Sabbath Tuesday


God seems to line things up sometimes. This past weekend was like that. And today is like that. I’m taking today to rest, play Fallout 4, and reflect on what God’s done lately. Plus my Steam Hardware arrives. It’s a win-win-win-win. But before I rush headlong into Post-Boston, I feel compelled to share things that God (and awesome people) did over the weekend.

I got to Columbus Ohio at about 4pm on Friday. I was a lot earlier than Justin and Lauren Fox, who I was exhibiting with at the Ohio Game Dev Expo, but fortunately I could set up our booth before they arrived. Meanwhile, I met Evan Todd who made Lemma. We seemed to connect right away. He talked about hanging out for dinner before the Kickoff party and hanging out with a bunch of other game dev friends. While I was a little awkward about it, grace was all over it and he connected us with Jesse Kooner and the team working on his game, Luckless Seven. Around that time, Justin and Lauren showed up and it turned into a real and proper party. Plus, they got to make a dramatic entrance on the freight elevator.


Justin had a prophetic word for Jonathan, one of the guys on Jesse’s team. And then we all unanimously agreed to just go to the Kickoff party and get the food that’s there. The food wasn’t being served there because somebody dropped the ball. So we all talked and had brilliant, enriched conversation before Justin said, “Let’s go be black!” He got us all to go get in the catered food line and just start serving ourselves. We looked around conspicuously like, “we know we shouldn’t be doing this, but we paid for this food so you better let us eat it!” The caterer lady eventually got flagged down and gave us the Okay. We started the food train! Everybody felt like we saved the day. And most of it was Justin’s boldness and his being “black.” We continued to have amazing conversation with our new friends and our table multiplied in size a few times. Unfortunately we had to leave because we needed to get some sleep for the next day and Justin and Lauren live three hours away in Lexington.

You would have thought that three hour drives to-and-fro between Lexington and Columbus would have sucked. But it turned into key and momentous times of spiritually enriched conversation, mutual spiritual healing, and the ability to catch up with an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. But since Justin and I never saw one another and have just been online friends for years, it turned into a rich and ongoing conversation. Lauren was quiet a lot. But her input was always full of clarifying insight and connection.


Meanwhile, back at home in Red Lion, GameCell was happening without me. Vince led the crew on Old School NES Night. He added to the material I gave him for what I called “Memory Night.” There was a full house of guys who had an amazing night. They even had a new guy. I showed a picture to Justin and said, “I don’t even know who that guys is, but I’m so happy he’s there!” The crew took the material I gave them and added so much more of their own. Then they played Tetris and a variety of other NES classics. And even the most modern players absolutely loved the throwback.


The next day was the main show floor event of the Ohio Game Dev Expo. I showed my work alongside Justin’s game for ReElise. Since I made the trailer, it was a perfect opportunity to cross-inform each other’s work. But I can’t thank Justin enough for buying the booth space and making it into this insane win-win scenario that it was. In addition to this, we shared the abundance of food that my wonderful wife provided and we had no lack between us. Everywhere I went, I was able to point people back to his game and direct other folks back to ReElise. Meanwhile, Justin was doing the same with pimping-out my trailer work to anybody who seemed remotely interested in that kind of work.


Evan let me be the first to play Lemma on his Oculus Rift. It was my first time in VR and I gotta say, jumping through the air and landing thirty feet below in VR made my legs weak in the knees. And tilting my head down to look at my body and seeing a female body was super strange. But I loved it and so many of the other games there.

I soon realized that being behind the booth wasn’t going to capture my main audience, which wasn’t the community and guests on the show floor. So I spent most of the expo checking out the other exhibitors. So many wonderful people with amazing stories and unique games. The convention seemed to be the perfect size for this foray as I felt like I got to meet everybody I needed to meet over the two days of the event. And that included the leaders of a few game dev communities who might easily have need for a trailer producer like myself.


I made the seven hour trek home on Sunday night, cutting my time at the expo short. All in all, food and community and joy and shared experiences all came together in a wonderful pot. I loved so much about this experience. And then I discovered that I got to park in a major American city for free for the whole weekend thanks to the host location, CoSi, providing a validated parking pass. All in all, I think I spent $22 on the event thanks to extreme generosity on the Foxes’ part, my wife’s amazing planning, and the conveniences of the event’s host. For my first major convention and stepping out into a state I never visit, this was an amazing weekend. God’s grace was all over this one.

Now I’m settling down and enjoying my day off with Fallout 4 and new Steam Hardware, extremely thankful for developments.

October Articles Vol. 2

Holy crap! I posted a ton of articles this past month!


In GameChurch land, I wrote about two hot-ticket games this past month: Soma and The Beginner’s Guide. And at Theology Gaming, I reviewed the fantastic baseball party Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings. My buddy Scottie let me borrow Syndicate (2012) and I wrote about the best and worst things about that game. Oh, and I really had to question tmy 98 hours with Metal Gear Solid V. Then Zachery and I discussed MGSV at great length in the Phantom Pain Spoilercast.

At Indie Haven, I reviewed Extreme Exorcism. I also did my trailer roundup (volume 9) and a news story about how Hard West got pushed back to November 18th. And I got to go on the Indie Haven podcast for the first time. I also made a ton of NEED TO KNOW videos:

Articles listed:

Podcasts listed:

GameCell: Exploring LGBTQ Issues and the Bible

A bunch of dudes come over to my house every two weeks to talk about God, games, and belief. We call it GameCell. We play games related to a topic after we answer questions and listen to each other around that topic. Lately our regular conversations have veered towards pop-cultural feuds between Bible Thumpers and the LGBTQ community (which, to be honest, fits the subjects of Loving Your Enemies, The Role of Choice in Faith, and Navigating Spiritual Confusion). So I decided to make a night where we talked frankly about about LGBTQ issues and the Bible. 

The most important thing about GameCell is creating a safe place for listening. And that mostly means my role is providing good questions.

Before we got to the real questions, I asked everybody to share their name and why they love their favorite game. New guy, Zachary, said Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood because he liked building a team. His brother Greg, the birthday boy, said Halo Reach because of how it reveals the founding backstory behind the Halo universe. Devon picked World of Tanks because he loves history and the way the game lets you feel like you’re in realistic tanks. Josh, Dan, Jeff, Seth, Alex Hively, Vince, and I also shared our our favorite games and why we like them.


Anybody know what tonight’s about?” I asked. Dan said, “Yeah, LGBT stuff.” I confirmed, but I added that it was actually LGBTQ Night. “Who here knows what that stands for?” Dan replied again, “I know it’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Trans. But I don’t know what Q is.” I explained that it was a way of including folks who identify as a part of that group while maybe not having a clear path on which letter they’re most connected to. So it’s a catch-all that’s trying to redeem a word that used to be much more hateful. I also said that even though our group might not identify as a part of this group, I wanted to create a safe place to discuss these things, how they relate to the Bible, and to really listen to one another since most conversations in our culture on the topic aren’t about listening.

We jumped into the first real question, “How do you define empathy?

Jeff and Seth teamed-up to come up with an amazing answer: “To kinda feel what it’s like to be in somebody else’s shoes. And to try to understand what they’re going through.” This was such a good answer that we didn’t need to add anything to it.

The second question was a follow-up, “How do you grow in empathy?”

Zachary talked about how he tried to understand his gay friend and he landed at a great point when he said, “I just listened.” Some of the others shared similar stories and then Vince made a point of how important it is just to listen to people’s stories.” Devon added a point about walking alongside people and just being around them.

I changed gears, “What do you think the Bible is all about?

Seth said, “To get people to follow a particular religion.” Alex Hively added, “To get people to do what they want and tell others that they’re wrong.” These were good honest answers, but I wanted to steer back to the authorial intent. “Let’s rephrase the question. How about, ‘What do you think the writers of the Bible intended for the Bible to convey?” I think it was Josh who said, “To get people to be decent human beings?” And his brother Dan added “To get people to focus on God, or something?”

Vince said that “It’s about the good news.” So I asked him to elaborate on what that good news was. “That Jesus died for your sins so we can have a relationship with God. That he loves us and wants to be with us.” This seemed like a good time to ask, “Do you think that’s true? That God loves everybody?” We got a lot of half-confident yeses, a handful of confident yeses, and just a couple hard “No”s.

Then I warned the next question was kinda heavy: “Why do you think the Bible calls out homosexual sex?

A lot of our dudes said they just felt like people weren’t as accepting in Bible times. Culture was the most common answer to this one. I pointed out that most in the ancient world and Biblical cultures didn’t have a clear classification for same-sex attraction. And most of what people knew about included pagan temple prostitution of both same-sexes and opposing sexes. Plus there was weird Athenian pedophilia (pederasty). But those were very different from our day and when we talk about sexual orientation and same-sex attraction. That’s why when we came to the following verse, I asked everybody to hold this with an open hand that stays in that active tension of “maybe this is exactly what it says, or maybe it’s not?”

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality,” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭(NLT‬‬)

I explained, this verse is just one of many used to beat-down those who identify as LGBTQ. And maybe it does say that gay sex is something that keeps people out of the Kingdom of God. But I wanted people to pick up the fact that this scripture also picks-apart any kind of sex that’s heterosexual too. More importantly, those of us who are straight and struggle with any kind of lust are also sinners too.

“Raise your hand if you’ve never lusted over somebody.” I said. Nobody raised their hand. “We’re all in the same court as far as sin goes.”
Seth asked, “So are you saying that those who call LGBT people sinners are hypocrites?” I said, “Maybe, yeah.” Then I explained that the issue of sin and sexual brokenness is something we’re all confronted with. We all struggle in this area, but God wants us to be healthy and whole.

I tried to explain that Jesus-followers who experience same-sex attraction try to reconcile this in different ways. Some feel their only way is to be celibate. Others feel like that’s too hard, so they go for a life-long commitment. And there’s a solid amount of disagreement on this issue, but that’s why the next question was so important.

If God loves everybody, how do you think the Bible says followers of Jesus should approach LGBTQ folk?

Everybody offered answers that pointed back to empathy and listening. “We need to become friends with people who are gay and stuff. That’s why I have lots of friends who are gay,” Alex Hively said. We all seemed to be on a similar page. So I asked, “Can you think of good stories about Christians and Queer folk?” The younger Zac talked about how he’s seen his classmates have respecting friendships despite disagreeing on the subjects of faith and orientation. I mentioned our GameCell veteran Pat Gann who wasn’t present with us because he was too busy serving and loving those in the LGBTQ youth community in Lancaster. I also gave the example of a friend Brandon Ambrosino and his pastor dad of a conservative Pentecostal church — and how his dad is very protective and supportive of him even when others in the congregation are very critical.

Then we asked the final question of the night, “How might videogames help with empathy for those different from us?

Greg said that we can play games with people who are different from us. Seth pointed out that we can play games that let us experience other people’s struggles. “Exactly,” I said. “That’s why tonight we have a much smaller playlist to focus on the experiences of others. One of those games even lets us experience what it’s like for a transgender woman to go through hormone replacement therapy.” Our crew was pretty excited. Then we prayed together, had snack, and retreated to the basement.

Birthday boy Greg picked what we played first. His two options were Gone Home and Dys4ia. I explained that Gone Home was closer to Bioshock and Dys4ia was much shorter. His pick?

Gone Home


From the moment that Greg started the game, he seemed to have an idea of what to do. He went straight for the floor cabinet and then the Christmas Duck which hid the key to the house. But he didn’t know it was there. And like the rest of our crew, he didn’t know what was in the house. Everybody kept asking when the jump scares were gonna happen. Instead of a scary story, they found the pieces of the lives of believable people stuck in the challenges of 1994.

Greg drove the game with everybody in the room as his co-pilot. We explored the shelves of the VHS cassette shelf and our crew cheered when they saw The Goonies or another stack of X-files episodes. We all shut up when a special item pickup triggered one of Sam’s diary entries. We patiently read the notes that we found around the house, though I sometimes had to tell everybody what the idea was (especially when we found a three-paged story about Captain Allegra). Some things are best abbreviated when there’s an audience. I stayed out of the way as our crew came to the slow revelations about Terry or when Sam’s relationship details became extremely clear.


Everybody wanted to play the game for themselves when we stopped short only an hour into the game. Two guys later told me they downloaded the game as soon as they got home. Others informed me of their plans to YouTube it when they got back. But next, we shifted gears to the next game.



Jeff took controls of the Keyboard and mouse as he drove the short personal game by Anna Anthropy, Dys4ia. The game uses these simple Atari-style graphics to convey the challenges of being transgender. There’s several parts where the game interactively represents the notion of not fitting and having unpleasant experiences related to feeling like she’s in the wrong place.

We sat and took in some pretty heavy thematic material of hormone replacement therapy and how unpleasant that experience was, and how much better Anna felt after her experience. It was over in just a dozen minutes or so. But it stuck with us.



Our new guy, Zachary Burns, went straight for Soma. I was slightly concerned that we may have burnt-out on the domestic-style first person experience when we played Gone Home. But the crew seemed really into it. They even held their tongues whenever we heard somebody’s voice in the game. Everybody was into it the moment we showed up in Simon’s shoes.

We had a little trouble finding the tracer fluid in the apartment. But we teamed up and got a good bit into the underwater stations, Pathos-II before we ran out of time and had to close up GameCell shop. We never got to how Soma tied into the theme of the evening. But I really didn’t expect us to have time to get to that anyway. Nevertheless, we had a great night and we got to a lot of depth on a much-deeper subject than we would ever have time to explore in a single night.

It was a super rad night.


We had new guys, old guys, and a generally wonderful crew suited for deep and thoughtful conversation despite being from many different ages and perspectives. I love these guys and look forward to the next time we can get together! I absolutely loved tackling this tough stuff, but I was absolutely exhausted by the end. All I wanted to do Saturday was sleep (as evidenced by the photo my wife took). 



October Articles


I wrote my first news piece at Indie Haven about the semi-stealth release of amazing party game, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.


I continued to semi-stealth-promote my game-trailer-making business by sharing other peoples work in The Top Trailers Roundup. This was volume 8! We started a video series that tells folks all they Need To Know about neat new indie games. In this case, it was Skyshine’s Bedlam. Here’s the video:

We reviewed the hardcore bullet hell co-op game, Assault Android Cactus at Theology Gaming. I called it a bossy bullet hell game for four buds. We gave it four stars!


I also wrote about Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime for Theology Gaming. The main crux of it was about how the game requires good communication. But I’m not good at it. So I made a video:

What? Four rad podcasts too! That’s over three hours of game talk! 

Last week, Zachery and I talked about Player Agency and Metal Gear Solid V on the Theology Gaming Podcast.

That same day, I got to be on an English show with my new friend across the pond, Robert Edwards. We talked about a life-long formation around video games (and how I went from playing games as a kid to making game trailers and doing video game related ministry). Sidebar, also be sure to check out Robert’s blog where he rounds up the games-related stuff he writes!


But wait! That’s not all! Last month, I missed a link to one of the awesomely-produced Plus 10 Damage Clubbin’ Podcast. David and I explored why Rocket League is so great!

Oh! And I rejoined the old Theology Gaming Podcast Trifecta that included Zachery Oliver, Ted Loring and myself. We talked about Dropsy and coming up from air in a busy season.

Articles listed:

What did GameCell choose for Choice Night?

I took this picture and sent it to everybody before they arrived, “Here’s Max helping me set up for something for GameCell.” Hint: it’s for the first game we played. 


We started right at 7pm on Friday as usual. Richie, Zach, Greg, Garrett, Jason, Alex, Tyler, Brandon, Yoshi, and Vince filled my house.

Richie told us a story about birds that looked like velociraptors. This scared me since I have no idea what kind of bird he’s talking about or where they came from. But he shared the story about choosing to go down the raptor-bird trail or the one without at a nearby park that I never want to go to again.


This was Richie’s answer to , “What kind of choices do you make in real life?” Garrett said that he’s got an unfortunate choice of where to live. It’s a hard decision because of the situation with his family and there’s weight to either decision and feelings get hurt either way.

We asked another question before this:

What kind of choices do you make in games?

Vince brought up gun selection and picking weapons in games. Brandon shared about how you have to make upgrade choices sometimes. Alex talked about diplomacy and being given the opportunity to talk your way out of problems at times. 


Garrett brought up Infamous’ morality decisions and Greg brought up the same in Mass Effect. Games are full of a ton of different kinds of choices. The power is in your hands. But in real life, it doesn’t seem to present us with as many fun decisions. Often our guys get to make the “fun” choice about which set of parents to stay with.

What choices seem to be presented in the Christian faith?

Greg said it seems to be basically about “do you believe, or don’t you believe?” Tyler brought up selfish choices and godly choices. Zach brought up how it seems like it’s just about believing whether or not something is true. I brought up Eden and how God’s first commandment was to multiply, garden, and subdue the earth. In essence, play real-world Minecraft. So I belabored the point,

Have you ever thought of walking with Jesus as being anything like Minecraft?

“No.” was almost answered in unison. I drew out how “good works” are this notion of doing all sorts of creative things with the idea of building and enhancing the world around us. I gave a caveat that this isn’t how God makes us right with him, since he already did that through Jesus. But that good works are like the outpouring of our love for God:

“Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?”‬‬

- James 2:20 (NLT)

How does stuff we do in GameCell result in “good works” in your life?

Yoshi shared that it’s made him think about the things he does in his life, how he sees the world, and how he handles the challenges in his relationship with his dad. Several of our other guys reflected on how their relationships with their parents weren’t necessarily improved, yet they were excited. They found relationships in our crew where they could get wise and dad-like advice or simply have a safe place to gather and open up. I had a proud moment.


Game time was filled with too many choices. My idea behind this was to show that sometimes less choices is a better thing and that too much power creates a paralysis. This was a dumb idea and just served to overwhelm our crew. From here on out, I’m not going to provide 21 games to pick from on a 4-game night.

Here’s the (too many) games our crew had to pick from:

  • Fistful of Gun
  • Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams (Multiplayer)
  • Ikaruka
  • .lazr.
  • OlliOli2: Welcome to Olliwood
  • Super Mega Baseball
  • Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
  • The Beginner’s Guide
  • Imaginal
  • Indivisible
  • Ninja Pizza Girl
  • SOMA
  • Undertale
  • Velocity 2X
  • Dropsy
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
  • Her Story
  • MGSV: The Phantom Pain (playing with the D-Walker and the Fulton Balliista)
  • Shovel Knight (Plague of Shadows)
  • Skyshine’s Bedlam
  • Titan Souls

Garrett picked Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.


We disconnected my laptop from the TV and set the laptop aside. We covered Garrett in a “Bomb blanket” and distributed pieces of the bomb-disposal manual. Then Garrett tried to disarm the bomb with our help. This was the result:

Brandon picked Fistful of Gun.


This wild west game uses different controls for each of the four players. As a result, everybody has a different experience whenever they play. It’s novel in a sense. But it was also very hard to follow for those of us who were watching. We had a harder time finding a winner of the battle because the default was a required 3-wins in a row (instead of just 3 total wins). It went on for too long and we had to just declare Brandon the winner. Those playing it seemed to enjoy it. But by then we were ready to switch games.

Zach picked Indivisible.


Zach said he liked fighting games, so I directed him to this free demo from the team that brought us Skullgirls. Our crew loved the artwork and the style of this metroidvania action-RPG and became very invested in the game as Zach got into the first action/turn-based battles. I had to help him a little with some of the platforming challenges, but all in all, I think this game was a hit with most of the folks in the room.

Jason picked Ikaruga.


Most of the crew filtered out by now (10pm). But those who lingered were in for a co-op treat in the form of this crazy bullet-hell game. Nobody in the room seemed to have much experience with shooters like Ikaruga. So it was impressive when Jason and Tyler managed to beat the first boss on only their sixth try. Fortunately their tries were super quick, so a few other guys could get in there and try the game.


Everybody got hugs and we said our goodbyes. We came, we saw, we chose. And I think we chose wisely.

Becoming by Giants & Pilgrims — Album Review


Giants & Pilgrims new album, Becoming, provides a soundtrack for jaded hearts who dare to pick-up the parts and rebuild again.

There’s something deeply encouraging about the confrontation in the introductory track, Boxing Shadows. It leads with:

You won the war
and now you’re wondering how you’re so alone…

You’re boxing shadows
You’re not the hero — of great renown
There’s room to grow

The tone of hope transcends despair. It transforms confrontation into encouragement what could otherwise be deriding judgement. A cacophony of strings stride-out the twisting blend of somber melancholy and ear-to-ear optimism.

The next track, Elixirs, got captured by young daughters of the front-couple, Tim and Betony Coons in this music video.

This joyous expression of family adventure, struggle, and the best things in life came through over a year-full of seasons and growth. All of these themes come through this longing and reveling in living wholeheartedly:

I’m thinking of drinking from the fountain
I’m coming into you
I’m coming-on down from the mountain
I’ve been waiting for the truth.

Ghosts for Tinder, exposes Giants and Pilgrims’ greatest influences such as, Hall & Oates and Brooks & Dunn. Becoming reminds us what it’s like to dig up good roods and plant deeper seeds for our children. Big Sister on the Toy Phone may be a little on-the-nose with the Coons’ oldest daughter literally playing on a toy phone and saying “Hello, is anybody there?” But it’s honest expressions of family step from the couple’s consistent emphasis of including their children in their acts of creation. It’s an interesting recovery from the artistic non-inclusive parenting of yesteryear, and it should be praised for staying honest and illustrative of how to build for the future even when our little ones are too young for finesse.


Sunrise Sunrise Sunrise and Dust to Dust invite listeners into their own mortality with themes of longevity, legacy, and cherishing that which is worth holding onto. For parents, this could be the kind of material that encourages locking-away of the simplest of memories: letting your daughter taste dinner on a wooden spoon while it’s still on the stove. Reveling in the joy of coming home at the end of a long day of work and barely being able to stand because of the small arms wrapped around your legs. Or maybe just the knowing glances between you and a loved one over the steam of a warm beverage. These moments don’t seem like life-long memories perhaps when they’re happening, but Becoming reminds us to relish in them.

You Seem Yourself thrusts you into the muted-and-distorted-horn-driven beat of repentant joy. There’s a story of brokenness and self-forgiveness in there somewhere just below the surface. The song transforms into a chunky beat that will provoke the most childlike of us to dance:

What will it take
to wash it out
to turn your head
to move along?

What will it take
to let it go
to leave the past
to pay the toll?

I Have Waited for You wraps the album up in the beauty of lifting up wounded loved ones and reconciling them into the fullness of life. It’s in this beauty-with-ashes reanimation that concludes the heart and tone of this multi-instrumental album. You could easily call this track a song of praise and adoration. But it’s not the last track on Becoming. That honor comes to the trumpet-and-drum-track invitation, Will You Stay.

The lyrics end in a question, “Will you stay or will you keep going?” Then it trails off. We’re left by the the joyful sounds of family-time and little girls singing.


You can purchase Becoming by Giants & Pilgrims on Bandcamp.
You can acquire art prints and vinyls at

Here’s what our GameCell did on Confusion Night


Christians don’t talk enough about how life gets really freaking confusing especially when you’re following Jesus. Then when that thick cloud of disorientation comes, it’s easy to lose your senses. Most of our GameCell crew doesn’t follow Jesus, but I wanted to prep them when they do follow him and find themselves feeling super confused. So we dove into the story of Job a bit. And we talked about the occasional benefits of confusion – especially in video games.

Alex, Vince, Greg, Yoshi, Garrett, and I filled my living room. We had two new guys, Greg’s buddy Brandon and my buddy Scottie. So we hooked them up with gamer bibles and told them Jesus loved them. We all shared our names and favorite games (Brandon’s was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time). Then Greg passed-out the first question:

1. Can you name a confusing experience you had with games?

Garrett said “the whole Metal Gear series.” Everybody laughed. We talked about a lot of other games that include strange and challenging bits. Yoshi mentioned Dark Souls.

2. When has confusion been a good thing in your life?

Vince mentioned how it’s when we’re confused that it prompts him to ask questions. He said curiosity wouldn’t exist without confusion. The rest of us shared about other ways that confusion has showed up in our lives. Greg mentioned some classes in school that really made him dive deeper.

Here was where it was important to emphasize that God doesn’t aim to confuse:

“…God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” – ‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭14:33‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

3. Why do you think Bible stuff seems boring?

Brandon chimed about how a lot of the words in the bible are really hard to understand. Greg mentioned that a lot of things he hears about the Bible don’t make him curious. Alex Carter gave his “I dunno, come back to me” that he sometimes does on these more-pointed topics. But since he’s been with GameCell since the beginning, I figured it was high time to press him for answers. I pressed him to really give an honest answer. He brought up Kim Davis. He talked about how others’ expressions of Biblical life really turned him off. So I asked him if my expression of Biblical life turned him off too. He said no and that he thought our approach to following Jesus was an exception. But that he was still hung up on the offence he took with divisive Christians in the national spotlight. I encouraged him to ignore those folk and really pick things up locally. But he still felt like it was a brick wall of sorts.


4. What do you do when you’re confused?

Garrett picked up his phone, triggered Google Now, and asked, “What do I do when I’m confused?” His phone responded, “Look at these images!” And his phone was suddenly littered with random memes involving pugs and other assorted animals. After busting into laughter, we realized this was his honest answer. Then we laughed some more.

I mentioned how I tend to sulk for a bit until I get into a place of prayer. Then God typically brings an abundant degree of clarity when I lean on him. But I wanted to talk about how sometimes we don’t end up with clarity, but it’s important to stay on the line and not walk away.

So we looked at the book of Job.

Brandon became Job as I launched into a lazy speed-run version of my live action Bible stories where the audience becomes Bible characters. I told Brandon (now Job) that his kids all died the same day his livestock and servants died. Then he got sick and covered in boils. I don’t think Brandon liked that part of the story. Then the better chunk of the story is Job’s “friends” arguing with him about how they believe God only lets bad things happen to bad people. It doesn’t go well:

Bildad from Shuhah was next to speak:

“How can you keep on talking like this?
    You’re talking nonsense, and noisy nonsense at that.
Does God mess up?
    Does God Almighty ever get things backward?
It’s plain that your children sinned against him—
    otherwise, why would God have punished them?

-Job 8

By this point, our crew was effectively confused. I did the thing I hate Christians do with the book of Job: sum up the whole thing with how it ends. I hate jumping out of the tension of the book, but it’s helpful for getting to the point of the evening. I left the crew with a kinda churchy benediction:

May you  seek for the Truth in confusing times and remember that God wants to be your clarity when you’re lost in confusion.

Then Garrett led our group in prayer.


Our games for Confusion night included:

  • ChargeShot
  • Dropsy
  • Extreme Exorcism
  • Her Story
  • MGSV: The Phantom Pain
  • Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows
  • Skyshine’s BEDLAM
  • Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings
  • System Shock – Enhanced Edition

A central gamecell tenet is “Listen to the New Guy.” But I forgot that when you give new guys a choice, they tend to pick what they think the rest of the crew will like (multiplayer games). And we don’t learn anything from them or enjoy what they might enjoy. Ah, lessons for next time!

Brandon picked the first multiplayer game, ChargeShot.

It’s almost as manic as this trailer indicates:

Scottie picked the second mutliplayer game, Extreme Exorcism.

Scottie gave Vince the last pick. And since Vince hadn’t played anything like Metal Gear since Snake’s Revenge on NES, he picked MGSV: The Phantom Pain. So we played through the intro. But it was a bit too intense at times for Vince. So he passed the controller when it got too insane. Scottie took the controller and we played the whole way up to the Fire-Whale!


How Did GameCell Go Without Me? — Consequence Night

I got a photo message from Vince at 8:35 on Friday night:


I messaged him back, figuring out that GameCell was going pretty good without me:


Tyler told me that things went good on the topic of Consequences. They talked about the idea of reaping and sowing from the Bible:

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” -Luke 6:38

Then Tyler, Alex, Roberto, and Vince picked from this lot of games.


Vince said a lot about the games I provided for the crew to play:


The crew had an amazing night without me. I was out camping with a bunch of our crew who was still young enough for the Youth Center Retreat that we went on in the woods. We had campfires, told stories, and got seriously rained-on. I was a little jealous of our dry friends back home, but super proud that they picked up the reigns and had an amazing night!


September Articles


Kotaku’s Patrick Klepek picked up my GameChurch article about How Metal Gear Solid V let me love my enemies. I giggled a little bit when I realized that one of the biggest game publications covered something that I wrote. I laughed when I saw my motivations described as “religious tenets,” but that’s what made it stick out. Patrick was super gracious about the coverage and encouraged a culture of respect for those who on the other side of the fence. It’s super courteous and a nice shot in the arm.


Back at the Indie Haven homestead, I’ve been faithfully capturing the best trailers in handy dandy roundups. Check out Top Trailers Vol. 6 and Top Trailers Vol. 7 to see the very best new indie games and how they’re being promoted. At the end of Vol. 6, you’ll see a super strange trailer for a neat game called Capsule Force. I authored the Indie Haven review for Capsule Force, which gushed over the game a tiny bit.


I wrote about my experience with family-like community and how Shadowrun Dragonfall cast me as a part of a family. It was a pain to write, but it captures what makes that game great while it emphasizes the importance of an embracing community.


I returned to my writing post at Theology Gaming. I wrote about the best/worst things about Volume, a fantastic stealth game by Mike Bithell. If you’re looking for a recommendation, I can give you that for Volume. But if you want a more nuanced exploration of the strengths and weaknesses of the game, be sure to check out the article.

And last but not least, I reflected on the 28-year history of the Metal Gear series on the eve of Metal Gear Solid V.

Articles listed:

ENEMY NIGHT — A Gamecell Recap


Video games are known for giving players tools to kill enemies. But Jesus says to love your enemies. And if you look at human history while Christian influence has been around, it’s stupid how rarely we see people actually love their enemies. But that’s what we wanted to explore this night: how does one love their enemies and what games equip you to deal with enemies in redemptive ways?

Tyler, Carter, Hively, Greg, Yoshi, Wayne, and I spread out amids a less stuffy living room than usual. Alex Carter stepped into the Discussion Master role and launched into the first question:

Who’s your favorite video game enemy? And why?

Tyler picked Nero from Devil May Cry since he’s the hero’s brother with malevolent ambitions. I talked about Daud from Dishonored because you can step into his shoes. Wayne picked the other drivers in Rocket League. Yoshi got the next card and he asked:

Who’s your favorite real world enemy?

Greg said ISIS. Wayne half-jokingly said Obama. Tyler asked if he could be a little abstract and explained that he felt like he was his own enemy. Wayne said He was on the same page. His honest answer was himself.


Tyler got the Text Master card with John 13:34. I interrupted: “I forgot to share the theme Enemy Night.” And then I asked what they thought about when they think of Jesus and his approach to enemies. But I guess it was a bit of a rhetorical question because I launched into the scene at the Cross where Jesus is praying forgiveness over the people who are publicly murdering him. Then Tyler read John 13:34

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

I called out how it’s easy to avoid people you don’t like. But sometimes the hardest people to love are the ones who aren’t different from you. Everybody responded to this in short, but then Yoshi got our last question card and asked:

3. How do you love people that you don’t like you (enemies)?

Yoshi said that not-hating them is a good star. He said he no longer holds anything against his ex-girlfriend. Hively said that he has a hard time forgiving his ex-girlfriends. We all talked about how hard it can be to forgive, and how trust isn’t something instantaneous when you forgive somebody. I talked about this thing I learned in marriage counseling called “falling forward:” being the first person to try to make amends when you don’t want to talk to each other. It’s the opposite of what you want to do, but it heals things even if just a little bit. Wayne mentioned little offers to help with things like yard work and carrying heavy things for neighbors who he was at odds with.


Alex nominated Yoshi to pray for our group and our time. First time I’ve seen him do it and dude handled it like a pro. He even got everybody to hold hands!

The Games all dealt with enemies — or valuing enemies in some way. Each game came with a question should it be picked.

  • Capsule ForceHow do you feel about your enemies in this game?
  • Lemma – Do you think the developer’s Christian background informs the game design?
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes – Why do you think Snake starts with a tranquilizer?
  • Enslaved  – What do you think happens to Monkey & Trip’s enslaved relationship?
  • Volume – Why do you think this game doesn’t give you tools to eliminate your enemies?
  • Pac Man Championship Edition – What makes the Ghost enemies so memorable?
  • lazrWhat do you think this game reveals about your enemies?
  • Grow HomeWho or what do you think your greatest enemy is in this game?
  • Blues & BulletsWhat makes not-killing your arch-enemy more interesting?


We played Capsule Force first since I thought it would be best if we started with a multiplayer game everybody could get in on.  It went pretty well, but the game is so fast that it’s hard for everybody to get up to speed on how to play. The idea is fun and simple enough: teams of two try to advance in football-like progression toward the other team’s goal by jumping on a tram platform. Then each team has arm-cannons that they can blast each other with and a bubble shield for blocking/pushing people off the trams. I loved it. Our crew thought it was good, but not as good as Samurai Gunn or Lethal League. 


The crew picked Yoshi to get dibs on what we played next. He picked Lemma because he wanted to play something with a lot of momentum and first-person parkour. Since the game’s story is pretty bare-bones (as it’s made by one guy) the only thing in the game to hold viewers attention was the crazy dangerous “can he make it” jumps. Yoshi loved it. Our crew seemed to dig it too.


Yoshi picked Wayne to pick the next game. Wayne picked “the game with the ugly guy,” which happened to be Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. It’s a slightly strange game for a pastor to pick, but he picked Tyler to play it because of the complex controls. This went exceptionally well, though Tyler was frequently spotted and ended up shooting a lot more American soldiers than he anticipated. In the end, our crew learned the value of sticking to the shadows, being low, and using tranquilizer rounds instead of lethal force.

Our crew had a great time while reflecting on the value of others, especially enemies.