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Violent Video Games and the First Precept

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Violent Video Games and the First Precept

Postby minimayhen88 on Sat Jan 02, 2016 10:37 pm

Hello,

This may seem like a really trivial or even silly question, but I was curious to ask it, being a relatively young Buddhist.

I hold the First Precept of Non Violence. My friends and Fiancé love playing video games, which involve e.g. shooting zombies or enemies of some sort!

I always try to avoid playing in case it goes against my First Precept, however its a little difficult to avoid, without seeming antisocial.

Would playing a violent video game and "killing" so called pretend enemies, be a transgression of the first precept?

I try to develop my compassion daily and would never harm any living being intentionally - but I'm not sure how Buddhists view violent video games.

I feel bad refusing to play and watching my Fiancé play alone.

I'd be really grateful of your words.
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Re: Violent Video Games and the First Precept

Postby Guo Gu on Fri Jan 08, 2016 1:00 am

dear mini,

for an action to count as transgression, several conditions must be met:

1. intention of killing a sentient being
2. sentient being to be killed
3. going through the act of killing
4. the death of the being in question
5. satisfaction of having killed the being.

there are grave and minor, complete and partial transgressions, depending on the conditions above.

a video game person/zombie is not sentient. by abhidharma terms, playing a video game of killing "zombies" would not constitute killing. by mahayana terms, intention is more important, and one should avoid engaging in actions--even on the level of intention--that might eventually lead to the killing of sentient beings. if one persistently thinks of violence enough, then one's actions will tend to be violent. if you hold bodhisattva precepts, best to avoid games that involve killing, harming, etc sentient beings.

moderation is the key here.

hope this helps,
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
http://www.tallahasseechan.org/
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
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Re: Violent Video Games and the First Precept

Postby Judy Roitman on Fri Jan 08, 2016 4:07 am

Hi, Mini.

As someone who can't even watch violent movies (I've never seen a Tarantino film) much less played a violent video game, let me respectfully disagree with Guo Gu. If holding a precept causes suffering to others it is better not to hold it. For example, if a deer runs past a farmer, and then a hunter appears wanting to know where the deer went, it is better for the farmer to lie to save the deer's life. The purpose of precepts is not to make ourselves pure, it is to alleviate suffering.

If you find that these games DON'T encourage you to participate in violent actions which hurt real sentient beings, if you can clearly distinguish between the virtual and real worlds, if they don't awaken the kind of revulsion in you that I find at even the thought of a Quentin Tarantino movie, then it is better to join your friends and fiancé. Unless it causes harm, it is better to act in harmony with the people around you. Lack of harmony can create real suffering.

If, on the other hand, playing these games awakens in you a desire to hurt others, or makes you less sensitive to the pain of others, or the games disgust you, then you absolutely should not play them. But please don't be self-righteous with your friends and fiancé --- it has nothing to do with Buddhism, it's that you are being true to your karmic nature.

It's like alcohol. Some people can drink with friends without harm to themselves or others. Others must stay away because they cannot control their drinking. Others can't drink because they get physically ill or are taking some kind of medication that interacts with alcohol. Others hate the taste. Only you know how these games affect you.

Good luck,

Judy
Judy Roitman (Zen Master Bon Hae), Kansas Zen Center, Kwan Um School of Zen
www.kansaszencenter.org
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