It seemed appropriate to celebrate Alex Carter’s birthday since our GameCell got together on the exact day he turned 22.
Wayne got there first, deciding to be a trusty stand-in for Vince while he’s on vacation. And the Knapp brothers, Richie and Michael showed up right on time. We caught up for a little bit, discovering how Richie’s relationship with his girlfriend, Liz, was going and how happy Michael was to be going to Bronycon in Baltimore next (this) week. It was nice to catch up. But I soon realized that the discussion I had planned didn’t suit this small group. So we played games instead.
Richie picked Super House of Dead Ninjas – which proved perfect for our limited crew size. Midway through Richie’s first run, Alex Hively showed up. Richie liked using the whip, while Alex really liked the nun-chucks. Not sure what Wayne thought of the game, but I’m sure he wasn’t fully able to connect with it in a way that felt mature and thoughtful. The game was about a ninja girl who just chops dudes to pieces after all.
We played Super House of Dead Ninjas on Steam, but it’s free online as well.
Then it was time for a gentleman’s game: Gentlemen Dispute. This free game came as a recommendation from Alex and involved two players with old-timey gentlemen who brawl by floating/flying across screen and trying to knock off each other’s giant top-hat. Everybody played. Then Owen Hershner showed up (who won his first gentlemanly dispute). Then he faced the reigning champ, Richie. Richie ultimately got crowned the “Gentleanliest of Men” for the evening.
Needing something a little more sober, Alex Hively took the helm of Valiant Hearts: The Great War. Our guys watched the heartbreak of World War 1 tearing a French/German family apart as a German husband was deported away from his wife and child while we step into the shoes of his French father-in-law as he was drafted. Owen thought it was fascinating when we up artifacts that unfolded true-life facts about the war. Our guys sat on the edge of their seats as we met the German Shepherd first-aid dog that would be the game’s constant companion.
Then the somber tone shifted sideways when taking control of the American action-centric character, Freddie and seeing how he chased the moustache-twirling villain. The dog got caught in a bunch of barbed wire and started crying horribly. Owen took the controls as we raced through the level to save the puppy. Then Alex Carter (the birthday boy) arrived just as we saved the puppy!
Oh happy day!
It seemed like the perfect time to eat cake and celebrate Alex’s birthday. But Alex just came from Shady Maple Smorgasbord. So he wasn’t ready to have any more food forced inside his mouth. Instead, he wanted to play One Finger Death Punch.
For the greater chunk of gaming humanity that’s unfamiliar with One Finger Death Punch, an explanation is in order. Imagine if a videogame threw up all over your screen with countless hordes of stickmen and explosions all over the screen. Then a semi-racist narrator provides culturally stereotyped Asian commentary on your martial artistry; AKA, your skills at pressing X or B at the correct time. The game’s title comes from only needing one thumb to do all your “precision fighting.” Alex took this opportunity to show off his thumb’s destructive prowess while making more “HYAAA”, “HOOOOOO”, and “KEEYAAAAWW” noises than Bruce Lee.
It was at about this time that Wayne decided it was time for him to go to bed. And I don’t blame him. This was a lot of crazy manic over-the-top games than I’m gunning for. We needed a cool-down. So I asked Wayne to stick around just for what was next.
We sang happy birthday to Alex. Wayne headed home. Then we had some brief discussion as we ate cake.
“What was your first significant game experience?”
Each of the guys shared without worry about us seeing each other grind the chocolate cake in our mouths. Owen talked about an arcade racing game that he and his dad bonded over. Alex Hively talked about playing Spyro with his dad and always loving spending time with his dad and games. Richie shared about endlessly beating an adult playing Soul Calibur at the age of five. Michael talked about finding his first glitch in a Mario game. And Alex Carter reflected on his grandmother buying him his first Pokemon game.
Since significant formation experiences were on mind, I linked it to the first “significant spiritual experience” that Jesus had with all of his disciples. But since I was a little rushed for time and didn’t mind an awkward transition I just threw this out there:
“Why do you think Jesus turned water into wine?”
“Because he wanted to celebrate?” Owen asked. “Because he wanted to party!” Alex Carter joked, seeming to think this was just a funny answer. “Actually kinda,” I started. Then I read the story in John 2.
We landed at a question:
“If Jesus is the Son of God, what do you think this miracle says God is like?”