ENEMY NIGHT — A Gamecell Recap

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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.

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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 (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.

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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?

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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. 

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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.

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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.

How we planted the gamecell handoff

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I have a theory:

There’s always at least a couple folks in a gamecell meeting who could one day lead a gamecell of their own. To illustrate this, I made a new guy the leader (discussion master) for the evening. Andrew came with Dan and so we gave him the welcome gift: the Jesus For the Win Gamer Bible. I also gave him the discussion cards for the evening and told him to hand out the cards to whomever he so desires (just follow the order so it makes sense).

Devon also showed up for the first time. This made me super excited since I really like Devon, and he likes us, but he’s super uncomfortable with God stuff. He said he once had a really bad experience at [name redacted] church. So I told him that’s completely understandable, but now it’s time to have a really fun experience at something connected to a church.

We need to make everybody comfortable, so we asked our baseline question:

“What’s your favorite game and your name?”

Andrew and Tim matched, both saying Sonic Adventure 2 was their favorite. Dan and Alex Carter also both said their favorite was Pokemon Sapphire. Vince said Jackal on the original Nintendo System. Roberto said King of Fighters 98. Devon had a hard time picking one, but ultimately landed on Burnout Revenge. Greg said Halo. Josh said Zelda: Twilight Princess. I fell back to Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones on Game Boy Advance.

Andrew handed out the first card.

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What’s your favorite game innovation?

If that’s too hard, what’s your favorite game innovation recently?

Dan talked about being hacked in Watch Dogs and how it created a really tense and unique experience with another player. This led to us discussing Dark Souls invasions. I also mentioned Binoculars in Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (as well as Far Cry) because they work as a mental abstraction of how binoculars are used in military conflicts.

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Ever want to start something? 

Vince mentioned how he wanted to start a hip-hop funk band with him on drums, but hasn’t found the right crew yet.  Alex Hively also said he wanted to start a band since he loves music. I mentioned starting my trailer business.

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Has anyone ever handed-off something to you? 

“Yeah, this card,” Tim laughed. I gave the example of being given a cell group to lead ten years ago.  Then we had a few guys offer examples of things they’d been handed. But it was clear that there weren’t a lot of ideas.

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Can you think of famous hand-offs in the bible?

Roberto chimed in with the perfect example: Moses handed off the leading of Israel to Joshua. I brought up John the Baptist handing off the God’s Mission to Jesus. Then Jesus handed off this to his disciples. After that, those disciples handed off to their disciples. This led into the final question.

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Would you ever want a gamecell to be handed off to you? 

Lots of “oohs” and “aaahs.” IT was like the veil had been lifted on the conversation and suddenly we could really use it for something. Many of the guys in the crew said yes. Daniel gave the caveat, “if I had your Steam library” (speaking to me). I reminded him that he already had a Wii U and more than three games and all it takes is that to get things started. Then I singled out the guys from other churches (like Dan and Roberto) and suggested they might be the ideal for this — and that I’d love to help them do it if they’re up for it.

Vince prayed. We had snack. Then it was game Time.

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Andrew picked Regular Human Basketball.

My list was a little over-extensive game-wise. I offered a handful of games that I thought would be ideal for our crew, but when Andrew picked Regular Human Basketball, I assumed that they would just love it and it would be okay. Unfortunately, the six-player setup was two players too much for anybody to really enjoy it. Also, the lack of team-choice made our crew a little salty. So Andrew asked for a mulligan.

Honestly though, guys, I really thought this game was like near perfect until we tried 6-player with two players on keys. I guess every game isn’t made better by having more players.

A video posted by M Joshua Cauller (@mjoshuac) on

Andrew (re)picked Rocket League

Andrew really love Rocket League and had been practicing at home. He showed off his skills. But that didn’t keep anybody in our crew from enjoying the game anyway. Devon especially loved it as a racer guy. And he even showed up as a pretty good kickoff scorer.

When I say our crew really loved Rocket League, I’m not exaggerating. When Devon’s turn came around he just wanted to play more Rocket League. So we played it for over an hour.

Our remaining crew picked Duck Game.

I tried to steer our crew towards something new, but there’s no denying that Duck Game and Rocket League are hands down some of the best party games of this year. We went a good handful of rounds with Duck Game before the crowd dwindled to just a few remaining.

Since Andrew was still around, our crew wanted to show him our other staple gamecell game, Samurai Gunn. So we played a good number of rounds with that with popular results.

We met on a Thursday since Jess and I went on vacation this week. The earlier night meant our crew thinned-out earlier. But it didn’t stop anybody from having an awesome time. I was most excited by Devon leaving with a big smile on his face.

Hitting a podcast stride with the TheoGameBro Trio

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Zachery, Bryan, and I make up the TheoGameBro Trio. We’re the editing staff for TheologyGaming.com. We’re also the admins for the Theology Gaming Facebook group, Theology Gaming University. And just over the past few weeks, we’ve finally gotten our acts together. We bubble our friendship over into a radio show about video games and how it they relate to following Jesus.

Grab your internet radio device (iPod/iPhone/Droid/Desktop) and pop over to these handy dandy episodes. They’re just over an hour each and make for perfect commute banter if you’ve got a long drive.

In the first episode in this list, we talk about how to form a healthy online community that values the voices of the least heard.

Our second TheoGameBro Trio episode focused square on the role sin plays in our game lives and how we can deal with it in engaged-but-discerning ways.

And our third episode recorded just last week, we explore how to pursue emotional health around play time — especially for those of us who get blue easily.

Subscribe on iTunes.

What do you do if God talks to you, but doesn’t seem like Jesus?

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Did you know that video games exist where God talks to you? This one in particular has somebody who seems kinda like the God of the Bible, but you really shouldn’t trust him.

Read the whole story. Or watch the video:

What did I start writing at Indie Haven?

I transformed into an Indie Havener (Havenite?) a couple weeks ago. That means that you’ll see posts that pop up on that website with a teensy or huge piece of my brain in them.

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My Top Five Game Trailer roundups found a new home.

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Here’s Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

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Then Josh Hinke asked for a little bit of my input on the Kickstarter projects backing. So I wrote about the pregnancy horror game, Devastated Dreams.

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I scratched down my opinion of Blues and Bullets on a dirty napkin. Fortunately, Indie Haven has some forgiving editors.  That’s a joke. Never hand an editor a dirty napkin full of your opinions.

Archmage Rises Demo Series: Look What We Made!

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We adapted a live demonstration of Thomas Hensell’s game Archmage Rises.

Jump straight to the segment that intrigues you the most. My favorite is the politics and relationships. But the combat is really good right now. I never expected to find the trading bits to be so fascinating.

If the words, “If Dwarf Fortress & FTL had a love child,” mean anything to you, watch the first video above.

Creating a living breathing economy might not seem like it matters in a role playing experience, but Thomas shows that it’s critical in making a world feel like it’s alive.

Battles don’t always have to be epic to feel epic. Even picking a fight with an innkeeper yields interesting results.

I hope you liked this series! If you’re interested in making a live game series about a game you’re working on, get in touch with us by dropping a line in the comments below or emailing us at shatterblade [at] gmail.com.

What did we do on Sin Night?

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Sin and Jesus might not sound like a fun topic, but our questions and games made it more fun than it should have been!

We wrangled up six of our trusty GameCell dudes: Tyler, Josh, Yoshi, Alex, Greg, and Brylan (six). Vince and I sat in. And then we had five more show up later. It got intense. And heated. Yoshi took the Discussion Master helm and assigned the first question:

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Yoshi talked about Dishonored and how the world became less filled with disease and infection if you preserved your enemies lives. Alex Carter talked about how Dragon Ball Zenoverse was about an attempt to repair the brokenness of time.

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Brylan and Yoshi really opened up about their loved ones and how their attempts to fix things have gone. They were some super brave answers that are best kept as conversations that stick with our crew.

Tyler also talked about how valuable it is that we address our own faults.

 

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Greg mentioned laughter. Alex mentioned beating yourself up. We also explored the value of forgiveness in coming to terms with brokenness in a healthy way.

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We explored three small stories from the Bible that deal with forgiveness. Tyler told the parable of the Unforgiving Debtor. I told the other two.

Josh was into it. Then we asked our last question.

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We got some bold and brave answers to this both as both a no and a yes. We prayed, snacked, and then filled the basement with all the late-arrivals.

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These guys aren’t being rude (normal) on their phones, they’re getting ready for another round of QUIPLASH, which was Brylan’s pick as the honorary new guy (second time here).

Players in Quiplash come up with answers on their phones. We got everybody in the room playing or teamed up if they didn’t have a smartphone.

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Jokes took dirty turns and playful personal attacks. We anticipated this and asked the question:

Now you know your mind is dirty: do you think your mind could become clean again?”

While they answered in a chorus of “no’s,” I was most proud of Vince who illustrated that it was possible to be clean and hilarious.

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Mama Bird (Austin) got the next pick: ORBITAL GEAR. Unfortunately, the screengrab doesn’t show that this game splits player segments into four screens. But our crew enjoyed planet-hopping as mechs that killed each other.

Greg asked the question, “How do you feel about other people who sin against you in games like this?

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Our crew’s responses seemed to agree that a mark of maturity is when you can forgive your opponents as a gentleman and not carry out grudges.

TRINE 2 was Vince’s pick. But he picked others to play for him. Very gentlemanly. This game came with the question, “What’s the hardest part of dealing with other’s mistakes?

I heard somebody saying that this kind of makes you to forgive others a lot. Especially since we make a lot of our own dumb mistakes.

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This night was maybe our best yet this year.

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Other SIN NIGHT games and questions (that didn’t get used):

  • Blues and Bullets
    How might investigating others sins help you deal with your own?
  • Life is Strange
    Would you make wiser (less selfish) choices if you could rewind time like Max? Why?
  • Tengami
    When might be a good time to slow down and really consider your choices and if you’re walking the best way?
  • Her Story
    How does listening to her story make you feel about her?
  • The Swindle
    How might exploring the broken life of a thief make you better at respecting others’ belongings?
  • Titan Souls
    How do you think this game deals with brokenness?

GAMECELL — VIP Access Night

[Feel free to watch the video above or read below.]

Did you know that your importance to gives you special VIP Access to God and the things he’s doing in this world? That’s what our GameCell explored on Friday: VIP Access. We asked:

1. What game makes you feel important? 

Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed, Dragon Age came up; most of which make you the center of the known world.

2. When has somebody made you feel important?

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Richie said his chorus teacher. Wayne talked about his shop teacher in high school. I talked about church planting school. Seemed like school was a popular answer.

3. What do you think the Bible says about your importance?

Wayne brought up how Jesus’ self-sacrifice brought about the reconciling hope for all of us. But we also discussed how having a relationship with God simply helps you to know what He’s like more. And how this relationship opens up special VIP access to opportunities that we wouldn’t have otherwise. In essence: since God finds us to be of utmost importance, it relates to the world around us.

Wes read this card as a sort of a send-off on the theme:

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Game Time.

Most of the games we played accessible through special VIP Access thanks to relationships:

  • Rocket League – Wes’ pick
  • Her Story
  • ClusterPuck 99 – Alex Carter’s pick
  • Mark of the Old Ones
  • The Fall – Richie’s Pick
  • Regular Human Basketball
  • QuiplashOur late group’s pick
  • Spintires
  • Threshold

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Wrapping up at Plus 10 Damage — Last Three Contributions

Man, I’ve loved writing at Plus 10 Damage. Sass, class, and video games in an online hand grenade. It’s been great. But that season has come to its dramatic conclusion.

I’m stepping more into indie game trailer production and to spaces where I can create a bit more of a dialogue around that space. But before you start seeing more of that. How about I share my final Plus 10 Damage work?

It’s impossible to talk about Massive Chalice without bringing up XCOM and baby production. So I dove into that pretty hard in this video review. I’d say that you can read the whole article here at Plus10Damage. But it’s a little abbreviated as I tried something less scripted (and as such, there’s no written review.

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In my final weekly trailer roundup for Plus10Damage, I highlighted something for each segment of the indie games culture: something weird/innovative, something hilarious, something multiplayer, something mechanical, and something just pure Minecraft. Enjoy.

And in my final Plus10Damage video review, I explored the merits of the super fast rad game, The Next Penelope. This one’s probably mostly for technical players and adrenaline junkies. But we had some fun on the couch multiplayer circuit as well. Check it out.

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So that’s it. Thanks so much to Matthew Bosko, Steven Brummel, and especially David Gutsche for making my time at Plus 10 Damage beyond memorable. It’s been a wonderful season. Looking forward to finding opportunities to collaborate again in the future!

Best of the Best Indie Game Trailers: E3 and Beyond!

I love indie game trailers. I love making them. I love watching them. For the past several weeks, I’ve been collecting them just for your enjoyment!

ronin
Week 5: Ronin and Perception

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Week 4: Swordy and Wildfire

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Week 3: Volume and Shadow Warrior 2

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Week 2: Rive and Mighty No 9

lastguard
Week 1: The Best Trailers of E3 2015