The Pokémon Tourist

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Pokemon Logo

I want to be the very best, like no one ever was. Even though I was 17 when Pokémon Red released, I have always been somewhat of a novice trainer. Following the series evolution across platforms, I have dabbled in different generations. Never completing:

  • Pokémon Red
  • Pokémon Yellow
  • Pokémon Pearl
  • Pokémon Platinum
  • OR Pokémon Y

Pokémon just isn’t an obsessive thing for me. What does draw me are the solid game mechanics, relaxed world, and creature battling.

Pokémon Y represents the most time I have spent with the series. Clocking in at over 20 hours, I thought I was almost done with the campaign. Nope. A walkthrough confirmed that I am but halfway on my journey. Never going to be number one at that pace. Ash, I’ve failed!

Pokemon Y

As a dad, Pokémon has taken on a new meaning. It is a series that I can share with Wyatt. A series that encourages reading, fun gameplay, and quality time spent. Nintendo has indeed created a monster.

pokemonThis year, The Pokémon Company is celebrating Pokémon’s 20th anniversary. The Super Bowl ad above is but the cusp of this tidal wave. Throughout the year, Nintendo and GameStop are offering one rare creature download a month. Take a look:

  • Celebi: March 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Jirachi: April 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Darkrai: May 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Manaphy: June 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Shaymin: July 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Arceus: August 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Victini: September 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Keldeo: October 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Genesect: November 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Meloetta: December 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)

We’ll see if Wyatt and I can keep up with the pocket monster collecting. I’m still waiting for him to be ready for his own handheld console and copy of the game. We just aren’t there yet… but soon.

 

Across the Net: “‘That Dragon, Cancer’: A Video Game on Death, Grief, and Our Living Hope”

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The Gospel Coalition’s Chris Casberg wrote a piece titled “‘That Dragon, Cancer’: A Video Game on Death, Grief, and Our Living Hope“. Love his observation on how the experience subverts player agency.

“That Dragon, Cancer” frustrates and subverts the normal expectation of agency. Players are given game-like tasks, like navigating Joel through a field of cancer cells as he clings to a handful of balloons, or racing a wagon through the hospital.

The facade of power and control crumbles away. It’s a brilliant piece of artistry in terms of video game design and theological heft; we players, accustomed to the power to trample our enemies, are shown our impotence in the face of a broken and fallen world. Our works cannot save Joel.

The overall effect is devastating. I cried multiple times, and I even had to stop the game to go hold my infant daughter. I’ve never had a game move me so much.

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From Across the Net: “Sharing FFXIV with my kids”

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Enjoyed this piece by Justin (aka Syp) titled “Sharing FFXIV with my kids“.

And then I tasked them with helping me find on-screen clues leading us to the poacher, so there were three sets of eyes combing the screen and pointing to anything with a name tag over it. “Is that it?” “No, that’s another player.” “What about that?” “That’s the same player.”

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Quality Time With Wyatt

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There is nothing that makes my son Wyatt happier than pancakes for breakfast. Saturday, I did an odd thing. I sent my wife off to get ready for the day. Grabbed a skillet, stirred up some pancake batter, and flipped some hotcakes.

As we ate, I pulled out Wyatt’s Bible he got for Christmas. The only present that earned both Tabitha and I a big hug. We read from the Book of Romans.

8 But Christ died for us while we were still sinners, and by this God showed how much he loves us. (ERV)

We talked about how we don’t have to be perfect all the time. How God showed his love for us even when he knew all that bad things that we’d do. God doesn’t want us to beat ourselves up. Some of us, at the table, needed to hear that truth.

Tabitha finished getting ready and went to the grocery store. I had to finish putting up backer board as part of our shower renovation. Wyatt played in his room and then would come out and talk to me for a bit. Always nice to have an extra pair of little hands to help out.

Later on in the afternoon, Wyatt and I had a chance to sit down and play Kingdom Rush. For those of you living under the rock I’ve been living under, Kingdom Rush is an iOS tower defense game. Monsters scurry down predetermined paths, you place different types of towers to destroy them. Perfect game for father and son bonding.

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Wyatt snuggled up next to me, iPad propped up on my lap, we worked our way through the main campaign. Battling the hoards. Doing the good. Enjoying our gaming and quality time together. Might have to do it again.

My friend Josh hosts a weekly gathering at his house called GameCell. GameCell is an ongoing Biblical discussion founded on building relationships while embracing video games. It is a neat concept that I’ve wanted to test drive but haven’t found my tribe to do so with.

Turns out I was looking outside my home. Forgetting that in this season of life, my son follows in my footsteps. Can a GameCell group consist of just a family? I think so. Our time of:

  • Reading and discussing one Bible verse
  • Quality time
  • Game time
  • Closeness

All was intentional. I think we just had our first GameCell.

It sucks to be real

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The problem with being real is that we open ourselves up to hurt. Wounds then form, mental playgrounds of the same scene played on repeat. A festering sore gnawing at the soul.

I lowered my defenses this past weekend. Decided to be real, vulnerable about where my wife and I are in life. I need a new job. For those of you who have read my blog for awhile, you’ll know that this is not a new crisis. What has changed is the depth of the situation. The situation has to change.

As a recent exercise, I sat down and wrote a list of responses to the question: What expectations do I have for my job?

  • A positive work environment.
  • The ability to grow/move up within the company.
  • To be able to make a salary where I can support my family. Annual raises of some sort. Anything but years of silence.
  • Open/clear communication on company direction.
  • The ability to learn. Even if on my own time.
  • Feedback on job performance and ways/direction on how to improve.
  • Common respect being a foundation for work relationships.

None of the above expectations are mind blowing. Yet, I had someone tell me in my moment of being open that I will never find a healthy work environment. That this somehow elusive thing does not exist. I know this not to be true based on past companies I have worked for. But the comment ate at me. I was also told that my current salary is normal. Not to expect much more. If only this person was open to a little market research.

What hurt the most about lowering my defenses, is that no one else in the group I was in have any clue of the response given. No idea that I’ve allowed discouragement to affect me before from this person. That I have veered off a track of studying due his words eating at me.

I know that I shouldn’t let words hurt me the way they do. Words have weight. Hard-wiring is hard to change.

The blank stare, the expression that casts, “he has no clue what he is doing with his life”. I’m tired of it. My college degree, my side pursuits, all beg to differ.

We might not all have the answers. I’d argue that this is part of the faith journey. This is part of my journey.

While it may suck to be real with others, authenticity is essential for both maturity and growth. So be real. Drop the shields.

That Dragon Cancer drove me to prayer

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Tabitha and I experienced That Dragon Cancer together. With Wyatt tucked away in bed for the night, we hooked the laptop up to the television. Light’s dimmed, we entered the world of the Green family. The musical score comforts like a warm blanket. The woods around full of promise and wonder. In this setting we meet the Green’s son, Joel, who is feeding a duck. Joel laughs, a lot. After a transitional time at the playground, we meet the dragon of this story, cancer.

Cancer, represented in jagged distorted shapes of hate. Always lurking like a monster in the night. Howls reverberating as a heartbeat of a sick boy.

That Dragon Cancer is a series of vignettes, brief flashes of hope and dark nightmares. Narrated at times by Ryan and Amy Green, we follow their family on their journey with Joel. Tabitha and I appreciated the depth of honesty in Amy’s comments on doubt. Doubt is normal, she says. A contrast to the modern Church whispering “hush” in such moments.

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No matter how dire the situation became. No matter how hard Amy and Ryan prayed, their faith stood out to us. A faith that allows for questions, doubts, and even fears. Media, as a whole, has a hard time portraying faith. The video game medium allows for an unknown level of intimacy. Allowing us to partake, in some small way, in the Green’s suffering. I’m thankful for that.

As the game ended, I found myself in a contemplative mood. That Dragon Cancer reminded me of my need to pray. I prayed for Amy, Ryan, and their family. I fell asleep only to wake up sometime later. Praying over life, direction, and meaning.

I would like to thank Ryan and Amy for being real. For sharing Joel’s life and opening up their family to the world.

Wave SplinterTitle: That Dragon, Cancer
Developer: Numinous Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, OUYA
Reviews on: PC
MSRP: $14.99

*A review copy was provided for this review.