No matter where you go, you are going to come across different cultures within this big blue orb called Earth. Culture makes up our lives, whether it be through what our professions are to what we spend our free time doing. Within the United States, there are so many separate cultures of people that it is hard to keep track of, but you know a different culture when you hear members of that culture conversing with one another.
Many of you have heard them, and dare I say that many of you have partaken in them. I’m talking about conversations that refer to mystical and magical places, where the creatures are larger than life and the heroes are able to come back to dead when they are struck too many times by monsters. You have heard young people talking about things called “hit points” and “world bosses”, and have wondered what terrible activity that they are involved in. These conversations are really only understood by a small number of people who make up a very specific cultural demographic, and those people are known as gamers.
When I refer to gamers, I am not talking about someone who occasionally plays Candy Crush Saga or buys some sheep for their plot of land on Farmville during their lunch breaks at work. No, I am talking about individuals who have conquered kingdoms behind the screen of a laptop, traversed exotic lands to find the rarest of treasures, and descended into the deepest, darkest cave to put a relentless evil to rest. I am talking about people who do this and more on a daily basis, and these experiences have carved and molded them into the people that they are today. I am talking about real button mashing, number crunching, controller-throwing gamers who remember the golden age of Atari and Nintendo and not only play those games today but also have a passion for the new stuff as well. That is what a gamer is.
Too often people within this gaming culture are seen as nerdy slackers with poor hygiene and no social skills, and though that might ring true for some gamers, most of them that I know are dignified family men and women with stead jobs and active social life. Some are even Christians; yes, I said it, some true gamers are Christians. Many gamers have allowed for video games to shapes their lives, but they credit the true shaping and molding that took place to Jesus Christ himself. These people will gladly drop their games to go to church, pray, help a hurting soul, or spend time with their family. Games are not the primary priority in their lives, Christ is, but that does not mean that video games are not a big part of their life.
It is for those people that I write this blog. I have noticed that there is Chicken Soup for everyone’s soul except for the gamer, and that bothers me. Many Christians who enjoy video games see their enjoyment in the activity as being wrong or shameful, and that is simply not the truth. Sure, there are some games out there that are simply garbage and should not be played at all, but many of them are beautifully created pieces of art that deserve to be enjoyed by everyone, including Christians. The stories behind the plots of many of these games are expertly written and have some great spiritual applications that many Christians are too embarrassed to use for spiritual illustrations. Well, times are changing, and video games are gaining popularity and pull, and I would imagine that video game content, culture, and history will soon make its way into sermons illustrations near you.
This site is entitled Up, Up, Down, Down Devotionals because it is a title that only true gamers will recognize. Most of you reading this know that this is a reference to the legendary Konami Code from the early days of gaming. This code was made famous by being used in the 1987 hit Contra. To put the code in, one would simply punch in the sequence “up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start” on the controller before the title screen opened up. After hearing a chime, you would start the game, and boom; thirty lives. It definitely beats the two lives that you begin within this insanely difficult game.
The interesting thing about this code is that it was thrown into the game and left there on accident. The code itself originated in a Konami game called Gradius, which was so difficult that the programmers had to place the code into the game in order to explore its content. Konami, however, forgot to remove this code when they released the game into the market, and somehow the players found out that it existed. From that time on, Konami placed this code and small variations of it in many of the NES and SNES games that it released over the years to come.
As gamers, we know the code by heart, and as Christians, we are familiar with a completely different code. This code is spelled out for us the Bible in the familiar Bible passage of John 14:5-7, which says:
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
Just humor me for a second. Video games, like anything else in life, are driven by goals. The ultimate goal of a video game is to either complete it, defeat your opponent, or achieve as much as you can from the in-game rewards. Whatever the end product may be, you have a goal you want to reach. As Christians, we have the goal of heaven; our eternal resting place with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In order to do that we have to be really good at this life, so good that we cannot even make a single mistake. We have to follow God’s rules to the letter and not sin at all, because if we do…game over. It is like playing Gradius and Contra without the code, you have to be really good at the game, perfect, in fact, to complete them. Let’s face the truth, we need the code.
Christ died to give people the loop-hole; the code that would enable them to complete this life and receive their reward in the end. This code is the relationship that one has with Jesus because it is only through Him that any of us will be able to make it to heaven. It is my love of Christ first that has inspired me to write this blog, and the Konami code is the best way to depict that relationship through “gamer language”.
I invite everyone and anyone to read this blog and engage in this website; not just gamers. Ministers, youth ministers, college students, young Christians, and non-believers alike are welcome to read and use the content contained in this website. In fact, there is even a section in this site where you can learn about receiving infinite life yourself if you have yet to do so. Be warned everyone, you might find yourself getting sucked into a world of gaming that you swore you would never enter. That’s OK, we are Christian gamers, and we are welcoming bunch.