What I’m Learning: As A Dad

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Since my son was old enough to hold a controller, I have shared my love of videogames with him.

We started with Super Mario Bros. on the family NES. Since then, we have progressed from him passively watching to now actively participating in playing games such as  Skylanders and Kirby’s Epic Yarn. At four years old, my son loves videogames and is quite good at them–humble dad brag–.

Screen time, which encompasses the iPad, TV shows, and videogames, has become a hot commodity in our house. If my son had his way, he would never unplug and instead become a digital potato. Not just any potato mind you, a stinky potato.

My struggle as a parent is to balance “screen time” with all of the imaginative play that awaits in my son’s toy box. Hot Wheels, super hero masks, and Legos are but simple gateways to pretend worlds of adventure. Sharing my love of videogames, with my son, has caused him to associate “daddy time” with “time to play videogames”. On the deepest, nerdiest level, I should be proud of this but I’m not. I want more for my son than just virtual worlds. On a selfish level, I want more for myself than to have to spend “precious” game time playing in some sort of G-rated world.

Here is what I am learning though: Videogame time with dad has nothing to do with what videogame is being played or whether or not my son has a controller in his hands. All that matters, ALL THAT MATTERS, is that the two of us are spending time together. If that means that he sits on my lap and watches me play, he is fine with that. He just wants to spend some time with his dad.

Even from the beginning, he has always wanted to spend time with me.

Even from the beginning, he has always wanted to spend time with me. I should be honored.

Christians and Gaming: Part 1

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For the first part of this series, I wanted to layout how I have personally come to the conclusion that there is a need for a Christian influence in video games and then present the overall vision of Johnny B Gamer.

Growing up in the 1980’s, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was a staple in my parents’ home. I remember long days spent adventuring with Mario, Donkey Kong, and Link from The Legend of Zelda series. Though I did not realize it at the time, I was actively engaging in a new form of media—video games.

As the years progressed, my passion for this new electronic media has both increased and matured. The Internet has provided me with a way to connect with fellow game enthusiasts from around the world. I often spend time reading about the latest video game news, reviews, and editorials. From my vantage point of watching video games integrate into popular culture, I have noticed a disturbing trend in online video game web sites. Besides the increase in violent games, offensive content displayed on the sites themselves has increased dramatically. In the early days of video game media, the enthusiast sites reported the news and stayed clear of any offensive or lewd content. However, over the past eight years language, sexual images, and an open disdain for God have slowly encroached upon a once clean form of web site media. I believe that God has pressed upon my heart the need for a Christian influence in this increasingly perverse form of media. Not wanting to fight a war against secular culture, but wanting to influence the video game media with the love of Christ, the concept that is Johnny B Gamer has been created.

Johnny B Gamer (JBG) is a video game enthusiast web site dedicated to integrating a foundationally solid Christian perspective into the world of video games. The web site sets forth a twofold mission: 1) to provide a safe place online to check out the latest in video games, and 2) to build community both online and in the real world. JBG features articles that explore faith, and video game review articles that examine in-game worldview and the level of potential impact the game could have in one’s life. Building community, both online and off, is an integral area that JohnnyBGamer.com uses to differentiate itself from other video game sites. Employing a relational style of evangelism, I plan to take JBG on the road and engage gamers face to face. I envision eventually hosting video game competitions in which gamers could compete and experience other gamers who are transparently following Christ. Overall, I see a complete ministry that passionately models Christ’s love for this fallen world.

For Part 2, click here.

Maturity

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My fondest video game memories all stem from childhood. Be it sitting in the family room playing the NES with my younger sister or hanging out at a friends house playing Road Rash on the Genesis, video games have always played a part in my life. Fast forward to today, and I often find myself trying to recapture those moments.

In November of last year, my sister flew out to spend some time with my family and I. We mostly just hung out around the house and played with my son. Nothing big. However, we did end up playing Super Mario Brothers 3 on the Wii. Talk about stirring up some memories. By the end of our game time, I had realized a few things:

  • My sister will always be a better Mario Brothers player than I will ever, ever be.
  • Gaming is best when your playing with others.

What was great about revisiting this past time with her, was that no fights broke out. I’m serious. My Mom never had to swoop in and take the controllers away because we wouldn’t share or honor the others next turn.

“You die one more time and I get the next life.”

Age has a way of making one want what has been. Having my sister out and playing Mario 3 though made me realize that those gaming moments haven’t gone away. In fact, they have only gotten better due to age and maturity. One thing that I will never miss is being grounded off the NES due to fighting. Hurray for growing older.

What are your favorite video game memories?

Top Games You Miss Playing With Your Friends

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Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

SEGA Genesis

Nintendo 64

  • Banjo Kazooie
  • Bio F.R.E.A.K.S.
  • Diddy Kong Racing
  • Duke Nukem 64
  • Mark Kart 64
  • San Francisco: Rush
  • Super Smash Brothers
  • Turok
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • 007

PC

  • Battlezone
  • Command and Conquer / Red Alert
  • Diablo 1 & 2
  • Drakan
  • Homeworld/ Cataclysm
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
  • Mechwarrior 2
  • Monkey Island Series
  • Myst
  • Sam and Max
  • Starcraft/ Warcraft/ Warcraft II
  • World of Warcraft

Arcade

Any games you miss playing with your friends? Add to the list in the comments below!

The Metroid Mindset

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The trees have finally become green once again, Spring has finally arrived.

The weather in East Texas continues to baffle this Southern California native. In January of this year, we experienced tornadoes. February and March brought along colder weather with snow (at least twice). For some, this may not seem too out of the ordinary. For someone used to 70 degree winters though, tornadoes and snow just don’t make a whole lot of sense. The longer I live here – going on 5 years – the more and more I miss the weather of my youth and the proximity to the coast.

The one game to rule them all...

The other night, I dove into Super Metroid on the Wii (Virtual Console) for the first time in awhile. I had bought the game over a year ago — on a whim — and had quickly decided that it was not what I wanted to play at the time. I don’t know about you, but I have to be in a specific mood and mindset to play through a Metroid game. The tension, loneliness, and endless expanse of corridors have to come at a time when I am seeking a little adventure and exploration. Otherwise, I’d much rather play something that is a little less tense.

My first Metroid game was Metroid Fusion on the Game Boy Advance (GBA). Well that is not true, as a kid I played the original Metroid on the NES. I remember at the time thinking the game was slow and boring — still true! –. For some reason I couldn’t wrap my little head around the game. Perhaps the game design not being as straight forward as a Mario game had something to do with it, who knows. Metroid Fusion though marked my entry into the series. Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid Prime followed soon after.

  • Metroid Fusion (GBA) – First Metroid game I ever played and completed.
  • Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA) – My second experience with the world of Samus Aran.
  • Metroid Prime (GameCube) – First 3D Metroid game. The game did a great job capturing the feel of the older 2D games. For me though, Metroid is meant to be played in 2D and on a handheld.

For years I have read of how Super Metroid is the pinnacle of the Metroid series. Slowly, I am beginning to see why.

Love, dislike, or hate the Metroid series? Tell me about it below.

Nintendo World Championships 1990

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NWC

Ever heard of Nintendo World Championships 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)? A quick Wikipedia search reveals:

The Nintendo World Championships 1990 game cartridge is considered to be the rarest and most valuable NES cartridge released, promo cartridges aside.[3] The NWC Gold cartridge is often compared to “holy grail” items from other collectible hobbies…

Okay, so Nintendo World Championships 1990 is a super rare videogame cartridge, I got that. But how does someone justify spending $17,500.00 on an NES cartridge? This guy did.

And to think that some say we are in a recession. Go figure.

Passing Through: Most Hated of All Adversaries II

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PassingThroughBEvery gamer has an enemy within… Join JBG as we look at the most annoying, memorable, and downright evil videogame enemies to date.

.: Super Mario Brothers:.

Sick of being stomped on, the koopas, from Super Mario Brothers, decided to gird themselves in armor and chuck hammers at those who happened to pass by. Thus, the fearsome Hammer Brothers were born into the Mushroom Kingdom.

Hammer BrothersI remember how irritated my sister and I would become trying to get past the hammer throwing turtles. Fireballs always proved to be their undoing.