Category Archives: Video Games

A Catholic Responds To Christian Apologetics

Note #1: Language.

Note #2: Contains spoilers for Life Is Strange.

Thank you to The Closet Atheist for inspiring me to write this.

Below are excerpts from her post Apologetics 101: Lesson 1 and the thoughts I had while reading them:

Postmodernism says there is no objective truth or reality, but rather, reality is whatever we’re feeling

And?

I mean, it’s good to have some definition of a word, but on its own that does nothing to reassure me that the god of the Bible is who he says he is.

Secularists treat life as if it has no value

This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. It’s basically saying “You can’t be good without God.” And that’s just not true. Why? Because: Atheists are just as capable as Christians of having empathy and showing compassion. Which, ironically, the Bible itself points out: “He has put eternity in the human heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Not the Christian heart — the human heart.

You don’t have to say “Jesus is lord!” in order to fight to defend your country from fascists. You don’t have to say “Jesus is lord!” in order to slip $5 into the hand of a homeless person. You don’t have to say “Jesus is lord!” in order to cry at the funeral for a family member.

I could go on, but I’ll stop there.

We all have a “God-hole” that can’t be filled by stuff

I agree.

In life, we’re always wanting more.

To repeat what I said in Is Humanity Pagan?:

There is no climax to end all climaxes.

Without God, man tries to rise to become a god himself

As someone who struggles with pride, I can tell you for a fact that, even with God, “man tries to rise to become a god himself[.]”

Money can’t save us; it hasn’t fixed poverty or other problems of our world, so why should we expect it to? (note: neither has prayer)

I agree that money is, ultimately, not the solution to societal ills like poverty. A change of mindset is. Throwing money at a person who isn’t motivated to make their own isn’t going to lift that person out of their circumstances.

And prayer by itself won’t save us, either. Because:

“Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)

The reason why people don’t believe in God is because they don’t want to be obedient

I wouldn’t be surprised if that was some person’s reason for not wanting to believe in a power higher than themselves.

But, if you actually talk to atheists (like the Bible says to do — Matthew 5:14 — 16) you’ll find that that is not the case for everyone.

A Christian college can’t make you a godly person

I agree.

On a related note: 5 Insane Realities At My Fundamentalist Christian College

Revelation from God provides a “truth detector” from error and falsehood which arise from a man-made doctrinal base

I agree.

It’s hard discerning what is an apparent “Revelation from God” and what is, in fact, nonsense someone pulled out of their ass.

The world’s knowledge is limited by the mind of man and his imagination, while the mind of God is infinite and unlimited

I agree. We don’t know it all.

How boring would life be if we did?

When you’re trapped on a desert island, it’s more useful to have a Bible than fire (I think this was implied but not directly stated)

Depends: Is the island overrun with White Walkers?

Seriously, though: Depending on the circumstances, if I had to choose between a Bible or fire, I’d pick fire.

For example: If the person I’m stranded with is going to die of exposure before they have a chance to hear the Good News, unless there’s a miracle, a Bible isn’t going to warm them up.

Morality is objective and comes from the Bible

Which version of the Bible are we talking about here?

Because if it’s the King James Bible, you’re telling me that for over 1,611 years (at least) people didn’t know that killing your neighbor isn’t generally something you should do? It’s a wonder anyone lasted long enough to hear such a revelation…

Seriously, though: While I consider the Bible to be the source of much of what I consider moral, morality does not come from the pages of the Bible alone.

What I mean when I say that is: You don’t have to look long to find codes of conduct that predate, or come after, the words written in the Bible.

Regarding morality: There’s a reason the 10 Commandments say “Thou shalt not kill” and not “Never kill” — because there are circumstances where the moral thing to do is kill.

If a bullet is the only way to save a mother and her child from the person who has invaded their home, than pull the trigger.

Mormon beliefs and practices are really bizarre (because Christianity is so not bizarre?)

Why single out Mormons?

And I agree: Christianity can be bizarre.

But, you know what? Life is strange, so a strange worldview suits me just fine.

Don’t be a “silent witness”; rather, go up to people and start a conversation in order to find what makes them tick so that you can try to convert them to Christianity

Let your actions speak louder than your words.

A lot of people don’t believe that they’re lost and think they’re a good person

I don’t believe anyone is “lost.”

We’re all on a journey, even if we don’t know for sure what is at the top of the mountain we’re climbing.

Keep seeking what is good, true, and beautiful, and I believe you will one day find yourself in the presence of the creator of all that is good, true, and beautiful.

“Holy tension” is when the Bible doesn’t make sense like when Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt (but if God wants to do things like that, then He can)

I thought Lot’s wife turning to salt made sense. God said “Don’t do the thing.” And what did Lot’s wife do? She did the thing.

On the other hand: Why a pillar of salt? God has infinite options for condemning disobedience, and that’s what He goes with? OK.

Unbelievers will be encouraged to examine the evidence for theism

I agree.

The question is: For what purpose?

Liberals relegate scripture as myth, legend, or fable in order to discount the veracity of the Bible

Examples of “Liberals” please.

“The skies declare His glory – HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THE SKY?” (Checkmate, atheists!)

The beauty of the world is one reason I believe in a god.

But: Different strokes for different folks.

You can’t change people’s minds, only the Holy Spirit can do that; you can only point them in the right direction

I believe that God, being God, allows all things to be possible since all things, ultimately, have their source in Him.

However: I don’t see how a person will come to believe in God without using their free will. After all: Just like how you can’t force someone to love you, you can’t force someone to believe in you. Which it sounds like what the Holy Spirit is doing here — flipping the “I believe in God” switch in your brain itself.

“The virgin birth is true because God” (I specifically pointed out to myself in my notes that this was a direct quote from my teacher)

*Groan*

Noah’s Ark is hard to understand, but we can believe it, because believing something comes before understanding it, not the other way around

I agree. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a leap of faith.

For example: If I’m slowly dying, and my best friend says they’re going to help me, than for the sake of our friendship I’m going to trust that the person who says “I have your best interests at heart” really does have my best interests at heart. After all: I don’t want to lose my best friend like Max lost Chloe:

For more: Chloe, Euthanasia, and Seeing All Ends

We don’t understand wind either, but we believe that it’s there because we can see its effects!

Really? That’s the best you can do?

One difference between God and the wind: Wind destroys mindlessly, and God does not.

Hurricane Harvey wasn’t sentient; it wasn’t aware that it was passing through Houston.

I want my tuition money back.

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13 Reasons Why: How To Talk About Suicide?

Recently, a study came out showing that 13 Reasons Why was potentially responsible for an increase in suicidal thoughts:

’13 Reasons Why’ may have lead to spike in suicidal thoughts

13 Reasons Why

Which caused me to think about Kate’s suicide in Life Is Strange.

Even though the scene goes against the World Health Organization’s guidelines for portraying suicide — i.e., don’t show the suicide attempt (don’t show Kate going through with it) — the reason I myself am OK with that, is this:

People have the chance to prevent Kate’s death.

There’s nothing stopping a person from replaying the scene with Kate on the roof until they get the outcome they want.

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Which is why I believe that, when it comes to portraying heavy issues like suicide, episodic games like Life Is Strange are better at it than television series like 13 Reasons Why because, ultimately, the choices a character makes, and how characters respond to those choices, are up to the viewer/player, not up to a writer who could have a different interpretation than you of the story you’re experiencing:

From the very beginning, I agreed that we should depict the suicide with as much detail and accuracy as possible. I even argued for it—relating the story of my own suicide attempt to the other writers.
Nic Sheff

To an extent not possible with a Netflix series, an episodic video game’s story is only as harmful as the person experiencing that story allows it to be.

For example: Want to send the message that, when it comes to suicide, it is not others, but the suicidal person themselves, who is responsible for their actions?* Don’t wait for anyone else to say so; send that message yourself by pressing Square:

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*Where the show romanticizes the aftermath of suicide, it also blames everyone in Hannah’s life.
How ’13 Reasons Why’ gets suicide wrong

Destiny 2’s Story Makes No Sense

So, if the cutscene at the end of the first mission is anything to judge by, in Destiny 2 we lose our Light after Dominous Ghaul puts something around The Traveler.

Destiny

Despite the plot hole of, having been brought back to life with Light at the beginning of the first game, we should now be nothing but bones again since our Light has been taken from us…

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…I have a question:

How does Ghaul’s machine drain us, a Guardian, of our Light?

The reason I ask is: The Traveler has been dead before…

Image result for destiny the traveler created the ghosts

…and that didn’t stop us from doing this:

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At the end of Destiny (2014), we are informed by our Ghost that “…Light returns to the Traveler!”

Image result for destiny shroud of darkness is lifting

The implication being that, before that moment, The Traveler was Light-less.

And yet, despite that, we were able to kill a god:

Destiny: The Black Heart by ZER0GEO

(Click here to go to where I found this picture.)

So, how does putting a barrier around The Traveler so its Light can’t escape, or draining The Traveler of its Light (it’s impossible, for now, to know what exactly is happening) effect us since we have clearly been shown to be able to wield Light without the assistance of The Traveler? (The Traveler being dead and, thus, not able to assist us.)

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Why Destiny 2’s Plot Is The Same As Destiny 1’s

So, if Bungie’s words are anything to judge by, the plot of Destiny 2 (2017) can be summed up like this:

Losing everything after an unexpected attack, you must go on a journey to reclaim all that has been lost.

Which is the same plot as Destiny (2014). For 4 reasons:

1) In Destiny, the “unexpected attack” is by minions of The Darkness:

Image result for destiny the heart of the black garden

In Destiny 2, the “unexpected attack” is by minions of The Darkness:

Image result for destiny 2 dominus ghaul

2) Going on “a journey to reclaim all that has been lost” means:

In Destiny, you start out with nothing, having come back from the dead. From there, you discover The Traveler and learn to wield its Light.

Image result for destiny you've been dead

Image result for destiny the traveler

In Destiny 2, you start out with nothing, having come back from nearly being killed. From there, you discover a piece of The Traveler and learn to wield its Light.

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3) In Destiny, The Traveler is crippled in a battle:

Image result for destiny ancient enemy

In Destiny 2, The Traveler is crippled in a battle:

Image result for destiny 2 the traveler

4) In Destiny, humanity is at its lowest point yet.

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In Destiny 2, humanity is at its lowest point yet.

Image result for destiny 2 the city

If the similarities between the two games’ stories are anything  to judge by, people will be complaining about Destiny 2‘s story. But not in the way that Bungie wants.

Image result for destiny i don't have time to explain

Video Games Are Art

Art: The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. (Thanks, Google.)

My favorite moment in Life Is Strange: Episode 1, Chloe’s house — Max sits on the swing that the deceased father of her best friend built for the two of them and thinks back to happier times.

Despite the prompt to get up — “Space Get Up” — you can sit on the swing for as long as you want.

If this 1 minute and 49 seconds isn’t an “expression or application of human creative skill and imagination” in a “visual form” that is beautiful and emotionally powerful, than I don’t know what is.

0:17 — 2:06:

Why I Have Mixed Feelings About “Life Is Strange: Before The Storm”

Life Is Strange (2015) is my favorite video game, and one of my favorite stories, ever.

So when a prequel —  Life Is Strange: Before The Storm — was announced at E3 2017…

…a part of me screamed “Yes!” while another part moaned “No!”

Why?

Well, as Cracked put it: The past was more interesting before we saw it happen.

When a magician hears the audience gasp and say, “How’d he do that?” he does not turn around and loudly announce, “Oh, the rabbit’s in my assistant’s ass.” Similarly, professional writers know that there are some questions that their audience doesn’t want answered, even though they think they do. Like a magician, a writer wants his audience to live in that space between knowing and wanting to know. That’s what keeps them coming back for more.

Having watched the trailer three times, my feelings towards it are more positive than they were on my first watch. For example: Before The Storm seems to be delving into Chloe’s psyche through the use of nightmares — Chloe dreams she is in the car on the day of her dad’s accident — like Life Is Strange did with Max near the end of Episode 5. (Max’s nightmare being one of my favorite sections of that game.) But… but…

sigh

You know the airport fight in Godzilla (2014)? The fight that you never saw happen?

Here’s why I’m ultimately glad Gareth Edwards cut away right before Godzilla and the MUTO went at it: The fight I imagine will  be superior to the fight I see.

And it’s the same with Before The Storm: The story I imagine will be superior to the story I see.

Another aspect of Before The Storm that has me thinking Don’t do that is the crow imagery:

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Depending on who you talk to, crows are considered bad luck. And Chloe, to put it lightly, could be called unlucky.

Image result for life is strange train gif

The crow imagery reminds me of the Chosen One prophecy in the “Star Wars” prequels.

Thanks to the prequels, now in Return of the Jedi the Emperor’s death isn’t the result of Darth Vader choosing to save his son’s life — it’s the fulfillment of a prophecy.

The crow imagery has the potential to change Chloe’s death in Life Is Strange from a tragic accident…

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…to the cruel, calculated machinations of the universe: The universe has it out for Chloe, and won’t stop until she loses everything — her dad, her best friend and, finally, her life.

Which would make sense, given what we hear in Life Is Strange:

Image result for life is strange chloe punished by the universe

But still: I would rather have Chloe’s death be an accident, not the fulfillment of the universe’s sadistic plan for one Arcadia Bay teen.

One reason why: Chloe’s fate being set in stone — if the crow imagery is anything to judge by — robs the “Life Is Strange” series of one of its most thought-provoking attributes: Choice.

Image result for life is strange whoever said we had a single fate

At the end of Life Is Strange, Chloe could have “forced” Max to make one choice or another by, for example, putting her step-dad’s gun to Max’s head and telling her “Don’t go back in time and allow me to die.” But she didn’t. Chloe chose to allow Max to make her own choice. Ultimately, it was free will, not fate, that killed Chloe.

Image result for life is strange final choice

Of course, all of this is just a reaction to the first trailer. I’ll have to play the game in its entirety before I have the… big picture.

Image result for life is strange max taking a picture

But I’m praying like Kate Marsh that Beyond The Storm isn’t what I fear it is.

Image result for life is strange kate marsh

Why I Stopped Watching “13 Reasons Why”

Note: Language. And spoilers for Life Is Strange.

Recently, I decided to see if the popular Netflix series 13 Reasons Why was worth the hype.

I got halfway through episode 4 before I stopped.

I was willing to accept the premise: A high school girl blames everyone expect herself for the choice she makes.

Image result for 13 reasons why hannah
There’s one person holding the knife, Hannah — you.

I was willing to forgive our protagonist masturbating to a picture of the girl who would eventually kill herself — a scene I skipped when it became all too clear what Clay was doing with that cloth he pulled our of a drawer. Watching a teenage boy masturbate is not my idea of entertainment.

Image result for 13 reasons why clay
“My computer is the only one who gets me.”

But the straw that broke the camel’s back was characters’ refusal to talk to each other about their struggles.

Whether it was teens talking to teens, teens talking to their parents, or teens talking to authority figures, it’s like there’s a force-field around the characters of 13 Reasons Why preventing person-to-person interaction.

I know mystery is a pillar of drama, but 13 Reasons Why felt needlessly complex. It felt like mystery for the sake of mystery: Mystery at the expense of common sense. If people just sat down and said “___ is how I’m feeling. And ___ is why,” the question of “What do we do about Hannah Baker’s suicide?” would be answered in 5 seconds.

The most infuriating character of all was Tony.

Image result for 13 reasons why tony

I kept hoping that someone would pin Tony against a wall, tell him to cut the bullshit (pardon my French), and just explain what his deal is.

Because, Tony, to quote Jack Sparrow:

While watching 13 Reasons Why, I would always eventually think to myself “I would rather be playing Life Is Strange.” One reason why being: The characters in Life Is Strange actually talk to each other about what they’re going through.

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Maybe I’ll give the series another chance soon. After all: This could all just be hyperbole — I could be totally wrong and characters in 13 Reasons Why really do open up to each other. But my first impression was not a good one. The impression I walked away with from the 4 episodes I watched was: A lot of cloak-and-dagger with no method to its madness other than stringing out the story of a teenage girl’s suicide for as long as possible:

’13 Reasons Why’ Officially Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix