A time to play

Assetto Corsa Lotus 49 Brands Hatch

On Saturday my wife and I went round to see friends for an evening of Strictly Come Dancing for the ‘girls’ and racing simulator games for the ‘boys’. (Yes, I know that sounds like terrible gender stereotyping, but there it is.)

Truth be told, I am not a great fan of computer and video games. I know this is a sweeping statement to make, considering the huge range of games available. But I’ve spent almost all of my 30 year working life staring at computer screens – plus countless hours at home dealing with emails and other electronic admin – and so have never been particularly inclined to add to this screen time for pleasure.

But of all the different genres of video game, racing simulations probably top my list. I’ve always liked watching motor racing, and so being able to drive in the ‘virtual world’ the cars and circuits that I’d never get to experience in the real world has undeniable attractions. Even better is the ability to go back in time to the ‘golden age’ of motorsport, and experience ‘first hand’ something of what it was like to go racing in those far off days.

I’ve never had the necessary technology, but my friend does – fast PC, high-end graphics card, steering wheel, pedals. and some of the best simulation software available. And so we settled down for an evening of racing.

And what a great time we had! The quality and realism of today’s simulations is just incredible (especially for someone brought up on the block graphics of the late 70s and early 80s!) I marvelled at details such as the sunlight glinting off the wheel spokes and the reflections in the wing mirrors. But most of all I just enjoyed the challenge of trying to keep the cars on the track, admiring my friend’s driving skills, and laughing at the inadequacy of my own!

We’ve met up with our friends on many occasions, and we’ve had discussions about deep, serious and important things – things like work and family and church and faith. But not on Saturday – that was simply about having fun.

The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes famously declares:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

And he is so right. If I might add to his words, there is also:

a time to be serious and a time to have fun,
a time to work and a time to play,
a time to be grown up and a time to be childlike.

But most of us spend far too much time being ‘grown up’, far too much time working and doing things we ‘have’ to to, far too much time dwelling on all the serious and important things in our lives and the wider world.

And there is a time for this, of course.  But it is not healthy to allow these adult concerns to dominate and our ‘grown up’ selves to rule our lives.

So let us also make more time to have fun and take more time to play. Let us have more times where we forget about ourselves and our agendas and our concerns, and instead – if only in small ways and for a little while – we ‘change and become like little children’.

For any who might be interested, here is a simulated lap of Brands Hatch in a Lotus 49 (not me driving – I’m far from this good!)

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