“Two there should be. No more, no less. One to embody power, the other to crave it.” – Darth Bane.
“Always two, there are. No more. No less. A master and an apprentice.” – Yoda.
Such were the old ways… not only in Star Wars, but in the handheld video game industry as well. Now, if we are being honest, Star Wars didn’t really do a great job sticking to this “Rule of Two” because there always seemed to be a whole bunch of Sith just running around all over the place… Darth Maul, Darth Sidious, Darth Tyrannus, Ventress, Savage Oppress, Crocodile Loki… okay, maybe Crocodile Loki isn’t canon and I just wanted him to be included. But other than ALL of these exceptions… there are always two. And in the handheld video game industry there have been MANY attempted successors to Nintendo’s handheld throne, but Nintendo has outlasted all of them. It seemed nobody would dare challenge Nintendo’s dominance in the portable gaming arena ever again… until now.
Nintendo has completely dominated the handheld scene for DECADES and defeated some pretty serious competitors along the way… competitors that often were superior from a technical standpoint. Sega was the first to truly challenge Nintendo’s reign with their Game Gear and Nomad handhelds… each offering bright, vivid colors and a near replication of the console experience to wage war against the monochrome screen of Nintendo’s Game Boy. When the dust settled, Sega was never quite the same and Nintendo laughed all the way to the bank. Sony tried to stretch their wings into the category with the PSP and the Vita, both of which were HUGE upgrades to Nintendo’s DS family of handhelds. Sony’s handhelds had internet connectivity, remote play functions, movies, music… their devices were sleek, powerful, and on paper Nintendo should have been ground into a fine powder by the impressive power of Sony’s handheld might. Two guesses as to which one survived… but the game may finally be about to change. Enter Steam…
Steam has confined themselves to dominating the PC market for years, redefining the user experience for purchasing and playing PC games. And they seemed to be content with their position… until now. With the announcement of the Steam Deck, the handheld wars that previously seemed to have been fully conceded to Nintendo have been dramatically reignited. This new entrant into the portable gaming field is truly a juggernaut, boasting desktop PC caliber graphics, full integration of Steam’s massive library of games, an attractive price point considering the hardware involved, and a controller layout that should feel instantly familiar to the player. It has been quite a while since such a formidable challenger has emerged to go one on one with the undisputed champion… but the real question may not be a matter of which one will survive, but if this is even TRULY a battle in the first place.
Looking strictly at the specs, the Steam Deck is the real deal. The vast amount of games that are already available for this device gives it considerable advantages over all of the handhelds that have come before… and the target audience for the Steam Deck probably already owns a large library of these games through their current Steam digital library, making it even more tantalizing. Nintendo finally pulled back the curtain on the new OLED version of the Nintendo Switch, but even this updated version of their tremendously successful console/handheld hybrid hardware is seriously outclassed by the what the Steam Deck is bringing to the table. So… should Nintendo be sweating? Will the Steam Deck finally find and exploit a vulnerability in the previously impenetrable armor of THE defining name in handheld gaming? In a word… No. But not for the reasons you may think.
The world of gaming tends to be an incredibly competitive place… by definition, most games involve some form of competition. Whether we are matched up against each other, against the computer AI, against the clock, or even just against ourselves…the nature of most video games is all about outwitting or outlasting our opposition. And in the gaming industry, we see this same concept played out in the real world, as rival developers and publishers each seem to engage in an eternal battle to stake their claim at the top of the food chain, or at least survive until the next hardware cycle. Some rise (Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft), some fall (Sega, Atari), and others seem to exist outside of the battle until they finally decide to jump in with both feet (Steam). Everyone wants their games/hardware to be bigger, faster, stronger, better… but the funny thing is, Nintendo does not seem to crave these things. And yet it endures. Time for a deeper look…
Few moments of brotherhood and unselfish ambition have been documented to the level of Jonathan, the son of King Saul and heir to his father’s throne, and David, the boy anointed by Samuel to be the future king of Israel. These two young men both represented the gravest of threats to each other… one was a mere shepherd boy who had been hand-selected by God to be the future king (1 Samuel 16:1-13), and the other was the crown prince and next in line for that SAME crown. They SHOULD have been mortal enemies… but as we will see, those competing priorities would not get in the way of understanding that their destiny was intertwined in SUPPORT of each other, not in competition with one another.
1 Samuel 18:1-4 Now when David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took David that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.
Jonathan recognized a kinship with David, and rather than seeing him as an adversary or obstacle, he received him as family. But sadly, even within the body of Christ this mentality is not always present. While we all serve the Lord in different capacities and with unique callings, it can be easy for us to become jealous or bitter towards those who seem to have been given “better” gifts, are serving a larger audience, or experiencing a seemingly higher level of “success”. Now we would never admit to this… no, that would be very “un-Christian”. But this line of thinking has its’ roots deep in the early church, and it hasn’t simply disappeared.
1 Corinthians 12:20-27 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
All members of the body share the same mission and the same goal… but some must sacrifice so that the others are able to fulfill their role. If my eyes want to see the view from the top of the mountain, my feet are going to have to do the painful part to walk up that long path to get there. If my stomach wants to be filled, my arms and back will have to perform the labor in order to purchase the food which it is requesting. That sacrificial place to support each other’s roles within the Kingdom of God can often feel thankless, lonely, and painful. But as Jonathan will show us, there is no place for selfish goals or division in the light of our shared destiny…
1 Samuel 19:1 Now Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David; but Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted greatly in David.
1 Samuel 20:27-33 And it happened the next day, the second day of the month, that David’s place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has the son of Jesse not come to eat, either yesterday or today?” So Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked permission of me to go to Bethlehem. And he said, ‘Please let me go, for our family has a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. And now, if I have found favor in your eyes, please let me get away and see my brothers.’ Therefore he has not come to the king’s table.” Then Saul’s anger was aroused against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Now therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, “Why should he be killed? What has he done?” Then Saul cast a spear at him to kill him, by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by his father to kill David.
Well… that escalated quickly. Saul had painted a bullseye on David’s back, and he had tried several times to murder him. Jonathan was not a big fan of this whole “murdering David” thing… even though the elimination of David would have been of personal gain to him. Saul painfully and directly pointed out that the continued existence of David was not only a threat to Jonathan’s future… it PREVENTED it. But Jonathan did not see this as a competition, humbly accepting and understanding that his role was to preserve and support David’s destiny to become king… not to wear the crown himself. It would have been easy for Jonathan to feel discouraged or resentful of David and the future he was destined for… but he embraced David and the destiny that David carried as well. Jonathan served a vital part in the path of David’s ascent to the throne, and his choice to peacefully co-exist and even support the future king of Israel was critical to David’s survival, the growth of Israel as a nation, and David was even personally responsible for preserving the descendants of Jonathan into the future (2 Samuel 9:1-13, 1 Chronicles 8:34).
Getting back to the video games for a moment, the success of the Steam Deck is not a threat to the Nintendo Switch… they both exist to bring the world of video games to fans around the world wherever they wish to play them. They each have considerable appeal for their respective audiences, and for many of us BOTH handhelds will occupy a place of appreciation during our travels as well as within our homes. Both of these devices can peacefully co-exist because there is room for ALL at the table… especially if others continue to iterate upon these concepts and grow the circle of the gaming industry. And the same is true with the individual callings and destinies we have been given by the Father. There are no redundant parts of the body of Christ… each of us serve a vital role, even if that role may seem to be more prominent for others than for ourselves.
Our path may call on us to sacrifice in ways that others are not required to… we may be the hands and feet that climb the mountain so that others can enjoy being the long, flowing, luxurious hair that gracefully blows in the wind at the top. As the Apostle Paul put it, both he and his fellow laborers served different needs for the body of Christ, but when they were both faithful to fulfill their calling, God is the One who ultimately gives the increase…
1 Corinthians 3:5-8 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
As gamers, we NEED a strong, healthy Nintendo to exist for many generations to come. I want my great, great, great-grand children to enjoy the continuing adventures of Mario, Samus, Link, Zelda, and all of their iconic characters long after I am gone. We ALSO need a robust gaming industry to continue to grow our hobby through expanding on what currently exists and bringing new gamers into the fold. Hopefully the Nintendo Switch and the Steam Deck will not only survive, but THRIVE as they cooperate to grow the culture of video games and reach every corner of the world with this amazing hobby. And similarly, in the body of Christ other’s success is not something we are competing with, but an outcome we are actively working together and PRAYING for. Every David needs a Jonathan to support them, because every David will have a Saul trying to end them. And every follower of Christ performing His work needs our SUPPORT… share them with others, follow them, give them positive feedback and encouragement, and support them with your prayers. We are not competing for audiences, clicks, or views… we are jointly working together, each of us in our respective callings, cooperatively battling this present darkness in a war for souls. (Ephesians 6:12).
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