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

 

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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?

An Odd Week

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This has been one of those odd weeks. Our trip to Dallas, for Wyatt’s birthday, threw me off. Made me think that the weekend had come early, nope.

Got to hang out with my younger brother yesterday. He is in the process of moving his family from California into the wilds of Arkansas. It’s interesting what the allure of being able to live in a place with an affordable cost of living will drive a man to do. I 100% understand his thinking. I’ve watched my friends in Southern California buy $300k homes; homes that are plain, expensive, and lacking in character. Sure, the weather year round is nice but the cost of living is insane. Knowing what my dad made at his job, growing up, anywhere outside of the state we would have been considered rich. But in Southern California, we were poor… even though I thought we were middle class.

Came home and found this guy waiting for me the other night.

The weather here hasn’t helped this week either. We’ve had two rounds of severe weather. Thankfully nothing bad outside of high amounts of rain and 52mph winds. Nothing like being woken up at 2am due to how loud the wind is hitting the house. We’ve had a total of 9 inches of rain this month. A small pond has formed in my backyard. Just need to pick up some snapping turtles for the pond.

Haven’t been reading, watching, or playing much in the way of video games. How about you? What’s life been throwing at you?

From Across the Net – “Teaching the Classroom with Dungeons & Dragons”

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Even though I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons, I thought this was a neat example of gamifying the classroom:

Teachers already have to purchase and create so many of their classroom supplies and materials. When gamifying the classroom, both Wells and Roman suggest getting creative and using the resources you have available. “I used an extra fire escape map of the school as a dungeon,” says Wells. “My students started at the entrance and had to get to my classroom, but there were zombies everywhere. Every time they encountered one, they had to answer a quiz question.”

Read more here

A Birthday in the City

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Celebrating a birthday is a great excuse to take a vacation day from work. So, Tab and I decided to take Wyatt to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science for his birthday. We totally surprised him! The boy had no clue.

We loved:

  • The Expanding Universe Hall – Was neat to hear Tab and Wyatt talk about different astronomers they’ve been learning about in their space unit study.
  • The Journey to Space Exhibit – Seeing Neil Armstrong’s gloves from the Apollo program. History is all about the small things.

3 1/2 hours later, we were tired and done. Had a great time though!

Why Do We Play?

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A few weeks ago, I asked the Theology Gaming Community:

The TG Community answered:

  • Entertainment
  • Bridge gaps of distance
  • Stories
  • To slow down and enjoy friends
  • To learn new systems/rules
  • To be invited into a piece of art, by the artist, as a collaborator
  • To forget about problems
  • Video games are fun
  • Enjoyment
  • Escapism
  • Fantasy of having increased power/capability
  • Gaming brings people together

Sam went on to say:

Mainly it’s my time to ‘turn off’ from any sort of stresses in real life and just sit back and enjoy something. But there are other huge things I’d miss if I wasn’t gaming. Mainly the excellent communities you become a part of, and I have found, since starting college, it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends who went elsewhere.

Joe emailed me his reply:

Apollo 13 is one of my favorite movies. It’s a classic tale of man versus adversity. Human ingenuity wins out over a catastrophe that almost certainly should have spelled certain death for the three brave crewmen. It’s a great story to watch, but as a viewer I can only be a passive observer of this story. Kerbal Space Program, however, allows me to be the solution as well as the cause of all my Kerbonaut’s problems. What should be a routine trip around the moon turns into an epic series of rescue mission because of my inability to effectively design spacecraft. Running out of fuel, botched engine burns, missing solar panels, and the inability to dock two spacecraft turn Kerbal Space Program into an interactive rescue simulation. The best part of all this? My experience will never be exactly the same as anyone else’s. 
That’s the appeal of gaming to me: personalized entertainment. While most games will offer a similar overall experience to its players, little details and interactions are unique to each person. Nobody has the same struggles as I do in Kerbal Space Program. My approach to clearing Liberty Island in Deus Ex will be different than anyone else I know. Dark Souls fosters camaraderie with fellow players who follow the same story beats, even though not everyone will struggle with the same sections. Though I play the same game as thousands and millions of other people, my own experiences with that game are unique to me. This is what sets gaming apart from every other form of media. It’s fun, it’s dynamic, and it’s accessible. Why wouldn’t I play games?  

For me, gaming is about:

Relationships  The conversations that happen while trying to outscore my wife in King Domino.

Nostalgia – Playing Chess with my son reminds me of all the times I played Chess with my Grandpa. I miss him and those times we had together playing Chess, flying remote control airplanes, and telling stories.

Imagination – As with good books, video games allow me to visit other worlds and step into the shoes of someone else.

Discovery – Digital worlds come with their own individual sets of rules. I love seeing what a game world will allow me to do/not do.

Connection – Nothing like discussing games with fellow enthusiasts, taps into my nerdier side.

Sampling All The Flavors – I love constantly trying new games which allows me to experience the different gaming mechanics they each bring to the screen.

Why do you play?

A Reminder That We Are Called To More

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My church has been hosting a time of renewal with Life Action Ministries. One of our speakers last night encouraged us to write down 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Every time the verses mention the word love, we were instructed to write our names there instead:

Bryan is patient and kind. Bryan is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Bryan does not demand his own way. Bryan is not irritable, and he keeps no record of being wronged. Bryan does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Bryan never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

In our relationships, as Christians, people should see Christ in us.

Putting my name into those verses is a great reminder of how I should be living. Our speaker further encouraged us to write down the verses on a card and place them where we can see them everyday. Reading them to remind us that we are to be “little Christs”.