Manic Mondays: Loving a Board Gamer

By Amy Toman

Last month we talked about loving a digital gamer. We touched on not being afraid, asking questions, entering their world and playing with them. A lot of these same ideas apply to a board gamer as well as the others I am going to mention today.

Monopoly, Sorry, Chess and Checkers are some games that come to mind when someone mentions that they play board games. These are some great games, but are not the typical games that board gamers prefer to play. The world of board gaming has expanded beyond what I would have ever thought. There are some new popular board games, such as Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan, that can be find in most major stores, as well as specialty game stores . Each board gamer is unique and has their own favorite type of games; some might like social deduction, worker placement, party games or any of that combination. Board gamers can be found anywhere and can be found playing any variety of board games, some you might have heard of and some you might not.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that there are many people you know who enjoy playing board games. The ways of loving a board gamer is a bit different than loving a digital gamer. Loving a board gamer can be done in a variety of places — from your house, your church, or even the local coffee shop — as opposed to occurring on a computer or digital platform. Here are some practical tips on how to love a board gamer in your community.

1.  Ask the individual if they enjoy playing board games and what their favorite is. I would bet that there is an individual in your life whom you are currently loving that is a board gamer but scared to let people know. When someone answers that they are a board gamer, show excitement and love for their games. Do not be surprised to hear that they spend many nights playing board games with different people and at different places, or that they have an entire closet filled with games. Asking questions and finding out what they enjoy is the first step in connecting.

2.  Invite them to your house or a public location for an afternoon of board gaming. Ask them to bring their favorite games and see if they are willing to teach you how to play. The difference in board gaming vs. digital gaming is that board games still need to happen in a face-to-face, physical location.  Use this time to learn a new game, but also learn about the gamer. Provide or purchase some food and drinks and get to know the individual on a more personal level while playing a fun game.

3.  PLAY TO LEARN, NOT TO WIN. This tip must be stated as it keeps your initial meeting fun, relaxed, and will lead to more. When you are first learning a game, play to learn the game, not to win.  Each board game will have basic rules that are required to play the game and underlying strategy options in order to win the game. Focus on the basic rules the first few times you play; once you learn the rules and learn more about the gamer, you can start trying different strategies that will improve your chances of winning.

4.  Go to a Meet Up.  This last tip is more about creating more relationships and finding local gamers, but it’s worth saying. Each city will have a board game meetup of some sort. For some, it occurs through a website called Meet Up; for others it might be gaming nights in your local game store. This is a great opportunity to get to know other gamers, but to also experience a little bit of gaming culture.

Digital gaming and board gaming may take place in different mediums, but there is a lot of overlap. Gaming has its subcultures just like everything else, but a gamer is an individual just like you. A gamer may look different, act different and enjoy different things than you, but they are also eager to share their love of games. Take a step out of your comfort zone and reach out to a gamer around you. Share God’s love with them, encourage them and spend time with them. Love them for who they are currently, the games they play and beliefs they have. Create a relationship and show them love just as God has shown love to us through the birth, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.

Manic Mondays: Loving a Digital Gamer

By Amy Toman

I wanted to let you all know how much we appreciate your prayers last week as the stomach bug swept through 3 out of 4 of us. I'm so excited to be back to Manic Mondays posts!

Last time we talked about support and the challenge of loving the gamers God has placed in your life. This week we will talk about some practical ways that you can love the digital gamers you meet.

First we must define what we mean by digital gamer. A digital gamer, for our purposes, is defined as anyone who plays games on PC (personal computer) or console (such as PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, or handheld devices such as Nintendo DS). This is a broad definition of a digital gamer and ecompasses all ages, backgrounds and gameplay. Now there are many different types of digital gamers, and I’m sure you’ve heard some of these words thrown around before; casual, RPG, MMO, MMORPG, MOBA and FPS.

Wait a minute…. How am I supposed to love someone when I don’t understand these letters? What do I talk to this millennial about? How do I relate to someone who plays something I don’t understand? Forming and creating a relationship with someone who is different then you can be a scaring, difficult thing. It is important to remember to think about the other person and ways in which you can help them I hope that I can give you a few tips to help you reach out to someone in your church, neighborhood, or friend who plays digital games.

  1. Don’t be scared! One of the most important things to remember is that gamers are people too. Just because you may not know what they're talking about doesn't mean that you should not approach them. Take a chance and walk up to a digital gamer and say hi.
  2. Ask Questions. The digital gamer you know may not seem very chatty, but take the time to ask them what an MMORPG is. Ask them about their favorite game, device, controller and why. Once you step into their world, even the most loner gamer will open up about their favorite digital game.
  3. Enter their world with yours. Give their world a chance. Once you've asked some basic questions, find out what else they enjoy. Do they love gameplay, art, stories? What intrigues them about the games that the are playing. Do they play alone or in a group?  Can you relate to any of the topics they start mentioning?
  4. Play with them. After spending time entering their world and learning about their interests, ask if you can play with them. If playing the game isn't possible, ask if you can watch and follow through! Spend time watching them play and getting to know them through the game they play.

These tips are just a start to loving a digital gamer in your life. Loving anyone takes work, but loving a gamer may take an extra few steps on educating yourself first. God has called us to love those he has placed in our lives, and I’m going to bet that there is a gamer he has already placed in your life; you just need to find him/her. As we approach Valentine's Day, take the time to pray that God would show you a digital gamer in your life that you can love. Maybe even send them some chocolate on Valentine's Day to let them know that God loves him and so does God’s people.

Manic Mondays: Support

By Amy Toman

Support is such an easy word to understand but such a hard concept to fully grasp. I thought I knew all about supporting those that I love; I figured, hey, it can't be that hard to be a supportive wife. I’ve always thought that being supportive would be a simple act, that is until I was forced to play a support in League of Legends. Back in the day (you know, before the kiddos arrived) while Jacob was at seminary, we would play League together: him at school on break from classes, me at home pregnant with Alethea. Most of the time, I played solo Mid Lane, all by myself with others to help me if needed. I always said I played Mid because the character I chose worked best in that situation, but that wasn’t true. It was easier to play alone in the lane. It was easier to not have to rely on someone else to help, or get in the way while destroying minions.  

Back to the time I had to play support, it was HORRIBLE. Playing support seemed easy: you just have to make sure everyone else, particularly your AD Carry, got the kills. No problem, right? HUGE PROBLEM! I was horrible at coordinating with the AD Carry and making sure I only hit a minion or competitor enough to decrease their health but not actually kill them. Now I was VERY lucky that this game was against the computer so people weren’t too mad at me, but never again will I play support in League.

Luckily, I am not that horrible at being a support in our family. One of the first things people ask me when we speak at churches and with ministry supporters is what I think about Gospel and Gaming. Do I support my husband in this ministry, or is this something he’s doing alone? I am always quick to answer the truth, that Gospel and Gaming is a ministry that we started together, and that we are in together. My role is much like that of other missionary wives and pastors wives, supporting my husband.

Supporting my husband takes many different shapes and forms, and it changes daily, but ultimately it comes down to a few things: being there for him, running our household and loving those that God has placed in our life.

Being there for my husband is something that I am so blessed to be able to do. It is not always easy to start a new ministry, especially one as crazy as the one we have started. Taking the time to be together is one way of supporting my husband. Our lives, like many, are very busy and we try to be very diligent with scheduling time together; sometimes this is watching TV late at night when the kids go to bed, sometimes it’s going on lunch dates and other times it’s just taking a walk with the kids. Puttting my husband first is a great way I show him how important he is and how much I support him in our ministry.

Now, running the household might not seem like an obvious way of supporting my husband, but trust me, it is. Gospel and Gaming currently runs out of the office, which is located in our basement. This means that Jacob works from home, as well as other employees and volunteers for Gospel and Gaming. Keeping the house clean, kids fed and happy, and Jacob fed are HUGE forms of support. Running the household includes the house being clean and presentable so individuals can use the kitchen and bathroom as needed. It includes providing mostly healthy and nourishing meals to Jacob and Gospel and Gaming employees/volunteers to allow them to complete the work they need to do. Planning and providing the little things helps Gospel and Gaming do what it does best: ministering to others online, and discipling fellow Christians.

The first 2 ways that I support Jacob were in very practical, visible ways; this third one, not so much. One thing that Jacob and I have been focusing on is loving those that God has placed in our life. I’m not sure how many people realize the love that Jacob has for those he ministers to and works alongside. Loving people is difficult but also rewarding. Although I am not daily ministering to gamers, I still love them. It can be difficult to love gamers who not only don’t believe in God, but have a hatred toward Him. Loving those that God has placed in the path of Gospel and Gaming is a vital component of ministry and an important role of support that I play, but also that you can play.

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Whenever you see or hear someone talking about a video game, say a quick prayer for Gospel and Gaming and the gamers we minister to. Whenever you are at church or a Bible Study and are reminded of how much God loves you, say a prayer for those who don’t know him. Whenever you look around at your community of support, say a prayer for the gamers who are alone in life. Whenever you see an update about Gospel and Gaming, say a pray for Jacob, Michael and Ben. Gospel and Gaming cannot happen without YOUR support, YOUR love for gamers. Loving people is hard, but today I challenge you to find a gamer in your midst and reach out to them, love them, show them God’s love.

Stay tuned for next week’s Manic Mondays to find out some tips on how to show God’s love to the gamers in your life.