The Passionate Fisherman

Standard

I had a sales rep stop by the office yesterday. He was dropping off some furniture samples for a bid we have coming up on a project. One of the samples was a heavy student desk. So I helped him unload the desk from his Suburban. While unloading, I noticed that he had two fishing poles sitting in the back.

“I see you have your priorities in order.”

He smiled, “Yeah, I try and fish any chance I get.”

There are so many ponds and lakes across East Texas, I’m sure his chances come often.

Photo by Vladislav Suvorov on Unsplash

I love that moment when you ask someone about something they love. Their face lights up in pure excitement. And then that wave of body animation kicks in as they talk about whatever sparks their interest.

Although I’m not much of a fisherman–never ask my brother-in-law Mike about me and fishing–I 100% understand the excitement of getting to talk about something you love.

So what about you, what are you passionate about?

JBG Rewind – Should Men Put Video Games Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives / Girlfriends?

Standard

I wrote this piece back in 2014. Four years later, I still do not think that this is healthy situation, no matter the hobby. – Bryan

This tale is as old as 1989.

Boy meets girl. Girl dislikes boys hobby. Boy gives up hobby for girl. Girl gives up nothing. Swap the genders; swap the roles. Rinse. Wash. Dry.

I have known countless guys who have given up their favorite hobby due to a spouse or girlfriend disapproving– I am sure that this is true for the female species as well. Once upon a time, these guys enjoyed playing video games. They used them to drop stress levels, rest, and relax. For some reason though, chemistry, the alignment of the stars, who knows, they end up coupling with someone who disapproves/looks down upon their hobby. So they have to quit, have to walk away from something they love, to be in love.

I just don’t get it. If you are in a loving relationship, your spouse or girlfriend should accept you for who you are. They shouldn’t be out to change fundamental parts that make up you. Sure, your bad habit of tossing clothes on the floor may need to be corrected, because let’s face it, your mom always cleaned up after you. Too personal? Sorry.

file_204587_0_makelovenotwarcraft

Video games are often seen as a less mature hobby than following a team of guys in tight fitting clothing. Huh? How is it that working on cars, following a sports team, or going hunting are somehow more respectable and less “little boy”? A hobby is a hobby. Video games are no worse than stamp collecting. Except that unlike a stamp collection, video games deal with:

  • Complex realities
  • Connecting players through interdependent activities
  • Challenging players with complex decision making

My wife has been accepting of my hobby from the get go. She encourages me to sit down and play games. She realizes that I often use video games to de-stress. As long as I am not playing World of Warcraft (the marriage killer), I’m golden. This does not mean that I play games every day of the week. Gaming for me, married, with a kid, looks more like a couple of hours a week. Some nights, my wife even joins me. I’ve always appreciated that about her. She loves me for who I am.

I am tired of those around me feeling guilt, having to change, just to conform to the person they love. If you are in a loving healthy relationship, your significant other will understand the healthy hobbies you chose to pursue.

Note: My friend Scott reminds me that the picture I painted above is painted by an individual who is loving, mature, and self-controlled–most of the time. Video games, as with any hobby, can be distorted and abused in the hands of an undisciplined individual. In order not to feed into the video game stigma your wife/girlfriend might view the hobby through, Scott suggests setting some ground rules:

  1. Be mindful of your wife/girlfriend, even though the game demands attention.
  2. Always be ready to pause. Pretty much everything is more important than your next in-game checkpoint, so put the controller down if you need to.
  3. Tell her how long you intend to play – and stick to the plan.

No matter the hobby, communication and respect are foundational to building healthy relationships. I want to encourage you to let go of any video game guilt you might carry, set some healthy ground rules, and game on.

I also wrote a follow up piece to this from the female perspective. 

Where I am with all things video games

Standard

JohnnyBGamer.com has been quiet for awhile now. One of those times where I feel like I have nothing to say and a lot to say at the same time. Instead of sitting down and writing though, I’ve taken the easy route and not written at all. That all changed after reading a GameChurch article by Andy Robertson titled, “Don’t Do Video Games in Church, Do Church in Video Games“.

Games aren’t worthwhile because they educate, inform, develop skills or solve problems. They are valuable because they are games.

Andy helped me realize just where I am with video games. I’m not sure if it is my age or what, but I no longer feel the need to seek validation for the hobby nor advocate for it becoming something more, specifically in the church-space. I don’t care if video games are viewed as art or if fellow Christians think the pastime is evil. I think it’s great that Andy is championing for a deeper discussion on gaming, but that is no longer me. I play what I like, when I like, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.

I no longer identify as a gamer, at all. I am a husband, father, and friend who happens to think video games are pretty neat. At this point in my life, I might play a game a few hours a week. Gone are my multiple day/hours long gaming sessions where that is all I would do in the evening–and ignore my wife in the process–. I am not that guy anymore.

Who I am now is:

  • A dad who is concerned over how much Zelda: Breath of the Wild has taken ahold of my kid.
  • Someone who is trying to figure out what gaming looks like in my household with the Nintendo Switch. I go back and forth over how much I love the system and how much I hate it. The singleplayer games seem to dominate game time in our house. I miss the more co-op atmosphere but also realize that my son is growing up and wanting to play things by himself (and talk about those experiences).

Part of me feels old and part of me feels free when it comes to video games. The part of me that feels old is the part that feels like my parents. My wife and I trying to figure out how much is too much and how to curate/guide my son’s gameplay. The part of me that feels free is the part that no longer feels like I have something to prove. I enjoy playing games when I get the chance. No matter the difficulty setting I play on; no matter how long I end up playing per week. Video games are still cool but they do not hold the place that they once did in my life.

I needed to write that. Admit it out loud.

The Nintendo Switch is a Monster

Standard

“I’m going to pick up my Nintendo Switch pre-order after work today.”

“Really.”

“Yeah, I didn’t get a copy of the new Zelda game with it though. So I ordered a copy on Amazon.”

“That’s cool.”

“Yeah, the new Zelda game is supposed to be the best game ever. Or at least that is what people who play games for a living are saying. I’m excited.”

botw-share_icon

Why is the videogame hobby so much about having the new thing?

I get that hype, limited inventory, and being a part of the console honeymoon conversation are all reasons to buy in early. I get that. But why does so much of gaming feel like a bragging contest? A game of Cold War one-upmanship. Except between fellow gamers instead of The United States and Russia.

Consumerism is a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts.

OR

Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Even as an adult, I feel pressure to have the latest gadgets. I don’t even want a Switch–I think it’s best to wait awhile–and talking to my co-worker this morning made me feel envious. Hyped even.

BUYING FRENZY!

And if I feel that way, how does my kid feel when it comes to stuff? How am I supposed to parent in a consumerist culture?

Firewatch and Bloodborne made me want to walk away from gaming

Standard

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.

ss_4b9d67ae2af0da570d03731d93b095d0203b973d

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.

bloodborne1

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.

From Across the Net: “Time well wasted”

Standard

Justin, aka “Syp”, reflects on time in his piece titled “Time well wasted“.

I don’t want to hobble my personal and professional life with an overabundance of gaming. I hope that I always keep up the good fight of balancing that properly and not letting a hobby become a thing that becomes a master. I also desire to play games with purpose and not out of obligation and routine.

2015 – A Year In Review

Standard

2015 has been a roller coaster year.

We’ve Explored

file_204587_0_makelovenotwarcraft

Should Men Put Video Games Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives / Girlfriends?

I have known countless guys who have given up their favorite hobby due to a spouse or girlfriend disapproving– I am sure that this is true for the female species as well. Once upon a time, these guys enjoyed playing video games. They used them to drop stress levels, rest, and relax. For some reason though, chemistry, the alignment of the stars, who knows, they end up coupling with someone who disapproves/looks down upon their hobby. So they have to quit, have to walk away from something they love to be in love.

Read more here

We’ve Been Real With One Another

photo-1427348693976-99e4aca06bb9

Longing For That Missing Person

Social media is filled with photos of babies. Beautiful children who are all snugly and cute. While I am excited for my friends and family who are pregnant, there is always this void that gnaws at my soul.

Read more here

We’ve Shared In The Joys Of Parenting

transformers-prime-images-26

Boys Club

Best part of our day was in the backyard. Wyatt wanted to go outside and play Transformers. So we each picked a weapon. I grabbed a foam sword, he grabbed a Nerf gun. Somehow we never got around to playing. Wyatt was too concerned with making up rules, structure, to our play. I got bored. So I grabbed his gun and took off. There were tears over my dual wielding weapons.

“You can’t have two!”

Read more here

We’ve Read Some Great Books

_240_360_Book.1491.cover

Scary Close – Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy

I first discovered Donald Miller in college. I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t sure about my Christian faith anymore. There was a disconnect between the Christians I read about in the Bible and the Christians I met everyday. Tired of the hypocrisy, I found honesty in Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. Someone was finally writing from a perspective that felt authentic. God used Miller’s words to remind me of the freedom we have in Christ; He used Donald Miller to bring me back to Him.

Read more here

We’ve Called Each Other To More

Social Media

A Call: Moving Beyond Artificial Relationships

Surface level relationships will never go beyond the surface. Diving equipment, time invested in person, allows us to get to know one another better. Being purposeful in our pursuit, this is key. We have to make time to have time to spend with others; We have to get over ourselves, move beyond technology.

An invitation to go for a walk, time set aside to enjoy nature and listen. Spending the lunch hour eating with a friend. Time invested. Physical time. We need more of this. We need to do this.

Read more here

I’m not sure of the places we’ll go in 2016. But we can explore, share, and be real together. Here is to another great year. Happy New Year!

The Female Perspective: How Do Videogames Impact Relationships?

Standard

I recently wrote an essay entitled “Should Men Put Videogames Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives/Girlfriends?”. Many readers immediately answered the title question in their heads and moved on; others chose to engage the essay and actually read it. (Kudos! I really appreciate it.) For myself, the piece scratched the surface of a much larger issue, how do videogames impact relationships. I decided to post a quick survey to delve into the female perspective on the issue. Below are the responses I received:

Q: What’s one thing that you wish others knew about dating a gamer?

A1: In college, dating a gamer was fun. I was able to play video games with my husband and his friends, which allowed me the chance to spend lots of time with him.

A2: My husband and I started dating at 17. He regularly gamed in his free time and wrote soundtrack reviews, etc. I knew he was really “into games,” but I didn’t think it would continue after college. After all, all the male role models in my life didn’t game so it just wasn’t part of adult life in my mind. Lo’ and behold, times changed- and they continue to- and now many 20 and 30+ people turn to games as their number one hobby. If you find yourself dating an avid gamer, consider that their hobby might not go away with age. It’s something they really enjoy. Take the time to reflect on that, your expectations of hobbies, and talk about it with your partner.

Q: What’s one thing that you wish others knew about marrying a gamer?

A1: Set up gaming boundaries early on in your marriage. Without good gaming boundaries, a wife might have a lot of unspoken expectations. As those expectations go unmet, bitterness and resentment can seep into a marriage.

A2: That marrying a gamer will require solid communication. There is no cookie-cutter guideline of what will work for each couple. You have to have enough maturity to talk about hobbies and their role in your life together, and what a good, healthy balance is.

Q: What’s one thing you would have done differently if you knew what it would be like married to a gamer?

A1: I wish I would have taken an interest in gaming sooner. It took a while for me to learn to take an interest in my husband’s hobbies. As soon as I told my husband that I wanted to play video games too, he began to find games that we could play together. I love his willingness to include me and let this be another way that we can spend time together on a regular basis!!

A2: Along with solid communication, respect is key. Early in my marriage to a gamer, I didn’t know how to properly say I was being hurt by the time my husband spent playing games. And that lack of communication turned into snide comments and disrespect. It still creeps up every now and then, but I have learned I need to take responsibility for what I can control- and that is expressing my observations and feelings in a collected way. Mutual respect is a necessity.

BONUS: What would you like your boyfriend/husband to know about his videogame hobby?

A1: Thank you for your willingness to include me in your world of gaming!! I appreciate your willingness to cut back on the amount of gaming you do, especially as our family has grown and our time is short. I can’t wait until you can take the girls to play video games, because it will be something fun we can do as a family. I love you!!

A2: Honestly, that I think we need to talk more about it. And from both sides. I often feel like a nag when I bring it up; ideally, I’d like to see us both talk more frequently and openly about gaming and whether or not we’re still balanced etc.

Thank you ladies for your thoughtful replies.

Should Men Put Videogames Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives / Girlfriends?

Standard

This tale is as old as 1989.

Boy meets girl. Girl dislikes boys hobby. Boy gives up hobby for girl. Girl gives up nothing. Swap the genders; swap the roles. Rinse. Wash. Dry.

I have known countless guys who have given up their favorite hobby due to a spouse or girlfriend disapproving– I am sure that this is true for the female species as well. Once upon a time, these guys enjoyed playing video games. They used them to drop stress levels, rest, and relax. For some reason though, chemistry, the alignment of the stars, who knows, they end up coupling with someone who disapproves/looks down upon their hobby. So they have to quit, have to walk away from something they love to be in love.

I just don’t get it. If you are in a loving relationship, your spouse or girlfriend should accept you for who you are. They shouldn’t be out to change fundamental parts that make up you. Sure, your bad habit of tossing clothes on the floor may need to be corrected, because let’s face it, your mom always cleaned up after you. Too personal? Sorry.

file_204587_0_makelovenotwarcraft

Video games are often seen as a less mature hobby than following a team of guys in tight fitting clothing. Huh? How is it that working on cars, following a sports team, or going hunting are somehow more respectable and less “little boy”? A hobby is a hobby. Video games are no worse than stamp collecting. Except that unlike a stamp collection, video games deal with:

  • Complex realities
  • Connecting players through interdependent activities
  • Challenging players with complex decision making

My wife has been accepting of my hobby from the get go. She encourages me to sit down and play games. She realizes that I often use video games to de-stress. As long as I am not playing World of Warcraft (the marriage killer), I’m golden. This does not mean that I play games every day of the week. Gaming for me, married, with a kid, looks more like a couple of hours a week. Some nights, my wife even joins me. I’ve always appreciated that about her. She loves me for who I am.

I am tired of those around me feeling guilt, having to change, just to conform to the person they love. If you are in a loving healthy relationship, your significant other will understand the healthy hobbies you chose to pursue.

Note: My friend Scott reminds me that the picture I painted above is painted by an individual who is loving, mature, and self-controlled–most of the time. Video games, as with any hobby, can be distorted and abused in the hands of an undisciplined individual. In order not to feed into the video game stigma your wife/girlfriend might view the hobby through, Scott suggests setting some ground rules:

  1. Be mindful of your wife/girlfriend, even though the game demands attention.
  2. Always be ready to pause. Pretty much everything is more important than your next in-game checkpoint, so put the controller down if you need to.
  3. Tell her how long you intend to play – and stick to the plan.

No matter the hobby, communication and respect are foundational to building healthy relationships. I want to encourage you to let go of any video game guilt you might carry, set some healthy ground rules, and game on.

GamerGate

Standard

cropped-jbg-logo.jpg

I resigned from a position I enjoyed last week. A combination of social media overload and a recent controversy in the gaming culture deflated my sails. I’m truthfully not sure what to think about something I have considered a hobby since 1989. I dislike:

– The sudden hostile atmosphere online created by the GamerGate scandal. This goes for both Christians and non-Christians alike, who have succumbed to fear and ultimately emotion. GamerGate was an opportunity for rational/academic discourse on how people should be treated online and video game journalism ethics in general. Instead, wagons have been circled and all discourse has been shutdown.

The game has changed. I’m not sure what this means for me. I feel God is telling me to focus on what is important. Right now, I’m not sure gaming is.

Rewind Wednesday: Invite Christ Into Your Hobby

Standard

This morning, as I was reading through Bill Farrel’s The 10 Best Decisions a Man Can Make, I came across a passage that talked about inviting Christ into your hobbies. The beginning of Chapter 8 asked a question:

“What do you like to do to relax or have fun?”

The book followed up by asking you to:

“Brainstorm ways to invite Jesus to be part of this activity in your life.”

Bill gave a few personal examples of him inviting Christ into his hobbies: 1)as he is out in the garage tinkering around on his car, he prays and just generally communicates with God just as he would a friend; 2)as he is out exercising, Bill listens to worship music and sermons. Both examples show how easy it is to invite Christ into our down time activities.

Now my own personal ways of winding down do not include physical exercise nor picking up the odd tool and “tinkering”. I know that I need to be more active but I prefer reading a good book or enjoying a video game. I honestly cannot remember a time where I have ever invited God to take up the second controller (figuratively). I don’t think I have ever asked God for the amazing dexterity to accomplish a specific Mario jump either. No, I just mindlessly play and let the digital world envelope me as I would a movie. What does this mean?

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17 (NIV)

As a Christian, everything I do is to be done to the glory of God. I need to be keeping God at the forefront of my mind. Even as I play a video game, I need to not be mindlessly consuming but actively engaging the media. This means filtering the game through what I know is truth in scripture; this also means asking God for the endurance to take on that last boss fight. Video games can easily be all about the glory of the player, I want that glory to instead be directed at my Creator.

Invite Christ Into Your Hobby

Standard

This morning, as I was reading through Bill Farrel’s The 10 Best Decisions a Man Can Make, I came across a passage that talked about inviting Christ into your hobbies. The beginning of Chapter 8 asked a question:

“What do you like to do to relax or have fun?”

The book followed up by asking you to:

“Brainstorm ways to invite Jesus to be part of this activity in your life.”

Bill gave a few personal examples of him inviting Christ into his hobbies: 1)as he is out in the garage tinkering around on his car, he prays and just generally communicates with God just as he would a friend; 2)as he is out exercising, Bill listens to worship music and sermons. Both examples show how easy it is to invite Christ into our down time activities.

Now my own personal ways of winding down do not include physical exercise nor picking up the odd tool and “tinkering”. I know that I need to be more active but I prefer reading a good book or enjoying a video game. I honestly cannot remember a time where I have ever invited God to take up the second controller (figuratively). I don’t think I have ever asked God for the amazing dexterity to accomplish a specific Mario jump either. No, I just mindlessly play and let the digital world envelope me as I would a movie. What does this mean?

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17 (NIV)

As a Christian, everything I do is to be done to the glory of God. I need to be keeping God at the forefront of my mind. Even as I play a video game, I need to not be mindlessly consuming but actively engaging the media. This means filtering the game through what I know is truth in scripture; this also means asking God for the endurance to take on that last boss fight. Video games can easily be all about the glory of the player, I want that glory to instead be directed at my Creator.

Video Games: Imaginative Play Possibly Gone Awry

Standard

Hobby – an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation: Her hobbies include stamp-collecting and woodcarving.

A friend recently told me that he had been playing a certain video game late into the night, every night. In his case this had only been going on for a short period of time. One might even liken his playing as to absorbing that new car smell–mmm!–. Eventually that newness will wear off and reveal an object that has been meticulously explored. The search for the new “shiny” will soon commence once again and late nights are sure to be an end result.

Video games, as with other forms of media, have the potential to take our time and imaginations captive. Quite quickly, we can find ourselves longing to spend hours in a world that isn’t actually real; Our every waking thought longingly dedicated to a counterfeit reality. This addiction is “imaginative play” gone awry. A perversion of the very word, hobby.

When I think of a hobby, I picture my Grandpa and his model airplanes. He had tons of them! During the day though he was a jeweler by trade. His model airplane hobby never seemed all consuming. Flying balsa wood craft was just something relaxing he did in his spare time. In short, he knew moderation.

The line between hobby and addiction is paper thin, especially with video games. I find myself constantly asking myself whether I am putting my hobby before my Creator. If somehow video games have become an idol in my life. What is hard for me are the thoughts:

What if they have already become an idol…

Am I willing to walk away…

Am I willing to put my faith in God first…

What do you think? Do you have a hobby that has become more than a hobby? Are you so into sports and bedazzeling that you live and breathe them? Let me know.

Addiction

Standard

Addict 1

*The month of February is most popularly known as being the month in which Valentines Day co-exists with a holiday dedicated to a stack of dead presidents.

Circle of Life theorists no doubt rejoice and hold massive parties on the savanna (in the shadows of Pride Rock) during this prelude to spring. A sweeping trend in both the mainstream and gaming presses this month (2/06) has been on the topic of gaming addiction. Long the whipping boy for politicians and presidential candidates, vide games have once again come to the forefront of the pathetically bored American Press. Love, candle-lit dinners for two, and discounted cars are all topics for another time and place. The topic of gaming addiction rules the day, and I wish to wade forth into this “dreaded” territory. I will warn you dear reader, we are about to enter a virtual abyss of stupidity. So please pull up a chair, and continue this adventure below.

Every new form of media has been met with intense scrutiny by the generations introduced to them. Radio at one time was probably called a great evil; television, a sign of the impending apocalypse. Scrutiny and distrust generally apply to the nouns we have failed to be properly introduced to. Nearly a decade since the inception of videogaming, the mainstream press continues to poke, prod, and accuse a media format they themselves know nothing about.

On the almighty chopping block of media’s grand altar, World of Warcraft (WoW) is actively being examined. Known for destroying many a marriage, this massively multiplayer online (MMO) game has claimed the lives of nearly 8 million subscribers. I don’t think that addiction is the problem here. I believe that the outcries from small African governments, who quake in fear over WoW’s powerful economy, have become too great for the media to ignore. In an age in which Hollywood often sets the political tone of the nation (or so they would like to think), WoW is soon to be the next campaign against Aids or even Darfur. Whispers that I have personally heard from the Internet (yes, it talks to me) have even gone as far to say that Al-Qaeda has integrated the games leveling concepts into their terrorist training camps. Addiction should clearly be the media’s last worry in the face of the global threat that is the World of Warcraft behemoth.

In closing, videogames indeed can be addictive. Although I would argue that they are just as addictive as any other hobby or recreation. Moderation and self-control are key to living. So wise up dear readers and learn to control yourselves! Otherwise, the government might soon be doing that for you…but that is a topic for another day.

*A note to our readers: This article was originally written/ posted to JBG in February of 2006.