“Just love and listen.”
This seemed to be what King Daddy was reminding me as I prepped for our Friday Night experience. Questions sat in queue, but I said ready for Him to illuminate the theme: He’s a loving Papa who wants to connect with these dudes.
“What’s the best game experience you ever had with your dad?
“…Or stepdad? Or father-figure?”
Greg, Alex H, Tyler, Vince, Jason, and Alex C shared stories about playing games with papas. It wasn’t really a surprise that their all-time favorite games were often the ones that they played with their dads, stepdads, or father figures.
“What comes to mind when you hear, ‘Father?’”
Each of the guys shared a wealth of thoughts. Then we turned towards the concept of God as Father. We explored the concept together, encouraging an open dialogue. Then I thought one of Jesus’ parables might bring the subject to a head:
A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money [on booze and hookers].
About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.
So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his [patriarch never-has-to-run wealthy-landowner] father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran [full speed, outrunning any of the accusers and naysers] to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’
But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
“May Vince and I pray into you the Father’s Love? For the party to begin?”
We prayed. Imparted. Then, game time. Vince and Tyler headed out to get snacks. The rest of us slowly transitioned to the downstairs.
Neverending Nightmares (Jason’s pick). B+
Following the theme of Papa God and deeply committed trust, Neverending Nightmares made for a surprisingly-apt pick. Not sure the guys got the thematic connection. But that’s why I’m linking my explanation about it here: The Light of the Cross in Neverending Nightmares. Vince dug the artwork. Our crew seemed to dig the personal-testimony-driven horror. I asked a lot of questions as we played-through to really encourage deeper engagement beyond just “this game is really creepy.”
The biggest reveal was that this game was about empathy for those who deal with self-harm, depression, and obsessive compulsion. Also if you’re in similar shoes, this game exists to bring hope and say “you’re not alone in this.”
Ittle Dew (Tyler’s pick). B+
After the scary and serious, some humor and color came at the right time. Ittle Dew follows the original top-down Zelda games’ almost to a T. But the curt tone and silly parodies of Zelda play through all of the expectations of a similar game. Tyler had a lot of fun playing it. And the rest of our crew had a lot of fun helping him with the puzzles.
Megabyte Punch (Alex C’s pick). B+
Time for something that brews adrenaline – four players at a time. Four players crammed-in on one screen and smashed each other around as customized robots that I had to build-out individually for an ideal combat engagement. The setup was a lot of work. But the payoff was great for our Smash-Bros-trained GameCell duders. Each round got crazier and crazier. But the climax was the enclosed level with a ton of fire-red bumpers that sent you banging into one another (and probably oblivion).
Hatoful Boyfriend. (Alex H’s pick) D+
On the box it sounded great: date pigeons, laugh at fowl jokes. We all did the voices for each new bird. And had two people doing the voice for the teenage girl protagonist who was dating the birds. Problem was that twenty minutes into the game, the only meaningful interaction we had with the game was forwarding non-interactive conversation. No choice. Just push through conversation. It could have been grand. I thought I knew it would be grand. But it almost put us all to sleep. Seriously. Some pigeon puns were funny. But on the fourth “Everybirdie listen up!”, we lost interest. So we quit early and went to a game we knew and loved.
Lethal League (Group pick) A+
Pigeon dating put us to sleep. Lethal League to the rescue! We ended the night on a good note.