There is, in truth, a lot of trash, no cap, that is floating around the Internet biosphere these days. As a wannabe Internet content-creator, I sometimes scroll through the video reels on Instagram and Tiktok, just to see what is trending these days, and some content befuddles me – why are people creating this nonsense, and worse, why are there people who would consume this garbage? Nonetheless, contrary to common sense, these 30 seconds or so video reels are wildly lapped up and boast of a multitude of “likes” and followers, spanning the millions.

Besides the reels which are actually educational – how to create a terrarium, how to paint in a certain way, how to cook, how to actively live my faith as a Catholic… Watching the rest of the plethora of anything but educational reels, I am left bewildered and perplexed, sometimes stunned, at how pedestrian, ridiculous, and mundane the content is. I am even more stupefied that these reels have traction, especially among the young.

There is an application Omegle, for instance that allows people around the world to log on and to chat with random strangers around the world. It is the Generation-Z’s version of online chatrooms such as MIRC and ICQ. The reason why I know of it, is because it appears as footage occasionally on the social media reels that pop up on my feed. Yes – unbelievable, but people actually record themselves chatting with random strangers and use that to create content on their social media accounts. As a social media platform, it makes complete sense. There is a lot of loneliness out there, and human beings are wired for connection, even in the most reclusive and introverted of beings. A friend is a full-time Twitch and Discord content creator – utilising the ingenious setup of two cameras and two laptops to simultaneously beam out and livestream to two different channels, and spends hours a day live-streaming herself as she talks through her video game play to an enthused group of subscribers. It is the modern-day rendition of radio – instead of listeners calling in, you now see the face of the person who is live-streaming. Sounds like a healthy outlet for the youth and young adults so far. It is the new ambition of today’s generation. No longer are people clamouring to be doctors, engineers, and lawyers. The young today hustle to be online content creators.

What is scary is that despite the disclaimers that you would need to be of a certain age-limit to participate in certain online chat-situations, the people logging on are becoming younger and younger, by virtue of how they are a digitally-immersed generation. As with every good thing, a dark side lurks and shady persons have also used these popular platforms to prey on the unsuspecting in the form of scams and sexual rendezvouses. The challenge as Catholic parents, Formators, Mentors, and Guardians, is to have constant and much needed matured and difficult conversations surrounding media literacy, and open dialogues about safeguarding oneself and the need to practise vigilance, prudence, and discernment in a potentially nebulous and murky online world, without being intrusive, judgemental, condemning, or patronising.

The quest for meaningful and authentic connection that is manifested in the likes of these social media platforms, and the type of online-content that is created today, is not a new phenomenon. These tropes had long been explored in the world of video games – I am here; I exist; See me; I mean something; I am worth something; I am needed; Hear me out.

There is a reason why online social media platforms and video games are definitively appealing in ways, dare I say it – that the Church is not.

While a divisive topic of polar opposites – you are either for video games or against video games – video games are in many generalisations seen as bad, carry a lot of sin in the form of salacious and subliminal content, are very violent, are too sexualised… (Galliott, n.d.; Shaw, 2012); On the positive side, video games also have the powerful ability to connect people, to empower people, and to imbue people with a sense of awe surrounding beauty.

Bobby Angel (2022) and Fr. Blake Britton (Word on Fire Institute, 2022) have eloquently unpacked how video games and new media actually provide Catholics with a means of reaching out and evangelising. They propose that the reason why video gaming is so attractive, is because they contain within them clear examples of what is true, valiant, brave, beautiful, and good. Good and evil are laid out clearly, while players are permeated and suffused with a powerful and strong sense of mission that celebrates their giftings, strengths, and talent without ambiguity (Angel, 2022; Word on Fire Institute, 2022). A Healer’s role in the gameplay is very clearly stated for example – to heal the injured players on the team. Bobby Angel goes on to say:

“There is adventure, brotherhood, and community, especially in online MMOs.  An older Playstation campaign ran with the tagline “Greatness awaits,” and I remember thinking at the end of that commercial, “Wow, they get it.” The gaming industry understands our desire to rise above mediocrity and our destiny for greatness. We crave these aspects of life, and we will seek them out virtually if the physical world around us has been stripped of mystery, meaning, and, ultimately, God.” (2022, para. 2)

While Fr. Blake Britton (Word on Fire Institute, 2022), elaborates that found in the online world, are the very virtues that Catholics yearn for and aspire to – truth, accountability, purpose, mission, community. There are also opportunities of leadership empowerment, and the development of self-esteem through gaming.

These are virtues that should be seen in the Church, the home, the parish, in the community, and in the ministry, but are not. So people seek them out through other venues and other ways. The young see the shoddy example of older parishioners who do nothing but complain and blame; Children see as living examples their parents who could not care less to go to Church; People in formation see Superiors who are more interested in office politics, power, and control, rather than the empowerment and the flourishing of one’s vocation; Good people are made aghast by the lack of accountability and responsibility; People are not appreciated and valued, but talked down to. The Church if we scrutinise things, has many Push factors that turn people away. No wonder these very same people would rather spend hours playing Call of Duty, or Smash Bros, rather than drag themselves to Church where all they encounter is shame, condemnation, and scandal.

While not every game is inherently good, and video-game addiction is very real, the Catholic Gamer has to undergo a process of discernment to ascertain which game is permissible, good for the soul, or not (Angel, 2022; Shaw, 2012).

We can take a leaf from St. Thomas Aquinas who quoting St. Augustine, writes about the virtue of eutrapelia – how the soul experiences pleasantness through play –

“I pray thee, spare thyself at times: for it becomes a wise man sometimes to relax the high pressure of his attention to work.” (Music, ii, 15) Now this relaxation of the mind from work consists in playful words or deeds. Therefore it becomes a wise and virtuous man to have recourse to such things at times. Moreover the Philosopher (Ethic, 1995) assigns to games the virtue of eutrapelia, which we may call “pleasantness.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, 1920; St. Augustine, 1950)

He goes on to say,

“Just as man needs bodily rest for the body’s refreshment, because he cannot always be at work, since his power is finite and equal to a certain fixed amount of labour, so too is it with his soul, whose power is also finite and equal to a fixed amount of work. Consequently when he goes beyond his measure in a certain work, he is oppressed and becomes weary, and all the more since when the soul works, the body is at work likewise, in so far as the intellective soul employs forces that operate through bodily organs. Now sensible goods are connatural to man, and therefore, when the soul arises above sensibles, through being intent on the operations of reason, there results in consequence a certain weariness of soul, whether the operations with which it is occupied be those of the practical or of the speculative reason. Yet this weariness is greater if the soul be occupied with the work of contemplation, since thereby it is raised higher above sensible things; although perhaps certain outward works of the practical reason entail a greater bodily labour. On either case, however, one man is more soul-wearied than another, according as he is more intensely occupied with works of reason. Now just as weariness of the body is dispelled by resting the body, so weariness of the soul must needs be remedied by resting the soul: and the soul’s rest is pleasure, as stated above (I-II:25:2; I-II:31:1 ad 2). Consequently, the remedy for weariness of soul must needs consist in the application of some pleasure, by slackening the tension of the reason’s study.”(St. Thomas Aquinas, 1920)

The person who labours needs time for rest and to play. This playing is important because it refreshes the weariness of the spirit and lifts the oppression of intense labour either of mind and/or body. In today’s context, video games, played with a moral outlook in mind, provide this very means of re-charging the soul. Part of this discernment, is the determining of when is a moderate good time to play video games, rather than indiscriminately spending hours on it.

Video games can also become a fruitful ground where the interactive experiences of beauty are appreciated (Galliott, n.d.) – leading to a fuller contemplation of the Beauty of God’s creation and of God Himself.

Video Games and Online Social Media and New Media function as important tools that can help us tell our Faith stories, build community, and share our Faith journeys in ways that are interactive and multi-modal and multi-sensorial. These become missed opportunities in evangelisation, in self-actualisation in Christ, and in inculcating the virtue of eutrapelia if we are too quick to dismiss these as frivolous and meaningless.

The challenge is also with timing. Miss the boat, and we would only have just begun with a technology that already has something eons-ahead to replace it. A way to go about this is to involve those who are tech-savvy in the Church to embark on utilising these tools for faith formation and evangelisation. This is an invitation and an opportunity to engage the youth of the Church, to speak in the language that they know, and to involve them in such projects pertaining to new media technologies, while at the same time presenting with Game-night as a means to create tangible bonds of community and build koinonia.

And hopefully, this eutrapelia will also soon find its way to the gloomy and sour-faced of the Church, so as to refresh the Church with new and holy joy.


By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan



Angel, B. (2022). Of God & Gaming. Catholic Exchange. Retrieved March 8, 2023 from

Galliott, R. (n.d.). An Introduction to the world of video games. The Bridge Newsletter. National Centre for Evangelisation. Retrieved March 8, 2023 from

Shaw. (2012). Does Mario go to Mass? Catholic Gamers and the Video Game Industry. Catholic Review. Archdiocese of Baltimore. Retrieved March 8, 2023 from

St. Augustine. (1950). St. Augustine on Music. Trans. Taliaferro, R. C. Saint Augustine: The Immortality of the Soul and Other Works. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press.

St. Thomas Aquinas. (1920). The Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas. (2nd and Revised edition). Trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province.

Word on Fire Institute. (2022, January 10). The Christian Approach to Video Games – God and Gaming Episode One [Video]. YouTube.