There are usually a few things in life one can look back on and pinpoint as a major life-changing event. I am only 25 so those events are quite few. This one event put me on a course for advancing the kingdom of God in a way I never imagined and involves a simple video game that was semi-popular when it first came out in 2006.
I’m sure most of you have at least heard of the Guitar Hero series of video games. Every time I walk into a Wal-Mart I see the big boxes of GH and Rockband boxes stacked high. In case you don’t know, Rockband is a much more fleshed out gaming experience than GH was originally designed to be. I sort of miss the days when most people thought these games were strange. These games have become a cultural phenomenon on their own but in my life they have had much more long-term meaning than hitting a barrage of colored notes with a fake plastic guitar.
In December 2006 my wife-to-be bought her brother, Matt, Guitar Hero II as a Christmas present, and I must confess, I had never heard of it and thought it strange myself. But hey, appearances aren’t everything. Sometime during January we visited Matt to play GH one night. As soon as I started playing I was hooked. I believe that very night my fiancée and I ran across town visiting store after store searching for the game. We got lucky and found one copy.
For those of you who have never played this game you must understand something about it. It in no way resembles real guitar playing. It takes some serious hand-eye coordination to get anywhere with this game and you must not care about looking stupid to get any good at it and you most definitely must not care about failing as you progress. You will fail and fail miserably. There are four difficulty levels and 8 tiers of 5 songs each. The higher the tier, the more difficult the songs become.
You have difficulties Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert. I remember testing Expert out in my early days just to see what it was like. “Forget that. I’ll never be able to play well enough to do that.” The difficulty was something I had never expected. I believe from that day my only long-term goal was to be able to “play” on Expert and didn’t care about beating the Expert career.
In March of 2007 I had moved past the stage of just being “hooked.” I had moved into full-blown addiction and determination to be the best at all costs. This really isn’t an exaggeration. Just ask my wife, family, and co-workers. American Vision even posted an article I wrote that contained an explanation of how GH works. There was even a video that showed an 8 year-old kid playing who was quite good. This 8 year-old was the one who got me addicted. He introduced me to the possibilities of having fun and being good at the same time. He also introduced me to either the worst or best website of my life depending on how you look at it. ScoreHero.com took me into its arms and embraced the GH addiction like it meant something. You could submit scores to see how you compared to others, there were charts with the best Star Power paths (special score multiplier), tips and tricks, and loads of wonderful community tidbits. It was self-help for those who only wanted help to continue their addiction. My dad began asking me the same question almost weekly as I became more involved: “Yeah, but can you do anything with this”?
From the ScoreHero.com resource I spent hours upon hours of refining my playing abilities and with a new-found knowledge of how to best play these digital songs dozens of times in a row just to get a few new high scores I set myself up for a new career path. Just stick with me a bit longer. We’re almost there.
This community I had found, this primitive resource of information was so basic. It had only one purpose; to make people extraordinary at a video game. It has accomplished this and much more with closing in on 500,000 members, yet I had joined at lowly #21,000 back when it was a niche game. The massive growth and success of this website showed me something. Scorehero really proved to me that content with a purpose is king. In real-estate it is location. Content is the location of the internet. The most boring website can be a huge success and an online forum can be a wonderful resource. It creates a community of like-minded individuals
who all can have one purpose, and when they are all focused on that purpose, great things can be accomplished.
How is any of this relevant in the Christian’s life? How did any of this change my life? The job I currently occupy, Director of Internet Services, at American Vision came about because of Guitar Hero and ScoreHero.
In a weird way Guitar Hero helped me see all of this with the untold amount of lost hours to my life playing Guitar Hero and browsing the ScoreHero forums. I started to read and read and read as much as I could about websites and design and content and anything else I could find. This information was useless to me at my old job as an accountant. At most it was trivia that I would never use; a bunch of useless information for an accountant.
After a while I started relaying the things I was learning to American Vision to help them create a better web presence. There was no one there who could help them implement any of these ideas and especially no one to help design and start up an online forum. Eventually I was offered the chance of helping American Vision with its mission “to restore America to its biblical foundation—from Genesis to Revelation.”
A new-found purpose overcame me from the day I began my new job. I have spent more time reading and studying God’s Word in the past year at American Vision than I have in the past 10. There is still much for me to learn and do, but I am doing everything in my power to take dominion. Where God takes me I do not know. He can use something as silly as a video game to turn a non-productive entertainment gizmo into a productive web presence that is affecting people around the world. My dad’s infamous line “yeah, but can you do anything with this?” was answered in a way neither he nor I ever imagined.