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.

Get Up And Play With Your Kids

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The Gospel Coalition’s Trevin Wax wrote “4 Principles for Parenting in a World of Video Games“. His article contained some practical advice but featured a tone laced in fear. Zachery Oliver, over at Theology Gaming, wrote a rebuttal titled “Kids and Video Games“. My wife, Tabitha Hall, wrote the following as a response to both articles:

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Model good media behavior in front of your kids.

If you restrict your child’s screen time, then make sure you model that while they are up. Meaning, don’t sit on your recliner and watch sports or play a video game by yourself all day. Turn off the TV. Get up and play with them.

If the rule at your house is no phones at the table, turn your phone on silent and put it away. Want your kids to love to read? Then let them see you reading a book and discuss the book with them. Pick a book to read aloud together with your kids.

Something I believe both Mr. Wax and Mr. Oliver have to remember is that every family’s technology engagement will look different, and no one needs to be judged on their own personal plan. Rather, as I believe Mr. Wax was trying to point out, there needs to be a plan for technology in the home. Not a rigid plan with no flexibility for the child, but a fluid plan that can change with the ebb and flow of the family.

Our family decided to keep technology out of the bedroom. We have a limit on how much screen time our son can consume at one sitting. Twenty minutes is our norm before we encourage that he do something else. Technology is not going to go away, it will just get more influential as time progresses on.

As a parent, you help your child solve a problem by brainstorming solutions. You help them practice their catching, bike riding, or even their shoe-tying skills. In the same way, my husband and I are trying to model good technology behaviors to our son.

Best Theology Video Games Of 2015 – Destiny: Taken King

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This year, I had the chance to help the guys over at Theology Gaming with their Best Theology Video Games Of 2015 list. Had fun writing about Destiny: Taken King.

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Best Mirror Of Our Faith Journey
Destiny: Taken King

Sin. Repentance. Redemption. Destiny mirrors the faith journey of the Christian. Made in the console shooter creator’s image, this 2014 title launched with solid mechanics and an uneven tale. Broken from a story perspective, mired in sin, Destiny was yet embraced by the gaming populace.The Dark Below and House of Wolves expansions launched the game into an orbit of repentance. Redemption found in the Taken King. Sin, downfall, always but a step away. Developer Bungie continues the journey through the valleys and mountain-top experiences of game development.

Off Campus: Best Theology Video Games of 2015

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Helped work on a Best Theology Video Games of 2015 list with the guys over at Theology Gaming. Want to invite you to check it out. It’s good. Made me want to play Metal Gear Solid V.

I even make the bold claim that Destiny: Taken King is the Best Mirror Of Our Faith Journey. Read to the end.

Theology Gaming Review: Super Mega Baseball – Extra Innings

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Super Mega Baseball seems perfect for fathers and sons to play together (or mothers and daughters, for that matter). It’s not too hard to give your opponent a leg up if they’re still learning the game. And even better, you can play co-op against the computer if you don’t want to oppose each other. It makes me wish I had my own five year old to play the game with. – Super Mega Baseball – Extra Innings