In Thailand, Buddhist Monks Grapple with the Meaning of Video Games


A zombie rises from its grave. Withered arms tangle in the cables of keyboards, and laptops, holding him to the earth. Sunken eyes and yellow teeth stare at the viewer.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


This was a really great piece and one that doesn’t make out that games are a problem but the obsession to them can be harmful. There a balance that all of us need to find inorder to have a good life with our beliefs and enjoyments.


Incredible story. I’d love to see more stuff like this on Waypoint. I’ll probably articulate that more later, but I’m so into this. Probably my favorite story on this site yet.


Oof this is good and enlightening. Thank you.


This is super interesting and I’m glad to have read it. I think I’d like to see more stories like this - broader horizons and less what’s hot in gaming right now.


I chuckled at their reaction to the poster. My knowledge about Buddhism is limited but I imagine there’re hardliners in every religion.

Makes me wonder about different games, which one would have the most appeal to a Buddhist monk…


Good article overall, but it is weird that the impetus for this article was a Vietnamese poster which is (as stated late in the article) mostly Mahayana Buddhist while Thailand is Theravada. Not to mention the cultural differences of two completely different countries. On top of that, the article continuously makes mention of “Tibetan” Buddhism which is the third major sect: Vajrayana.

I would have hoped more effort would have gone into distinguishing these three very different denominations of Buddhism. It is like taking some Baptist’s tract to talk to some Greek Orthodox priests while constantly bringing up that the Archbishop of Milan plays CoD.Western views of Eastern religion is already pretty bad, I just expect more out of Waypoint to either explain that they are talking about three very different Buddhist interpretations of just stick to one of them.


Do you think Triphop listens to trip hop?


Interesting point!
I didn’t pick up on that, but I guess that shows how ignorant I am, too.
Will have to read up.


That was super interesting.

I found their response to the poster a bit weird though, based on my severely limited knowledge of Buddhism. From what I think I know, Mahayana Buddhism is actually the “less strict, less conservative” lineage of Buddhism. It is actually the Theravada monks, or “forest monks”, that tend to be way more extreme in their practice. Before reading this article I would’ve assigned that poster to Theravada Buddhists for sure. My guess is that the poster might have more to do with a specific abbot, monastery or region than the branch of Buddhism and the interviewees just found it easy to assign blame to the “rival” branch.

Then again, the reputation of Theravada and Mahayana might be completely different from reality. It does seem that despite being considered strict sect, a lot of the Theravada Buddhists seem to be…not all that conservative after all. Someone like Ajahn Brahm for example - his monastery is actually on Youtube and they post videos and do live streams of his talks, which I found fairly surprising and progressive. Then again, that might have more to do with who he is than the lineage of his teachings - as he is the same monk that was excommunicated for re-establishing the bhikkhuni ordination (basically, allowing women to become monks).


@Random_bypasser if that’s the case, it may just have been a weird juxtaposition of responses? i.e., Their repulsion was due to it’s expression, but their clarification was of analysis?

Really interesting read. I think it’s really easy to get focused on the West with games discourse. It’s really interesting to see the way different faiths (and ideologies informed by those faiths) react to video games. I wonder if there were similar responses to television and film when those were particularly new.


This is really cool. Like @Frusti said I love seeing stuff like this, specifically explorations that look to connect with something that is outside conventional subjects in the Western world.

If anything, what this communicates is the universality of our experience. Same issues affect us all, just framed differently. It’s important to blur these lines especially now, as cultural, civilisational and national boundaries seem to only be strengthening.

The piece could perhaps have done a slightly better job of stripping away the exotic (just a feeling from it, don’t have anything concrete to point out) but I don’t want to criticise it from that perspective, just commend the work, at the end of the day it’s a great piece.

I have to say though, the fact that the “second-highest authority in Tibetan Buddhism” uses games as a way to discharge aggression is a bit surprising. That’s always been such a lazy argument to me, deployed in popular media to counteract the “games cause violence” argument (neither of them really make much sense). I didn’t think anyone actually felt that way. “Really want to smack someone over the head right now… better go play some Street Fighter to avoid doing bodily harm.”


I’m no expert on Buddhism either, but my understanding in general matches up to yours. However, since Threveda and Mahayana don’t have a central authority, they tend to vary from temple to temple. In general, you see temples matching the relative conservative-ness of their surrounding populous (the same could be said of most religious institutions). Chiang Mai is a pretty major city so I would assume it tends to be less conservative. You just have to look to next-door to Myanmar to see the Threveda monks condoning and even encouraging the “removal” of the Rohingyas as well as supporting far-right nationalism.


Nice article. But, even as a Zen Buddhist I’ve never seen monks in cyan robes. Cyan is blue - bright blue. Zen monks in Japan sometimes wear shades of indigo, but cyan is just too bright. I think you meant saffron? But that’s okay - at least you’re trying to show people that Buddhists are people, too. And yeah, we can’t be lumped together. Finally, personally, I do play games to release aggression - I’m a middle school teacher - believe me, it helps to kill a few demons at the end of the day.


Everything is intent and some spiritually is pretty dam cool with amazing sense of humours :ok_hand::om: