In which our GameCell crew meets in my house to discuss God, life, games, and how you keep a clean conscience. Then we play some hilarious videogames.
Tyler, Tim, and Greg snuck into my house a half-hour early to co-conspire: who does what? Tyler took Questioning. Tim opted for Text Master (Bible Reader). Greg took Game-Questioning. Alex Carter showed up and got the Introducer/Closer role (the guy who welcomes and prays over our time).
Garrett loves the Game Master role (the one who researches the games so everybody has an idea of what they’re getting into). So he secured that same role. I set expectations. Vince showed up with snack. Everybody knew their place. Go time. Alex Carter kicked us off.
“Why don’t you share your name and what season of life your’e in?” Alex asked.
Alex silently asked this question as he led by example: “Hi I’m Alex, I’m about to go into my final term in the Art Institute of York for graphic design.” Vince, Greg, Tyler, Tim, Garrett and I shared where we’re at in our schooling and careers just as Alex Hively showed up. Then Tyler dove into the first discussion question.
“Remember what we did last time?” Tyler asked.
Roberto and Vince were left in the dust. Greg and Garrett brought them up to speed: we called it “Filter Night” and talked about how to discern what’s good or bad — but we focused most on how to find what is good. The standout hit game of the evening was Life Is Strange: Episode One. This was sort of a setup for the follow-up question:
“How did you feel about the F-bombs in the game, Life is Strange?” Tyler asked.
Greg, Tim, and Alex Carter responded with “It’s not a big deal.” Tyler confirmed that he felt it’s just how some people talk. Since F-bombs are more of a common thing in videogame culture and online play, a lot of us mentioned how we kind of tune it out.
Roberto elaborated, “I wasn’t there obviously. But for me, f-bombs in games come down to context. Like, I’m not gonna talk like that, but it doesn’t bother me if it fits the character of the person talking, especially since most games are about people who aren’t committed to a godly lifestyle”
“Do you try to keep a clear conscience when faced with messed-up stuff in games? If so, How?” Tyler asked.
Vince chimed in after a little silence. He talked about how having kids has affected how he thinks about what comics he gets and keeps on his shelf. But that he also thinks a lot about the overall theme and message of things. Vince’s big thing was not to take media on as a part of him. It’s a lot less a part of him and more of something he actively sorts out.
Tim went into Text Master mode:
“The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” -1 Tim 1:5, NLT
I shared about how surprised I was that the Bible emphasized this value of keeping a clear conscience.
“Do you think God wants you to feel guilty?” Tyler asked.
Garrett gave a ton of great input on this. He made some points about how it’s important to know when you do something wrong and guilt is part of the human experience to some degree. Alex Carter said that it’s definitely something that would be bad if we didn’t have when we do something wrong.
“Is guilt helpful for your conscience?” Tyler followed-up.
Vince backed up a bit and expressed that he’s sure God doesn’t want us to be trapped in guilt. Roberto unpacked that a bit with some personal experience of struggling to forgive himself. He emphasized how if he wallowed in guilt and didn’t trust Jesus’ grace and forgiveness, he could still be stuck back there. Vince agreed with this example and related.
Alex prayed over our time. Then we had snack.
Vince busted out a surprise birthday cookie for me. I wanted to take a picture. But our crew is a bunch of food-monsters. So it was mostly gone by the time we took the photo above.
Roberto picked the first game as our esteemed New Guy. He picked Hardlander.
Roberto, Greg, Tyler, and Tim launched their little stubby rocket ships, only to quickly explode. Simple awkward physics-based controls ensured everybody crashed with a BANG! This high-failure rate made our crew laugh like hyenas.
Tyler’s face turned beet red with a giant smile — and a few laughter-induced tears. Tim couldn’t stop giggling. Roberto, the hardcore fighting game guy, never stopped smiling. Every time he flew his rocket ship, it resulted in him or somebody else exploding in a hot pile of wreckage. We commonly heard, “Whoa, no no no no no! BOOM!,” followed by everybody busting up.
Nobody kept track of who won, because it barely mattered who was the last man standing. It was too funny to see each other crash while trying to maintain balance and control.
Our crew loved the Laser Tag level. Everybody launches with a giant death-laser on their ship’s nose that triggers as they thrust. My favorite level was Sumo, where all players have to launch off a launch pad before it drops and everybody’s left in a giant circle so nobody can play it safe by not launching.
Greg threw-out the conversation-linking question: “How does this game hit your conscience?” To which, our crew responded, “It was hilarious.” Nobody expressed that it felt wrong in any way. They just loved the pure comedy of it.
Hardlander was an A+ couch multiplayer game for our crew despite only being an early and incomplete alpha on Desura.
Vince got picked as the next game-picker. He chose Mama Lynx Simulator, Shelter 2.
Vince immediately ran into a few game-bugs, frame rate issues, and weak controller support. But as we got those issues ironed out, he took to being a pregnant lynx right away. He took off running away from a pack of wolves and followed a maternal calling to a den. There he gave birth to a litter of lynx cubs. We named them as a group:
Vince got the the cubs settled and ventured out to hunt for lynx baby food: rabbits. Alex Hively noticed some bunnies out in the distance. And our crew worked with Vince to encourage him in the rabbit-chasing. Soon, he snagged a bunny and it went limp in his momma-lynx mouth. He brought it back to the cubs. They excitedly munched the bunny carcass and got the blood all over their little baby kitten paws. Aww!
We told Vince that the game had a lot to do with the pain of losing the babies. And he didn’t want to risk losing Snake, Mr. T, Chewie, or Fart. So we changed games.
Greg asked “What’s your gut/spiritual reaction to this game?” to link it to our discussion earlier. Somebody said that the game was a neat depiction of nature. And somebody else mentioned how all the killing was specifically about feeding your young, which was good.
Shelter 2 was a B+ game to watch Vince play, despite any technical issues.
Tim got next pick and wanted some crazy four-player mania. He picked the free Broforce /Expendables 3 tie-in, Expendabros.
Tim picked three co-op partners and soon found that four dudes on a highly-destructible map made it easy for them to lose a place to put their feet — especially if somebody was the bro with a grenade launcher. All the crazy fire power of these bros usually destroyed the bad guys the second they came on the screen. But quick one-hit deaths made our team of four need to work together and stay alive.
Garrett said he really loved the Jason Statham bro who rained knives on the enemies. And it was hilarious when Tim raised the American flag at the end of the level and Roberto jumped onto the helicopter while the whole level spontaneously exploded.
Lesson of the evening: explosions are funny.
Greg’s question of “How does this hit your conscience?” led to answers that focused on the hilarity of cartoon death and accidentally killing your team mates by blowing them up with a mis-placed grenade.
Expendabros was an A+ four-player co-op game that’s free on Steam.
With another fifteen minutes to spare, Roberto brought out Teken Tag Tournament 2. So we popped it in the PS3. But it seemed primed for a half-hour install.
Roberto saw it as an investment on next time.
I had a back-up bonus game from our last GameCell get-together: Paperbound.
We played a handful of rounds of this by-now classic couch brawler. And then we called it a night. As always, it was a super rich night of Kingdom exploration, videogames, and growing friendships.