WAR NIGHT — A GAMECELL RECAP

by M. Joshua

GAMECELL explores games, life, and God. We meet every two weeks in my living room and basement. These recaps hope to spark your imagination.

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We love violence in video games, even if we hate it in real life. So I figured, why not use that as fuel for discussion with the GAMECELL crew?

Let’s talk about Christ’s attitude towards war and how to engage with it. Also, let’s play some Fallout 4!

Vince, Carter, Hively, Yoshi, Greg, and Garrett piled into my living room. It was a lighter crew than usual, but that only meant we got more serious about the conversation than usual:

1. What’s your favorite violent war game?

Alex Carter brought up Halo Reach because of the doomed nature of it. Greg said Assassin’s Creed because of the historical component. Garrett talked about Metal Gear Solid V because of how it subverts so many things about wartime.

2. Why are war games attractive to you?

Alex Hively said it simply, “It’s fun to kill things.” Alex Carter talked about how there’s something deeply appealing about victory.

crew1

3. How do you think war affects you when you experience it in video games?

We had a lot of conflict over these answers. Some said they’re not sure. Others were pretty sure it doesn’t. But as our crew thought long and hard, more came around: Maybe it does? We clarified the question, “Do you think it’s easy to see war as fun and painless because you can’t get hurt?” Our crew had our first point of pure agreement: “Most definitely.”

4. True or False: War never changes?

Yoshi asked if this was a Fallout reference. I assured him that it was. Garrett and Greg seemed super mixed on the idea of whether or not could ever change. Garrett thought, and then grew more confident that war is pretty locked-in as a terrible thing. Then he saw my face and noticed that I was less convinced, so he started to show leeway. We followed-up the question with more clarity: “Do you think it’s ever possible to be free from humanity’s war cycle?” Again, our crew seemed really unclear on whether or not this was possible. So I caved and provided a bit of clarification on where I was going.

fallout4

We turned to Jesus’ words in the Bible. First, we looked at what Jesus says about turning the other cheek.

“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also” -Matthew 5:38-39

Then we talked about how unreasonable this seems. And we looked at a few verses later, where Jesus talks about loving your enemy and praying for them when they persecute you.

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” -Matthew 5:43-44

We discussed the madness in this; how unreasonable this actually is. And how very few people in history have ever done this. But then I turned our attention to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and how he showed this better than anybody when he did peaceful sit-ins, and endured many beatings that brought about significant cultural change in our violent nation: through love, not war. Then I asked, “What if Jesus’ form of war looks more like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr?”

We had one last Bible verse because I wanted to really make a point that we are most definitely in war, but that it’s a different kind than we might think:

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” -Ephesians 6:12

This led to our final question:

5. How do you fight a love war?

Yoshi got it. He said we’ve got to serve, and forgive, and be patient with those who come after us. Instead of fighting back with violence, respond with generosity. I’m totally putting precise words in his mouth, but the spirit was clear. Alex Hively was totally on-board and offered the same idea: repaying violence with kindness. I emphasized that we can’t do this so easily in our own strength, without Jesus. But the notion and belief was clear: we fight a different kind of war.

Garrett led us in prayer. The crew wanted to hold hands tonight. So we did that. And then we snacked our way to the basement.

We picked from these games (bold ones were chosen):

  • Fallout 4
  • Dropsy
  • Galak-Z
  • BADBLOOD
  • Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings
  • Mushroom 11
  • Undertale

Of the games chosen, I tried to surround it with a theme that we both enjoy violence in games because it’s a part of our desire to overcome conflict, and that some of these games were subversions of violence (like Dropsy, Undertale, Super Mega Baseball, and Mushroom 11). And even though games like Fallout 4 and BADBLOOD revel in their violent overtones, there’s something to be said about how they handle their bits of game that aren’t violent (and how we think about games when they drip in violence).

If you try to do a WAR NIGHT of your own, start with any violent multiplayer game so everybody has a chance to get out some aggression/energy.

badblood

We played BADBLOOD first, which is a new 2-player hide-and-seek game (more like hide-and-kill) where the screen is split and you’re just trying to figure out where the other player is. It’s meant to be reminiscent of the story of Cain and Abel in the bible, and capture the horrible awkward nature of trying to kill somebody with primitive means. It’s subtly subversive in how it handles the topic, but in-reality, this motif works with Towerfall just as much as Call of Duty (as long as it has four-player split-screen deathmatch). The key is to enjoy something fast and punchy together.

Our second game experience was up to Yoshi. We typically let a new guy pick what we play next, but since nobody was new, our crew voted for Yoshi. He picked Mushroom 11, a particularly odd puzzle game where the only way to move forward is to erase yourself. This game was a little awkward to play since it requires mouse support, but we have a Steam Controller, which let us simulate mouse control on the track-like pad. It was still pretty hard for Yoshi and took him a good bit of struggle to complete the first mission, but our whole crew was into the struggle with him and made for a fun game to watch. The war tie-in on the theme of this game was about the way that life continues to exist when the desolation of war has removed everything else: the Mushroom 11 itself continues to self-reproduce even when it’s deleted and harmed.

mushroom

The final game of the evening was up to Vince, since Yoshi picked him to pick next. The rest of the group really wanted to see the intro to Fallout 4, so he went with that. Vince had a hard time getting used to the first-person controls of the game, which annoyed some of the more experienced players. But he found the domestic beginnings of the game interesting enough for him to push through the awkward bits. After escaping the fires of Nuclear Detonation and witnessing the horrors that followed, Vince was very curious about what happened next and it was a great display of how war affects normal people. Vince said it was the first time he really wanted to play more of the game to find out what happens and see where it goes (a rarity for him as he’s not serious about gaming).

We wrapped up, hugged, and parted ways, but something stuck with us: we all came out thinking about war differently, and how God wants us to view war very uniquely.

crew2

~

Considering a WAR NIGHT of your own?

Check out this revised outline from our experience. The original questions were far too long and abundant, so I stripped it down to a more manageable outline.

1. What’s your favorite violent war game?

2. Why are violent war games is attractive to you?

3. Fallout says “war never changes”, but do you think it’s ever possible to be free from humanity’s war cycle?

“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also” -Matthew 5:38-39

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” -Matthew 5:43-44

4. What if Jesus’ form of war looks more like Martin Luther King? How do you fight a love war?

Games for WAR NIGHT can be just about anything with violence in them, but you may want to investigate games that subvert the wartime expectation like Spec Ops: The Line, Hotline Miami, This War of Mine, Metal Gear Solid V, and Undertale. This topic is advised for those with a mature grasp on the subject and probably wouldn’t be advised for those under thirteen.

If you give this kind of thing a try, I’d love to hear about it. Email or tweet me. And if you’d like to talk, Skype me at m..joshua.cauller or reach me by phone at (717) 201-5278. Giddyup!