E-Sports vs. Sports

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I love competition, and I’m definitely not the only one. Sports are a fantastic way to supplement our competitive spirit. We love to cheer on our favorite teams and watch the opposition lose in agonizing defeat. And while I’ve always enjoyed watching traditional sports, I don’t really follow the players and the teams.

This year is the first year I’m managing my own fantasy team for American football. So far I’ve achieved a 2 and 0 record with a projected third week win. I have a rough idea of what I’m doing but I’m not totally confident in my managing ability. And while this fantasy team has me following football better than any other year previously, I just don’t have the same passion or engagement as I do with my other competitive love.

E-Sports.

E-Sports is short for “electronic sports”. This term encapsulates the entirety of competitive video gaming. The biggest e-Sports being played right now are, DOTA 2, League of Legends and Starcraft 2 for the PC. Now the reason I feel more engaged and passionate about e-Sports is twofold. In traditional sports, it’s much harder for someone to start or join a team and compete in the sport they love. E-Sports on the other hand, are video games available to and played by the public. Often times these games have competitive ladders for players. These ladders and tournaments are the same ones being played by the professionals. What this means is that e-Sports are more readily available and playable to the general public than traditional sports. As long as you have the drive and the skill, you can play on the same level as a professional player.

The second reason is the ability to understand the game not from just a spectator standpoint, as is the case with football, but from a player standpoint. Because the games you’re watching are also the ones you’re playing, you have personal experience to be able to draw from and understand the game better.

Let’s take a look at football and League of Legends and use those as examples to examine our ability to understand, sympathize and enjoy the game. Football is a very select sport. Only the best of the best can play and spectators will never understand what it’s like to be the player. Even though we understand when an incredible play is being made, we can only compare it to what we’ve seen. We can never understand it from the perspective of a professional football player because we’ve never been in that environment or have played with the exact rules that the NFL uses. We lose a whole dimension of competition.

Now look at League of Legends. The game that you watch during the World Series is the exact same game that you’re playing. You have experience playing the same champions, with the same rule sets and on the same playing fields. You have a whole level of knowledge as it pertains to the game from your own experience to better appreciate the professional level.

To me, this is what makes e-Sports more exciting and invigorating to watch. I can watch the game knowing how difficult it is to pull off the combo I just saw. I can appreciate the necessary team work and map control that it requires to accomplish a victorious team fight. It’s a matter of understanding it better because it’s the same thing I play at home. E-Sports is continuing to grow, and for good reason. It’s dynamic and inclusive. Players get to experience the game on a whole new level, both in watching and participating.

This is the first part on a series revolving around my passion for e-Sports. Next time, I want to talk about how e-Sports will become the next big competitor to American Football, here in the United States, and Football around the rest of the world. Be sure to subscribe to my blog to receive the next part!

My Struggle with Worship Music

Before we get into the meat of what I want to write about, let me be clear that this is purely my viewpoint. In other words, I’m not trying to offend people with my take on worship, if you feel different, that’s alright.

I want to set aside this article to talk about worship in modern churches. Specifically how generic and bland it feels to me.

Blimey Cow made a video that was a sarcastic parody of how modern worship tends to stay very much the same and rarely finds any deviation from the norm.

Let me make a quick point and say that it’s not a problem if you enjoy this kind of worship music. I understand that this kind of music is some peoples favorite and that’s awesome. After all it’s the content and the focus of the song that matters the most, not necessarily how it’s presented. I don’t want to sit here and talk about how our worship music needs to be flashy and edgy; that’s not the point of worship music, and if that’s what we’re focusing on, then there’s a problem. Gods glory needs to be the center of worship music and that’s final. However, I personally feel like our worship music is still pretty shallow.

Worship is defined a number of different ways in the Bible. Tommy West (2013) gives us an extensive list of actions and scriptures to look at and consider. Some of those actions include serving others, giving gifts, observing holy days, prayer, as well as song and dance. Worshiping God is about being thankful to him and for what he’s done. It’s about giving of our time, talent and treasure to him. It includes a wide variety of things.

To me, worship isn’t limited to one generic style of song writing or cord progression. It’s about pouring ourselves out and making ourselves vulnerable to God. We willingly open up and express our thoughts, feelings, concerns and joys to him and that’s what worship music helps us to do. But for me, the music we sing on Sundays and Wednesdays or whatever days that you go to worship, isn’t enough. It doesn’t express my true feelings, it doesn’t relay my real concerns and it doesn’t reveal the true depth of my thoughts.

Read the lyrics that I’ve posted first and then listen to the song (or a least a part of it) because it will be relevant to my next point.

Oh the depths of riches, like the water that fills the earth
The knowledge of my Creator who gives me worth
And though I crave to know all of the patterns of this world
Is endless for it’s beyond tracing out

So from as far as I’ve seen there is a great hoard against me
Because I am a man sights see targets on my back
For all our hearts are not clean and the archers fire freely
Because I am a man sights see targets

For every knee will bow and every tongue confess
That you are God! For you are God!
His image bears the sight of the unseen King
His name is ever pleasing for this we do sing
Father of grace and mercy has poured out His wrath
Forever Your name proclaims!

The Father of grace and mercy has poured out His wrath completely
On His Son for our sake we are free who brought the Lamb to slaughter for me

Oh the depths of riches, like the water that fills the earth
The knowledge of my Creator who gives me worth
I have not a gift to bring for all things are from Him and glory forever
But as their arrows are drawn there is refuge in view

Now don’t get me wrong I am the least of these
I have no knowledge to give or power to seize
I have not a gift or a planned endeavor
For all things are from Him and glory forever

There is love! Here is love! This is love! There is love!
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Have they not been made such a
fool in their squalor?
For they desired a sign and sought for the wise
When the precursor of life was right in front of their eyes

Oh death, oh death
Has lost it’s sting on me
Oh death, oh death
You’ve been forever conquered

The Father of grace and mercy has poured out His wrath completely
On His Son for our sake we are free who brought the Lamb to slaughter for me

This is a song that really hits home with me and really express how I feel. The song, Dear G-d, is one of my favorites because if there was one song that really described how I feel, it would be this one. The line “I’m trying my best to be a better man. Despite all my fears, I really am.” made me cry the first time (and a couple times after…) I heard it. To me, that song is real, it’s about the desperation a lot of us feel throughout our lives, like we’ve really jacked things up to the point where we can’t ever fix them again. It’s the kind of song you would sing falling to your knees sobbing for forgiveness.

Now I realize that this isn’t everyone’s kind of music. You may not be a big fan of the screaming, but for me, it more passionately expresses the feeling. But this article isn’t a crusade to try and insert postcore Christian metal into our worship services (though I wouldn’t mind). [EDIT]And I do realize why worship music is as generic as it is in order to please the greater number of people[/EDIT]. But I do feel like our worship music is lazy. I don’t mean that as a knock to everyone who’s apart of the worship teams out there, I hope you realize how important and vital your role is, and how greatly I appreciate the way you volunteer your time like that. But I do challenge you, with whatever amount of control you have over your situation, to try and change things up. I’m not asking for more lights, metal music or fog machines in our worship centers, but I do want you to provoke people in a new way. Make your audience think about and praise God in a new way. I have a hard time believing we have God all figured out. It’s not just up to the Pastor to get us thinking, it’s your job as well. Preaching is different from worship. Worship is directed at God, preaching is directed at people. Both groups should constantly be challenging themselves to work harder to bring people to God as well as give him glory in new and greater ways.

In addition to those roles, I think we as church goers need to step out of the box and think of new ways that we can worship God musically and lyrically as well as other areas. It’s not enough for us to just attend and tithe. We need to give of our time to help grow our churches as well. We need to volunteer. It’s my firm belief (Oh, it’s also the Bibles) that everyone needs to help grow followers in Christ. You need to be plugged in and helping the church in some way. If you don’t have time, then I think your priorities may need to be reconsidered. If you’re not sure where to go, find people within the church to talk to and don’t forget to pray.

Closing thought. Even though I may not be a big fan of mainstream worship songs in our churches, and if you’re in the same boat as me, we still need to sing in church with a joyful and thankful heart. Because at the end of the day, your feelings are not priority, your love for God is.

References

Tommy West (2013) – http://www.biblestudy.org/question/how-many-ways-to-worship-god.html

Bob Deffinbaugh (2013) – http://bible.org/seriespage/worship-part-1-john-41-26

Road to MLG Anaheim

For those of you who know me well, you know how near and dear gaming is to my heart. You know how passionate I get when I talk about my favorite moments and you know how serious I can be when I play competitively. I take it pretty seriously.

I’ve been speaking to a good friend of mine for awhile now about my interest in getting back into the competitive gaming scene.

Having played Gears of War 3 competitively for it’s short duration, I was eager to get back into it after such a long hiatus.

I learned a lot about myself as I played that game on a level beyond the casual. Every movement was analyzed, every situation attacked from different perspectives. Learning to lead and be led in a team of players. It was painful to play through the hard moments and spend the vast amount of time practicing but also rewarding to see the progress we made.

With Call of Duty (CoD) Black Ops 2 being on the Major League Gaming (MLG) circuit this year I’ve been thinking more seriously about playing it competitively.

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Credit to Team EG for the picture.

I’ve been playing with a few friends from work, and while they play very well and we’ve made it into Masters League, I feel they’re still too new to a team setting to really take gaming to it’s “nose to the grindstone” level of requirement. Getting angry at the game is normal, but it’s about how you’re going to control yourself and make yourself better. Competitive play is about taking the emotion out of the game and putting your skill to its greatest test. You can’t let your anger get in the way, and you have to overcome your doubt.

However, I did speak to my old teammate for the first time in awhile today and catch up on how he and his current team have been doing, and while it would be unwise to say that I’ve definitely found a team for MLG Anaheim in June, I’d say I have a good chance.

That means I’ve got to put the work into this game like I used too. What does that entail? Do I have to sacrifice time with friends, family, loved ones, school and work? No, not necessarily. It does mean more of my time is tied up (if that’s even possible), but it’s something that can work around my current schedule.

Ultimately it’s about balance and timing. Organization is key.

I would love to finally say I’ve been to an official competition as a competitor, so I do hope this team situation works out. I’d love to compete again.

Reload, refocus, respawn.