From Across the Net – Games With Lives Podcast

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Thought this was a neat idea to promote community and get to know the individual members of the Gamers With Jobs Conference Call. My only criticism is that it runs about 15 minutes too long. But otherwise, I really enjoyed this podcast episode.

Gamers With Lives Podcast

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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?

Moving on

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I stepped down as Community Manager of Theology Gaming a few weeks ago. After three years of cultivating conversation and community, I’m done. The mental background noise of what began to feel like a part time job has diminished. I am free. And yet, I miss the online community where I could throw ideas at the wall to see what stuck.
Right now, I find myself evaluating:
  • Where to go next.
  • What to do with my blog.
  • And on a deeper level, what it means to interact with others online. The internet is weird when it comes to relationships. Instant messaging brings about a false sense of freedom in conversation. You find yourself saying things that you’d never say in physical space. Even weirder, the internet lacks permanence. You can talk to people for years and then poof, they are gone. What does that mean? How are we supposed to react?

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JohnnyBGamer has always been my space, online, to create and share. That won’t stop anytime soon.

Joe and the God who helps

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Joe, over at Theology Gaming, writes about Dark Souls and community. You can read more here.

There’s a life lesson in here somewhere. How many times in my own life have I set out with unwavering determination to accomplish a thing, armed only with my own knowledge and experience? More frequently than not those experiences serve to remind me that I don’t know as much as I thought I did. It’s certainly not that I think I know it all; I just think I know enough.

Let us share your joy

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I am not exactly sure how to write this. But I’m living at that point where friends and family don’t want to tell my wife and I that they are pregnant. Somehow afraid that our feelings will be hurt after years of dealing with infertility.

More than any birth announcement, I am hurt more by silence. Robbed of that shared joy that comes from living in community with others.

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I want to encourage those around my family to share their news. Allow us to come alongside them. Please don’t be silent. Let us share in your excitement.

When times are good, be happy;
    but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
    as well as the other. – Ecclesiastes 7:14a (NIV)

We are made for community

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An isolated soul can become an echo chamber of lies. Creating a false but believable reality. Apart from community, we can mentally torture ourselves with untruth.

In the midst of saying depressing things like:

  • Those that are dead are happier than the living (4:2)
  • Better to never be born than to live and see evil (4:3)

King Solomon, in the Book of Ecclesiastes, tells us that we are made for community:

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (4:9-12)

We need others to speak truth into our lives. To tell us when we are doing well, off target, and sometimes just to listen. Trusted and positive outside influences help break through the mental echo chamber. Breaking down the walls of silence.

There are often days where I am doing my best to go to work, come home, and spend time with family. I tell myself that I have no more energy to spend. A simple text, email, or phone call too much work. I believe these are lies we tell ourselves. I believe that God calls us to more.

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That intergalactic communication device, you know, the one in your pocket? Use it.

I want to challenge you. I want to challenge myself. We need to break out of our everyday lives and invite others in. I think it’s more simple than either of us realize.

Video Games – Better Together

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I am a social gamer. I enjoy talking about video games more, oftentimes, than actually playing them. I also prefer playing through a game co-op versus playing single-player. Unless the single-player mechanics/gameplay are mind-blowing, then sign me up. There is something compelling about sharing a game experience. Whether that is shooting aliens together in a Halo game or operating on a patient in tandem in Trauma Center. Video games are best played with one another.

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Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and Halo: Combat Evolved were two games I played through with my friend Cory. Fun times where we would purposefully get together, drink the soda, and push through the game at hand. Finding/equipping new gear, fragging enemies, and general friendship created fond memories for me. I miss those times.

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When we first started dating, I brought my silver GameCube over to Tabitha’s house. She was not a gamer, but I wanted her to fall in love with video games, like me. So I introduced her to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. I can still remember her trying to get through the pirate ship’s hold. Lanterns swaying, platforms threatening to disappear, the game proved challenging for her. And yet, she made it.

Our gaming together has continued since we married.

  • Super Mario Galaxy
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
  • Tomb Raider and the Guardian of Light

The above are a small sampling of series that we have played together. Sometimes even playing with a walkthrough in hand. Don’t judge.

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My son and I have started our own tradition of playing video games together. With him, just as with my wife, I have had to learn to chill out and watch how I talk while playing. I hope that:

  • Memories are being made. Good memories.
  • Muscle memory and skills are developing
  • My love of virtual worlds is being passed on

Surrounded by people, encouraged by friends, gaming together is awesome.

Let the Mario Parties begin.