Conscience Night — A GameCell Recap

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.

snack_normos

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.

snack_weirdos

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.

Game time.

Roberto picked the first game as our esteemed New Guy. He picked Hardlander.

hardlanders

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:

shelter2

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.

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-togetherPaperbound.

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.

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Ladies Night: A Special GameCell Recap

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My bride Jess invited me to bring the GameCell experience to her crew called No Boys Allowed. These females love games. So it was a perfect fit. We told them Jesus loves them, handed them a Jesus For the Win gamer bible and dove right into the questions.

What’s your name and your favorite game?

Whitney threw her hand up and shouted “LEFT 4 DEAD!” Maddy said, “Anything by Bethesda,” especially Fallout 3 and Skyrim (I once caught Madison holding a wisk and a masher in our kitchen. “I’m dual wielding!,” she says.). Jorja said Mario Kart (except Rainbow Road). And Frannie, Cheyenne, and Mini-Jess all agreed that they loved any game they could destroy others in — especially their dads or brothers.

For the lady-leaders, Heather said Pac Man was her go-to. Elise confessed her love for the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for Super Nintendo. And my missus told everybody about her general hatred of games — with the exception of Yoshi’s Cookie for NES.

So, what’s GameCell?” I asked.

Maddy and a few others knew it was a get-together about games and God. But they didn’t know it started with a highly-interactive discussion where everybody’s voice mattered — espeically new girls. We connect with one another about life, God, and games. But that the most important thing is listening to one another.

From here, the lady-leaders led with the question cards I gave them:

Who do you like to play games with?” Jess asked.

“Anybody I can beat,” was a common answer.

ladies_basement

What’s one reason girls have such a hard time getting along?” Heather asked.

“Boys.”

I think Mini-Jess was the first to bring this up, which led to a chorus of “Mmmm, yeah” responses.

Jorja said that if a girl has a nasty demeanor, it ensures that she’s not gonna be able to get along. Maddy mentioned that mean attitudes from girls are why she prefers to be friends with boys instead of girls. Whitney and Elise also talked about how guys just generally seem easier to get along with.

Franny, I think, brought up that, “Girls are just really competitive about like everything.” There was no disagreement.

Elise shared Matthew 22:36-40:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

We explained: Jesus is all like, “loving your neighbor is pretty much the most important thing.” It’s tied with loving God. This means that Jesus wants you to love other girls — especially the ones you don’t like.

Why do you think Jesus wants us to love each other?” Elise asked.

Celeste showed up right as the question landed. Jess hooked her up with a Jesus For the Win gamer bible and we got back to our question.

Heather pointed-out that “we need love. It’s kind of like life-blood.” The girls mulled this over for a bit. A few questions of clarification came up. But the idea came back: loving other girls — especially the ones we don’t like is really hard.

“Maybe if we need love, then we really need each other? Like maybe Jesus wants us to love one another because we need each other?” I said. Cheyenne and Jorja offered agreeable nods.

Do you guys pray over your discussion time?” I asked

Jess said we could do that.

I just wanted to close out our time. But Jorja seemed to maybe be the one to do it as she’s gone to church with us. “Would you mind closing us in prayer?” She said, “I don’t know what to pray.” Maddy asked, “Wouldn’t you just like thank God or something for our time together?” I said, “Yeah.”  Jorja said she still wouldn’t know what else to say or do and we told her that’s okay. “You’re thankful to God for our time and are excited to have a good time playing games, right?” I asked. “Yeah.” She said. “Okay, well Amen!”Good prayer Let’s have snack.”

birthday_pizza

Since it was just a day after the birthday of a certain birthday girl, Heather and jess decided to surprise somebody with a special birthday pizza.

celeste_birthday

Celeste pretended like she couldn’t handle all the attention (yes, she could).

Game time. 

“Who besides yourself do you pick to play first?” The ladies filled-up our couch and took the remaining floor space. Maddy got the most votes. Her choice? Puppeteer.

puppeteer

Maddy had to pick a partner since Puppeteer is a two-player co-op game. She picked Mini-Jess.

Maddy took the headless puppet role. She needed to find makeshift heads and to use her head-powers to solve simple jumpy puzzles. Mini-Jess jumped into the floating ghost cat and helped Puppet-Maddy find Moon-shineys. Ghost-Cat Mini-Jess vomited the Moon-shineys into Puppet-Maddy’s mouth. Teamwork!

Silly voices, loud clanky set-changes, and in-game audience reactions made it neat to watch and a little mysterious. By the end of the allotted half-hour, everybody knew how things worked. We stopped just before Maddy’s Puppet got the special magical scissor shears (that presumably make the game more interesting). But nevertheless our players had some fun and the viewer-ladies enjoyed the play.

Puppeteer was a B+ co-op game for our lady-crew to watch others play on PS3.

Whitney got next pick (as per crew votes). She chose Divekick.

divekick

Divekick’s two-button fighting seemed perfect for a bunch of competitive ladies new to fighting games. But it took Whitney and her first competitor, Jorja, a little bit to figure out how to move without directional input.

Whitney got the taste of digital blood and became a bit of a Divekick wrecking ball. Elise took Whitney on. And Cheyenne gave Whitney a few really nice kicks to the head. But Whitney held onto the Divekick title.

We gave some of the other ladies a shot at kicking each other in the head. They loved the ridiculous characters and their bonkers responses to victory and defeat. The crowd favorite was Redacted, the female skunk-bear who snuggles with her pups when she wins (while still having a cigar in her mouth).

Divekick was a B- fighting game for our lady-crew to beat each other up in. It could have been better if the ladies could button mash and smash each other around.

maddys_turn

Celeste needed some game time. So we hooked her up with the controller and gave her the pick of the litter. She chose Flower.

It took her a good bit to figure out how to use the controller like a motion-driven thing with gyroscopic input and a few button presses. But after about five minutes, she was flying through meadows and collecting flower petals like a pro.

flower

The other girls worked with Celeste to help her figure out where to go and what do to. They came together and worked interdependently without any of my instruction.

Flower was an A- game to watch Celeste play on PS3.

Only five minutes left. Whitney wants to see Thomas Was Alone. I try to give Franny the controller. But she passed back to Whitney.

Thomas perfectly illustrated the theme of the evening: that we need one another.  Whitney leaped through the first two levels before we could hear the narrator finish telling us what Thomas was thinking. She wanted to see the game! But we also wanted to know: why was Thomas alone?

thomas

Whitney and our crew got to meet Thomas’ first friend, Chris, who couldn’t jump as high as Thomas and he had a really bad attitude. Whitney controlled both of them at separate times to make them work together. They needed each other.

Everybody wanted to know what happened next to Thomas and Christopher, the little rectangles with big personalities. But we had to call it. We ran ten minutes over our time. We were all just really into it.

Thomas Was Alone was an A+ game to watch Whitney play.

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Our ladies really enjoyed the night. Except for Luna, who was exhausted and sad that the ladies were spending more time in games than with her.

Conscience Night: Dude GameCell Preview

This Friday, the classic GameCell crew covnerges in my living room to discuss the following questions loosely-related to our last get-together.

1. Remember what we did last time? How did you feel about the F-bombs in Life is Strange?

2. How do you try to keep a clear conscience when faced with messed-up stuff?

“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

3. Do you think God wants you to feel guilty? Is guilt helpful for your conscience?

Games for our dudes:

dudes

We’ll select from the games above and circle around these questions: “How does this hit your conscience? What’s your gut reaction to this game?”

Ladies’ Night: A Special GameCell Preview

Tonight, we’ll try the GameCell format with a completely different crew: the young women of my wife’s cell group, No Boys Allowed. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. Here’s what we’ve got in-store:

1. Who do you like to play games with?

2. What can get in the way of connecting with other girls?

“Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” – Matt 22:36-40

3. Why do you think Jesus wants us to love each other so much?

Game Time:

ladies-playlis502t

We’re gonna pick from these games and answer the question, “What does this game say about how we relate to each other?”

Camp Orchard Hill Winter Blast

We took eighteen teenagers from our youth center to a winter retreat last weekend. Some of the guys that came were GameCell regulars. The camp produced a video that captured the experience.

WinterBlast 15 3/6-3/8 from Camp Orchard Hill on Vimeo.

You can find Jess and I dancing on top of chairs behind our buddy Aaron at the 38 second mark.

Oh No! Stardust-Robots Murdered Citizens of Earth!

In which we recap contributions elsewhere: A review of Stardust Vanguards, a how-to guide for political cartoon videogames, and why you should try ghost-detective work.

  1. Space-Robot Brawlmania — Stardust Vanguards Review
  2. Citizens of Earth: Punching At Politics With Soft Blows
  3. Murdered: Soul Suspect Gets Out of Jail, Deserves Place to Stay

Filter Night: An Autonomous GameCell

In which our GameCell gets together to discuss how to filter and discern media. Then we played some rad videogames (that the crew helped me review).

snacktime

Our team-leaders assembled half an hour early to prep (and pray): Tyler would break the ice with introductions. Greg would ask discussion questions. Alex Carter would close things in prayer. Then snack. Next: game-time with Garret. And Greg asks a question related to each game.

And so it was.

Tyler welcomed our crew at 7pm (Wayne, Tim Russel, Tim Hilbert, Alex Carter, Garrett, Greg, and myself). He led with the question, “Why don’t you share with everybody your name and your favorite game?” We went around. Then Tyler passed the ball to Greg.

Greg asked, “Have you ever had a religious person tell you what you like is bad? What happened?

Everybody had a story. For Alex Carter it was getting yelled at for bringing Yu-Gi-Oh cards to church. For another it was being made to feel unwelcome because of liking Hardcore music. And for another it was a family member restricting the purchase of an anime T-shirt because it was “UnChristian.” I shared a story about growing up being told that all videogames were “secular” and (by association,) disconnected with anything good, redemptive, and godly.

group-play

So how do you decide if something is good or bad? Can you trust that method?,” Greg asked us.

Less responses. Everybody in the room had been confronted with the “wrongness” of their likes and passions. But sorting-out the good and redemptive qualities? Less common. Tyler pointed to the Bible as a source for sorting things out, but he also didn’t feel so confident that he knew how to do it beyond “yeah, the Bible says that’s bad but maybe there’s something more to it.”

Around this time, Alex Hively showed up! Soon after, Anthony arrived with surprise celebrity guest (new guy), Matt Cadden! I welcomed them, gave Matt a Jesus For the Win gamer Bible, and quick-recapped: Name and favorite game? Religious people confront your likes? Matt, Anthony, and Alex shared. And then, “How do you decide what is good or bad? And can you trust that?”

We checked out this verse (as read by our new-guy volunteer, Matt):

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8

Greg asked the last discussion question, “Do you trust anybody to help you filter out what is good and true?

Alex Carter shared how he trusted me for answers. He went on to clarify: he trusts me because of time, hard earned, and consistent. He trusts what I say to be out for his best. But that’s all a result of years of time together. And that he trusts my dedication to Jesus and the scriptures. The praise-Josh train left me a little uncomfortable, but I loved how he drew out the concept of underlying trust formed over time.

Greg contrasted longform trust with the lack of trust that he has for his father due to a lack of time spent together or expressed interest. And Garret empathized. But we brought it home with that value that there’s a trust to be found.

I wanted to get more at the idea of finding that trust in Jesus through the Text of the Bible. But I think this is just the beginning of this topic and I’m saving that meat and potatoes for next time. Plus, this wasn’t the Josh-show. Greg was running things. He handed back to Alex Carter, who prayed a blessing over our upcoming gametime and previous conversation.

Snacktime. Then we transitioned to the basement. Gametime.

Garrett introduced everybody to our games for the evening. He answered new-guy Matt’s questions as he chose what to play from our playlist. He took little time before resolving on Life is Strange because “the chick with the blue hair is hot.” We all laughed.

life-is-strange-episode-1-impressions

Matt took control of the Maxine, the high school senior at a prestigious art-high-school. Our crew worked together to help Matt figure out where to go and what to do. Everybody was transfixed by the gripping story. Some tended to get a little caught up on some of the profanity, but I emphasized our mature-engagement with the subject matter as Greg brought up the question for the game: “What is good about this game? And why is it good?”

At first, the answers were aesthetic, but then Anthony had a really great answer: “The game seems to be about using this newfound power of time-manipulation to help others.” And there we had our theme. I was really proud of this connection. Then some of the other guys had some other answers about how the game was about real-ish people and sorting out life. All good answers.

Life is Strange was an A+ game for watch-and-play (with a profanity caveat) for our crew.

Anthony was our honorary new guy since it had been a long time since he had been to GameCell, so he got the next pick. His choice? Paperbound.

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Paperbound is a wild rumpus four-player brawler with gravity inversion and one-hit kills. Our crew was killing each other within seconds – and giggling the entire time. Other indie game characters made guest appearances. And our crew could care less: they were having too much fun inverting personal gravity and smacking each other around.

Suddenly my wife called me (a rare occurance on a GameCell night) to let me know that she had a guy who grew up out of 18 South who she thought would love to appear at GameCell: Wes Hess! So I told her to send him right over. Within ten minutes we had new guy number two show up. And oh man was everybody excited to see him. Wes dove right in to the brawlmania that was Paperbound and then he proceeded to hold his own against guys who had a few rounds ahead of him.

wes

I thanked everybody for helping me to review the game as the only reason we have a copy of it ahead of release was for said purpose. Greg re-iterated the game-question: “What’s good about this game and why is it good?” Our crew emphasized how it’s funny and literally off-the-wall. But somebody also pointed out the obvious quality: it’s about enjoying our time with each other in person.

Paperbound was an A+ four-player party brawler for our crowd this evening.

Our surprise-new-guy Wes picked what we played next: Darkest Dungeon.

darkest

Admittedly, the “What’s good about it?” question was harder for everybody to answer for this one as everything in Darkest Dungeon is dark, despairing, and horrific. But as Wes did an amazing job of keeping his four idiosyncratic dungeon crawlers alive, we were able to see something good. Tim Hilbert was the one who caught the way it pays attention to the psychological conditions of people. And it draws out the consequences of their choices.

We never got to the ways to relieve stress in the game through the church, tavern, and sanitarium. But the focus on stress management had a real positive quality that we didn’t have time to get to. Even though Darkest Dungeon has an obvious single-player focus, the combat is framed very much like a stage – so it’s really great for an audience to follow along. Plus, Wes’ quick decision-making made for a great play.

Darkest Dungeon was an A- game to watch Wes play.

By now it got to be about closing time (10pm). But we had just enough time for a bonus game: Friendship Club.

friendshipclub

To say Friendship Club was a hilarious blast would be an understatement. But since this was a bonus game reserved more for our next GameCell get-together, let’s save some of the surprise for when we get together again in a few weeks. Sorry to tease.

Amazing night with an awesome crew. Love these guys.

GameCell Preview: Filter Night

Here’s a preview of the GameCell get-together happening at my house 7pm on Friday, February 27.

Questions on, “How Do You Discern Games and Truth?”

1. Have you ever had a religious person tell you what you like is bad? What happened?
2. How do you decide if something is good or bad? Can you trust that method?
3. Do you trust anybody to help you filter out what is good and true?

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8

GameTime: How do you discern what’s good in these games?

filterplaylist502

From top left:

  1. Darkest Dungeon (solo survival RPG)
  2. Grow Home (solo creative adventure)
  3. Hidden in Plain Sight (4player stealth)
  4. Life is Strange (solo cinematic adventure)
  5. Paperbound (4player brawler)
  6. Particle Mace (4player brawler)
  7. Stick it to the Man (solo comedy adventure)

The core question will come down to, “What is good about this game? And why is it good?”

Recap – Let’s Skyhook Game-Dev God Bodies!

In which we look at posts M. Joshua wrote on Plus 10 Damage about a couch brawler, the importance of game developer commentaries, and a review of Apotheon.

We’ve been posting a lot more on Plus10Damage thanks to a general influx of creativity. Here’s three of my latest contributions:

  1. Couch Corner – We Play Skyhook (Demo)
  2. Yes, You Should Listen To In-Game Dev Commentaries 
  3. The Body of  A Greek God – Apotheon Review

Oh, and Drew asked me to sub in for Rich on the Gamechurch Podcast tointerview Jennifer Scheidereit from Tengami:

  1. Gamechurch Podcast #30 Tengami’s Jennifer Schneidereit

 

Sacrifice Night: A Mostly-Autonomous GameCell

In which our group of dudes run the GameCell meet-up mostly by themselves. And we explore how sacrifice relates to the here and now.

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“Before we get started, introduce yourself and your fav game series.”

“Hi, I’m Yoshi and my favorite game series is Devil May Cry.” One after another, each guy shared his name and series. After Greg, Seth, Garrett, Alex Hively, Alex Carter, Vince, and Tyler, we came to the new guy: “Hi I’m Brylan – that’s a combination of my names Brian and Dylan – and my favorite game series would have to be Timesplitters.”

At this point, I handed things off to our Question-Asker, Greg. Greg asked, “What are your favorite examples of sacrifice in games?

Greg emphasized that everybody should give spoiler warnings. Seth didn’t know what a spoiler was. So he learned as he revealed the conclusion to Telltale’s Walking Dead: Season 1. He got a lot of groans in response. But that’s okay because he learned and knows to say “earmuffs” next time he spoils another game. Everybody else gave their favorite examples of sacrifices in games with the spoiler earmuff warning. Alex Carter talked about the sacrifice of a supporting character in Mass Effect 3. And I mentioned Brothers: Tale of Two Sons but didn’t explain why, only suggesting it’s in tonight’s playlist.

Then Greg asked the second question, “When you really love something, is sacrifice hard or easy?

This started with feedback like, “yeah, everything’s easy when you’re in-love.” Vince gave an example about giving up his car for his wife when they were dating. And we realized that sometimes sacrifice is still challenging when it’s for those you love.

snack502

Greg started to go into the fourth question, but realized he missed the third: “What have you sacrificed for the things you love?

This turned into a reflection of what some of us have given up for videogames. The most obvious answers were time and money. Then we thought about what we’ve sacrificed for significant others and family members. Again, the answers revolved around time and money.

Greg read the Bible (Romans 12, verse 1):

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”

Then Greg left us with the question, “What do you think this means?” and handed the discussion over to Vince

From there, Vince took the verse and inverted it. He started with, “This is truly the way to worship God:” Then, he led us through it. We walked away with the notion that worship has far more to do with what we do. As we closed out, I asked Garrett if he was comfortable with closing out our discussion time with some prayer. He obliged.

Snack time.

yoshi502

Game time.

We kicked off with new guy, Brylan, sitting down in the seat of honor with a controller in hand. Garrett and Tyler were our curators for the evening. This meant Garrett explained what the games were as Brylan had questions and Tyler helped. Brylan landed on Apotheon,

apotheonmain

Brylan stepped into the Greek Urn-art world and learned how to make good use of a xiphos short sword. Our crew watched as he conquered the first level as it trained him how to become the antihero Olympus needed. The Greek art style and physics-driven violence made it fun to watch. As everybody watched Brylan learn how to play, it set things up perfectly for when we would play the game’s one-on-one deathmatch. As we met some of the Greek world’s gods’, Tyler asked the question, “Could you see yourself sacrificing to the gods in this game if they were real?” Our crew offered a wide mix of responses, with Brylan mentioning that he might not mind sacrificing to Hephestus because of how much he loves metal-working.

We entered the local deathmatch mode (one-on-one versus). It may have been an afterthought for the game-makers. But with 20% health, the game turned into a fast-paced cat-and-mouse game of slow-motion kill cams and a tactical race to five-kills. I think we were all surprised when Alex Hively picked up the controller and showed Brylan who’s boss even though he never played the game before.

apotheonlocal

Apotheon was a B+ game to watch Byrlan play, but when we got into Local versus (2player), it turned into an A+ game. (Note, all letter-grading is based on our crew’s response and level of engagement)

Our curators then had to cast it to a group vote on who got to play next, with the rule that you can’t vote for yourself. Alex Carter got the most votes and he picked Stardust Vanguards.

stardust

Four space mechs step into an arena armed with a laser sword, a dozen bullets, and a three-second shield. They dash about and slash each other to pieces. Suddenly, space pirates arrive and swarm the whole screen with their attack! It’s madness and mayhem. The pirates win. Our players resolve to work together when they’re not killing one another. The game goes fast, but the organization is long and awkward. Instead of a match being just one Battle, it’s all about who can win two Battles in a row to win the War. At first, it’s pure chaos. Ten minutes in our crew eases into a groove. Everybody seems to figure out how to summon new units into battle. Then Tyler launches this question, “Do you feel like summoning support units is a sacrifice?” Our players mull it over and answer within seconds have an answer. “Well yeah, they’re the only way to gain control of the battlefield and most of them die. So yeah, it’s a sacrifice,” says Alex Carter.

Stardust Vanguards was a B- multiplayer brawler for four players – until everybody got comfortable with the game. Then it turned into an A+ game.

Tyler and Garrett were doing an excellent job of curating, so it seemed fitting that everybody picked them to play our last game. Garrett chose Brothers: Tale of Two Sons. Since Garrett and Tyler opted to go co-op, this meant they had to share the controller.

shared502

Tyler lead everybody with a question before starting the game, “What are the Brothers sacrificing for their father?” Tyler took control of the little brother while Garrett took control of the big brother. They worked together to accomplish all of the challenges the game set before them.

They realized each brother had a different contextual response to each situation. The best moment came when they went up to the gardener. Tyler pressed the interaction button and spanked the old man on the tush! The old dude screamed like a little girl. Our whole room erupted in laughter. The fun for all of our non-players came as they observed the world around the brothers. They tried to help solve the progression puzzles. And they noticed little details like the empty spare bed in the ogre’s cottage.

brothers

Brothers was an A- game to watch and A- shared-controller co-op.

By now, it was past ten PM and our crew had thinned-out to a small number. I had recently acquired a press copy for a multiplayer brawler. And I wanted to find out how it played. So we had a bonus game: Paperbound (Beta)

paperb

I’ve heard it described as “Smash Bros. on crack.” Very true. It was bonkers and very fun. We’ll save the more-elaborate writeup for when we can play it with the rest of GameCell proper.

Next time!