When A Game Becomes Work

Daily, Wyatt and I have been playing Supercell’s Clash Royale since early December. Clash Royale, for those who do not know, is a game that features a combination of card collecting and tower defense, all set against a multiplayer battle arena. We’ve played with people around the world, battling for dominance and upgrades.

The other night, Wyatt confessed to me, “I think I’m ready to quit Clash Royale. I’ll hand over leadership of our guild to someone else… perhaps to the guy who plays a lot.”

I proceeded to give him a hard time about playing the game, faithfully, everyday (I was joking). But I couldn’t stop the nagging in the back of my head, did Wyatt have a point?

“Why do you want to quit?”

“The game just isn’t fun anymore and feels like work.”

Every morning, I get up, get dressed, and drive to work. At work I assist people, order supplies, and run an office. I do this so that twice a month, I receive a pay check.

My relationship with video games is entirely different. With video games, I play for entertainment. I play to experience:

  • The joy of the precise controls of Mario.
  • The drama of Nathan Drake and friends in the Uncharted series.
  • The pure awe and wonder of the worlds explored in Guardians of the Galaxy.

I play to experience time periods and places I will never travel to; I play to experience storytelling and gameplay that comes together in a way that transcends a controller. Video games are an escape for me. Small moments in time where I can be a cowboy, a futuristic mail carrier, or even a pirate. What video games are not is work.

Logging into Clash Royale to finish the daily tasks, I wonder if I am still having fun. Or if playing the game has simply become an obligation.

When a game becomes work, when it isn’t fun anymore, why play?

Press Start – The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Zero Impressions

“Ugh, you’re going to play that anime game?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“Oh, nothing…”

Wyatt claims he despises anime games. I asked him to clarify his disgust. When pressed, he said he loves something like the Final Fantasy VII Remake and yet can’t handle to watch me play The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero. I think that’s kinda fair. Final Fantasy VII Remake features fantastic graphics and a relatively quick moving storyline; Trails from Zero features a mixture of old school graphics and what I’ve read as described as a slow burn in regards to gameplay / story.

I’ve read about the The Legend of Heroes series, especially on Twitter, for quite sometime. Never once did I think of playing it until I read that Trails from Zero was an excellent starting point. So I bought the game to see what all the hype was about.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero opens with protagonist Lloyd Bannings, rookie police detective, as he travels to the city-state of Crossbell. There he is assigned to the Special Support Section (SSS), to do odd jobs in hopes of regaining the citizens of Crossbell City’s trust (who think the government is inept compared to the Bracer’s Guild).

For our first mission, we were tasked with going down into the Geofront and ridding it of monsters.

Somewhere along the way, we heard crying coming from one of the pipes. We investigated and found a boy! The boy said that he was exploring with his friend… who had gone missing. So we went to find the friend. In short, we rescued the boys only to be confronted by a huge monster. As we grew ready to be destroyed by the beast, some dude from the Bracer’s Guild came a slew him. We were saved.

We returned to the surface only to catch an interview between the Bracer’s Guild dude and a reporter. She was going to report on the ineptness of the police department (figures). Just then, our phone rang, we were asked to report back to police headquarters immediately. We were in trouble.

Fast forward to that night, Lloyd was going to have to make a decision on whether to stay with the SSS or quit. The boys, whom Lloyd saved in the Geofront, showed up and thanked Lloyd for the awesome job he had done in saving them.

I don’t know what it was, but I liked the simple act of the boys saying thank you. I’m about an hour or two in, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Adoption Update – We’re Done

For more than three years, Tabitha and I have ridden the roller coaster of emotions that comes with the adoption process. Every child that is ever mentioned to us, by our caseworker, we say yes to; Every child I find on the TARE website that we are interested in, we say yes to as well. Yet despite being more than ready / willing to receive a child into our home, we have heard nothing.

Tabitha and I both felt God call us to adoption. So we were obedient and answered that call through:

  • Pursuing training.
  • Opening our home to case workers.
  • Most importantly, by keeping our hearts open.

But we feel God closing the door on our adoption journey. This is not how I thought this scenario would end. We notified our case worker, yesterday, that we are closing our home to adoption.

I’m not sure what the future holds. I know that we were obedient to what God called us to. We were talking, in Sunday School, about how you need to present your need to God and be okay with His answer. God has not said no, to adoption, but perhaps not yet.

Wyatt told me that the adoption process hasn’t been for naught, we did adopt our dog, Gus, during this time. So, there is that.

Until God says otherwise, the Texas Hall’s will remain a family of three. And perhaps that is all we need to be.

Glorious Stupidity – Avatar: The Way of Water

Wyatt and I went and experienced Avatar: The Way of Water over the holidays. For a little over three hours, we were mesmerized by the world of Pandora. Immersed by way of 3D, excellent sound design (which no one talks about), and recliners. It was glorious! I am still in awe over the world that director James Cameron invited us into.

What is weird is that Avatar wasn’t about the story. There was a story, however subtle it may be. Jake, who became an avatar in the first film, finds himself with Blue Girl (Neytiri), raising a family in the Pandorian jungles. Everything is right with the world… until the villain from the first movie comes back as an avatar, and threatens Jake’s family by hunting them down. Knowing that the bad guy will never stop in his quest for vengeance, Jake takes his family and goes to the Water Tribe. There they:

  • Find comfort / safety.
  • Make new friends with all the aquatic creatures. All of them. Including a 10-15 minute film sequence between a boy and his whale. (You read that right.) What How to Train Your Dragon did with dragon flight, Avatar 2 does with swimming with a whale. I seriously could have watched more of that.
  • And then battle against the humans / evil Na’vi, who, to lure Jake out of his water refuge, have started to kill the whales.

It’s epic.

It’s stupid.

And it is glorious, all at the same time.

I have never had a movie, where I can’t even remember the character’s names, stick with me like this. Some odd melding of technology, world building, sound design and beauty.

Removing my 3D glasses and walking out of the theater, I was bummed that I wasn’t in Pandora anymore.

Makes me excited about the future of film and technology. James Cameron brings it in spades.

I can’t wait for Avatar 3: The Fire Nation Rises. Complete with rideable fire slugs.