Trapped Between Planners and Freedom

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I am not a planner. I think of myself as a spur-of-the-moment, let’s go do something, sort of guy. But I lie to myself.

My wife is an amazing planner; my son thrives in knowing what is going to happen next. Their planning tendencies can often drive me nuts. I just want to be in the moment. Feel the waves. Again, I lie.

My dark secret: I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want to do for the day.

Do you find comfort in routine? I do. Knowing on some foundational level what I’m going to be doing throughout the day is like a cozy heavy jacket. Knowing that I’ll start my day:

  • Drinking coffee
  • Reading a morning devotional
  • Eating breakfast
  • Taking a shower
  • And finishing getting ready

The above minuscule routine can be bliss.

Working as an office manager for an architectural firm, I have little routine. I walk in, most days, not knowing what to except. One week, we could be working on a marketing brochure; the next week, we might be working on a slew of projects on a daily basis. There is no base level routine. Which leaves me on edge.

The sky is the limit.

Sure, I could come into work early, try and establish my own routine. The problem with this solution is that the moment I walk in the door, I am fair game to whomever needs my help. The needs of the firm and all that.

Planning equals paralysis.

Whenever my wife asks me a question about some upcoming event, I mentally freeze up. Something inside just doesn’t want to commit. I want to be free. Screaming with Mel Gibson’s William Wallace, “Freedom!!!” But freedom from what?

Deep down, beyond my deer in the headlight stare I give when asked a planning question, I am a planner. I crave routine. Or at least I crave structure. Give me a solid structural foundation and you can throw anything at me. Anything.

I need to know that my footing is sure. That even as all hell is breaking loose, there is the promise of routine to fall back into.

I feel trapped by those who feel the need to plan and yet, I am a planner. Go figure.

Inside: A relationship built on trust

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I really enjoyed this piece by my friend Josh, via Gamechurch. Can’t wait to play this on my PS4, August 23rd.

They’re looking for you, little boy. The masked men just released their hounds. You run. The bloodthirsty dogs close the distance between you and a cliff. Just as the dog’s teeth lunge for your foot, you jump off the cliff. Let me pause right here. You have no idea what’s at the bottom of this cliff. You’re completely at the whim of the game designer. Knowing there’s no other option, you simply trust the creator.

Read more here

Inside

 

Adventures in Odyssey will help me discuss puberty with my son

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Jimmy Barclay was going through changes. Or as Mr. Whittaker put it, he was going through “adolescence”. Jimmy was growing up. He noticed that:

  • His voice was changing
  • He was angry at people for no reason at all
  • He was in love, with Connie Kendall
So flat. So boring. Captive audience on an 8 hour drive.

So flat. So boring. Captive audience on an 8 hour drive.

As we listened to “Coming of Age”, an episode of Adventures in Odyssey, Tabitha and I laughed. There is something surreal about listening to an episode on puberty with your seven-year-old in the car. We were driving home from vacation. The boy was in the backseat, running a high fever, and had no clue about what was plaguing Jimmy.

I told Tabitha that when Wyatt starts to go through puberty, I am going to make him listen to this episode. Odyssey can explain everything. Poof! An awkward conversation bites the dust. Who wants to talk to their parents about changes anyways?

Let this be a lesson to all parents: Media is a fantastic substitute for all major life conversations.

This important lesson is provided to you by JohnnyBGamer, tongue-in-cheek.

Kickstarting ReElise

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Justin Fox is a longtime friend I met through Theology Gaming University (TGU). He just launched a Kickstarter for his game, ReElise, a Hip-Hop RPG. Justin hopes to not only fund his dream but start a movement.

How did your values influence your game, ReElise?

The game started out about race. Mostly a coming of age story. Just exploring culture and how people deal with them. When I got saved (gave my life to Christ) the story completely changed. It became a story about how God can make dry bones live again. However the theme of race still plays a role in that it serves no real role in the story. The main character is a black female…. that is all. Sometimes, it’s just not important in contrast to the big plot, and it shouldn’t always be a plot to insert a person’s views on an almost ageless problem so they can be the guy who “figured out how we can get along”. It’s a problem of classifying people as ” those people ” and that’s not going away. Ever.

ReElise

What exactly is a Hip-Hop RPG?

There’s a lot more to the culture of Hip-Hop than violence, money and abuse of women. There’s dancing, style, language, AMAZING art, and some would even say theology that’s not focused on quite as much. It was supposed to be fun in the early days. I like fun things. A Hip-Hop RPG is a game that  leans into the dopeness that is Hip-Hop. I love it. I wanted it in there. I’m indie… so I do what I want I’m grown and sexy.

How long have you been working on the game and what have you learned?

Steadily for 4 years. I’ve been tinkering with it for roughly 7, but those were entirely different builds.

For me, it’s been the power of belief. Believing that something good can come out of an idea that’s not really been done before, and seeing how the power of that belief carried me through for 4 years. It’s a crazy thing. Not to mention how drastically my belief in Jesus changed the core of the game. Belief is really something else.

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Engage in epic rap battles.

What would you like to say to anybody thinking about backing ReElise on Kickstarter?

This is more of a movement than it is about just one game. Traditional gameplay but with very non-traditional stories as well as concepts (I mean this is a 2D, hand-animated, Hip-Hop, turned-based, Mature Christian RPG… with sprinkles… definitely unconventional). I’d like to subtly offer deeper things to my audience. I’m giving my audience the chance to simply play a great game, and offer them a deeper story that I truly hope will be beneficial to their lives if they care to look. We’ve just gotta get the colorists, programmers, editors, travel expenses, and advertisements out of the way for this project first. That way we can make this first project everything it needs to be!  There’ll be much much more to come with the support of backers.

Thanks, Justin, for giving us a slice of ReElise pie. We can’t wait to get a taste of your Hip-Hop RPG goodness.

If you’d like to back Justin’s work, check out his Kickstarter page.

NIrV Minecrafters Bible

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The NIrV Minecrafters Bible is a Biblical recipe mixing faith and fandom. This Bible features a solid hardcover to hold up against any Creeper or Zombie attack. The New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) makes for an easy read. 24 Minecraft-themed pages highlight Biblical stories and offer short in-game objectives to complete.

Minecraft Samson

But all is not well at the Minecraft Crafting Table. Missing ingredients such as:

  • Durable pages
  • Helpful reading plans
  • Highlighted verses
  • Daily Devotions
  • Chronologies/Maps

All reveal a subpar product. A quick cash-in that shows no respect to the Biblical reader nor respect to the player. Zondervan is selling a plain no-frills Bible with a minimal (24 page) Minecraft makeover.

Minecraft Jesus

Zondervan should have gone the extra mile. Including actual study material and embracing Minecraft through trivia and in-game tips. If done well, this could have been an amazing tool. Instead, the NIrV Minecrafters Bible is a damaged wood sword. Beckoning clueless parents and grandparents to pick it up.

Save your money. Invest in something that will last and further real life and in-game adventures.

I was given a copy of this book by BookLook Bloggers. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Beyond the Pixels of Minecraft: Story Mode

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Minecraft: Story Mode has taken over our household. Soon after my last post, Wyatt and I beat Episode 1 – ‘The Order of the Stone’. We finally figured out that the game plays better if I hold the controller. Allowing me to read the dialogue answer options and then press the corresponding button. This setup keeps the experience frustration free. Also prevents us from calling someone an idiot, in-game, on accident.

Lukas is a good guy.

Lukas is a good guy.

Story Time:

There was a moment in Episode 1 where the characters are huddled in a hut. Rain falls outside, everyone exhausted, stomachs grumbling. Axel, the big tough guy of the group, offers everyone a cookie, except for Lukas, who he doesn’t like. The game offers us a choice:

  • Eat the cookie?
  • Or give the cookie to Lukas?

We ended up giving our cookie to a thankful Lukas. Wyatt couldn’t figure out why Axel was being such a jerk. So we discussed group dynamics and treating others as you want to be treated. A teachable moment brought about by a video game? Why not.

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We are now moving through Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 2 – ‘Assembly Required’. Enjoying our time with Jesse, Reuben the pig, and Lukas. Turns out Jesse didn’t have to adventure on alone.

The Joys of Minecraft: Story Mode

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I surprised Wyatt last night with the first episode of Minecraft: Story Mode. He was happy. Commanding the PS4 controller, he guided protagonist Jesse and friends to EnderCon.

“I really wish his name wasn’t Jesse,” Wyatt told me as I put him to bed later on.

“Jesse is both a girl’s name and a boy’s name.”

“Oh.”

And so it began.

The signature of all Telltale Games, dialogue decisions, reared their red eyes like a cave spider. I found myself scrambling to read all of the choices aloud with their corresponding button shapes. Stress. Filled. Chaos.

Dialogue timer is at the bottom of the screen (middle green bar).

Dialogue timer is at the bottom of the screen (middle green bar).

“Hit the triangle button!”

The boy presses the x button, calling someone on screen an idiot.

“Wyatt!”

“I’m sorry!”

Some games click, others don’t. And that’s okay. 

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Tabitha walked into the living room about the time a “hell yeah” was exclaimed twice in a row. One of those classic mom moments. The game had been fine up until then. Positive elements of friendship and being true to yourself had been explored before she walked in. I promise.

Five Nights At Freddy’s and Minecraft: Story Mode are spoken about with reverence in our home. Playground hype has carried the scares of Freddy’s and the tales of the Ender Dragon to our dinner table. I am happy to help the boy gain some playground cred. I’m just not sure we are ready to finish this block-filled adventure.

In fact, we are going to finish up the first episode and call it a day. Maybe we’ll revisit this series in a few years when he is older. Able to read the dialogue at a rapid rate and make decisions. Mature enough to understand the “hell yeah’s” being thrown at him.

We’ll continue exploring the regular version of Minecraft. Jesse will have to adventure on, alone.