’m going to laser in on you. Yes, I know what you’ve done. I know what you did when the sales rush hit and you just “had to have” those games that were 80% off. I know your Steam library is filled with poor grey title names that are forever known as games you will “eventually get to”. I see your Twitter feed where you’ve mentioned the word “backlog” too many times to count.
Game hoarding is a real thing and we’re all guilty of it. You just want more. Another game to add to your glorious shelf where it will forever taunt you because you bought it two years ago and the plastic wrap is still on. You get filled with anxiety when you scroll through your library because the amount of choice you have is too much to handle and the regret sinks in like a slow festering wound. We easily get caught in those fleeting moments of indulgence and end up with a mountain that we cannot possibly summit.
There’s another type of greed as well. Lots of games have some form of currency or loot you can obtain and that hunt for more is infectious. Be it stealing valuables from poor people’s homes in Skyrim to spending hours doing things that are akin to chores just so that you can get that sweet piece of legendary gear. Greed can consume us way too quickly because it’s easy to always want something you don’t have.
And I’m not letting you publishers off the hook, I see you with your microtransactions and your loot boxes you greedy pieces of [redacted].
Ever had something work or school-related due the next day, but you’re doing everything in your power to avoid doing it? That’s the procrastination bug biting you right in the sweet spot. Games are perfect for procrastinating too. I’ll just play an hour before getting on with my important duties and oh whoops it’s dawn now and I can’t see anymore. Unless you’re galavanting in VR, gaming is primarily a sedentary activity. Plop yourself down on your throne or your comfy couch and just sit there for hours at a time twiddling your thumbs or mashing your keyboard like a mad person. Gaming is the lazy person’s paradise, whether we like it or not.
We mainly use it for relaxation, granted, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of abandoning your life and just being useless on some furniture for a while. I don’t take too much issue with it because many people around the world are more than happy with sitting there for hours watching terrible sitcoms or average-at-best romantic comedies. It can become a problem as we have seen with gaming addiction where people actually abandon their lives and spends thousands of hours in a game while all of the responsibilities around them fade into nothing. There’s also a large contingent of people out there with an unhealthy amount of hours poured into a game that actually affected their daily lives.
It’s okay to have a little bit of sloth in our lives, especially with how saturated and busy society has become. If you’re spending an entire Sunday in nothing but your underwear and a controller, I can’t fault you too much, just don’t forget to feed the cats. Or the kids. Or go outside.
Part of the human condition is to want what we can’t have. The desire to obtain something out of your reach can consume you and given that those desires are more or less impossible to obtain can mean a systematic destruction of your character. Envy can manifest itself in the strangest of ways. As a gamer, you’re always looking at the lofty goal of “being the best”. It’s only natural considering that much of what encompasses gaming is competitive through its very nature. You may look at a pro gamer and wish that you were as good as they are and even actively pursue that goal even while knowing that you don’t have the hours of dedication it takes to be that skilful.
You may look at someone with a massive GamerScore or trophy count and wish that you had those meaningless numbers to your own name. This can prompt you to spend time on money on dumb games that are just there to give you those sweet, sweet rewards so that you can be the best. You may see someone in an MMO that has more playtime than the number of hours you spend doing your job and wishing you can have that insane gear and shiny rewards.
Envy can take away from your personal gaming experience as you’re compromising your ideals in order to become something that you simply can’t be unless you really put your time and effort into it. It forces you to play in a way that is not how you personally would play and it can develop into being destructive if left unchecked. In a perfect world, you should just do what you, yourself, want to do. Not because of someone else, not because of some impossible goal.
Pride is really close to arrogance and the line can be crossed way quicker than you think. We’ve seen examples of pride going unchecked all over the gaming community. That’s where elitism stems from and why there are threads upon threads of fights over which console is the best or how playing PC is the only “true” way to play. When you’re so attached to an idea that any opposition to it is seen as a direct attack towards what you think is right, that’s when things get ugly.
Recently we’ve seen a rise of people being strangely proud of their involvement in games that can be seen as difficult. I’m sure one in your life you’ve seen someone say that you’re not a real gamer unless you’ve finished Dark Souls. “I’m the best because I conquered this difficult thing, therefore everything else is vastly inferior”. It doesn’t work like that, buddy. Games aren’t some barometer of your ability or worth and to think you are above others in your infinite wisdom is a fast track to hubris. You do not have the right to be the gatekeeper of other people’s enjoyment or love of certain things outside of your perfect little ideal.
I always found it weird how “console wars” and the “PC Master Race” existed because on the surface it’s the most pointless thing ever. Why do you care what others use in order to enjoy gaming? Do you have stock in Sony so it would be in your financial interest to call an Xbox gamer a piece of trash? Congratulations on the PC that costs as much as a car, now why do you want to proclaim its superiority like you’re in some kind of strange cult?
Pride, ladies and gentlemen. It makes us irrational, it breaks down logic. Simply because we want to validate ourselves and our decisions.
This one is probably the juiciest sin out of the lot. Wrath is what you can find beneath a comment section of a list article, on every social media platform and particularly inside the in-game chat of a multiplayer game. We’ve all done it, called someone some ugly names because they defeated you fair and square but you believe they were cheating. Saw someone type something you didn’t agree with and went straight for the jugular by employing personal attacks and trying to break someone down.
It’s why many people just stopped playing Dota 2 or Overwatch because no matter what you do, someone was going to call you a **** or insult your dear mother. The psychology behind it would probably be fascinating to explore. How the continued exposure to something breeds an unhealthy obsession that translates to hostility to anything that challenges that obsession. Most people raging at you for going mid and not providing heals correctly don’t really have to jack their blood pressure up for a simple game.
We all know how ugly this can get. Death threats, sexual harassment, an entire movement fueled by hate and intolerance, certain communities being deplorable and giving the majority of the gaming population a bad name and many more instances of unjust violence. I find it funny how people can become so “passionate” within a medium that is unequivocally a luxury that not many out there can enjoy. We have thinkpieces discussing the “entitled gamer” and giving attention to that small minority that only seeks to destroy or completely hurt our cause.
Gaming is a fun past-time, not a battlefield fought with slurs, random bouts of screaming and an unhealthy respect for conflict resolution. Sometimes you need to step back and just calm down for a second and remember:
So, how many Hail Marys do you need to say for your sins? I am not ashamed to admit that I have, at one point or another in my gaming life, committed each of these. We can’t all be perfect all the time and it’s natural to grow more mature as you grow older. We got a little serious during the last few sins, but that’s because the gaming world still has a lot of struggles and fires that need to be put out which is often caused by unhinged individuals that have lost their way. Hopefully, this list of sins has given you some areas of reflection during these final days of the year.