Steam Sales, Humble Bundles, and The Welcome Respite of Advent

Pokemon lied to you. You don’t, actually, have to buy them all.

Written by Richard Clark / Published on December 4, 2013

These are overwhelming times. Steam sales, Humble Bundles, Playstation Plus, and a bunch of other ways to cram our hardware full of games have made our lives as much about acquiring games as it is about playing them. Though I’m proud to say I’ve moved far beyond collecting achievements, I’m scratching that same itch by collecting games instead.

We’re all building our own Netflix-esque library of games for on demand playing, a slew of titles that we can pick up and play when the mood hits us. Buying a game these days is less an unequivocal vote of confidence as it is an opportunity for risk-analysis. “What if I someday get the urge to aim a flashlight at monsters and shoot them while being fed tidbits of a story that I kind of liked? Yes, yes, I had better go ahead and snatch up Alan Wake’s American Nightmare now while it’s cheaper than usual.” (By the way, Steam tells me that I’ve played American Nightmare for exactly 0.7 hours since I bought it seven months ago, and that’s a better than usual case scenario.)

When the Black Friday tidal wave hit, I was flooded with opportunities to fill my brand new PS Vita with a ton of new games. I took that opportunity with gusto. I’ve been enamored for a while with the Vita and the idea of playing some of my favorite games from the comfort of my bed or couch or favorite chair or from the church pew (no, not really from the church pew). I bought six games I already own in some other form (one I had already bought twice before – darn you Spelunky!) just so I could play them on the Vita wherever I want. Or, more accurately, just in case I wanted to play them wherever I want.

Now that the Steam sale is over and I’ve bought out the Playstation store’s Vita section, I’m left asking a hard question. With nothing more to purchase, and no more funds to spend, what am I supposed to do with myself now?

I decided to observe Advent more proactively this year partially because I want to counteract this greedy impulse. My life is filled with so much stuff that I don’t even have the time to use it. My devices are filled with so many games that I don’t even have time to play them. My mind is full of so much busyness and aspiration that I don’t even have time to be thankful. This advent, I want to set aside time to appreciate, to give thanks, and yes, to play.

So almost every day this month, I’m going to read a bit of the story of Christmas. I’m going to thank God for his many profound gifts. I’m going to embrace that that seasonal concept of coping and appreciating the small blessings I’ve been given, just as Mary and Joseph gave thanks for a stable in which to give birth; some hay to rest in; animals to keep them company; humble gifts from those who visited. What I have is enough.

And I’m going to play. I’ll play a bit of Persona 4: Golden each day, allowing myself to become deeply invested in the lives of these high-schoolers moonlighting as fantasy heroes. I’ll immerse myself regularly in Tearaway, delighting in a game that delights in its player. In the nights I’ll wind down playing Knytt Underground, and maybe by Christmas I can finish that game. I doubt it, though, it’s huge.

Finally, I’ll put the games away, give thanks yet again, and sleep in heavenly peace.

photo credit: jbhthescots via photopin cc

About the Author:

Richard Clark is director of editorial development for CT Pastors and Preaching Today, a co-founder of Christ and Pop Culture, and has written for Unwinnable and Kill Screen. He can be followed on twitter @TheRichardClark.

  • AlphaBovine

    What we sacrifice for is what we worship. Time, money, relationships with people and with God. When we spend money in bulk on the sales, collector’s editions or the latest hardware the question a follower of Christ should be asking is, “How is this bringing glory to God?” There is nothing wrong with enjoying this awesome medium but when it becomes our center of worship, Paul in Romans 5 would say we have started to worship the created thing rather than the creator.

    In this article you even hint at an impulse that speaks to what Tim Keller would describe as a near idol, or an idol of the heart. You are finding comfort in buying these games, a sense of satsifaction and now that you have them…what now? They don’t satisfy and the money is gone. 🙂

    The satisfaction of Christ is more fufilling than any indie PC game or AAA console release or shiny OLED screen. I think it is great that you are spending time with Advent celebrating both the coming of Christ and the hope of his 2nd coming that Advent reminds us of. Remembering that while gaming is a great medium, it isn’t what gives us purpose or identity. That comes in Christ alone. 🙂

  • M. Joshua Cauller

    This is awesome. Great ruminations. And Knytt Underground seems like the perfect game for Advent.

  • Richard Clark


  • Richard Clark

    seriously I think it is. Persona is pretty good too though.

  • Richard Clark

    Not to mention Tearaway, which has some incarnational stuff going on.

  • AlphaBovine

    Haha. No judgements, I promise. 🙂 Just some insight I saw in your words. 🙂

    And nothing says advent like kids who put guns to their heads to summon personas to battle demons. ROFL. I say that as I look at the entire Persona series on my shelf from PS One to Vita…yeah…got a bit of a speck in my own eye. 🙂

  • Richard Clark

    so good though

  • M. Joshua Cauller

    Good point. It’s a shame it’ll lose most of that incarnational quality on Vita TV if it’s even playable.