by M. Joshua
Alex and I got together for about the 41st time, but as an intentional cell group, this was only number 3. Six of us showed up, our best turnout yet. And we got 3 new guys!
Stevie, a regular at the youth center, came because we really gelled at Creation Fest last week.
At Creation Fest, Stevie drew another group into our inner circle. That included Nick, his girlfriend, and her sister. Nick joined us at GameCell and seemed to really dig it.
Devin was the final new guy, another regular at our 18 South Youth Center. Devin graduated a few weeks ago, so I was excited to grab him for GameCell before he heads off to college at the end of the summer.
The “Cell” Part of GameCell
I showed the new guys our house. We ate some snacks. We shared a little bit of what was going on in our lives. Then Alex dropped a this doozie for biblical discussion:
My son, pay attention to my wisdom;
listen carefully to my wise counsel.
Then you will show discernment,
and your lips will express what you’ve learned.
For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey,
and her mouth is smoother than oil.
But in the end she is as bitter as poison,
as dangerous as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
For she cares nothing about the path to life.
She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it.
- Proverbs 5:1-6
This led to discussion about sex, porn, and lust. We kept an internal focus and didn’t worry about anybody other than ourselves. I emphasized the path of redemption and not whether or not one messed up. It was good stuff, especially for young men to hear.
Then we prayed.
And so it was game time.
The “Game” Part of GameCell
The most important thing to me about GameCell is validating new folks and making them feel welcome. As such, we had some show-and-tell. They asked what I meant by show-and-tell. I told them: take a look at my library of games, pick one, and then play it for half an hour.
Here’s what they chose:
Devin – Retro City Rampage
Devin, overwhelmed with the options, asked for my help. I guided him to what I thought would be satisfy his love of Back to the Future and all things referential: Retro City Rampage.
Like one of Devin’s favorite shows, Community, RCR is over-the-top with references to everything in pop media and videogames. And it’s also a Nintendo game. I mean, while we played it on PS3, the game looks like an 8-bit NES game. It plays much like the original 2D Grand Theft Auto, but if that original Playstation game was a bit more retro.
The references hyper-overloaded us with Megaman, Duck Hunt, and The Dark Knight (simultaneously). Within that same mission, we saw references to Duck Tales, Bomberman, and honsetly more things than we could count. We literally couldn’t call out all of the references as fast as the game tossed them at us.
Devin was skipping through all the cut scene text to get the most gameplay possible in thirty minutes, so that didn’t help the reference overload. Alex shouted out many times: “I don’t understand what’s going on!” To be honest, it’s probably why Devin got further in the game than I did. That said, I think he liked it. But we were all ready for something a little slower and more focused.
Stevie – The Cave
When picking a game, I told Stevie that The Cave is a comedy game with a talking cave. He picked it immediately. After picking from the seven optional characters, Stevie chose his three: the Hillbilly, the Twins, and the Time Traveler.
The guys laughed hysterically at how the Hillbilly walks, with his big dopey hands dragging and swinging like there’s not a care in the world.
The Cave itself narrated and talked to us through the experience. It told us we weren’t allowed to die. The group worked together to solve the first big puzzle of the game: how to get the giant fire-breathing monster out of the way.
Unfortunately the game froze first. So we had to restart the system and start that puzzle over not too long after starting it. I say “we” because it really felt like all of us were playing the game together even though Stevie was controlling it. I wonder if that’s part of the charm behind adventure comedy games that come from studios like Double Fine?
Nick – Bioshock Infinite
Nick really didn’t know what game to pick. He was curious about Last of Us, but since we played it almost exclusively at the last GameCell (and the first 30 minutes don’t really show much of the real game), I steered him towards a title whose first 30 minutes were probably the best of it: Bioshock Infinite.
As a group, we experienced Booker DeWitt’s ascension into Columbia, the flying city of 1912.
Without any predisposition, most of the guys got to witness the discovery of a town full of religious folks who subscribed to a cultish videogamey version of Christianity where the adherents worship the founding fathers and some nondescript “lord.” We tried to discuss a little bit of how this would have been more meaningful if it actually dealt with any real-world topics or even tried to effectively criticize Christianity in some way. But I think the whole group agreed that it was a fascinating videogame world.
Devin played the game before and loved it. He and I disagreed a lot about what made the game good or bad. But he and I could have spent a lot more time discussing the quantum-theory and time-shiftiness of it.
Nick really liked it.
James fell asleep. Maybe he found Bioshock boring? Honestly, I think he just had a long hard day. Maybe we didn’t do enough to involve everybody?
I think I’m pretty set in my “show-and tell” approach. I let new guys play whatever they want for half an hour and the rest of us watch and provide commentary. But when you have a group of six or more guys, what else can you do?
It doesn’t help that I only have two PS3 controllers.
I’m thinking of next time having Alex bring his 360 and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 so we can all get in on an “I got next” kind of fighting game fun-time. But what else comes to mind as games for a group of more than five guys?
And since we only have about 1 hr and 45 min to play games, what’s a good way to decide who gets to play if there aren’t any new guys?