When I was young, I played a lot of video games. Much more than I do now, that I am older. What I wish I still had though, were all those old games! I ended up selling most of them (I forgot what else I did with them) because I needed some money, but I wasn’t aware of their future value at that time. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have sold them at all. Since I didn’t have those games anymore nor the consoles (SNES, Genesis, NES, Game Gear, SEGA CD, Playstation) I missed playing them. I discovered there was still a way to see them come to life again, without even spending a dime!
ROMS and emulators.
This opened a whole new world for me. Games that I never got around to buying for various reasons, I could now play. Some that were only available in Japan, whether having a proper translation or not, were now at my fingertips to consume. I read about how illegal they are since I am not paying for the game, thus I could get in legal trouble. How would they find me though? I wondered if a police officer would show up with a warrant for me, and I would end up in jail for “stealing video games”. Imagine, being in a cell with rapists, drug attics, and felons while I’m there for downloading about 1 or 2 gigabytes of video games. I didn’t care, accepted the consequences and started downloading. My main emulator was for the SNES, called zsnes. It played Genesis, NES, SNES, Super Famicom and more. I was mainly interested in games that I would never be able to play, because they never came to the USA. Titles such as: Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2), Bahamut Lagoon, Tales of Phantasia, Dragonball Hyper Dimension and others. Feel free to look them up on Youtube if you’ve never heard of them.
I was hooked on ROMS, since it was such an easy way to play video games that I either couldn’t afford, were overseas, or just weren’t sold anymore. Aside from Gamestop at that time, websites weren’t selling video games as easily as today. When I had my summers free of school, that’s when I really hit hard all those games as I was stuck at home often with nothing else to do. I eventually stopped playing them because I felt I was stealing, and I had other systems to indulge myself with (PS3/PS4/3DS).
Now that the NES and SNES Classic have been released, there are hacks that allow gamers to play any game they want on these tiny systems. They have fantastic games already, but many classics are missing. It’s frustrating to have a small collection of games, and the one you want to play isn’t available. The Virtual Console for Wii U isn’t very robust either, and they are actually closing it down soon as of this writing.
This got me thinking about ROMS again. Are they as bad as people make them out to be, and is it OK to play them as a follower of Christ? Whether you are Catholic, Christian, or under some denomination, your faith in God is involved in every area of your life. He should be involved in everything from our finances, relationships, entertainment, career, music we listen to and even video games. Playing these games is considered against the law because the fact that they exist, means someone copied the code of the game or console online when it was never meant to be. Since we are playing for free, the developers make no money from it just like watching a downloaded movie.
Obeying The Law
I have played and downloaded many ROMS and emulators in the past, mainly to play games I could never play otherwise. To answer the question if a Christian should be playing though, depends. There isn’t any scripture I can use that says “do not play ROMS” in one of the 66 books of the bible, but there are guidelines that the Apostle Paul gave us that are helpful. In cases like these, where there isn’t a verse that explains a specific thing, reading the bible in it’s context will cover a lot of ground. For every question, there is an answer in His word or His voice when we hear Him.
In Romans 13:1-7, it explains that we need to obey the laws that we are under. This was written to the Roman church way back when, so I can only assume that they were breaking the laws of their country. Why else would Paul have to write them a letter, and dive into that topic? If we can buy a video game legally, then support the industry and make that purchase. Best case, wait for it to go on sale! There are always online sales at Steam, PSN, Virtual Console and Xbox so there’s always a deal.
What if the game isn’t available anywhere else, especially an old one that isn’t even sold or produced? Personally, I don’t think it’s wrong to download and play. Unless the game comes out again and you can buy it, then go for it. That’s just my opinion, even if it’s a wrong one to someone else, so feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
Should emulators even be allowed at all, or is the recent surge of gamers buying the SNES and NES Classic a sign that people want this more? In reality, both of those systems are emulating the original system with a downloaded game. Whether it’s an exact ROM or some other kind of file, I’m not sure, but it is just an expensive (and nice looking!) emulator that anyone could download for free.
Looking forward to your comments, as this is a touchy subject for years and I can see more of this conversation rising up again.