Dropsy: The Gospel in Action, by Brandon Stephens
I've had the privilege of being involved in the lives of a lot of students and people over the years. Brandon has been one of the most unique of them, and I'm grateful for the time God allowed me to be in his life. His fandoms and interests aren't always the same as mine, but he is equally passionate about his. I hope you enjoy his contribution. - Hector
Brandon Stephens is an over talkative individual who loves Jesus but is very easily distracted with the world. Brandon met Hector when Hector was his college minister. Brandon has taught Hector a lot about patience. Brandon will now teach you about hugs.
You probably have never heard of the game Dropsy until just now. Dropsy is a point-and-click indie game developed by Tendershoot (aka Jay Tholen) about a creepy and misunderstood clown that goes around and solves problems by hugging people. In a Gamechurch podcast, Jay admits he grew up in a Christian background, so it’s only natural that when I started playing his game I couldn’t help but see Christ in the lovable main character. I’ll try my best to not spoil the story because I recommend you purchasing this game on Steam, and if you feel like your computer can’t handle it, it can. I ran it on my business laptop which doesn’t run stuff very well. It is currently available for iPhone and, as I type this, they are developing it for Android.
Dropsy starts off with you learning of his background. He’s a clown at a circus. There was a fire that killed his mother and everyone blames him for it. It is very much implied Dropsy is innocent because at the very start of the game, you notice Dropsy’s innocence. Now when it comes to sharing the Gospel, most people wouldn’t call Dropsy a poster boy. In fact, judging based on appearances, people would think Dropsy is some sort of Tim Curry wannabe with evil intent. In reality, as the game shows you, he is the kindest and purest soul on the whole island. The game begins with you taking a picture of mother to her gravestone because it’s her birthday. Now the game does follow a linear story, but your encouraged to side quest. The side quests mostly involve finding people who are sad and solving their problem with hugging them or figuring out what to do to be able to hug them (HUGS ARE YOUR GOAL!). Because let's face it, hugs are a big deal. It's been scientifically proven that we need at least 4 hugs a day to be emotionally healthy. Even in the Bible, hugs ran rampant.
"So when Laban heard the news of Jacob his sister's son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Then he related to Laban all these things." - Genesis 29:13
"Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept." - Genesis 33:4
"Now the eyes of Israel were so dim from age that he could not see Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them." - Genesis 48:10
"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." - Luke 15:20
While it may not be culturally kosher to be doling out holy kisses left and right, we see hugs truly are powerful ways to convey love and healing.
The game also doesn’t have any coherent dialogue. Every character speaks in gibberish, but you know what they are saying. Sometimes we don't have to have all the right words or even make coherent sentences for our meaning to come across. Thankfully, this is the same with God as well. In Romans 8:26-27, we see that God searches our heart for the things we can't make clear and that Spirit literally translates our hearts gibberish to the ears of God. The verse reads, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God."
Now I know moist (yes the developer insists this word) hugs are not the same as healing blindness, and you know that Jesus performed many miracles and his actions spoke so much louder than his words. In the game, it is evident that Dropsy’s action are a reflection of his personality.
The following is a spoiler: I think the reason this series hits so close to my heart is because of one side quest where you have to fix a church. You find this lady preaching loudly in a church, you can tell she’s telling people a list “do-nots.” Eventually, you find a key in a mouse hole that unlocks a back panel on the back of the church. The church used to give out sandwiches to homeless people, but ever since the woman’s father passed away she’s been preaching the wrong message. Dropsy sets her straight with his big heart as the woman sees a homeless woman napping (if you did everything right) in the alley behind the church. She suddenly changes her ways. As someone who attends Matthews United Methodist Church where we believe the love of Christ is something through your actions, this is extremely — what’s the word? — makes-me-cryhappy-tears.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:22-26).
I want to conclude with this: Jay Tholen has made a beautiful game that teaches many, many things. But I feel like most evangelicals should really look at this game. I want so much to go into every little detail of the game and show the analogies, but I really want you to play it for yourself. I know that this book is full of spoilers but that’s mainly because it is stuff most people saw. I’m sure most people didn’t play Dropsy, and I want to give you a chance to spend the $9.99 on Steam or iOS or Android and have a great hugventure.