Man, have games gotten big. The closest thing we got to open-world games back in early days of gaming were the old Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) and Legend of the Zelda titles because they allowed for players to “explore” the environment around them. Unfortunately, exploring looked more like wandering into a conveniently placed cave and finding an obligatory McGuffin that would only lead to more meandering. All of that changed when the next generation of game consoles came onto the scene and brought more robust hardware that could handle a larger content base. Many developers saw the possibilities that this presented and created true open-world games; titles that boasted a larger area that was not separated by loading screens or level breaks. Titles like the Elder Scrolls games, the Fallout Franchise, and my personal favorite underrated masterpiece, Mercenaries, were all massive open-world titles. This game genre is continuing to gain popularity as AAA companies continue to deliver new titles year after year that use this format.

Image result for Using Markers in Breath of the Wild
Hyrule is far too big to remember where you left your horse…put a marker on it!

I personally believe that open world games are the perfect culmination of everything that makes video games great; full-on exploration, pitch-perfect level design, and interconnected action over a wide area, to name a few. These features are not unique to other genres, but they seem to be amplified in an open world setting. With that said, the larger the world is, the easier it is to get lost and turned around.

Early versions of the open world experience did not give players much guidance. Some games would give players a small heads-up display with an icon that directed them where to go next, but as far as details were concerned, it was up to the player to discover the secrets of unlocking the mysteries of the game themselves. Newer titles learned from the archaic playstyle of earlier open-world titles and built onto the systems that were already in place. Now if a player gets lost, it is because he or she does not know how to use the navigation systems that they have access to.

Image result for Crazy Taxi driver
You would have no idea where to drop off your passengers in Crazy Taxi if that arrow didn’t show you the way!

Many games within this genre have begun using tools called “markers” to help the players navigate through the story in a massive world. These markers are simple tabs that players can place on the map to show them where they have been or where they wish to go. Some markers are placed by the game itself to guide the player to their destination, and each has a unique look depending on the game. My personal favorites are the arrows that show the player where to go; those tools for exploration are quite fool-proof.

Our lives are open-world experiences, each new adventure leading us further into the unexplored regions of this life. With each new event that takes place, our world is changed and altered in a way that causes us to constantly change our course. An unexpected accident takes a loved one away from us, a chance encounter starts a new career, or a natural disaster stirs things up; there is always a new adventure looming around the corner, and knowing how to approach those things is the biggest challenge.

We all need a guide in this life. This world is too complicated and nuanced for us to not have something that will lead us on the right path. It is good to have a consistent ray of guidance that shines on the horizon of uncertainty, and an anchor to tether us on the right path. I would call it by another name; it is a solid rock on which to stand.

With as chaotic as this world can become, it is good to find something to hold onto that will never change. People will come and go, businesses will rise up and close down, and even philosophies will change over time. What we need is something that is eternal and unmoving, and that thing is not an object, but rather a real person who still acts as our unmoving rock in this world. That is Jesus Christ.

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

Psalms 95:1-2

Image result for house built upon the rock

The idea of Jesus being the “Rock of our salvation” is based around the foundations of a building. The structures that are built upon hard stones and rock faces are those that will weather the storms of life as they pummel their surfaces. It is the foundation on which they are built which makes them strong. In the same way, the foundations of a person’s life will determine whether or not they will be able to endure when life gets hard. If one’s foundation is based on possessions or the wavering teachings of men, then that life will not have the integrity needed to endure for a long time. However, if the foundation is built on something eternal and unmoving, like the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ, then that life is able to endure far more than one that is being led by temporary gain.

So, what is your marker in this life? What is guiding you over the open-world of your existence? If it is only temporary, then that beacon will eventually disappear and you will be left searching for more guidance in uncertain places. Turn your face towards Jesus and follow his teachings; he is the marker that will never lead you astray.  

Image result for Open world game memes

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