In which our GameCell gets together to discuss how to filter and discern media. Then we played some rad videogames (that the crew helped me review).
Our team-leaders assembled half an hour early to prep (and pray): Tyler would break the ice with introductions. Greg would ask discussion questions. Alex Carter would close things in prayer. Then snack. Next: game-time with Garret. And Greg asks a question related to each game.
And so it was.
Tyler welcomed our crew at 7pm (Wayne, Tim Russel, Tim Hilbert, Alex Carter, Garrett, Greg, and myself). He led with the question, “Why don’t you share with everybody your name and your favorite game?” We went around. Then Tyler passed the ball to Greg.
Greg asked, “Have you ever had a religious person tell you what you like is bad? What happened?”
Everybody had a story. For Alex Carter it was getting yelled at for bringing Yu-Gi-Oh cards to church. For another it was being made to feel unwelcome because of liking Hardcore music. And for another it was a family member restricting the purchase of an anime T-shirt because it was “UnChristian.” I shared a story about growing up being told that all videogames were “secular” and (by association,) disconnected with anything good, redemptive, and godly.
“So how do you decide if something is good or bad? Can you trust that method?,” Greg asked us.
Less responses. Everybody in the room had been confronted with the “wrongness” of their likes and passions. But sorting-out the good and redemptive qualities? Less common. Tyler pointed to the Bible as a source for sorting things out, but he also didn’t feel so confident that he knew how to do it beyond “yeah, the Bible says that’s bad but maybe there’s something more to it.”
Around this time, Alex Hively showed up! Soon after, Anthony arrived with surprise celebrity guest (new guy), Matt Cadden! I welcomed them, gave Matt a Jesus For the Win gamer Bible, and quick-recapped: Name and favorite game? Religious people confront your likes? Matt, Anthony, and Alex shared. And then, “How do you decide what is good or bad? And can you trust that?”
We checked out this verse (as read by our new-guy volunteer, Matt):
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8
Greg asked the last discussion question, “Do you trust anybody to help you filter out what is good and true?”
Alex Carter shared how he trusted me for answers. He went on to clarify: he trusts me because of time, hard earned, and consistent. He trusts what I say to be out for his best. But that’s all a result of years of time together. And that he trusts my dedication to Jesus and the scriptures. The praise-Josh train left me a little uncomfortable, but I loved how he drew out the concept of underlying trust formed over time.
Greg contrasted longform trust with the lack of trust that he has for his father due to a lack of time spent together or expressed interest. And Garret empathized. But we brought it home with that value that there’s a trust to be found.
I wanted to get more at the idea of finding that trust in Jesus through the Text of the Bible. But I think this is just the beginning of this topic and I’m saving that meat and potatoes for next time. Plus, this wasn’t the Josh-show. Greg was running things. He handed back to Alex Carter, who prayed a blessing over our upcoming gametime and previous conversation.
Snacktime. Then we transitioned to the basement. Gametime.
Garrett introduced everybody to our games for the evening. He answered new-guy Matt’s questions as he chose what to play from our playlist. He took little time before resolving on Life is Strange because “the chick with the blue hair is hot.” We all laughed.
Matt took control of the Maxine, the high school senior at a prestigious art-high-school. Our crew worked together to help Matt figure out where to go and what to do. Everybody was transfixed by the gripping story. Some tended to get a little caught up on some of the profanity, but I emphasized our mature-engagement with the subject matter as Greg brought up the question for the game: “What is good about this game? And why is it good?”
At first, the answers were aesthetic, but then Anthony had a really great answer: “The game seems to be about using this newfound power of time-manipulation to help others.” And there we had our theme. I was really proud of this connection. Then some of the other guys had some other answers about how the game was about real-ish people and sorting out life. All good answers.
Life is Strange was an A+ game for watch-and-play (with a profanity caveat) for our crew.
Anthony was our honorary new guy since it had been a long time since he had been to GameCell, so he got the next pick. His choice? Paperbound.
Paperbound is a wild rumpus four-player brawler with gravity inversion and one-hit kills. Our crew was killing each other within seconds – and giggling the entire time. Other indie game characters made guest appearances. And our crew could care less: they were having too much fun inverting personal gravity and smacking each other around.
Suddenly my wife called me (a rare occurance on a GameCell night) to let me know that she had a guy who grew up out of 18 South who she thought would love to appear at GameCell: Wes Hess! So I told her to send him right over. Within ten minutes we had new guy number two show up. And oh man was everybody excited to see him. Wes dove right in to the brawlmania that was Paperbound and then he proceeded to hold his own against guys who had a few rounds ahead of him.
I thanked everybody for helping me to review the game as the only reason we have a copy of it ahead of release was for said purpose. Greg re-iterated the game-question: “What’s good about this game and why is it good?” Our crew emphasized how it’s funny and literally off-the-wall. But somebody also pointed out the obvious quality: it’s about enjoying our time with each other in person.
Paperbound was an A+ four-player party brawler for our crowd this evening.
Our surprise-new-guy Wes picked what we played next: Darkest Dungeon.
Admittedly, the “What’s good about it?” question was harder for everybody to answer for this one as everything in Darkest Dungeon is dark, despairing, and horrific. But as Wes did an amazing job of keeping his four idiosyncratic dungeon crawlers alive, we were able to see something good. Tim Hilbert was the one who caught the way it pays attention to the psychological conditions of people. And it draws out the consequences of their choices.
We never got to the ways to relieve stress in the game through the church, tavern, and sanitarium. But the focus on stress management had a real positive quality that we didn’t have time to get to. Even though Darkest Dungeon has an obvious single-player focus, the combat is framed very much like a stage – so it’s really great for an audience to follow along. Plus, Wes’ quick decision-making made for a great play.
Darkest Dungeon was an A- game to watch Wes play.
By now it got to be about closing time (10pm). But we had just enough time for a bonus game: Friendship Club.
To say Friendship Club was a hilarious blast would be an understatement. But since this was a bonus game reserved more for our next GameCell get-together, let’s save some of the surprise for when we get together again in a few weeks. Sorry to tease.
Amazing night with an awesome crew. Love these guys.