Thinking Aloud

Standard

My church’s youth room is decorated with black and grey tones. Even the ceiling tiles have been painted black. The overall effect reminds me of a dark cave; a dark worship cave.

As I was waiting for my wife to get out of a summer camp meeting, I talked to a few of the guys hanging out in the youth room. I was immediately asked, “Do you play Fortnite?”

Wyatt, sitting next to me, suddenly perked up, “What’s Fortnite?”

I talked with this kid, we’ll call him Alex, about the game. He gave me a history lesson on the rise of battle royale games, how most of them stemmed from a game called ARMA.

I was reminded just how nerdy gaming culture can be when Alex dove into a PC versus console debate.

“I’m a part of the PC master race.”

I’m sure you are, Alex, I’m sure you are.

My youth room encounter got me thinking about this site, my thoughts towards ministry within the gaming culture, etc. I am reminded that gaming culture spans a large swath of demographics. That when I think of gaming culture, I think of those who are closer to my age, not someone like Alex.

Reminded me that I started this blog to encourage others in the gaming space. That JohnnyBGamer has always been about promoting a balance between life and gaming. My original tagline, for the site, was: “Because there is more to life than just gaming.” I created that tagline in the midst of a season of watching friends being consumed by what they were consuming, video games. I hated that, I hated the control gaming had upon them, had upon me.

At this point in life, I am at a place where gaming doesn’t have as strong as a pull as it once did. But in talking to Alex and his friend last night, I’m reminded that there are others still in the midst of that struggle. A struggle where kids I know, kids around me, are out of control in their gaming. Makes me wonder…

How can I help parents:

  • Curate the types of video games their family consumes
  • Promote healthy media consumption habits for their children

How can I help gamers:

  • Ask questions about the games they are playing
  • Learn healthy online habits for interacting within gaming culture
  • Be aware, overall, that there is more to life than just gaming

I am not sure where God is leading me right now. But these are thoughts I’m processing through in this season after stepping down from Theology Gaming. Whether I step out and do something “big”, become more purposeful with this blog, or just take the gaming lessons I’ve learned, along the way, and use them to help my son navigate the gaming space.

Advertisements

Administrative Professionals’ Day

Standard

I dread Administrative Professionals’ Day.

Every year, without fail, my office forgets Administrative Professionals’ Day. Then, two days later, I suddenly have a gathering of co-workers outside my office. My boss then:

  • Apologizes
  • Gives me a card
  • Thanks me for my service

Which is all great and grand, I appreciate it. But I dislike how awkward it all becomes, all because greeting card companies have declared the day as special.

Greeting card companies, ya’ll need to let go of this one. Please, for me?

Don’t Pull That!

Standard

For those of you who do not know, I am a games director, at church, for a Bible verse memorization program (Awana) we have. Over two 30 minute sessions, I get to play all sorts of crazy games with the kids.

My Goal: Tire the kids out while having fun.

Last night, our schedule was a bit different. The kids are singing during the worship service on Sunday. Which means they needed time to practice:

  • Song cues
  • Hand motions
  • And becoming acclimated to standing on stage

Due to the practice time, game time was going to be reduced for the evening. The kids were scheduled to head out to the outdoor playground after worship practice. My wife, who runs the Awana program at church, told me I had the night off.

I ended up driving out to church anyways. Figured I could help corral kids and be there just in case it rained (we had a 40% chance) to run game time.

All was going well, I arrived early and ate dinner with Tabitha. We were sitting there talking when the fire alarm suddenly went off. A prerecorded voice told us that there was an emergency and that we needed to evacuate the building.

Turns out, a little kid pulled the fire alarm that is conveniently located on the indoor kids playground; the fire alarm that is right at kid height. With strobe lights going off in tandem with the alarm, I found myself Googling how to shut off a pull alarm. Turns out you need a special key.

In the midst of all of this, my pastor, who was supposed to be teaching, was having to deal with the alarm company. I ended up taking over for him in talking to the alarm company so that he could return to teaching. The gentleman on the phone guided me to a closet, where the fire alarm’s central panel was located. There I found two wires that were not connected to the battery that powers the fire alarm system. The alarm company told me that in the process of the system trying to reboot, that it tried to reboot/use power from the battery, somehow unplugging the wires. Plugging the wires back into the battery, I restored the system, and thus saved Jurassic Park.

Did I mention that the volunteer fire department sent a member over to check on things? Apparently he lives across the street. He was telling dispatch that he didn’t see any smoke coming from the church and that there were lots of cars in the parking lot. I’m thankful that he came over to check things out… and cancel the fire trucks that were about to be dispatched.

Once the alarm was shut off, I walked into the Worship Center to listen to the kids sing. On the way over, I noted that it was now raining outside. Great.

We ended up having a shortened game time. Lots of running around and screaming inside our kids worship area. It was crazy but helped the kids burn off energy as the barometer fell.

I’m thankful that none of this happened on a Sunday morning. While the lighting effects from the strobes might have been cool, the overall alarm would have killed the worship vibe.

Zelda and the Art of Distraction

Standard

Wyatt wanted to play RollerCoaster Tycoon last night. So I got him set up on the computer, pulled up a chair alongside him, and grabbed the Nintendo Switch along with Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Figured that I could make some progress in Zelda while letting the boy learn how to control/use the RollerCoaster Tycoon toolset. Win/win, right?

For awhile now, Wyatt has been dumping hours into Zelda, slowly beating each divine beast before me. Then, when I’ve sat down to play on Sunday afternoons, he’ll sit there and guide me. Later on, never failing, to remind me that he helped me.

“You didn’t beat that by yourself, I helped you.”

Deep in my 36 year old heart, I knew that I could not allow such a thing to continue. A 9 year old boy would not best me in a game, not yet anyways. I had just beaten the Zora and Ruto divine beasts, with Wyatt’s help. In his game, Wyatt was off chasing the beast out in the desert. So I decided to tackle the only beast he hadn’t gone after yet, the beast of Death Mountain, Vah Rudania.

A combination of wanting to play smart mixed with a smidgen of desperation to get ahead of the boy, led me to consult a walkthrough. I wanted to know exactly where Vah Rudania lay. The quick consult made me decide to plot a course to Goron City and set up a basecamp there. The walkthrough mentioned fire armor and a guy needing me to collect lizards for him. I warped into a tower, took a flying leap, and glided towards the lizard man. 10 lizards collected later, I had me some fire armor for protection against the volcanic environment.

All the while I’m navigating Death Mountain, Wyatt is engrossed in RollerCoaster Tycoon. He had no clue that I was pushing further into Zelda than he is currently. The only problem I face now is maintaining the momentum. Face it, I’m competing against a 9 year old who plays video games much more than me. He’ll probably get ahead of me in the long run, but I’m not giving up. I have a beast to slay!

An Evening With RollerCoaster Tycoon

Standard

“So, is this a game I have to play with you or can I play it by myself?”

Our first park.

Wyatt and I had just completed our first RollerCoaster Tycoon scenario when he asked me if this was a with-dad or without-dad game. I told him that once he was more familiar with how to run the game’s toolset, he’d be allowed to play by himself.

Already today, I’ve been asked if we can play more tonight. Guess my evening dance card is partially filled.

I would like to thank the RavingLuhn for his article “The Definitive RollerCoaster Tycoon Experience“. His easy to follow guide helped me bring RollerCoaster Tycoon into 2018. Check it out if you are looking to relive the glory days of RollerCoaster Tycoon and it’s expansions. The game is still a lot of fun to play.

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

Standard

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