Sharing GameCell Over Formative Stories

by M. Joshua

In which, our GameCell talks about formative stories, we play Child of Light, and we get a visitor who wants to start something like GameCell in his own community.


Formative Stories

“So, what stories formed you from an early age?”

Bob, being our honored guest of the evening, went first: “Hardy Boys. Chronicles of Narnia. Anything I could get my hands on, really. I think I read all of the Hardy Boys by second grade.” Alex went next. “Pokemon. My grandmother got me into it. Pretty much everything fun in my childhood was because of her.” Vince shared about his love for G.I. Joe and how much of a shock it was when he saw a cartoon where somebody actually died (Robotech). For me? Bible Stories where Noah, Jesus, and Moses were all cartoon characters.

“So what stories do you want to form your children?”

“Stories of Hope.” Vince said resolutely. “I don’t want my kids to ever be lost to despair. I want them to know that there’s always hope and that God never gives up on us.” Bob shared about reading to his four kids, but expressed how much his oldest child can’t seem to connect the Narnia series. He said he hopes that all of his kids can connect with the Bible so they see themselves in that story. Alex talked about how he wanted to empower his kids any way he could, focusing on stories that teach them to stand up to bullies. And I shared how I want my kids to experience the raw wild detail in Bible stories; maybe feel a little bit of the horror in the Noah Story, or ask me “What’s a prostitute?” when I tell them the story of Samson.

We also talked about what was going on in each other’s lives.

Bob came to visit to see how we do GameCell in hopes that he might bring some of what we’re doing back to his home church in the Harrisburg area. It was a huge privilege to have him. And I hope to soon hear his stories about trying something like GameCell within his own church family.

Also, Bob, you’re welcome back anytime!


Child of Light

Following the theme of formative bedtime-like stories, Child of Light seemed like the perfect fit. We gave Bob a controller and told him he was now princess Aurora. Within the next hour, we went with him into a fantastic world where everybody rhymed and the world was a mess of sad beauty. Tim showed up, picked up the second controller and as a supportive firefly named Igniculus, helped Bob with the strategic turn-based battles.


Next, we changed games to show Bob some of the GameCell favourites. He won the first round of Samurai Gunn. We also busted out Towerfall Ascension and Nidhogg. Much laughter and excitement filled the room.

Tim got so into Nidhogg that he felt the need to take his shirt off.

“How Do You Do Gamecell?”

After we closed up shop and most of the guys left, Bob seemed to have a few questions.

1. “How do you get the games or decide what to play?”

If it’s a theme night, I’ll look at the games I’ve got that circle around a particular theme. A lot of the time, I’ll grab an indie game that the guys haven’t heard of but I think they’ll like. I’ve modded my PC so that it’s basically a console and we play it just like an Xbox. It helps that there’s a ton of stuff out that’s inexpensive and great for couch play. Humble Bundles help. But I realize a lot of the game selection comes down to my love for games and having a ton that I just want to share with folks.

2. “How do you come up with the content for the discussion at the beginning of the night?

Mostly I just ask the Holy Spirit and run with whatever comes to me after that. Sometimes I come up with a theme for the whole night that links to the games we play. But I always focus on questions (never more than 3). I realize that some of this is related to my gifting and makeup as a teacher/Bible-lover guy. Also, we go through the GameChurch Jesus For The Win gamer Bibles, which are first-hand accounts of Jesus’ life according to his closest disciple. Mostly, I just want dudes to see what Jesus is like and let the Text do more of the heavy lifting. We’ll just focus on a tiny little bit of it at a shot.

And now as I’m writing this, I’m wondering: Would it be helpful for me to put together all of the kinds of discussions we’ve had? Like as a guide or a list of suggestions?

3. “What would you say is the most important part of GameCell?”

I’d say listening.

So much of Gamecell is about creating a culture and group focused on the new guys. To listen to their stories. To learn from one another. But mostly to listen. That’s especially why I like to pick a single-player game for the newbie to play so we can all just experience it with them. It teaches us to appreciate each other instead of just focus on ourselves or winning or whatever.

Also, always pray. I’ve found that prayer/readiness for what the Holy Spirit wants to do? It consistently dictates the quality of our time together as a group.