Best Indie Trailers of the Week #2

I’m thinking a lot lately on what makes the best indie game trailers. Fortunately, we’re never for lack of great ones to look at. This week is chock-full of smart trailers that connect with would-be players:

Towerfall is definitely one of the best local multiplayer games that exists. And the team just updated the entire game adding new modes, characters, and arrows (the game is a four-player duel among archers). The trailer shows some amazing animation and editing work. Trailer by Kert Gartner (editing), Amora Bettany (pixel artist), Power-Up Audio (sound effects), and Alec Holowka (musician).

Want some metaphors from the Book of Genesis in a game made by Brazilians? How about an exploration of a woman’s journey from infancy to adulthood? She even faces a dragon Revelations 12-style! Haunting music, strong narration, and gripping Biblical imagery for the win!

Race The Sun originally came out last year on PC. And this trailer came out before that. But I’m still including it since it’s brilliant and the game just came out on PS3 and PS4. Notice how the entire trailer is captured footage of YouTube personalities playing the game. It shows the connected relationships players have with the distinctly single-player experience, but invites other players into the experience. Brilliant. And free marketing on the developer’s part as all they had to do was capture the YouTubers and cut it all together. Simple. Effective.

Use your smartphone to control this innovative couch multiplayer PC game! My favorite shot in this Steam Greenlight trailer is the part where you see the phone of the assassin and it gives that player the option to reveal their secret assassination mission to the other players or keep it a secret. I was about to vote for the game on Steam Greenlight but instead found that its been Greenlit! Great work!

I hope you like bonkers. Because this trailer is potentially siezure-inducing with rapid verbal delivery that I can barely keep up with (and I like to listen to podcasts at 1.5x speed). This trailer is one of the best ways to capture the frenetic tone of the game. If you’ve got an action game, it makes sense to make your video so full of action that viewers need to watch multiple times to get everything.

The team at Klei features some amazing animators and that comes across perfectly in this trailer that mashes-up gameplay and in-game cinematics with a few titles from Kial at the YouTube channel, Megasteakman. Not a lot of player-game connection going on here, but the cool factor is off the chain.

Articles: Telepath Cowboys Don’t Hate Miami

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I wrote some things! Oh goodie. We’ve got some tasty little reviews and some reflections on how games relate to faith (big surprise from me, right?). All articles wrap around the themes of engaging with the moral underbellies of videogame places that test one’s convictions. Or give you opportunity to witness bad choices outside yourself? You decide.

  1. Telepath Tactics Review — The Fire Emblem Monster That Cleans Up Nice
     What’s better than a game about gathering people together, training them to rely on one another and working against every one of your wits to keep them alive and well-disciplined? Sounds like church to me.
  2. I’m Officially A Goody-Goody — Westerado: Double Barrelled Review
     I’m not always a cowboy. But when I am? I wear a white hat. Unfortunately, this game really favors black hats. Or red hats. Or any cowboy’s hat that doesn’t mind pulling out a gun and seeing how people respond to sticking it in their nose.
  3. A Youtube Series I don’t Hate: COGWATCH
    So this series is pretty darn brilliant. And funny. I wish I could be like the maker of these videos one day. 

  4. 5 Best/Worst Things About Hotline Miami 2 And Its “Subversive Violence”
    Hotline Miami 2 is not a game for Good Christians. Its harder than any other game you’ve played. And it’s way less subversive than its predecessor because of a shifty plot. So you shouldn’t play it. Mmmkay? But definitely get the soundtrack.

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What’s A GameCell?

Hopefully this video answers that question.

After that it becomes, “Want to start something like this where you are?”

Best Indie Game Trailers of the Week

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Here’s the 5 best game trailers of this week — and why they’re great.

Magicka 2 – Completely Unscripted Co-Op Trailer

Best part? The whole thing just makes fun of stupid game trailer tropes. It’s fun and funny.

Players are front and center and literal characters that respond to the structure of this trailer. They’re represented in audio and on-screen form and are addressed by their color so it’s not distracting. It’s really smart and sells the game if you’re looking for something to play with friends.

Paradox Interactive seems to occasionally do these amazing meta trailers that make fun of game trailers. Often they’re better than the actual game. I don’t know if they sell units. But they definitely get hits. Remember the Jazzy Boat Trailer for Leviathan: Warships? Anyway, I need to find out: who makes trailers for Paradox Interactive?

They’re funny.

[Edit:] It’s Steven K Wells. And he’s the Trailer Producer at Paradox Interactive since 2012.

Cosmochoria Launch Trailer

Best part? Cosmochoria is that naked dream you have where you’re in space trying to fertilize bite-sized planets and fend-off invaders with your tiny gun.

This trailer is okay. But it fascinates me because it’s created by YouTubers, Tengu Drop, who make Let’s Play videos every day. They’re not super-watched as most of their videos don’t get more than a hundred views. But if making videogame trailers are their business, it makes a lot of sense as they’re constantly capturing game footage and are intimately familiar with the game capture experience.

ROCKETS ROCKETS ROCKETS — Launch Trailer

Best part? Two players face-off and within thirty seconds, you see the sensation of player experience through visual metaphor. Worst part? The centered-shots of player faces that are too short for you to know what they’re actually reacting to. It captures the tone of the game but it doesn’t get me into their experience because it’s too choppy. Earlier trailers for this game focused more on these near-miss moments that really captured my attention.

The second half of the trailer fills with press-quotes in some very-fitting motion graphic titles. It’s slick. The whole trailer is slick. And maybe too fast. But I think it’s highly effective at showing the game’s strength as a two-player game even though it supports four players.

I wrote a preview for this game back in February and I think my words still stand: “ROCKETS ROCKETS ROCKETS gets intense.”

Knee Deep Gameplay Trailer

Best Part? It’s a gameplay trailer that sets the tone by showing the player how they’re going to see and interact with the world. The diorama visuals and murder mystery setup makes me want to tinker with detective work in this world.

I’m not usually into point-and-click adventure type games. But this seems to show a bridge to players who like a story and making choices but aren’t really into pointing and clicking. There’s some stellar title work in here too — great visual design.

It’s a shame this one is so under the radar. I think it could be awesome. Maybe give it a like on Steam Greenlight?

Goat Simulator — GoatZ DLC

Best part? The title screen that says, “As many bugs as all other survival games.” And then the follow-up screen, “Maybe even more.”

Goat Simulator is legendary for being a big buggy stupid playground comedy. This trailer says that all: a goat shooting a gatling gun, tossing flour grenades, riding a human bicycle, and an elephant. Because why not? This stuff wouldn’t work in most games. But Goat Simulator knows what it is: a big dumb comedy.

“Funny” covers a multitude of sins.

Coffee Stain Studios fascinates me. I didn’t realize they’re publishing games now too. They published A Story About My Uncle, I Love Strawberries on iOS, and the newspaper censorship simulator Westport Independent. I wonder who they get to make their trailers because they’re all really solid.

Quick Night: A Gamecell Recap

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“Can we do a night with quick games?” Greg asked. It got me thinking: what does the Bible say about the word quick? In old english, Quick was another term for being alive, like heart throbbing halfway out of your chest alive. In the old King James version of the Bible, there’s this verse in Peter about God judging the quick and the dead. So that became our theme for the evening: How does one truly become quick?

Tim Russell turned into the Discussion Master for the first time ever. And he did a phenomenal job passing out discussion cards and leading with this intro question:

“What games make you come alive?” Tim asked.

Roberto, Alex Carter, Vince, Tyler, and I responded with games ranging from Devil May Cry to Hotline Miami. Then Tim followed-up:

What besides games makes you come alive?

Roberto shared ways that working out really invigorates him. Vince shared about getting outside with his wife and kids adds a ton of joy. And I shared about how I loved feeling like I’m needed in helping others like when my wife called me earlier in the day needing me to come fix her flat tire.

Tim handed had Tyler ask the next question:

“What comes to mind when you hear the words eternal life?”

Alex talked about Dragon Ball and how characters from that show are always looking for ways to live forever. Roberto mentioned how living forever might seem appealing but becomes really drab and boring. Answers really veered towards a deathless life. So I shared about how the word in the Bible is Aeon Zoe and how it’s like this wild substantive reality that Jesus was all about invading the here and the now.

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“Is that coming alive for you? Tyler asked as a follow-up.

Tim needed a little clarity on the question so I explained that I wanted to know if coming alive and Eternal Life seemed like similar things. I think most of the guys felt a little confused by the idea.

Tyler took on the the Text Master role and read John 5:24:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Tyler pointed out: they have already passed from death into life. And he asked, “Did you know that there’s this clear and present component to Eternal Life that’s for today?” We had a few blank stares.

Vince got the next question:

“What part of yourself do you need to ‘pass from death into life?'”

Vince and I both talked about fear of starting a business and how that fear needed to die so my business could come alive. Alex told us that we should start a business together. I’m still not sure if I think that we’re both brave enough to do that. But he has a point. The other guys talked about areas they don’t like that need new life.

“Did you know Jesus is all about bringing life there? In those dead-feeling areas?” Vince asked.

Tyler taught for a couple seconds: “Did you know that another term for living and being alive is to be Quick?” And he asked, “Ever hear the term, The Quick and the Dead?”

Then I think Roberto found the dictionary definition:

Quick. noun. living persons: the quick and the dead.

Tyler closed by saying, “May you find a quickening in your spirit a hunger a passion and fullness that makes your eyes light up.” Alex prayed over our understanding of the idea of coming alive in a deep way. Then we snacked. And next it was game time.

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Game Time

We picked from this lot:

  • Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-
  • BANG BANG BANG
  • Westerado: Double Barelled
  • Mayan Death Robots (beta)
  • Lethal League
  • Samurai Gunn
  • Towerfall

Alex stepped-up as Game Master for the evening making sure we all knew what each game was about. Roberto got to pick since he was the newest guy still. And we all agreed that he couldn’t pick his own game, Guilty Gear Xrd so he picked Mayan Death Robots, the GameCell classic and perhaps reigning favorite.

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Vince lost to Roberto in the first round. But everybody was into it. The mutual-turn-based action kept things intense. And I know Tyler and Tim seemed to especially love it. In the middle of play, Greg got back from his school dance. He was happy to show everybody how dapper he looked in his bow tie.

Mayan Death Robots went on for a little longer than most games usually do as rounds were tense, but not short.

Mayan Death Robots is presently in open beta and is fantastic 2-player versus.

Next, Alex picked what we played next, which was his favorite, Lethal League. Nobody complained.

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Roberto loved how Lethal League only gets faster and faster as each round goes on and requires a high level of reading other players. The idea of being quick, alive, and focused became very clear to everybody with this game.

Lethal League is an A+ four-player versus game.

BANG BANG BANG was next.

It fit our theme of The Quick and the Dead as perfect as any game could as it was all just Mexican standoffs and super-quick four-player shoot-outs. Rounds were over in five seconds. And they were even longer than usual because we had to reload six bullets when everybody was ready.

Tim took right to it and showed us all up as the Oil Baron. Kid was just quick to the draw. The rest of the players didn’t quite understand how the game worked and a shootout was often over before players could move. I jumped in on a few rounds and tried to show Tim what’s up. But I never lasted long enough to win. Five successes of last-man-standing turn into total victory.

Most of our crew didn’t seem to like the game as they never got their footing even though Tim and I loved it.

BANG BANG BANG was C+ four-player versus for our crew (even though I thought it was an A-).

We had a few minutes left for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-.

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Roberto hadn’t practiced too much at this game, so Alex, Vince, Greg and I stood an actual chance against him. Each one-on-one fighting match turned into a crazy approximation of “what in the world is going on?” and watching for the other player’s tells. Fantastic character art design and extremely fast fighting-game action kept the game focused. And it was a great way to end the night.

Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is a two-player fighting game that has some awkward innuendo and creepy imagery but with our crew, I’d say it’s an A- game.

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The smaller crew meant we could connect more with one another. Overall, it was a fantastic evening.

Wanna Conquer Fear Like Jesus?

Do you play horror games? Watch this video even if you don’t:

I shared this video with my home church family on Saturday night. I love the part where the interviewer calls The Evil Within a calming respite from the terrors of everyday life. Then I asked this question:

What’s one thing you’re afraid of?

We hauled six teenagers with us to church. And all of them shared things they’re afraid of. A lot of them said they were afraid of losing the ones they love. And some of our adults shared that sentiment.

I’m terrified of starting a business. It’s something that’s freaks me out because I know that 75% of businesses fail. Also, the moment I say I’m starting a business involving video games, it’s additionally terrifying because I know making a living on anything related to videogames seems like a pipe dream. But smart planning, and good connections have been proven to work. So I am going to make game trailers. And that scares me more than any kind of horror. Because it’s real.

We took a look at the time Jesus was afraid.

I made three of our teenagers the Bible Readers for the evening. We read Luke 22:39-46, Matt 26:36-44, and Mark 14: 32-42. They all say pretty much the same thing:

They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.

When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

Why was Jesus so afraid?

The only time that anybody’s sweat turns to blood is when they’re thrust to the maximum degree of absolute terror. First is trembling, then sweaty trembling, and then finally, sweaty-blood coming out of your pores. Gross, yes, and also exactly where Jesus was at right before he was captured and set towards a public flogging and crucifixion that would also include taking the sins of all of humanity upon himself. He even asks God for a way out of it.

What was Jesus response to this fear?

“Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here.” He says. He confronts things head-on. Dives straight into the fear. And he handles it perfectly and with as much grace as possible when you’re literally ripped to shreds and then forced to carry your own 300lb execution stake a couple miles. But this is the key: Jesus goes through the cross to get to the resurrection. He takes no shortcuts. He goes through the thing he’s terrified of.

And that’s what I want us to be like: people that go through our fears to get to the healing, redemptive, restoration of things.

So, how do you handle fears in a bad way?

For me? I put things off as long as I can. I procrastinate like a kid hoping that the teacher won’t notice I didn’t hand in my homework. I put off my business plan so that I don’t have to confront the hard questions of starting a business. I put off projects that I don’t know how to do. And I flirt with not turning things in on time.

That’s not to say I always do things those ways. But if I’m doing bad, yeah. It’s not good.

But yeah, before moving on, maybe ask yourself: How do you handle fears in a bad way?

How do you handle fears in a good way?

On good days, I step into my fears and take it one step at a time. Picking up where I left off and pressing through as hard as I can for as long as I can stand. This means I etch away at my business plan. Or I step out and search the internet for How To videos on things I don’t know anything about. I take small baby steps one at a time towards figuring out how to get through my pains. I talk to people who have been there. That’s the big one: I need a lot of help. So I go to the people that have shown me they’re trustworthy.

How do you handle fears in a good way?

Remember how Jesus handled fear.

Jesus took one step towards his accusers and never backed down even though he knew they would crucify him. He was afraid. But he never despaired and never faltered. He kept walking forward, willingly.

And on the other side? Resurrection life.

So may you become like Jesus in how you confront your fears and find new life on the other side.

Failure Fun Night — A GameCell Recap

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Grace is most apparent in failure, right? At least, that was my assumption going into Failure Fun Night. Our crew got together with four new guys to explore the idea of failure and how Jesus might want us to look at it. Great times!

Vince took charge as the Dungeon (Discussion) Master while I pretended to be invisible as our video-taper of the evening. Alex played welcome-man. Greg took the Great Introducer role. Tyler was Tonight’s Teacher. And Garrett reprised his role as Game Master (and now this time, Game-question-asker, too).

Then our first special new-guy guest showed up, Logan!

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We hooked Logan up with a gamer bible, laughed a good bit, building rapport, and then went into our questions for the evening.

Can you share your name and your favorite type of game?” Greg asked.

Logan said his all time favs were Super Nintendo games. Vince echoed this by going on generation older, citing NES games.

“Has anything ever made you feel like a failure?” Tyler asked.

Everybody had a story. It took us a little bit to get through them all.

Matt Car and his buddies David and Maneffaat (Maat) suddenly showed up! This brought the count to four new guys! Woohoo! Our crew hooked them up with Gamer Bibles and made them feel welcome. Greg re-asked the opener question, making sure everybody got a chance to respond. Vince mentioned the first question.

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“Do videogames (and their infinite lives) make you less afraid of failure in real life?”

David and Maat may have been new guys, but they both had great answers to this question straight out of the gate. The rest of our crew chimed in before Tyler taught for two minutes on the subject of failure

Tyler asked, “Did you know that the the Cross is the ultimate symbol of failure?” We heard some positive responses. Then elaborated that the cross was the way revolutionaries were executed when their violent uprising failed. David responded with affirmation that this historical data was in fact true.

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Tyler continued, “Jesus made the cross the symbol of everything he’s about. He chose to die on one.” And then he ended with a question, “Do you think maybe the cross is part of Jesus’ attempt to redefine failure? And teach us to be less afraid of it?”

Lots of positive responses. Then Vince passed the Text Master card to Matt Carr, who read the following:

The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one fall is enough to overthrow the wicked. -Proverbs 24:16

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Matt did a phenomenal job of bringing the Text to life before we got to our final question:

“Can you think of ways that failure is a good thing? In games?”

Maat and Logan offered some fantastic examples of positivity in games. As did David and the rest of our crew. Then we prayed. Snack time.

Our crew had to pick from the following failure games:

  • Besiege
  • SumoPuckii
  • Mayan Death Robots
  • Oblitus
  • Helldivers
  • Hotline Miami
  • Counterspy

Matt Carr chose Counterspy, a stylish Cold War game about preventing nuclear war and mutually-assured-destruction.

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Halfway through his play time, Garret hit us with a game-question: “Can failing in a cartoony Cold War game teach you about the Cold War?”

Counterspy was a B+ game to watch Matt, Maat, and David play. 

Maat chose SumoPuckii and this got us into some of our greatest excitement for the evening. Such a simple game produced so much joy.

Garrett hit us with the response question: “Is failing a funny teacher?”

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SumoPuckii was an A+ two-player game that our whole group loved.

David got the next pick. His choice was Helldivers a game of punishingly hard mistakes.

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It left us with the question, “Is making dumb mistakes hilarious and a good teacher?”

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Helldivers was a B+ four-player game that was funny to watch other stumble through, but it lacked a pick-up-and-play accessibility.

Garrett booted-up Besiege just before Matt, David, Maat, and Logan had to leave. Everybody loved the hilarious nature of a game about failing to create a useful siege machine.

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Garrett asked, “Do you think this makes failure seem fun?”

Besiege was a B+ single player build-em-up.

The night was amazing as usual. Stay tuned for the upcoming video: “What’s a GameCell?”

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Salvation

Has the subject of Jesus’ salvation from sin ever bored you? Salvation lost some appeal to me. I mean, Jesus is rad. And new life is exciting. But that first salvation experience was so many years ago. God did so many amazing things since then. And I haven’t seen many people get saved. I needed a shock-start refresher. So I dug into the Bible and found ten things that I didn’t know (or forgot). And then we discussed this in our home church Saturday night.

Without further ado, Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Salvation:

1. Salvation is Jesus’ name. Literally!
Yeshua (Jesus) means “God’s Salvation from Sins” (Matt 1:21). Also, Jesus’ name shows up in Isaiah’s book when Isaiah’s talking about God being his Salvation (Isaiah 12:2). It literally translates as “God is my Jesus (yeshua).”

2. One Hebrew word for saved is Hi-Ya!
Okay, it’s more like Khi-Yaw!, but it’s still a ninja move. It means to quickly save somebody from sin’s destruction. It comes from story where Lot is saved by angels (Gen 19:19). First “Saved” in the Bible.

3. Jesus’ salvation is like Discovering How to Get Super Mario 3’s Warp Whistle

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With this special knowledge, it’s hard to not indulge in this super huge advantage. It’s also like discovering a secret exit out of jail. The special knowledge of that secret exit leads to total jailbreak. And the word also means Liberation. It starts with sin-forgiveness. (Luke 1:77, Gk., aphesis)

4. We possess victory-power over sin with Jesus’ salvation
This means we can actually defeat sin’s hold on our life. We can actually conquer addictions and compulsions. It’s not some theory. And it’s not some useless religion that’s about going to heaven when you die. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

5. Sozo, the Greek word for salvation, means restoration to wholeness.
Any Final Fantasy fans out there? It’s like a Mega Phoenix Down that restores all health. And keeps adding health. The word means that we never run out of this stuff and being made whole. (Matt 1:21)

6. Salvation grows!
Its like continuous experience points that make us better and level-up automatically over time. You will grow into a fuller-and-fuller experience of salvation. This also means that it takes time. New parts about you get saved as you trust in Jesus Another word for this is sanctification. (1 Peter 2:2)

7. Salvation is only partially here.
Romans 5:4 says, “character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Romans 13:11-12 says, “salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” And, “the day of salvation will soon be here.” Salvation is a foretaste of Jesus’ restoration of all things.

8. The Bible says we can be confident in Jesus’ salvation because we see it’s effects.
Our character improves as salvation grows in us. We want to obey God more because we understand his love and forgiveness. This stuff adds up. We become more loving people with less character flaws as we abide in him. This is how we know His Salvation is legit. (Philippians 1:10, 1 Thes 5:8)

9. Jesus called salvation this wild, mysterious wind that you can’t see coming
But he also said it’s the most important thing — if you’re open to it. Jesus told an old rabbi that being saved is like being born all over again. And that it’s The Spirit who is doing all the hard work. We don’t have to force it. We just have to be open to him and listening for him. (John 3:8)

10. Jesus saved Zacheus’ whole house — Jesus’ salvation isn’t just for you, but for everybody in your home. And it’s for everybody that you know and love. As our world becomes more tribe-oriented? Salvation hits more in tribes than individuals. (Luke 19:9)

So there you have it. Any thing you’d like to add? Confused about? Also, what does Jesus’ salvation mean to you?

Articles: Holy Week, Game-Parenting, and Rogue Babies with Spears

What videogames help you enter into Holy Week? Can videogames be a huge part of God’s calling in your life? What videogames connect parents and their children? And what games are worth checking out? We examine these questions in the following articles.

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  1. Theology Gaming Podcast #71: Holy Week Gaming & Videogame Vocation
    Josh, Zach, Ted, and Elijah talk about games that prepare for Jesus’ resurrection and how it’s important to listen to God’s calling for your life — even if it includes a calling to videogames.
  2. Paperbound Review: Smash on Crack
    Bryan and his 6 year old son connected through this crazy multiplayer brawler. And so did M. Joshua and the gamecell crew. Both of these things combine into a short positive review.
  3. Friendship Club Early Access Preview: Bounce Giggle Bullets Into your Frenemies
    Jump into the imagination of a little boy and smack each other around in this hilarious kid-friendly party game. It’s another game that makes M. Joshua wish he had kids.
  4. Oblitus Review: Baby Souls With Spears & Rogue Jewelry
    Dive into the spear-based dark-fantasy war world of Oblitus and find a game that streamlines the game design philosophy of Dark Souls by adding permanent death.

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Trust Night — GameCell Recap

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Do we learn to trust others just by spending time with them? And does that same idea apply to God? These questions guided our night as we explored Trust on a special Good Friday GameCell.

Team leaders showed up half an hour early eager to learn their roles.

Tim won the role of The Great Introducer. His task? Make our guests comfortable and break the ice with a question of his choosing.  Greg transformed into Documentarian for the night as soon as he got a camcorder in his hands. Garrett reprised his role as Gamemaster. As always, he was eager to introduce our crew to the games and get a controller in their hands. Vince showed up with the snacks and automatically unlocked the Achievement, Snackbringer. And Tyler, most importantly, became our Dungeon Master; meaning he would assign the additional roles of Questioneer (one who asks the question) and Text Master (Scripture reader). We had great trust in his ability to pick the right people for the job. Garrett led in prayer for our evening.

Our crew arrived.

Alex Hively, Alex Carter, Mikey, Richie, Daniel, Josh, and Roberto will be familiar names if you’ve followed this series. But Wes showed up for a second time, this time in perfect time to be a part of our discussion.

Mr. Hively, Mr. Roberto

Mr. Hively, Mr. Roberto

Tim took right to his Great Introducer role:

What’s your name? And what game  are you currently addicted to (or grinding in)?

Garrett talked about playing Fallout 3’s Tranquility Lane with his mom. Roberto briefly touched on his experience with Bloodborne. Mikey mentioned that he really loved Minecraft but that he was playing other games. Richie said he was playing American McGee’s Grimm (and Primal). Wes cited seven games that he was juggling for his Twitch audience. And Vince mentioned how he can’t stop playing Candy Crush Saga.

Tyler jumped to task as the Dungeon Master. He handed the first question card to Wes.

“Do you trust anybody? If so, why?” Wes asked.

Richie said he trusts people only when they earn that trust over time. Wes answered his question by saying that he trusts everybody until they prove him otherwise. He said that if somebody proves themselves untrustworthy, they probably won’t have his trust again.

Super Knapp Bros: Michael, Richie

Super Knapp Bros: Michael, Richie

Daniel got the next question card from Tyler.

“How does somebody gain your trust?” Daniel asked.

Roberto emphasized that trust is forged through trials. He talked about how when something terrible happens, you find out who your true friends are. Our crew seemed to agree that those who are tempered in the hard seasons prove themselves trustworthy.

Daniel asked the follow-up question that was on the back of his question card.

“How could God gain your trust?” Daniel said.

Wes started squirming in his seat and told us he was agnostic. I tried to make comfy by emphasizing that his voice mattered in this discussion and anything he wanted to say on the matter was valuable. Wes shared more of how he felt and how he still feels connected to pastors like Rob at Family Worship Center even though he doesn’t believe in God. Alex Hively shared that he felt in a very similar place to Wes.

Tyler said God got his trust by showing him that his ways are better than our ways. He likened it to trusting a Teacher or trusting your student peers. The teacher has the answers whereas the students can only speculate. Wes expressed how in his 3D animation school, students sometimes are better than teachers. So Tyler explained that the teacher-student gap he was talking about was more like Elementary school. We agreed with that and said that in high school, the students weren’t nearly as teachers as they thought either.

“Anybody know what holiday it is?”

The crew shouted answers. “Black Friday!” “Good Friday!”

I laughed and explained: Black Friday is something else. But it’s a potentially fitting name in some ways since it’s the day we celebrate Jesus’ death. It’s called good since he died for our sin and shame. So it’s a neat counter-cultural irony. Same with the cross, which was a symbol of peace through oppression and killing any threats to peace. Jesus subverted that symbol and made it an ironic symbol of love; taking what was used for oppression and using it as a demonstration of self-sacrifice that restores freedom. But that all leads to what happened three days later: resurrection.

Wes asked, “You mean what happened two days later, since Sunday is two days after Friday?” I didn’t have a response to that, but told him that I’d get an answer from him (which I did a few days later over Facebook).

I brought it back to the resurrection and asked the guys if they could imagine if we were all following Jesus around, watched him die, and then showed up later with holes in his body where he was pierced? “Wouldn’t you want evidence that it was him?” I asked.

Tyler handed the Text Master card to Alex Carter.

Alex read John 20:24-29:

One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Tyler handed out the last card:

“Do you think you could be like Thomas and trust?”

Wes gave a firm yes.

Others said yes with confidence. But I didn’t quite catch all who said yes. I was a little distracted by something awesome taking place in Wes.

I pointed out how God invites us to walk with him to form trust: especially as He’s found in the Bible. Then we can be like Thomas and know He’s trustworthy.

Alex Carter concluded our discussion by praying us closed. While in prayer, somebody said something that distracted Alex. So he started praying for them. I started giggling and said, “Thank you, God for loving us despite our passive aggressive prayers. Aaaaamen!” Everybody laughed. Snack time.

When Vince wears his Old Man Face, you know it's about to get rowdy.

When Vince wears his Old Man Face, you know it’s about to get rowdy.

Game Time: Trust Games Only

Garret reprised his Gamemaster role and introduced the games that build trust through teamwork:

  • Tekken Tag Tournament
  • Helldivers
  • Playstation All Stars: Battle Royale
  • BaraBariBall (part of the Sportsfriends collection)
  • Hokra (part of the Sportsfriends collection)

Wes’ pick?

Hokra.

Germany never stood a chance against the Mighty Roman Empire.

Germany never stood a chance against the Mighty Roman Empire.

Wes got the most votes from our selection of guys who had only been there once. And it took a match or two for everybody to get how the game worked as it was so simple (one button, one control stick). But this simple team game of team keep-away (with a puck and end zones) turned fierce.

We passed-around the four controllers to new teams of two every three rounds. This made sure that everybody got a good feel of the game and got a turn.

tv_hokra

Our crew loved it. They got very loud. It was as loud as any sports event. Sorry neighbors.

Hokra was an A+ team multiplayer game experience.

Roberto went next. He picked the game he brought:

Tekken Tag Tournament

Tekken Tag matches were a blur. But EVERYBODY loved the Snoop Dogg level.

Tekken Tag matches were a blur. But EVERYBODY loved the Snoop Dogg level.

We got teams of two set up.  Roberto explained how to tag-out so that the team doesn’t lose (if one player gets beaten, the team loses). Roberto took it easy on everybody when he played, but not too easy. He did an excellent job of giving just enough information before throwing everybody straight into the game. Since there was over thirty playable characters, it took a bit of time for players to pick. But the game was an all-around success. Matches with some of the sillier characters got everybody to say things like, “Go Panda Man!” because they were fighting as a big panda.

The decibel levels weren’t any lower than the previous game. The excitement was maxing-out.

Tekken Tag was an A+ team fighting game experience. 

We ran a little late with our game time since our discussion went a little long. Since we had a larger crew, it was 9:55pm when we finished our second game. Some of our crew left. But we had enough time for one more game. Many voices among our crew shouted:

Playstation All Stars (Battle Royale)

playstationallstars

The loose team-goal for the evening was for a team of Fat Princesses to be a team of Kratoses. But since nobody really wanted to play as Kratos, we settled for two Dantes from DmC fighting two Fat Princesses. Garrett and I got three kills as a Fat Princess before losing a race to 5 kills. We switched options a bit and tried a few more team based scenarios. The winners were always whoever stockpiled all their super-energy and then went into Super form level 3 and just cleaned up the board. It didn’t make the game very intriguing or exciting.

Still, it was fun to play as Playstation characters even if the match goals lacked tension.

Playstation All Stars was a C+ multiplayer game to play.

Excitement levels bumped the top of the charts. Somehow Roberto managed to keep his intensity in check.

Excitement levels bumped the top of the charts. Somehow Roberto managed to keep his intensity in check.

‘Twas an amazing night as always. The sense of teamwork and trust was palpable. Our crew connected more. It felt like we’re really learning to gel as a crew. Til next time!