Less of me. More of you guys. That’s one of my goals for GameCell this year.
GameCell needs to exist and function with or without me. That means for the rest of the year, I’ll be trying to hand the night’s responsibilities off to others and see who thrives in what role.
First? God seems to be revealing a supernatural theme for the discussion about life, belief, and how that relates to games. It starts with Alternate Worlds.
Friday night’s theme came from a realization: game-players are open to the Alternate World nature of the Kingdom of God. And they’ve got the eyes (and neural pathways) to see spiritual realities.
The world’s second most popular videogame series (Assassin’s Creed) has a mode called Eagle Vision. Press a button and you know where to go. Where your enemies are. Where important things are. But only if you’re looking. And you can’t stay in Eagle Vision all the time. You have to engage with the world. Other games do this same thing with different names. Wraith Sight. Dimensional Portals. The Fade. Detective Mode.
For this night, we laid the foundation for the notion that maybe these games are speaking to a greater reality that God wants us to be a part of. First, a question from Alex Carter:
“What game world would you live in?”
There was an Assassin’s Creed mention. Some Mass Effect. Star Wars. Dead Space (a response which got some significant laughter). Pokemon got four votes. In a group of nine, this was the overwhelming majority.
“Why would you live there?”
Around this time, the Reigart brothers showed up (Dan and Josh) and only added to the Pokemon votes. This made it easy for everybody to agree: Pokemon trainers don’t die since all the Pokemon do the fighting for you. Plus, the world is really colorful and happy.
Vince took over the question asking for the next two questions:
“Do you think the worlds we go into make this world better?”
Our group didn’t really understand this question. But the general consensus was no. This world always seems more broken and disorienting in contrast to idealistic worlds in games. Or at least ones where the conflicts are clearly defined and you’re in a position to make things right. This might seem discouraging to non-game-players. “Just goes to show you that games are not good for our world,” one might say. But I think that there’s a holy longing in a better world. So our last question was a bit of a leading one:
“Did you know that God’s world and our world are two different worlds clashing?”
No disagreement here. We got a lot of “Hmm”s with head nods. And I heard a “Yeah, that sounds right.” Tyler looked around and said, “You mean like spiritual realities?”
“Exactly.” I said.
We discussed how Jesus said at the beginning of his ministry, “The Kingdom of God is now at hand.” And how Jesus’ emphasis on God’s spiritual reality is available to us. If we want it. We explored the metaphors of Eagle Vision. Wraith Sight. Detective Mode. Bioshock Portals. The Fade in Dragon Age. And how all of these things are videogame metaphors that speak to our spiritual reality. Gamer-players are so ready for the Kingdom – because they know alternate worlds are better than this one. And they’ve got the eyes (and neural pathways) to see spiritual realities.
I threw out there a lot of spiritual and supernatural considerations, probably sounding a tad insane to our guys. Talked about bringing the Kingdom here. Being empowered through the Holy Spirit. And how there’s so much more that we’ll have to reserve to talk about in later GameCell get-togethers. Vince led prayer. I tried to encourage anybody else to share if they had anything. But I also realize that none of these guys have any familiarity with sharing prophetic input. So that was still in Vince’s and my court when it came up. That just included a word about forgiveness and love and how that defines all of God’s Supernatural Reality (The Kingdom).
After prayer, I conscripted all the guys’ help in moving doors we have to paint into our upstairs study. Thanks for the help, guys!
Josh Reigart was our official new guy. So he got dibs on what we played. He picked from our official Alternate Worlds Playlist that I created in steam. And his pick was The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.
For a group watch-n-play with Josh at the helm, I’d give it a B+. I thought it would be a lot better to watch and experience, but as a first-person game with a controller, it was a little disorienting. Josh didn’t always know where to go. And being a backseat driver with a first-person game is pretty hard.
Still, the visual beauty of the game and the intriguing supernatural crime scenes created a sense of wonder. And when it came time to put the chronology of events in the first crime scene together, our crew got really into it and tried to help him figure it out.
Josh Reigart’s older brother Daniel came once before, so he got our honorary new guy opportunity to pick what’s next. His choice? The fighting game that Alex Carter brought on his 360: BlazBlue Continuum Shift.
Some say that BlazBlue is too technical for a game of every-man pick-up. But I’d still give it an A+ for how well it worked with our crew. We did an overall bracket of everybody gets to play once. It didn’t give a lot of room for experimentation. But it kept things fast and intense. And we were all amazed at how Jason figured out how to sword-spam his opponents into submission. We saved a final match for him and Alex Carter, who had been practicing for the night. And in the end, even Alex couldn’t get through Jason’s space-samurai spam magic. The final match between the two of them filled the room with electricity. And I don’t think we could all believe it that Jason won. They even went another round to see if it was for real. And Jason won again!
This meant Jason picked who played next and got to pick our final game. His choice? His opponent that he just bested, Alex Carter. Alex chose to pick from my Weird Game category on Steam. And though it may not be the weirdest thing, that game was Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
The first level of Revengeance may be the most fun thing for people to watch in videogames. A+. Hands down. Unless you hate cyborg ninjas. Then, A-.
Alex fought a Spaniard samurai cyborg, chased a war-mongering American samurai cyborg, slashed cyborg terrorists into chunks, and got in a back-alley beatdown with a Metal Gear Ray (a Godzilla-sized robot). After using the Ray’s own weight against it and chopping off its arm, Alex gave it a good KO. Two minutes later, the thing was back and Alex had to run down the broad face of a building, jump off of the robots firing missiles and slash its face in half. Around this time, I said to our crew, “Just wait until this game gets cool!”
Before long, we were over our time and had to shut things down. But not before a chorus of defeated, “Oh man!”s. Except for Alex Hively, who had somehow fallen asleep in the midst of loud explosions. Great night.