The boys of South Park are all excited because of a new online battle video game called Warcraft. Unfortunately there is a middle-aged man out there who has dominated the game to such a degree that no one can make any progress. This is a concern for the makers of the game because everyone will quit playing as they get discouraged by their lack of progress.
Cartman, however, develops a scheme whereby they can get enough experience points to defeat this middle-aged man. However, it will require hours on end of dedication to the game. Cartman is ready to go, but the other boys balk. Finally Cartman convinces them by saying, "You can stay out here and play in the sun, or you can get to the computer and do something that really matters!"
The boys all get on board and in the end all their hours and days on end of playing the game pay off when they defeat the middle-aged man. In the process of playing, however, their bodies get deformed: They gain weight and develop grotesque acne on their faces. Doing something that matters has a price!
Now, initially we would be critical of such an endeavor. Have the boys really done something that "matters"? All the time they spent was simply in a fantasy world. They are impacting an game that is on the internet: an artificial world - a created reality. The internet isn't real, right? So what the boys did doesn't matter, right?
For the boys we can understand. I mean, after all, they're just kids. But what about the unemployed, middle aged man living with his mother who plays the game for 20 some hours a day. That's the dude that we are going to be hardest on, right? I mean, what is he really doing with his life that "matters"?
But before we condemn the middle-aged guy, what about the career-man who works for 18 hours a day? Has he done something that matters? What if he's doing it for God? Does it matter that he has disconnected himself from anything outside of his office?
One might say that the career-guy is superior because he is in the real world. Ok, then what about if we go home at night and disconnect from the real world by losing ourselves in a novel for a few hours every night? Is this an illegitimate activity? I mean, when I'm into a good novel I am absolutely gone - my mind is in an artificial fantasy world. Is this any different than the middle-aged guy playing Warcraft?
What do you do to lose yourself? Don't we all have fantasy worlds to escape the real world? Books, television, the internet, music, and the list goes on....
I have to hand it to the middle-aged South Park character, at least he had passion. He certainly had commitment. I have a problem with how he was channeling his passion, but I'm sure he had his reasons. Without anything going for him in the real world, why not make a go of it on the internet? In Warcraft he has managed to manufacture some small amount of success and pleasure. He has accomplished something here in his fantasy world. To him that is what really "matters."
From our perspective here "under the sun" it seems difficult to really condemn the guy. But from God's perspective things may be different....