Apex Legends, Borderlands 3, and the “Loot Shooter” Mindset (Genesis 40)

MMMMmmmm… can you smell it?  No… I am not talking about smelling what the Rock is cooking (I have a feeling it is mostly egg whites.  I mean… LOOK at him.  That’s not a human being built on Taco Bell.)  And NO, I am not talking about the smell of Christmas decorations that are already in stores when it is only August (I will save that rant for a later time.  But seriously… it is AUGUST people.)  Nope… it’s something else… something fresh… something undeniably alluring… it’s that sweet, sweet smell of new LOOT in the air that can only mean we have some new loot shooters and/or expansions to our current faves on the horizon.  And with all that new, fresh, savory loot to pillage comes all of the fun, excitement, and disappointment that comes with the hunt.

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“Loot shooters” such as Borderlands, Apex Legends, Destiny, Warframe, and many others are built on the desire to upgrade your equipment, skills and abilities throughout the game until you achieve the maximum power level on your weapon, optimal efficiency with your gear, or fully max out your powers.  These are incredibly addictive pursuits that can keep you constantly coming back for “just one more” round, raid, or quest in hopes that the next one will be the one you have been searching for.  The satisfaction of finding that “final item” tends to be fleeting, though.  Because just as soon as you find the “MacGuffin” that you are sure will change your life or unlock the final upgrade on your list, a new expansion rolls in that sends you right back out on the road in search for that next level all over again.

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I am certain you have felt this feeling as well at some point in one of your many conquests.  You know… that raw, delicious adrenaline rush that comes when you have just vanquished a challenging boss or completed a tremendously difficult mission and it’s time to get your “loot”.  Is it an armor piece that you have been needing for quite some time to complete your set?  Perhaps a powerful new weapon that will dramatically change the way you play the game?  Hopefully it is a new power that will enable you to reach areas that you previously were unable to explore.  Or… will it be a weak, pointless, or redundant item that will make you re-think your life and possibly purchase a new controller after you gently destroy your current one in frustration?  There is only one way to find out…

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This is honestly a fairly intelligent design concept from a game developer’s perspective, and with the new focus on “Games as a Service” from many gaming companies it is ESSENTIAL that they are able to continue to monetize these expensive ventures for more than just the 45 day launch window of many current video game titles.  So to keep us coming back for more, they make the pursuit of achieving our highest possible form a never-ending quest for completion.  The real question now becomes, “Why are we so consumed with the need for the shiniest loot and most impressive powers?”

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Truth be told, we don’t actually NEED these items to be successful in the game.  Many times they are purely cosmetic in design, or are only slightly better than what we had been using quite happily and contentedly just a few short minutes before.  But once we see someone else running around with that sweet, sweet loot it is hard to resist the siren’s call to acquire it for ourselves.  And while it is all fun and games in our gaming experiences, the truth is that this reveals itself in the real world far too often as well.  It simply looks different on the outside.

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Honestly, it would probably be pretty entertaining to watch if everyone in life was literally running from one building to another, room to room, fighting over glowing chests to open and shiny orbs to collect.  (I feel like there is a reality show in that idea that does NOT need to exist.)   But the truth is we ARE doing that, it just takes a different form.  Each of us have been given talents and abilities from our Creator.  These were chosen for us based on the specific path we were designed for in our lives.  Just like in our games, we have different “load-outs” that we have been assigned that coincide with exactly who were born to be and the destiny we were built for.  But the problems surface when we choose to selfishly consume our gifts for our own benefit instead of recognize their true purpose in our lives.

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In Genesis 40 we find the young slave Joseph in prison for crimes he did not commit.  Joseph had been given a tremendous gift… the ability to interpret dreams.  But rather than leverage that ability for selfish use and personal gain, he used it to help two of his fellow inmates gain an understanding of what their future held for them…

Genesis 40:1-13 It came to pass after these things that the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief butler and the chief baker. So he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison, the place where Joseph was confined. And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them; so they were in custody for a while.  Then the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, had a dream, both of them, each man’s dream in one night and each man’s dream with its own interpretation. And Joseph came in to them in the morning and looked at them, and saw that they were sad. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in the custody of his lord’s house, saying, “Why do you look so sad today?” And they said to him, “We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.” So Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.”  Then the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “Behold, in my dream a vine was before me, and in the vine were three branches; it was as though it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes. Then Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” And Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days. Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his butler. 

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The sad truth about the world we live in is that many of us long for gifts and talents, work hard to acquire followers and build platforms, and actively develop our God-given skills only to use them for our own selfish consumption.  In our current era, a person possessing the talent that Joseph had been given would probably have a stage show in Las Vegas or a television program to make money off of this incredible gift.  But in this passage Joseph makes it clear that whatever platform he had been given was not meant for his personal gratification, but for the benefit of OTHERS.

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We have all been given gifts, talents, and abilities from our Creator.  Some may be more visible than others, like a gold-plated weapon, but we all have them.  And so often we choose to use these only to advance ourselves in the workplace, improve our social status, or provide us with personal monetary gain.  These same skills that we chase, pursue and build are meant to benefit the kingdom of GOD and the souls around us, not merely our own personal storage lockers.  If you are wondering what your talent is for the kingdom of God… it is simple.  Whatever talent you are using in any other avenue of your life is YOUR God-given talent.  And it is intended to be used to benefit others and bring them to a closer knowledge of the Father.

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If you work in graphics design, your mission field is to use that to demonstrate God through your picture that would be worth over one thousand of my words.  Whatever our gifts are, whether it is in the arts, public speaking, finance, counseling, accounting… we were given these skills not to build OURSELVES a platform, but to build the platforms of OTHERS.  For Joseph, his interpretation of his fellow prisoner’s dreams made the connection for him to eventually interpret the dreams of the king of Egypt himself.  But that was not his end goal or even a destination he was aware that existed.  Honestly… he just wanted out of prison.  But because he was faithful with his gift to benefit those who he could reach within his current level of influence, he was granted a larger platform to help even more people.

Often we may become discouraged at the limited size of our sphere of influence or the less than awe-inspiring skills we possess.  But these talents and skills were given to us for a REASON… and the place we are expected to exercise those abilities is right where we are at right NOW.  The intention is not for us to simply grow our network or increase our influence… if we use our God-given talents the way He intended for us to, the right doors will open up exactly when they are supposed to.  But only if we prove ourselves unselfish and faithful with the mission field we already occupy… the one you are sitting in right now.  And by helping others to realize, understand, and achieve THEIR dreams, you will often find that your dreams, much like Joseph’s, will come to pass beyond your wildest expectations as well.

Matthew 25:21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

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