Violence In Games

If you haven’t heard about all the to-do about Manhunt 2, the wikipedia page has a nice summary. Basically, someone made an extremely violent game, got an Adults Only rating from the ESRB, which makes it against company policy for it to be stocked at most major retailers or played on the major game consoles. What follows is my thoughts from this discussion at Wii Fanboy.

I don’t have a problem with people making AO games or buying AO games as long as they are of the proper age. However, I fully respect the right of the major retailers to not stock the games. Best Buy, Target, and the like don’t carry NC-17 movies (do they?), so it makes sense that they won’t carry AO games. There’s plenty of opportunities for small, specialty retailers to carry the games.

As for Nintendo and Sony refusing to license the games, it’s their decision. They’re not entering this decision lightly; with all the hype this game is getting, licensing this game is like money in the bank. But if they want to keep their platform at a certain level, that’s their decision.

And folks, please please PLEASE don’t call this ‘banning‘ the game or ‘censorship‘. The government is not involved here and no one’s going to jail. These are decisions by private corporations; no one is being forced to not carry Manhunt 2.

I think the core problem is that video games are still fighting for acceptance as an art form. Games like this won’t be acceptable until after that happens, not before. Games like this–unfortunately–will do more to hurt games’ acceptance than help it.

The One I’m Waiting For

We all have those mistakes. Mine was trading in my old NES for Final Fantasy VIII. And a used copy at that. But it wasn’t Super Mario 3 that I missed the most, it was another platformer I had picked up called Kirby’s Adventure.

Flash-forward to E3 2005, where Nintendo famously let loose the first key details about Wii (then the Revolution), particularly the Virtual Console service. After wasting most of the previous weekend being led down dead ends in my search for a particular ROM, the idea of an iTunes-like store to buy and download any of Nintendo’s old games was like… well, hearing about iTunes for the first time. Finally, I could rectify my mistake from two years earlier…

Many of you are probably wondering why I pine so longingly for Kirby. What about The Legend of Zelda which you can buy now? Too long, too frustrating, and there’s the Lost Woods. What about Super Mario Brothers? Yes, I miss Super Mario Brothers too, but it’s a given. What about Metroid, Kid Icarus, or any of the other cult classics? Why Kirby?

First, Kirby’s Adventure is fun. Plain and simple. Not many games from this time period let you fly to get around puzzles, let alone absorb abilities from your enemies. Second, the game is expansive. There are at least six different worlds, each with several levels and minigames to boot. Third, powerups. One minute you’re throwing razor-sharp boomerangs, the next you’re a fireball, and the next you’re a floating UFO shooting laser beams. Don’t like what you’ve got? Press select and find a new one. But my personal favorite is the surprise ending, where [spoiler deleted] and you find out that [spoiler deleted].

My memory is failing me, so I’ll save the details for my full review. Suffice it to say that Kirby’s Adventure impressed me as not only a fun game for the NES, but also a technologically advanced game. While this wasn’t Kirby’s first game (that was Kirby’s Dream Land on the Game Boy), it was where Kirby solidified his presence as one of Nintendo’s key franchises. If you like Kirby or are just curious about his origins, then this game will certainly give you your $5.00 worth.

Grace

Grace.

It’s a wonderful feeling, really. Getting what you don’t deserve. I guess that’s the lesson I had to learn. See, I was saved as a small child. There was never any one moment I can point to and say “There’s my epiphany; that’s where I first experienced Grace!” For me it’s been more of a slow realization, a gradual increase in knowledge of Grace. Well, I just got my biggest shot of it.

CS-30: B
CS-38: A-
HST-A55: B
Cumulative Grade Point Average: 3.011

This means I get to keep my Furman Scholarships

In all honesty, I don’t know how this is true. I’m fully expecting my mom to get an e-mail tomorrow that says there was a mistake and I got a D in CS-30. But what really interests me is how by mid-term I had — and still have — accepted the fact that my grades won’t be what I want them to be. I’m going to lose financial aid. God has a plan and I have to work with it. For a while I thought that plan was for me to stay at Furman, even if it meant incurring a little debt. The friendships I’ve made there and the real-world experience I’m getting outside of class are worth the price.

And now this. I may not have to go into mountains of debt after all. That, my friends, is grace. And it’s helping me see what Grace really is. Amen?

Providence

As I mentioned in last night’s update, Dustin, my RUF minister here at Furman, was airlifted to the hospital yesterday evening. Apparently his bike locked up — tripped on a rock or something — and threw him headfirst onto the ground. Eventually they had to take him into surgery for brain swelling. As of right now he’s stable but in a medically-induced coma until the swelling stops.

It’s kind of scary, really. I’ve barely known the guy for two-and-a-half months and now I’m faced with the possibility of losing him. At the very least, brain injuries like this are known to cause personality changes. Sometimes they’re mild, sometimes they’re extreme. Either way, he’s not going to be the same person coming out than he was going in. It’s sobering, especially considering I’ve grown to like his animated, over-the-top, write-five-words-on-every-page-and-turn-the-page-every-two-seconds preaching style.

But the kicker here is this: this past Sunday he preached at Redeemer on the providence of God. How no matter what God is in control despite our best efforts. And that’s really all I can count on right now. I’m trying to pray, but — to be perfectly honest — my prayer life is f — ed up right now. And all I can count on is that 1) God knows what He’s doing, and 2) God doesn’t love me because of the things I do, or because I act a certain way. The only reason God would even pay attention to me is Jesus.

And now that I think about it, that’s all that’s ever true.

So God, if you’re reading my blog, please remind us all that You are in control, not us.

Don’t Panic They Say

Random thoughts as I sit here at 12:42 AM doing Poly Sci work…

  • I’m trying not to panic. It’s just hard when you know what you have to do in order to proceed with your life as planned.
  • Do you ever feel like God hates that he’s seperated from us just as much as more than we hate it? I’ll post this in detail later…
  • I need a holiday. A very long holiday. And I don’t expect I shall return… in fact I mean not to.
  • Well, I thought about the army… then I realized I was dreaming and woke up.
  • teh future = Wii
  • There are lies, d — n lies, and statistics. And I’m doing a f — king worksheet on statistics.

I need sleep. And prayer. Sleep comes later, but if you pray, can you pray for me? Thanks.

Energy Drinks

Okay, so I just had a can of SoBe Adrenaline Rush, and I’m waiting for the kick to kick in. I mean, I’m not tired, but I’m not any more awake than I was earlier. Maybe I need some actual adrenaline to kick-start the artificial adrenaline? The drink itself wasn’t that bad, though. Tasted kinda like grapefruit soda. Which you need to try.

Yes, this is the first time I’ve had any sort of energy drink. I heard Red Bull tasted awful, and they don’t sell it on campus anywhere. And hopefully I won’t keel over and die from the excessive caffiene (runs in the family).

Religion Importance

Okay, I know there are lies, d**n lies, and statistics, but here’s some interesting statistics I found in this program we had to get for Poly Sci class:

  • 77.4% of Americans consider religion to be an important part of their lives.
  • 84.1% – 85.3% of Americans consider the Bible to be the word of God (47.2% – 55.5% claim room for interpretation)
  • 41.6% consider themselves to be strongly religious people, with 42.8% not so strong.

So, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of people in America consider religion to be somewhat important. So why are we so afraid to talk about it?

I’m throwing down the gauntlet now: if you want to break the silence and tell the world what you believe, my microphone is open. I don’t care if you’re Islamic, Hinduist, Buddhist, Agnostic, Christian, or a follower of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I want to hear it. The only thing I care about is that you believe it.

Flowers For Jack

I left a note for Jack Thompson over at Joystiq that he’ll probably never read, though I’ve heard he goes there every-so-often.

STOP CALLING YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN, JACK THOMPSON.</p>

Yes, I was one of the signers of the letter (though I was too cheap to donate anything). I disagree with much of what you’re saying, but that’s beside the point. I’m not angry because I disagree with you.

I’m angry because you are knowingly distorting information and “bearing false witness” against those that ordered flowers. If you would take the time to read the letter you would realize that the flowers were simply to get your attention. It was believed that you would appreciate flowers better than sex toys, copies of GTA, or pizzas you didn’t order. Apparently we were wrong.

Jack Thompson, it is my firm belief that by proclaiming God to be on your side in this battle is defaming the name of God (Exodus 20:7), similar to those who proclaim that “God Hates Fags.” You are associating the name of God with a message of hate. I am not saying God does not hate sin. He does, but he does not hate sinners. He sent Jesus for sinners.

I realize I have not been very coherent in this post. I would love to dialogue with you further on this (an e-mail form can be reached from my website). However, since you seem to have mocked our request for a civil forum with you (see the FFJ letter), I don’t hold much hope for that. In fact, I doubt you will read this at all. You’ve probably already written me off as a damned Pixelante, not bothering to notice that I, and many others, hold the same Faith you claim to have.

In Christ,

Evan Hildreth</blockquote>
I had to get that off my chest. Sorry.

Another Flame War

The comments on this digg story have once again degraded into another flamewar. Because the simple mention of anything religious in the tech world is absolutely taboo. This comment really took the cake, though:

If “Christians” wanted to make this world a better place, they’d immediately either denounce their religion or kill themselves. There is no room in this world for those who believe in fairy tales and are over the age of 10. I have no doubt that some of what is written in the Bible is historically accurate to some degree, but ALL religions blow it WAY out of context and attach their own beliefs and propoganda in order to suck new members into their respective branches of Christianity. DOWN WITH THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT!!!

And here is my ill-deserved responce:

Truly spoken like someone that doesn’t have the faintest clue what Christianity is about. I don’t care if you went to church every single day of your life; that doesn’t mean you know anything about it. Let’s look at things logically here:

“If “Christians” wanted to make this world a better place, they’d immediately either denounce their religion or kill themselves.”

Contrary to popular belief, there are true Christians out there that are actively trying to make the world a better place. WorldVision is a good place to start. And if we all took your advice and killed ourselves, you’d just look at us and say, “Wow, look at all those idiots who killed themselves.” Cults have mass suicides. Christianity doesn’t. In fact, if you actually read the Bible, you’d see that Jesus brought someone back from the dead. Hardly the action of someone endorsing mass suicides.

“There is no room in this world for those who believe in fairy tales and are over the age of 10.”

No one over the age of 10 seriously believes in fairy tales. Christianity isn’t a fairy tale. Fairy tales are defined as being “extremely happy.” People going to hell isn’t happy. It’s one of the things I like least about Christianity, but it’s still there. And I still believe it.

And what if it is a fairy tale, anyway? It gives me hope, helps me survive, and makes me a better person. If I didn’t have this hope, I would have already killed myself.

“I have no doubt that some of what is written in the Bible is historically accurate to some degree, but ALL religions blow it WAY out of context and attach their own beliefs and propoganda in order to suck new members into their respective branches of Christianity.”

Okay, are you talking about all religions or just Christianity? Make up your mind.

Some is historically accurate? How about a book that has more than ten times as many usable sources (manuscripts within one generation of the original) than anything by Plato or Aristotle? How about a book that has survived with no substantial changes for over a thousand years? Works of fiction don’t do that. Works of fiction don’t inspire people to change their lives.

And don’t judge a religion by its followers. It’s the same reason you shouldn’t hate the Mac just because some Mac users are complete zealots. Yes, some preachers throw on their own versions of Christianity. That’s how cults get started. And the majority of thinking people in this world see them for what they truly are: quacks.

Propaganda? Sounds like you’ve been reading your fair share of anti-Christian propaganda.

“DOWN WITH THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT!!!”

The religious right, as much as some people would like it to be, isn’t Christianity. Don’t judge a religion by its followers. Go to the source (the Bible) and decide for yourself.

Seriously, you need to read Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. It does a good job of presenting the core beliefs of Christianity without any of your so-called “propaganda.” And Lewis was not a stupid man.

Disconnect

Yeah, Evan’s in another one of his moods. For one thing, I’m listening to this song on continuous repeat. The words are pretty meaningless, but the music pretty much sums it up right now.

Disconnection. Removal. Exile. Dis… um, not-belonging. That’s pretty much how it is right now.

Okay, so maybe this little bout of semi-depressed philosophising was brought on by a combination of no one showing up for the planned argument and the PalaDen being all out of orange juice. Sue me. I’ve actually been toying with this idea since Saturday, and getting the proverbial stubbed toe just amplified it a bit…

Anyway, the idea is simple: I want to go Home. Not Charleston-home, I mean Home. As in… eh, let me call C. S. Lewis here:

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

I had that hit me while I was doing some preliminary Christmas shopping. What better place to feel out-of-place than a place commonly known as a hang-out point for high school kids? There’s everyone, spending their money like wild, laughing it up with other people in their little cliques, waiting for the one with the car to say it’s time to go. Then there’s me, alone, drove myself, in college, not spending anything (and I didn’t!). Yeah, it sounds a little depressing, maybe a little lonely, but bear with me for a second.

When we become Christians, we are drastically and permanently changed on the inside so much so that we become something other than mere humans. (Some would argue that we become fully human, I would say they are right as well. I’m purposfully being a little fanciful/sci-fi-ish/mystical/dramatic; it gets my imagination going. And my imagination is on right now.) This point is best illustrated by George MacDonald’s book At the Back Of the North Wind. In it, a little boy meets the North Wind and travels — you guessed it — to the back of the North Wind. From that point on, he acts slightly odd at times, but it’s always explained away by saying he had been to the back of the North Wind. In other words, he had caught a glimpse of Heaven. And from that point on, everything he did in life reflected that.

So what happens when we become Christians? We catch a glimpse of Heaven. We get our own bit of Joy. (Lewis actually described his longing for Heaven as Joy… maybe so…) And there are always times when we want more. For me, now is one of those times.

But, since I’m still here, there’s obviously a reason. It’s not my place to figure out what that reason is, either. I just have to trust that God knows what he’s doing. And He does. And I do.