My Father, The Gamer

This year parents across the country will have to make one of the most important decisions of their lives for their children:

Xbox One or Playstation 4?

When the two next-gen systems are released in the fall gamers will be divided on which is the superior system. Eager fans will camp outside electronic stores to be the first on the block to have their preferred console.

It happened with the Xbox 360 and the PS3. And the original Xbox and PS2. And so on and so on.

It will happen again for whatever the next great advancement in gaming technology will be when these systems get discarded. Yes, even the Xbox One and PS4, which seem revolutionary and impossible to top at this point, will eventually become paperweights at the feet of the next great system.

Perhaps, though, for one child this year one game on one system will have as profound an impact on their lives as the video game I wanted more than any other when I was young.

Almost 20 years ago on Christmas morning, Santa Claus brought me a brand new Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Better yet, the game system came complete with the Super Mario World game.

To this day the Super Nintendo, and Super Mario, remains one of the best gifts I have ever received. In fact I still have both and they still work perfectly.

The reason Super Mario stands out as one of my favorite gifts isn’t so much because of the gameplay, or the graphics or the hours I spent in front of the TV playing it. Super Mario World was a great gift because of my dad.

I’ve never been very good at video games. I’ve pretty much retired from gameplay because of a nasty temper that erupts in response to the complexity of modern games. In other words, when I get mad at a game I’ve been known to break a controller or three.

Even a game like Super Mario was not something I could beat on my own. So when I was a kid, before I would try my hand at a game, I would ask my dad to play it first.

He wasn’t crazy about video games, but on occasion he would indulge me. As he sat on the couch easily conquering level after level, I would stare on the floor in amazement.

My father ran through the castles, collected coins, rescued princesses and opened up new worlds for me to explore. My dad was able to do things in the game I could never do on my own.

To have my dad overcome the villains for me so I could explore the world of Super Mario safely – what a special gift that was. You might even say it’s the same gift we celebrate each year at Christmas.

After all, it was our Father God who came to play the game of life on Christmas Day. He saw our struggles and entered our world in order to do what we could not. Along the way he endured every temptation and struggle common to man, withstanding them all.

God navigated the dangerous levels of this world, stomping on every evil henchman in his path before conquering the ultimate villain – death. He went to the cross for us and defeated the game.

Because of his victory we have the entire world open to us to explore. We still have to play the game of life, but we can play with confidence. In His own words He told us not fear, because he had overcome the world.

There is something special and comforting about having a Father willing to beat a game for you. As you play the game of life you will still have to face down enemies trying to steal your joy. May you walk onto the battlefield knowing someone has gone before you and He has already won.

(This is a revised version of a column I originally wrote for The Augusta Chronicle.)


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