When I was a little kid, I often saw commercials that said, “Don’t drink and drive,” and then I’d see my dad drinking while he was driving. It was usually on long trips to visit family in Florida that I remember this happening. And with 4 rowdy kids in the back with no batteries in their Gameboys, could you really blame him?
But before I get in trouble with my dad, I’ll make it crystal clear for you; he didn’t drink alcohol while he was driving. It was usually coffee or ice water. But all I remember from those TV ads is the warning, and so I thought my dad was breaking the law every time we had a family vacation.
I should’ve spoken up. You know, so I wasn’t aiding and abetting a felon! But then I’d find batteries between the crack in my seat and start playing Tetris.
Maybe because you wanted it, got it as part of a bundle deal, it was inherited through marriage, or you just never got rid of the N64 you had in college, but according to Nielson research over half of all households own a gaming console. That doesn’t mean everyone actually plays them, like my Wii, for instance. Up until a few weeks ago, I almost forgot I had it and that’s when it occured to me that I should either use it or sell it. So I fired it up. There are the obvious favorites like Wii bowling, Mario Kart, and often my choice, Excite Truck. But it was one of my first few friends in Nashville that got me hooked on Dr. Mario. Sarah and her roommate Kara had an original Nintendo so on nights I was downtown working late, I’d stop by their apartment on the way home. I’d say it was to unwind with a few Dr. Mario wins, but 1. The matches were intense and 2. Sarah usually won.
Now I have Dr. Mario on the Wii and when I powered the console on, I decided to call in a prescription that can only be filled by one guy. A plumber actually. That’s right. I knocked off the rust and sharpened my virus-killing skills. There’s a reason why this particular game has been popular since it’s introduction in 1990. I’m obsessed. I play in the morning, in the evening, during halftime of any game I’m watching. Manipulating the pills as they drop is as addicting as real pills! I almost feel like I need to go to rehab. But it’s not a problem, I can quite whenever I want.
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with FIFA ’12, a soccer game on the PS3. Honestly, there’s a little part of me that feels like I should keep this to myself because I’m not a gamer. I sure as heck don’t want to come across as one, because I love the outdoors. I’m not fond of wearing headsets, chatting with gamers online about the latest World of Warcraft, sitting in a dark room with cheese puffs in a bowl next to me. But man, FIFA soccer is really fun. I haven’t played a soccer video game since college with my roommate Mike LaFavre. We played, gosh it must’ve been FIFA ’99 which seems like forever ago. I’m sure he’d still destroy me because Mike was good on Playstation soccer, and even better in real life.
What continues to amaze me are the graphics and the life-like look/actions of the players. It’s remarkable how realistic it all is. Games have come a long way since the days of Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt (pictured below), that’s for sure. Ah, well, I’ll just chalk this up to having fun in the winter/spring till the sun comes back to play.
Even new gaming systems, with their advanced graphics and global interactivity, still offer the one thing that everyone wants: a reset button. A chance to erase what just happened and do better.The first game system I had was the original Nintendo. My brother and I played Tecmo Bowl for hours and hours… then we’d go eat breakfast. There were other games but that one and Mario Brothers were our favorites. The Nintendo console only had 2 buttons: power and reset. The latter was used in 2 situations: when the game was frozen or when you were losing so bad and wanted to start over. The underlying idea here is that people love having another chance to do better and sometimes in real life, I find myself searching for the reset button. Like I’ve reached level 3 but continue making the same mistakes I made on level 1. Idiot! Now I’ve only got a little bit of strength left. I’ll never save the princess, so boop, hit reset and start again. Erasing the memory. Starting over. I wish it was that easy.
I’m about to get all spiritual now because the more I think about it, the more I believe Jesus can be the reset button. Look at the woman caught in adultery. Jesus basically hit the reset button for her. Same with guys that cheated in their jobs, people that had diseases or blindness, or even people that had it all together. Jesus offered them a chance to start over. And what’s just as cool as this, he also offers a way to regain strength when it’s low. It’s by having hope in him. He says we can soar on wings like eagles (kind of like Mario with the star that let you run through anything or jump really high, only cooler).
Isaiah 40:31 “…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Oh, another cool game was Excite Bike. Heck yes, I’d like to create my own race track! So when we feel like we just blew a big interview, a promising first date, or a chance to do whatever it is we wanted to do, just like an old Nintendo game, sometimes blowing it is exactly how to get things working again. We can learn from these mistakes. But the renewal, the second chance, the getting stronger part, that truly comes from Jesus. Then, like the skinny little boxer in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, we can keep going. Keep battling. Face our challenges, however big they are, and deliver the knockout punch.