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.

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Firewatch and Bloodborne made me want to walk away from gaming

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Firewatch and Bloodborne tainted my view of video games. Both experiences left me feeling that all games are dark, violent, and depressing. Filled with language I don’t allow in my house; filled to the brim with blood. I needed space. So I threw gaming in the backseat.

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The beauty of the Wyoming wilderness contrasted against human brokenness. Dark secrets hidden in outdoor splendor. My experience with Firewatch was gut-wrenching. I felt for protagonist Henry. The reality of his personal fairy tale falling a part. I wondered at the intentions of Delilah. Her name seeming appropriate. A distraction, like the watchtower in the game itself. None of it mattered though. The profanity-laced journey was for naught. Terror and mystery ended in smoke.

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Mixed-in with my quest into the woods, were sporadic play sessions of Bloodborne. Hearkening back to the muscle-memory games of my youth, Bloodborne scratched a deep down itch. But the dark settings and constant violence weighed on me more than I could tell.

I had told my friend Scott how I was feeling, burnt out on video games. His first response was, “It was Bloodborne, wasn’t it? Shoot.” Good friends often know you better than yourself.

For about a week, video games disgusted me. I had no interest in them. This scared me. But left me with a clear head to contemplate other things. To allow God to speak truth where I needed it.

I fired up Destiny over the weekend. Had a good time playing. We’ll see where that leads.

Gamers Are Stupid

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(Dear Reader, Please take a literal minute to view the above source material. You’ll thank me later. Promise. – B)

Grab yer pitchforks! Equip a torch or flashlight? Best prepare. We have now entered the land of the 700 Club. Where the still breathing Pat Robertson reigns. Doing good. Fighting the fight.

A viewer writes in:

Recently, I was looking through my daughter’s phone, and I found many pictures of a cartoon skeleton with one glowing blue eye and wearing a hoodie. When I asked my daughter why she had such demonic images on her phone, she told me there was nothing wrong with it because it was from a video game. How do I help my daughter not be attracted to such demonic things?

Pat Robertson was born during the Great Depression. Public Works project Hoover Dam, the dust bowl, and prohibition were headlines on March 22, 1930. Movies were the accepted gateway to escape, a retreat from harsh times. Video games a dream of dreams.

There’s got to be some video game that isn’t so evil, but those things are filled with violence…and brutality, it’s unreal.

Why would any self-respecting gamer expect an 85 year old to understand video games? Especially Pat Robertson. Gamers are stupid.

As Twitter lit up with this video yesterday (11/3), the bandwagon hitched, and Robertson declared a fool. But what wasn’t questioned, beyond Pat’s demonic assumption, is what are “demonic images”? This is where Pat failed. He ran with a blanket term and commented on a video game he knew nothing about. His viewer failed him; he failed his viewer.

Video game headlines on Pat Robertson are low hanging fruit. “Hey, let’s see what that crazy Christian guy is up to today.” I wish Pat had taken the time to dig deeper. To weigh his words. Gamers can be stupid. Don’t feed them, Pat.

Am I Giving My 6-Year-Old Video Game Drugs?

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Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure was my first attempt to play a video game with Wyatt. He would climb onto my lap and I would give him charge over a few buttons. We’d press on, together, through the colorful lands of Skylands, father and son.

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The toys to life market has exploded since the original Skylanders debuted. Disney has followed suite with their own Disney Infinity and LEGO with LEGO Dimensions. The race for your nostalgic memories blended together with basic compulsive behaviors is on.

Skylanders: Superchargers, Disney Infinity, and LEGO Dimensions are not cheap. Each brand forces you to buy a base set, at prices ranging from $75 to $100. If you want to go beyond the initial starter pack characters, prepare to pay $15 per character. Want to play, I mean “unlock” more of the game levels you’ve already bought? The ransom price will be $30 per expansion. Good times for kids like Veruca Salt; bad times for a child who only gets a video game on their birthday.

As a parent, I wonder at what I have introduced my son to. Am I no better than a drug dealer, pushing the latest video game with expensive add-ons? What about the morality and business model of a developer who is double-dipping? Buy the initial game for x-amount and then pay more to play the rest. Is this fair?

Take LEGO Dimensions for instance. The main game, according to some reviews, is 12 hours in length. Which is not a bad amount of gameplay for $100, at $8/hour. But, any of the past LEGO games have been whole. Yes, they have lacked an accompanied physical LEGO set, but they have been fully unlocked. Interested in Portal themed levels, Mr. Nerd? That will be $30 please. Content that is already on disc, waiting to be saved.

In our brave new world of toys to life, I wonder how long consumers will stand for buying the same product 5-6 times. On a positive note, Skylanders: Superchargers only requires four vehicles to experience the game.  None of the content gated to specific types of figures, as it has been in the past. A step in the right direction.

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But who am I kidding? I can rant and rave about pricing structures till the end of this blog. Will LEGO Dimensions make my Christmas list? OH YEAH! I can’t pass up playing with Gandalf, Batman, and Wyldstyle. No matter the cost, playing this game with Wyatt will be awesome. LEGO told me so.

I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. – Ecclesiastes 1:14 (NIV)

Now Recruiting – Join the Theology Gaming Network (TGN)

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As many of you may know, I moonlight as the Community Manager for Theology Gaming University. Recently, we created a way to promote and showcase our member’s work via the Theology Gaming Network (TGN). I encourage you to read on and consider joining us.

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1. What is Theology Gaming (TG)?

TG is a community dedicated to the intersection of games and life with Christ.

2. What is the Theology Gaming Network (TGN)?

TGN exists to unify the voices of folks thinking about how following Jesus relates to games. This translates to Theology Gaming cross-posting community member’s content and aggregating it all under one Theology Gaming banner.

3. What kind of posts does TGN allow?

Anything that relates to Jesus and games. Longform essays, Youtube videos, podcasts, galore! As long as it’s relevant to games and relationship with God, it’s golden.

4. What are the benefits of joining TGN?

– Increased visibility for your written work/blog

– Access to a built-in audience of 10,000 unique views a month

– A TGN logo on your site, (it’s nifty!)

tgn5. Membership Requirement

Contribute one piece of content a month (that’s it!)

There’s not much to it. We’ve taken the time to create the content platform; now we want to see it grow and prosper with your help. In sum, you should have fun making this stuff; it’s not a job, nor should you treat it as such. We want to promote your work, and help you out!

Submit all inquiries to viewtifulzfo at gmail.com, or contact Zachery Oliver on fB!

This article was originally posted on TheologyGaming.com on June 15, 2015