There are many different ways that people try to escape from their everyday lives. Some of those retreats are relatively benign hobbies, while others can be highly self-destructive. Either way, they represent avenues for getting away from the mundanity (or pain) of the "real world."
When I consider all of the unhealthy things I could have gotten into (drug use, anonymous sexual encounters, compulsive gambling, etc.), I don't feel so bad about the amount of time I spend gaming. Not that "at least I'm better than X" is a very Christian way of justifying one's behavior (however many Christians may resort to such an approach), but I am convinced that playing games (board, card, RPG, etc.) is - or at least can be - a healthy pursuit.
As in all things, moderation is called for. But gaming does help cultivate a sense of fair play and good sportsmanship, it sharpens the mind and it provides a healthy outlet for those of us with a competitive streak. It's also a social activity, at least when played around a table as opposed to on a computer.
I've blogged before about how I prefer a roomful of gamers to your average church or gay venue. No group of people is perfect, but in my experience gamers as a whole tend to be less judgmental, and the games they play come in boxes or books with rules that are even-handed and clearly spelled out.
I probably already spend too much time gaming and not enough time working to make the real world a better place. Even so, it would be very easy to immerse myself even deeper in the gaming world, at the expense of actually dealing with the less pleasant realities outside of that little bubble. I'd love to leave all the mud and vinegar of the culture wars behind to live a quiet life, gaming with friends in my spare time and maybe eventually finding someone to settle down with.
But then I'll read about the latest crap that so-called Christians are trying to pass off as truth (and that so many other Christians swallow unquestioningly), and I'll be forced to ask myself how I can remain silent. How can I, in good conscience, stand by and do nothing while so many of those who claim to speak for God see nothing wrong with demonizing an entire group of people, twisting facts and spreading outright fabrications in the furtherance of a supposedly 'godly' agenda?
I may not be able to solve all of the world's problems, but I can still be part of the solution. And there will always be at least a little time to get away for a few games with my friends.