Fear, Geek Culture, and the Church

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Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

Michael Mendis, writing for Geeks Under Grace, recently wrote a piece titled “Geek Culture and the Church“. As he weaves through the history between the church and geek culture, he touches on something I have always found interesting:

Over the years I have heard numerous stories about Christian geeks who feel that they have to hide their hobbies from fellow saints. I’ve met a well-respected leader in a church who can’t reveal to the rest of his leadership team that he plays Dungeons & Dragons. A gaming missionary I have worked with tells a story about how he once visited a church to talk about gamer culture, and after his presentation, two people came up to him—back-to-back, but independently of one another—to privately confide that they were gamers, and that they were afraid to tell the other people in their church.

On a basic level, I get that we can’t 100% be ourselves at church. Fellow Christians may struggle with things that we do not, making it un-wise to talk about whatever it is in front of them. I get that. But playing video games, to me, is just as normal as watching television or following sports. In all my time, living in the buckle of the Bible Belt for over sixteen years now, I have never felt like I needed to hide the fact that I enjoy playing video games and tabletop games (and I get that my experience may be unique).

I remember approaching my pastor, soon after college graduation, about how I wanted to start a video game ministry. He encouraged me to talk to our youth pastor; who then encouraged me to think outside the box and not go to seminary. “Just do it”, he said like a Nike commercial (it was deeper than that). I’d like to think that my experience here isn’t unique, I was encouraged by my East Texas based church staff, not discouraged from where I felt God leading me in that moment.

As I edge closer to 40, I have learned to not be as worried about others opinions, to enjoy what I like. I have found that there are others out there, in the church, who share my hobbies. I want to encourage you not to live in fear. Be passionate about what you are passionate about. Own your video games, your hunting, and your love for modifying old cars.

Update 5/23/19 – My wife lovingly reminded me that I have encountered instances, at church, where fellow Christians have been less than loving about my hobby. Funny how one forgets such things when not in the moment. As with anything, I think you quickly learn who you can talk to and who you should avoid talking to about nerdy things. Such is life. – Bryan

Grand Adventures Squashed

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Last night at bed time:

“What did you do while I was gone?” Said the boy with a hint of accusation embraced by curiosity.

“I played with your toys, ate candy, and had fun.”

His face told me that he didn’t buy that answer.

“Let’s see, I reinstalled the light cover on the light above the kitchen sink. I installed new mini blinds in the kitchen window. And I also had to work on the kitchen sink plumbing because suddenly the sink was leaking all over the floor.”

I’m not sure he liked that response. I kind of squashed the illusion of Tab and I being off on some grand adventure while he is away.

Oh well. At least I got a few things done. Amazing what one can do when their child is away at Vacation Bible School.

Kirby Star Allies

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Wyatt and I recently finished playing Kirby Star Allies on the Nintendo Switch. Per standard Kirby game mechanics, Kirby has the ability to steal enemies powers. In Star Allies, Kirby goes a step further and becomes a thrower of hearts. Throw a pink heart at an enemy and they become your friend/party member, for life.

So here are Wyatt and I, adventuring across the HD candy-coated world of Kirby. We are the buddies of co-op. The ultimate father and son duo to take on the evils of Dreamland.

“Wyatt, slow down.”

“Wyatt, we just missed a puzzle piece.”

“Wyatt, why did you just die? How could you have done that?”

A chunk of our playtime consisted of Wyatt mixing powers, trying to see what Kirby powers he could create. This power mixing killed the flow of gameplay and DROVE ME NUTS!
How Kirby Power Mixing Works:

Let’s say Kirby steals the powers of a warrior. Now the pink puffball has a sword. If you have a party member that has ice, fire, or lightning powers, you can call them over to buff your sword. Your standard sword is now the Ice Sword of Doom or the Fire Ball Slicer from Heaven. In Kirby Star Allies, friendship is all about the perks.

Kirby Star Allies must be about driving your dad crazy.

It wasn’t until I started listening to myself speak to my son that I noticed I was freaking out.

So I adjusted my tone.

I listened to myself get upset over missing secret doors and passing up on puzzle pieces.

So I changed my expectations.

We started having fun.

Snow levels became a chance to sing terrible Frozen “Let It Go” parodies.

Running past puzzle pieces were a moment to become super silly and let things go.

Kirby Star Allies was a $60 reminder of what co-op gaming with my son looks like. A reminder that I need to chill, play, and allow myself to have fun.

Thank you, Kirby, for the gentle reminder.

4/5 – A perfect game to co-op with someone you love.

Title: Kirby Star Allies
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Reviews on: Nintendo Switch
MSRP: $59.99

On the road with Final Fantasy XV

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Monsters exist. They eat children at night. When monsters are famished, they eat adults too. The guys of Final Fantasy XV know this. Which leads them to suggest resting when the sun goes down. Nighttime is scary.

ffxv-camping

But when you are with friends, nighttime is fun! Adventures in the wilderness lead to camping out versus hotel stays. Camping equals amazing meals cooked by master chef and best bro, Ignis. In your many many travels, Ignis collects recipes to cook later on. Food equals stat boots as well as other fun mathematical thingamajigs. Trust me, food is awesome.

One of my favorite things about FFXV is something rather simple, photography. Party member and best bruh Prompto takes pictures as you cruise the countryside. At the end of each day, when you camp for the night, the game gives you a chance to check out Prompto’s pictures. You can even save the ones you like. The guys will also comment on the photos they like as you flip through them. Check it out:

Final Fantasy XV is such a weird game, but I love it. Simple features such as cooking and photography add a wonderful layer of personality. I don’t want this roadtrip to end.

(Note: The video featured above was captured in a hurry. Reason why there aren’t any huge level ups or even that many photos taken. A full day played in-game can yield some pretty fantastic photography.)

From Across the Net: “Trench Run and the future of local multiplayer innovation”

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My video game trailer making friend, Josh, took some time to write on the future of local multiplayer innovation. I especially liked this:

Trench Run’s great innovation is deathlessness—players flop like fish once “killed” in the hopes of finding a health kit to get back on their feet. This means downed players stay in the game even when they’re “out.” Practically it means everybody has fun, even when somebody is dominating, because there’s always a chance to get back on your feet again (literally and figuratively).

(That’s me, Ransom64, playing with Josh and Zach.)

You can read more of his Indie Haven piece here.