Surprise – Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

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Came home from the Awana Awards Ceremony at church, last night, and collapsed on the couch. I’m not sure what it is about Wednesday nights, maybe its the going from work directly to church, but I find it exhausting. The worst part is that I’m super tired and wired up after playing with the kids. Enough whining though.

Once things settled down, and I put Wyatt to bed, I collapsed on the couch once more. Firing up the PS4, I aimlessly searched for a game to play. Not sure about you, but I often sit down with the intent to play something and can’t make up my mind. I then end up watching videos on YouTube or some show on Netflix. But last night I noticed a demo I had downloaded awhile back, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life.

The game demo begins with a cold shower of story told through cutscenes (more like a story flood). Eventually, Yakuza 6 led me through a quick fight tutorial followed by another dousing of cutscenes (I’ll be good, I promise!). The whole game, so far, amounting to a crash course in all things yakuza told through superb Japanese voice acting. I was surprised that I had somehow missed this action-adventure series; delighted at finding a new genre at the video game buffet.

From what I played last night, Yakuza 6 follows protagonist Kazuma Kiryu as he attempts to find out what happened to a woman named Haruka. The game features an open world that mixes exploration, conversations, and full blown street brawls into a tasty dish.

I played for over an hour in a tired daze. Drinking in the sights, sounds, and detailed world (complete with vending machines) of Kamurocho.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is not what I expected. I had expected to play the game for a few moments and then delete it due to mature content. But instead, I found a thoughtful adventure game mixing story with fighting and cinematic flare.

I’m still not done with the Yakuza 6 demo, but I will be back. Ready to kick some butt and find out what happened to Haruka.

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Don’t Pull That!

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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.

From Across the Net: “Will the Church Value Video Games in 2017?”

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Over at Christ and Pop Culture, Steven Miller writes:

One interesting complaint, however, was that the game withholds some power from the player. The Last Guardian revolves around a relationship between young boy and a giant bird-dog creature. The player controls the boy—the bird-dog is controlled by AI…an AI which acts remarkably like a finicky pet would. Both parts are necessary to solve many of the puzzles. If the player, as the boy, has solved how to get from point A to point B, but the bird-dog is busy munching on a snack or laying in the sunlight, the boy is stuck. This is, from the point of the typical reviewer, “bad game design”: the game withholds rewards from the player arbitrarily.

Please make sure to keep going with this piece. I love his thoughts on patience.

How many kids do you have?

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Walking from small group to the worship service on Sunday, I bumped into a fellow church member. We somehow got onto the topic of kids.
 
“So how many kids do you have?”
 
“One.”
 
“One for now, huh?”
 
“Yeah. One for now. We’ve been trying for the past five years though.”
 
“Well, you could have a surprise later in life, like your mother and father-in-law did.”
 
I am learning to be honest during simple conversations like these. Not to garner sympathy or even empathy but in an attempt to talk about the path God has my wife and I on. 
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The feelings that infertility brings out feel selfish at times. Even gross. I’m learning to communicate those thoughts and feelings out loud. Even if only with my wife.
 
Staying silent is frustrating.
 
Staying silent kills.

Surf Report – Winds of Change – 7/25/16

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Surf Report

Welcome to the Monday edition of the Surf Report.

.: God / Life :

My brother-in-law gave me a devotional book for my birthday (Thanks, J!). Paul David Tripp’s New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional has been kicking my butt.

“At the end of the service where I announced my resignation, the oldest man in our congregation waited on the porch of the church for me. We were the last two to leave. He came up to me and asked if he could speak to me, then said: “We know you’re discouraged and we know you’re a bit immature, but we haven’t asked you to leave. Where is the church going to get mature pastors if the immature ones leave?””

Things have been hard at church lately. Winds of change. God has been reminding me to hold back and pray. I think we, as human beings, often run from the maturing process. Scrambling to find the ejection seat. Failing to remember what happened to Goose.

.: Gaming :

Wyatt and I played the LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens demo. Small smart mechanical changes aside, a LEGO game is a LEGO game.

That is it for this weeks Surf Report. Make sure to comment below and have a good week!

Tried something different for my men’s group this week

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Our night began with a simple question: What do you think of when I say the word Church?

One of the guys responded, “I think of what the church could/should be versus what it is not.” Reminded me of Saint Augustine’s The City of God. My men’s group is full of deep thinkers.

We talked about how messy the church can be. How Christians can unintentionally hurt one another without knowing it.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 was our main point of discussion. The verses talk about how the church is made up of one body with many different talents/skills.

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:26

Ephesians 4:1-16 were our follow up verses:

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. – Ephesians 4:15-16

One Body. Many Members. 

I brought my PS4 to church. Hooked it up to a projector with a large screen in our room. It was time to game.

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Thomas Was Alone was the first game I brought out. We played a bit of Claire’s story. Noting that like the Body of Christ, Claire needed the other characters to progress through the levels. 10 minutes with Thomas seemed like enough. What I really wanted to show the group was Broforce.

“This is like Contra!”

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Broforce was the hit of the night. I was blown away by the video game skills my guys have. Had fun laughing over the insane player deaths and cartoony gore. The best part though was watching my guys work together through a level, helping each other, just like the Body of Christ.

On the Verge of Fear

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There is a fine balance between acting in a responsible manner versus reacting in fear. The church has a responsibility to ensure that all are safe that walk through it’s doors.

The responsible church has plans for inclement weather. Plans to guard against predators who prey on children.

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. – Matthew 10:16 (ESV)

What happens when the church falters from responsibility into fear? I have been wrestling with this question. Wisdom and innocence alight in a dance. Chuck Norris hired to defend the front door.

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