Why do I believe World of Warcraft (WoW) is an acceptable activity? The answer is found in answering these questions.
Does playing World of Warcraft open my life up to special demonic attention?
In the first two blogs on this topic, I detailed why I believe proximity to the occult and magic does not open up a special portal in my life to demonic activity. I believe the mundane tactics of the devil are more dangerous and pervasive than the frightening aspects of occult activity. Demonic possession and oppression are a result of either godly living (see Job), repeated rebellion (see King Saul) or active pursuit of spirit contact (see New Testament), not passive contact with objects or practices. I realize there are a few more stories from the New Testament I could have expounded on. Maybe in one more post…
Superstition is a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like. I believe much of the fear of the demonic world is superstition. It is not based on Biblical revelation, but on worldly speculation and, in many cases, occultic lore and demonology. To not play WoW because I fear demons are more likely to oppress me, would be superstitious.
Is playing World of Warcraft equal to practicing witchcraft?
Answering this question is where many Christians experience a prickling conscience. If after, studying the Scriptures and the mechanics of the game, you still believe in an affirmative answer, then you would do right to abstain. For, whatever cannot be done in good conscience, is sin.
First, a quick synopsis of the game:
World of Warcraft play begins by creating a character or “toon” that you control in a virtual world. This character interacts with other characters that are controlled by other players and with non-player characters that are programed as part of the game. You choose its gender, name and look. You choose its race, and since WoW is set in a fantasy environment, all the fantasy races are present: trolls, orcs, humans, elves, gnomes, etc. You choose the role that it will play in the game. This gives you different abilities based on how you want to experience the game. A warrior’s abilities are all about protecting the group through engaging the enemies away from those players who are easily hurt. A priest heals and can bring other players back to life. A rouge has abilities to stealth and attack its enemies subtlety with poison and trickery. A warlock’s abilities are rooted in the dark powers, taming demons as pets and trapping souls. Shamans use totems to gain special abilities to create an edge in “winning” the game.
WoW has numerous ways to play the game. You can choose to quest. This means you follow instructions given by the non-player characters in the game following a story line to receive rewards for completing the quest. The rewards can be food, drink, special items, armor, weapons or gold. You can choose to match your game skills against other players in player versus player combat. The point is to kill their toon before they can kill you. You can choose to work on different skill sets like sewing, smithing, enchanting, alchemy, etc. These skills increase the potency of your play. You can share these skills with others, too. You can choose to adventure into the elite areas of the game by forming 25 man teams to destroy “bosses” based on the story line. This requires great skill (The skill is in knowing when to hit the right buttons. There are hundreds of choices you must make per fight. Doing this successfully determines your skill.) and can take months to coordinate a successful battle strategy; not to mention, real-life skills in diplomacy, human relations, and leadership! Because, after all, there is a human behind the toon you see on the screen.
WoW is a community based game. This means, you are building friendships with others players. My husband and I have been leaders in our guild, Liquid Courage, for the last 3 years. We have formed numerous friendships that have spawned real-life friendships and job opportunities with those we game with. Its rather like a baseball team or Rotary club. Our guild is a group of friends who share common interests and adventures.
Now for the Bible study…
My study is in Deut 18:9-12 since this is the verse most often quoted as a reason to avoid fantasy. My Hebrew translation says, “..you are not to learn how to follow (6213 Strongs) the abominable practices of those nations.” God then details what those practices are. Other versions put it this way:
“Thou shalt not learn to do… (KJV)” “You shall not learn to follow…(Amplified)” “You shall not learn to imitate…(NAS)” “Do not learn to imitate…(NIV)”
This is the Hebrew word asah. It can mean, depending on context: made, accomplish, idea of creating, bear, become, do, dress, execute, fashion, go about, observe, offer, bring to pass, perform, practice, serve, use. This word was translated in other verses in the following ways:
Gen 1:7 “God made the expanse (sky).”
Gen 1:11 “Let the …fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind.”
Gen 4:10 The Lord says to Cain, “What have you done?”
Ex 1:17 “But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them…”
There are hundreds of times this word is used in the Old Testament. It would take a huge study to understand the full meaning. But from a cursory study, I believe that the interpretation of “pretend to do” does not fit with the true meaning of asah: “to do.” The Israelites were commanded not to do the practice of sorcery, mediums, astrology, divination, etc…
So does playing a game fall into the parameters of doing (accomplishing, executing, bring to pass, practice, perform) forbidden practices?
WoW is played with a mouse and keyboard, and usually a way to voice chat with other players over the internet. You click on icons to perform actions, or use key strokes. If you decide to go all out, playing well involves a lot of math and logic! Since the game is rooted in computer programming, everything revolves around numbers and values. When doing research, I often have to utilize a calculator and scribble out addition to see how I can play the game better. I say this to show how foreign magic is to the actual game play. The story line is about a fantasy world, much like a novel or comic book. But playing is mechanical and rational, not an actual reenactment of spell-casting or the like.
The reality of my life is that: I do not seek revenge on others by throwing a curse. I do not weave a spell. I say no magical incantation. I do not travel to a holy (or unholy) place. I do not allow a spirit to inhabit my body. I do not draw magical symbols. I do not converse with the dead. I do not allow the stars to guide my life. I do not seek spiritual advice from spirits or the dead. I am not practicing, following or imitating (asah) the occult.
And interesting note; not proof of fact, but I’ll include it for the interest factor. My pastor inquired of a few Wiccans to get their take on WoW. Does it portray the occult accurately, or is a way for them to recruit/ proselytize? They laughed at him, and told him the game was fantasy, not reality! It has no inherent connection to the magics they do (asah) in real life.
Therefore, I do not believe playing World of Warcraft is equal to practicing withcraft. I am not a sorcerer. I am not even pretending to be a sorcerer as an actor in a movie would. My mind does not even have to dwell on the magics, formulas, rituals a sorcerer-actor would have to do to portray one accurately. I talk to real life people, move my mouse around, hit a sequence of buttons that maximizes my goals in the game, and try to bring people closer to a relationship with their real-life creator by being kind, loving, self-sacrificing, giving, friendly, encouraging as a real person playing in a fantasy world.
Tim Schmoyer wrote a terrific series of articles (Scroll down the page a bit to get the articles.) answering basic questions about the game from a Christian perspective. I encourage you to read it if you want to further your understanding of the game.