From Across the Net – “Video games studied in new theological framework”

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Via the Baptist Press:

So what’s the point? Millsap is not saying that mashing buttons is a path to a deeper understanding of God or defeating the next game’s challenge is a discipleship tool. The idea is just that it’s worth considering the stories and scenarios that gamers encounter from a theological perspective.

“But because so many video games now go in a narrative direction and tell a story, it makes sense that we would want to consider them from that perspective. I need to ask myself important questions, and think about whether I believe what it’s saying is true. If a video game is intending to tell a serious narrative and I don’t approach it seriously, thoughtfully and from a Christian perspective, then I’m not doing it justice.”

You can read more here

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Kirby Star Allies

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Wyatt and I recently finished playing Kirby Star Allies on the Nintendo Switch. Per standard Kirby game mechanics, Kirby has the ability to steal enemies powers. In Star Allies, Kirby goes a step further and becomes a thrower of hearts. Throw a pink heart at an enemy and they become your friend/party member, for life.

So here are Wyatt and I, adventuring across the HD candy-coated world of Kirby. We are the buddies of co-op. The ultimate father and son duo to take on the evils of Dreamland.

“Wyatt, slow down.”

“Wyatt, we just missed a puzzle piece.”

“Wyatt, why did you just die? How could you have done that?”

A chunk of our playtime consisted of Wyatt mixing powers, trying to see what Kirby powers he could create. This power mixing killed the flow of gameplay and DROVE ME NUTS!
How Kirby Power Mixing Works:

Let’s say Kirby steals the powers of a warrior. Now the pink puffball has a sword. If you have a party member that has ice, fire, or lightning powers, you can call them over to buff your sword. Your standard sword is now the Ice Sword of Doom or the Fire Ball Slicer from Heaven. In Kirby Star Allies, friendship is all about the perks.

Kirby Star Allies must be about driving your dad crazy.

It wasn’t until I started listening to myself speak to my son that I noticed I was freaking out.

So I adjusted my tone.

I listened to myself get upset over missing secret doors and passing up on puzzle pieces.

So I changed my expectations.

We started having fun.

Snow levels became a chance to sing terrible Frozen “Let It Go” parodies.

Running past puzzle pieces were a moment to become super silly and let things go.

Kirby Star Allies was a $60 reminder of what co-op gaming with my son looks like. A reminder that I need to chill, play, and allow myself to have fun.

Thank you, Kirby, for the gentle reminder.

4/5 – A perfect game to co-op with someone you love.

Title: Kirby Star Allies
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Reviews on: Nintendo Switch
MSRP: $59.99

Bedtime Story: The Prince Who Talked Too Much

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(I told Wyatt this story the other night at bedtime.)

There once was a prince who talked too much.

So his father, the king, banished him from the kingdom to a cave in a forest nearby.

Everyday, a knight would come and bring the prince food.

Now the prince was all alone. He had no one to talk to. So he named a pine cone Paul and a stick named Sam. They were his friends.

One day, after a really bad storm, the knight did not come and bring food.

The prince waited and waited, nothing. So he decided to travel back to the castle to see what was wrong.

Traveling through the forest, past hills and a river, the prince came upon the castle.

Both outside and inside there looked like a battle had occurred. Dead soldiers lay everywhere.

He looked for his family but they were no where to be found.

The prince was alone.

And so he crowned himself king and ruled over the pine cone named Paul and the stick named Sam.

70 years went by. Two children happened to come upon the castle that was now falling apart.

Entering the throne room, they saw a skeleton sitting on the throne. On the ground, in front of the skeleton, was a pine cone and a stick.

The End.

(The look on Wyatt’s face at this point was priceless. Pure shock. I could tell that the story was far too bleak. I scrambled quickly to make things right.)

But that wasn’t the end. When the prince entered the castle, he searched for his parents.

In their room, on his dad’s dresser, sat his father’s crown. The prince put it on.

He noticed then that the dresser had swung back away from the wall, revealing a secret passage way.

The prince entered and walked down a set of stairs that ended at an underground river. There was a boat and a note:

“My son, if you are reading this, something terrible has happened and we have escaped to the mountains. Use this boat to come join us.”

And so the prince got into the boat and floated his way to the mountain fortress his family was now living in.

The prince was no longer alone.

The End.

Also, turns out that the skeleton that was sitting on the throne, 70 years in the future, was not the prince but just a random guy. The pine cone sitting in front of the throne was just a pine cone, and the stick just a random stick.

Walter and Frank Blow Up the Moon

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I have been telling Wyatt bedtime stories for years. This is one of those stories… a story about a boy named Walter and his pet alligator named Frank. We created this story in Twine. Go ahead and download the file, save it to your computer, and play it in your web browser.

Download file here: Walter and Frank Blow Up the Moon

 

Far Cry 5 and Faith Distorted

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A man comes to town and befriends a preacher. He mixes truth-spoken with drug-fueled visions. He kills in the night and then moves on to capture the hearts of men. The town is soon flooded with one man’s lies. What is this perverted faith being presented in Far Cry 5?

The use of religious imagery and language are often intertwined in video games. Faith presented as a misunderstood mystery.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1

Two Examples:
  1. 1998’s Xenogears delved into crucifixion, a Roman form of the death penalty. The game then took things a step further by having the crucifixion take place on a hill called Golgotha. Sound familiar? Japanese RPG’s have a tendency of pulling parts and pieces from all different cultures and shoving them into their narratives.

2. Ken Levine’s BioShock Infinite plays around with the concept of baptism being a key turning point in a man’s life. The beginning of the game going so far as to use baptism as a point of entry into the City of Columbia. Press X to Accept Baptism.

What should the Christian response be to distortions of faith in media?

  1. We should not be surprised at non-believers not understanding spiritual things.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18

2. We should recognize / be aware of certain genres of media having a predisposition to use religious imagery and language just because they can.

3. We should call out / shed light on depictions of faith that are not accurate and veer into cult territory. Far Cry 5‘s baptism trailer clearly depicts an unhealthy faith and devotion to a man, who will fail them. In watching the trailer, I’m reminded that God is not oppressive; God is not about control. No, oppression and control are tools of the devil.

Unlike the tagline at the end of the Far Cry 5 trailer, God does not call Christians to trust Him blindly nor to pray and obey Him out of fear:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5

In the end, Far Cry 5‘s fictional Hope County, Montana is in need of a spiritual cleansing. These people need to experience the freedom that Jesus Christ offers and be freed from the cult-ish slavery they are mired in. Being a Far Cry game, violence and rivers of blood will be the only way to purity.

Will you make the trip to Big Sky Country when the game is released?

Will you embrace the violence, the distorted faith presented?