Grand Con

See Nerd Chapel at Grand Con 2015! Go to http://grand-con.com/

Monday, August 21, 2017

GenCon 50

Greetings Warriors and Scribes.


I just got back from the best 4 days of gaming on a significant year. GenCon 50 was amazing. As seen above, the gamers took over Colts stadium for the week. This was in addition to the entire Indiana Convention Center and rooms at adjoining hotels.  I did spend some time helping Nathan Marchand with his table but I also played games and cosplayed. I had many great experiences but here are some of the cream of the crop for you.

Sagrada:

This game is lots of fun. I played 2 rounds of it. Rolling and assigning dice to build stained glass windows with limited options that must be chosen carefully to manipulate the dice. This was a lot of fun and it is not a long game.



Warehouse 13:

This was the biggest excitement for me in terms of gaming this weekend. I loved the SYFY show and this game is a faithful exploration of the world. It has a traitor element that is engineered with a similar feel to Battlestar Galactica, which is very fitting to the show. Sitting and talking with the designers was very fun and they are definitely fans of the show. One guy playing with us has not seen the show but he loved the game. This was a major high point of the convention.

This is a semi cooperative game. Each play through is a season and each round is an episode. Through the game you will find clues to figure out what item is causing issues and work to gather the needed tech, intuition,  etc. to stop the situation. However, someone else is also seeking the items to use against your team and one member is secretly working for them. There is a cooperative version for 2 players.

Watch for this to hit Kickstarter!



Buy the Rights:

This is a fun party game where the players are all pitching the movie ideas for the money to make them. Each round a different person will be the "producer" with 20 million dollars to shell out to the other players. Winner is the person with the most money at the end. You will lay out four cards: Genre, Hero, Descriptor of the hero, and the plot. You can elaborate as much as you want to get the attention of the producer and have some fun.



Christian Gamers Guild Events:

The Christianity and Gaming Panel went well. This was a question driven panel that discussed things like planning game nights for churches, how to handle magic and other "dark" things found in gaming, etc.



The Church Service was great. Tom Vasel preached about slowing down for resting and for time with God. We had a full worship band with drums, electric and acoustic guitar and some a great list of songs. This is always a highlight of GenCon for me and this year did not disappoint.


Cosplay

I cosplayed as a Blue Lantern on Friday and Martian Manhunter for half of Saturday (before I went to a Heroscape tournament). Unfortunately the only Lantern related cosplayers I saw were on different days than when I was a blue lantern.




Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Remain in the Christ, Luke

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

http://www.bikesrepublic.com/featured/hjc-star-wars-introduces-luke-sykwalker-x-wing-helmet/
Do you remember how Luke destroyed the Death Star? Think about the sequence. He was coming in for the kill, had his targeting computer set...and then he hears this: "Use the Force Luke!" It was a call from Kenobi. Do not trust instruments. He turned off the targeting computer. Everyone back at the base was like "Hey, what's going on?" They did not think he could do it without the computer, but he did. He came in, Han shot Darth Vader's fighter and it careened out of control, and Luke made the shot and got out of them as the Death Star exploded.

Psalm 1:2-3 tell us that that anyone who puts their delight "in the law of the Lord" will be victorious "like trees planted by streams of water." Jesus told us that we need to "remain" in Him.
"I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up thrown into the fire and burned." John 15:5-6
It is so easy to get off task, right?  If you feel like you rarely read the Bible or pray, even though you firmly believe in Christ, you are not alone. Unfortunately it is pretty common for us humans. But what does it really mean to "remain in Christ"?  Here are a few thoughts:

1. Take opportunities to help others. Just a few verses later Jesus says that His command is to "love each other as I have loved you." The way we treat others is highly connected with how we experience Jesus. At another point He said people would know we are His by our love for each other. It will not always be a "big" thing. Often it will be small, like holding a door for someone. Sometimes it will be big, like helping someone move or donating to a necessary cause.

2. Read your Bible. Psalm 1 does put a focus on "the law of the Lord" and the longest chapter in the Bible is about gleaning from and trusting the Bible (Psalm 119). One of the most important things I got out of any youth ministry I was ever in was this: read some piece of scripture each day. Even if it is small. It does not need to be a huge chapter every day. I have a verse hanging by my door so I can read it as I go out or come in. I try, as often as possible, to stop and read when ever someone posts scripture on Facebook.

3. Look for opportunities to pray. When I get upset about stuff I often ask God to give me the right attitude. When I hear an emergency vehicle's siren, I stop and quietly pray for the situation. Paul tells us to "pray continually". That does not mean every prayer will be big.

4. Ask Him to be with you or to give you guidance. Every December, and often before it, I am already asking God what He wants for my next year. I do believe that God has adventures for us, although they are different for everyone. Have you ever asked God what He wanted for your day? He does not always answer right away. That is okay. He has not forgotten you.

Luke was effective when he leaned into the Force and trusted it. When we lean into Jesus, He does more than we can possibly imagine.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

CGDC 2017

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.



This last weekend I attended the Christian Game Developers Conference in Portland, Oregon. While there I provided 2 chapel service opportunities, hosted one of the morning prayer times, and offered and offered opportunities for prayer appointments. If you payed attention to the FB page, you might have seen me "go Live" with Patrick Lysaght from Chara Games.

The services went well although they had small attendance. There was a lot going on and there was no good timing for them. We focused on finding God's definition of success. We focused on Micah 6:8 as our directive of how to define success and and we also considered, from Paul's admittance in Philippians 3:12-14 that he is still running the race, that this race is not a finish line race like the game Formula D, but an experiential race like the game Tokaido. One where we are collecting experiences with God rather than pushing for a finish line. We also looked considered how Jesus set an example with all three of the commands from Micah 6:8.

Nobody signed up for any prayer appointments, but this was a new idea for the conference and most attendees were focused on both networking and training for their fields.

This was a good experience. I got to meet some people I had not seen face to face before and start to understand more of the experience of Christians working in the video game field. Some are creating video games for the Christian market but most are simply using video games to share a story, such as the Greenes who created "That Dragon, Cancer." Their session on Immersive Narrative was amazing as they described the experience of putting their real live story of cancer into a video game. Another great session was by Justin Fox, from Kingdom Arts/Justin Fox Media, led a session on, well, artwork for the Kingdom of God. He shared how all art done with God, instead of for yourself, will be better than your own musings.

There were only a few boardgame developers demoing at the conference. Chara Games was running demos on both Commissioned and Unauthorized.

I encourage all game developers, tabletop or video game, to consider attending this conference next year. This would also be a good opportunity for writers and voice actors.







Saturday, July 8, 2017

What can you do?

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Happy summer! This summer is going by really fast.

Earlier this week my Mom and I continued our viewing of Stargate SG-1. One of the episodes we watched that night was "Maternal Instinct" from season 3. In this episode, they find out that Apophis is back with the army formerly committed to Sokar. He had attacked Chulack in his search for his child, a "harsesis" who has been hidden from him so he does not use the child as a new host and then gain all the knowledge of the Goa'uld. In their search for the child, the team goes to Keb, a spiritual destination for older Jaffa who are done fighting.

Here, they meet a monk and Daniel goes into a long discussion with him about many things. The monk, who never gives us a name, tries to get Daniel to use his mind to do things but is also talking about a "Oma Desala". At first Daniel thinks this is just a phrase for mother nature, but we later find that she is what would later be described as an "ascended being". Daniel realizes that his tricks of controlling small flames and moving things with his mind were not him at all. It was all Oma's doing. She then fights the army for them and takes the child away to safety.

Although there are obvious Buddhist parallels in this story as they use a similar setting and phrases by the monk are similar, there are some significant parallels for us as followers of Jesus as well. Jesus told us about a "Counselor" he would send us. This Counselor is known more commonly as the Holy Spirit. During the Old Testament He often came upon men and women God had called out for very special works but after a day we call Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon all who follow Jesus.

In 1 Corinthians 12 we find a description of what we often call the Gifts of the Spirit. These are abilities God chooses to dispense to us through the Holy Spirit and yes I do think they can be called super powers. We learn a few things here:

  • The Holy Spirit gives gifts as he chooses to all who believe.
  • The gifts include "miraculous" things such as healing and "mundane" things such as administration.
  • All gifts are given for the common good, not for show-boating.
  • There is no formula to what gift(s) you get. 
Most importantly, we understand that these gifts all come from the Holy Spirit. If you are unsure about your gifts, I recommend 2 things. First, pray about it. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you your gifts and to empower you to serve. Second, ask other believers who know you what they think your gifts are. There are some online spiritual gifts surveys out there that can be uses as tools to help you discover it, but that is not the first place I would start. 

Daniel did not light a candle with his mind or have any super powers. It was Oma Desala doing that. But in real life the Holy Spirit does make Himself and some gifts available to us as we serve Jesus. What can you do?

Monday, June 5, 2017

2017 Summer/Fall Con Schedule

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Here is my con schedule for official events for this year. There might be additions or changes, but this is what I currently have planned:

June 18: Nerd Chapel Sunday Service at JAFAX in Grand Rapids, MI. I'll be hanging out at the con all weekend but not with a table. The service is at 10am Sunday Morning in Panel Room 2. You might find me walking around as Martian Manhunter from Justice League/Justice League Unlimited on one of these days.

July 20-22: Christian Game Developers Conference in Portland, OR. Many details still need to come together but this is happening. I'll be helping with the ministry/worship portion of the event and possibly running games.



Sept. 15-17: GrandCon Gaming Convention in Grand Rapids, MI. This will include both a table and the Nerd Chapel Sunday Service. I'm running 2 rounds of Pandemic Friday night and a session for Monsterpocalypse on Saturday night.

Oct. 28-29: Fantasticon in Fort Wayne, IN. with a table.

Nov. 11-12: Fantasticon in Mt. Pleasant, MI. with a table.

Unofficial, I'm sure I'll be hanging out at Grand Rapids Comic Con in October and I am hoping to make it to GenCon in August, but these will not be "official" in any way. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Arrow, The Flash, and Helping Enemies

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

This week I enjoyed the season finales of both The Flash and Arrow. One of the interesting subjects raised in both of these episodes was that of turning a foe into a friend.

http://www.playbuzz.com/brookem24/team-flash-or-team-arrow
Spoilers ahead.

In The Flash, Barry Allen tried to help Savitar. We learned before this that Savitar is actually a future version of Barry, or more accurately a time remnant Barry created to help fight Savitar; who eventually became Savitar. Yeah. Anyway, while Captain Cold had helped him steal a power source for the Speed Cannon, he was told something important: your goodness is the best par to who you are. In other words, you can't always fight fire with fire. Barry decided not to try and destroy Savitar, but instead to offer to help him somehow. Spoiler: Savitar failed to kill Iris. Since this is a big part of what made him Savitar, that meant time would catch up with him and erase him. The Flash offered to help find a way for Savitar to continue living. In this case, it did not work. Savitar just tried to kill them all.

In Arrow, we find Oliver has been brought back to Lian Yu, the island he had been stranded on. He found Digger Harkness and Slade Wilson/Deathstroke. He asked them to help him. Digger Harkness pretended to join him and then revealed he had received a "better offer". Ok, this sounds bad. Why keep trying to turn enemies into friends? I mean, this seems like it isn't turning out well.

The principal is not an issue of how effective this was. It is an issue of right vs. wrong. For Barry, this was an issue of choosing his best self. Admittedly, Oliver was at the end of his ropes. But I think there was also a sense in Oliver of wanting to give Slade and Harkness one last chance to change.

Think about the man named Barnabas in the New Testament. He rooted and argued for Paul to be giving a second chance by the Church after he had persecuted many Christians. Even after that he still believed in second chances. When Paul did not want to trust one young man, Barnabas did. He loved giving second chances to people. Even if it didn't work. In Paul's case, where would we be without his letters or his work as a missionary?

Jesus himself told us to pray for those who persecute us and love our enemies. This is not just commanded by Him. By appearing to Paul on the road to Damascus, Jesus was exhibiting this for us. He also exhibited this for us by responding gracefully to a thief while they were both being crucified.

We did see some good results in these episodes as well. After Savitar started his plan with the speed cannon, they had a fight and Killer Frost, aka Caitlin Snow, started helping the heroes. She left his side to join back with her friends. Slade also accepted the offer. He worked with Oliver to rescue the his son and friends from Adrian Chase. The man who had killed Oliver's Mom and had done massive damage to the city with the Mira Kuru drug (sp?) chose to help his enemy.  Now, I don't know what the story tellers have planned for him in the future but this is significant.

How can you give someone a second chance? 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Music vs. Curses

Greetings Scholars and Warriors!

Found at: http://www.eonline.com/news/847431/hook-s-song-from-the-once-upon-a-time-musical-episode-is-here-it-s-a-swashbuckling-delight
This season we have seen many shows adding music for special episodes. This happened for the Supergirl/Flash crossover in March and recently we saw this on Once Upon a Time. OUaT gave us the more interesting one, though. During the flashbacks for this episode, we saw Snow White, Charming, the Evil Queen, Hook, and a few others singing their hearts out.

Spoilers ahead.

They woke up finding themselves singing due to a spell after Snow White had wished for protection for her unborn baby. As they sang, they noticed that the music was affecting their world in unexpected ways. Specifically, it was affecting the Evil Queens hold on them and her power. As they sang, her attacks were far less effective.

Music is something the Bible encourages us toward. The first song in the Bible was a Psalm written by Moses wife after the parting of the Red Sea. It was a celebratory song. Decades later, David used music to calm down King Saul when he was tormented by a spirit. The story is found in 1 Samuel 16:14-23. In verse 14 the spirit is described with a word that has been translated as both "harmful" and "evil".
"Whenever the spirit from God would come on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him." 1 Sam. 16:23 
David went on to write many Psalms, or spiritual songs, we would use in worship. The New Testament would also use songs. Paul is believed to have quoted a song in Philippians 2:6-11. He often encouraged us to use spiritual songs as encouragement to each other.

The above story is significant and a little strange. Yet it shows God is masterful in both creation and grace. Saul had been leading Israel away from God and flat out disobeying Him. Early on in that story we find out that God's spirit had left him because of this. He sent the spirit to torment Saul as a form of judgement, yet had the grace to allow music to provide relief. What this does show us is that music is powerful in the spiritual realm.

We don't talk much about spiritual warfare but it is a real thing. I have heard stories from people on missions who have been in situations where music was used to help heal with a person who was demonically possessed. I have heard other stories as well about music bringing relief or even cults using music against Christians.

The role of music as worship is to be a tool or a voice for us to express ourselves to God. It is useful for helping knowledge go from our heads to our hearts and bringing relief to us. I have been in multiple situations where I went to church frustrated with life and having a hard time singing, but yet the music would help me refocus and it would bring relief in the middle of my frustration.

Next time you feel depressed, spiritually oppressed, or frustrated; maybe you should put on some music. There are plenty of worship CDs out there and you can find many worship songs on various music sites as well as You Tube. Sing along and let God use the music to give you peace.