Tablets Are Awesome

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord raises those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous.

Psalm 146:8

You never know you need something until you actually have it…

Strangely enough, for a video gamer, I am often behind the times in the technology war. I wasn’t always like this, mind you; in my younger years, I needed ALL THE THINGS as quickly as humanly possible, and often ended up with all three consoles in a generation within two years of release. My buying habits in that regard slowed, not only due to purposes of saving money (hey, you guys heard of this thing called Steam?!), but also due to lack of a single resource: time. Certain games and genres just don’t fit with a busy schedule; other games, you simply spend more money for quality over quantity (i.e., Nintendo), and you just become fine with it. Most of all, I find myself playing games which I can replay and continually make progress.

So it was that I found myself at a crossroads. With birthday money bestowed upon me and a cadre of options, I finally said to myself “I need a 3DS or a tablet”. That sounds like an odd choice, but either option provided me with something incredibly useful. With the 3DS, I gain access to a huge library of interesting games you don’t normally find on the main console systems. Strangely, it’s always been a trend since around the Game Boy Advance period that portable systems tended towards games more in my lane, ones that push a system with limitations towards its limits. I loved the Game Boy Advance, as I’ve also loved the Nintendo DS and even the PSP; I like them less for the hardware, and more for the quirky, strange games that make those devices their home.

Psalm 146:8

Guys, this is the NEW NEW ONE

Thus, a 3DS (or whichever of the three billion variants on the system we mean) sounded like a pretty good idea, all said. Unfortunately, most of those games require one thing I lack: time. At the moment, I’ve got my hand in about 4 different pies (and by pies, I mean not literal pies but projects). Those pies take a lot of time to eat, and are (gasp) more important than video games. As such, I’ve been dabbling in the aforementioned Blizzard games that this site has, seemingly, been all about in the past few months. Apologies for those who don’t like the incessant Blizzard content; it was not intentional by any means, but I am going to rectify it in the future! Blizzard games, simply put, require little time commitment; I can play as little or as much as I want without breaking the time bank. Competitive games tend toward this sort of model, and not needing that commitment frees me up to do other things.

I guess you could say, then, that the last thing I would expect to buy would be a tablet. In effect, a tablet (or a mobile device with a big screen, whichever description floats your boat) exists purely as a device of convenience. What if you don’t want to lug a laptop around to search the Internet? What if you don’t want to use an extremely small screen to browse it? Or, what if you want to delve into mobile gaming? You need a tablet, really, to engage in these options. My objections came less from a opposition to the device and more to its essential function. Technically, my phone can do anything a tablet can do; that said, the size of the screen causes a whole lot of eyestrain. Playing Hearthstone on it remains an eyesore, despite Blizzard’s best efforts, and the constant de-syncing of the wireless signal certainly didn’t help (for those curious, I have a Moto G from Republic Wireless. My plan is so cheap I honestly can’t believe it. Free advertising!).

So, what happened? I bought a tablet with the biggest screen I could find, for the cheapest price I could find. I am, in no way, a snob when it comes to hardware. My asks are few: that it runs fast and that Hearthstone (along with other games) can play smoothly on it. If I get a large screen to go along with it, all the better. Somehow, I ended up buying a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 with a 10.1 inch screen – one of the largest such screens on the entire tablet market, somehow bigger than any iPad. It seems to run everything fine that I’ve thrown at it, and it works brilliantly. Probably its only flaw lies in the charging time (apparently it’s excessive compared to comparable tablets), but I don’t mind for half price. It’s just a wonderful little device that makes life much more convenient – and it happens to play games!

364225-samsung-galaxy-tab-4-10-1-front

It’s big.

While it does make me sad that I chose the “all-purpose” device over a dedicated piece of hardware, I don’t think I can justify buying a 3DS at all (or, just for giggles, a Vita, because who would actually buy one at this point?). The dream of portable systems has, in some sense, always been to play console-quality games on the go, but do I really want that? Tablets perform so many different functions apart from gaming that it makes portable systems seem a bit narrow and specialized by comparison. Of course, there’s no doubt that games on a dedicated system appeal to my sensibilities, but one must look for value, not just frivolous spending in itself. The tablet will last far longer, considering how many hardware companies flock to it as the PC’s stock continues to descend in the mass market.

All this is to say, I understand tablets now. I thought of them a little too negatively, and a little too much in the vein of worthless. Once you have one, things are quite a bit different! It just becomes natural to whip it out and perform daily tasks. It’s just so convenient that I’m not sure why I didn’t buy one, but I suppose that comes down to my stubbornness. It’s very much a before-and-after experience, and just rolls into your life.

In a sense, we can think of it very much like Christianity – there’s tons of Biblical imagery about the curing of blindness and the falling of scales from the eyes in a spiritual sense. That is, before you were blind; your brain could not understand or perceive the actual truth, for you wandered in spiritual blindness. After understanding it, however, things look and feel different somehow. It is, in a sense, a change of perception in its entirety. That is why we call it “conversion”, after it. It implies a state before and a state after, and a person is never the same. We are literally being transformed:

12 Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, 13 and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil [e]remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. 15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3

Before Christ, the Law held mankind in captivity. The minds of men were hardened, intentionally or no, to follow that Law. Christ seeks to free you from it, and to turn to him will remove the veil that blocks one’s understand of the truth. It is then, and only then, that we can be transformed to become “little Christs”, as the word Christian actually means ( a pejorative that turned into our actual name among most folk – how brilliantly subversive!).

While one can’t say a tablet does as much as that, we can say that, sometimes, even little thing rocks your world a little. Maybe we expect too little.

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.