What It Means to Git Gud IRL
Look - I’m not proud of this, okay? But I can’t just not talk about the latest Internet trend to absolutely sweep my Twitter and Reddit timelines. If you have somehow managed to avoid hearing about the Elden Ring legend ‘Let Me Solo Her,’ then buckle up buttercup, because we’re doing a dive into the story behind the legend and exploring the bizarre connection it has to our walks as Christians. I cannot believe this is happening either, but here we are.
So, if you’re at all curious about how this nerd pastor is about to tie together an incredibly unlikely summon support and some of Saint Peter’s advice for the early church, then you’re in the right place. Let’s talk about it.
Welcome to Checkpoint Church - where nerds, geeks, and gamers come together to talk about faith, games, and double dipping on a game franchise I don’t even enjoy. I’m your Nerd Pastor Nate. If you like these weekly deepdives, be sure to sub and hit that bell to find out when our next one drops.
1 Peter 4:7b-11 (NRSV)
Therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
If you aren’t familiar with Elden RIng, then I’ll direct you to THIS video that we created just a little over a month ago. It’s a fascinating game with a lot of interesting mechanics in the meta and in the game itself, but we’re only going to be focusing on one of those for this nerdy sermon.
Elden Ring is part of the greater franchise of Soulsbourne games - these games are ultra-hard challenges that involve a player fanbase that seek out ways to make the games ever more difficult.
This rivalry between the fanbase and the game devs has led to increasingly more challenging boss fights in the newer entries of games
Elden Ring has taken the cake with the most challenging boss fight of all time, which is the fight against Malenia - whom fans have seen from the very beginning of the cover art of the game with her dope helmet
She is fast, she hits hard, and she has become well-known as being not for the faint of heart. She is also optional - so many players can complete the game without even trying to fight her.
However, the real ones know - those that bleed that tarnished blood are the ones going for the challenge.
Then enters Let Me Solo Her. In order to understand his role, we have to talk a bit about another mechanic in the game. Players have the ability to summon NPCs to fight for them in most parts of the game… but every now and then.the player will be able to summon a real-life player online to fight alongside them in battle. This fight is one of those moments where that summon is made available.
Starting around April 11th, 2022, players started to share of an experience they were having during this fight on Reddit where the mysterious ally Let Me Solo Her started showing up as a summon. In a word: he was beautiful
Imagine, if you will, a majestic Samurai wearing positively nothing but his skivvies and a pot on his head - fighting the unforgiving Malenia as he were dancing with her. Dodging every attack in perfect tandem and parrying often. The lore spread quickly - ladies and gentleman, we found a real one.
First off, this player was fighting naked, which is a meme that has existed in the Soulsbourne series for quite a while as a kind of taunt and boast that they don’t need armor to beat their enemies
Second off, wanting to solo a boss - not to mention the hardest boss - is an obvious expression of skill and confidence in one’s ability.
To say that this player has blown up would be a real understatement. Fan art, animations, memes, news stories - Let Me Solo Her has become an absolute legend in the Dark Souls universe. (My bets on a trophy with a DLC update or in the next game, mark my words)
With all of the hype, the player eventually came forward and gave the public a little look into their process and how they came to this place.
Let Me Solo Her explained that it took 242 tries to defeat Malenia the first time and was done with the assistance of two summoned players (but who’s counting am I right?)
Given the challenge of the fight, Solo wanted to assist others in this incredible challenge. He set out to memorize the cues and animations in order to benefit others
And the plan worked - through much notoriety and infamy, Let Me Solo Her has beaten Malenia over 300 times by around April 15th.
This speaks a good bit to one of the Soulsbourne genre’s biggest claims to fame - meta-based storytelling. Much of the lore in Elden Ring is hidden in bits and pieces hidden throughout the world. And - to be blunt - it’s fine. It’s a fine story. But what makes it an exceptional story is players like Let Me Solo Her.
Before we get more into that, let’s take a look at our scripture for today.
Today’s passage is from the first epistle, or letter, from Peter, the rock of the church and one of the OG disciples of Jesus.
The church that Peter is writing to is having to deal with a lot of suffering and persecution. The followers of Jesus are not popular and are being discriminated against at best and literally murdered at worst.
So Peter is writing to these folks about unjust suffering and the harsh realities of the walk of the follower of Christ.
In this passage in particular, Peter is making an encouragement to the members of the community that they might stand strong and support one another.
Be serious, discipline yourselves, and then make sure that you maintain constant love for one another - because love is the thing that holds us together.
How are we to love each other? Hospitality - service. Serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
If you must speak, speak the words of God, if you must serve, serve with the strength of God - because God is the very one providing all of this in the first place
Now - obviously this is a silly example - but what if we think about what’s happening in the instance of Let Me Solo Her? It’s clearly not Christian in nature - but is it an act of service? This is someone who has taken it upon themself to play this game downright sacrificially to the point of mastering a single challenge and then offering themselves up as a resource to make that challenge more manageable for other players.
Is it in the veil of a video game? Yes. Is it a serious thing with real consequences? No. But is it a lived example of self-sacrifice and serving the community? Yeah. Let Me Solo Her doesn’t have to do it, they could just do the fight and then be done with it and move on to some other masochistic video game they want to indulge in next.
Instead, they are choosing to serve the community and fight alongside their peers - people they don’t even know. And it isn’t like Let Me Solo Her is the only person doing this - summoning is a key mechanic of the game. So there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of players at a time who are choosing to help one another instead of playing the game for themselves.
Idk about you, but I see way too many churches and Christians that don’t their lives that way - kidding me? Taking time out of my day to help someone else get through theirs? Doubt it. And yet we have an active example of it disguised in the fun of a video game - it’s a practice, make no mistake.
With that in mind, what can we learn from this today?
Video games are games at the end of the day, but the practices and habits that we experience in the game impact us in real life. Summoning may just be one inconsequential part of a phenomenal gaming experience in Elden Ring, but it speaks to a larger call in humanity that we might serve one another with the gifts that we have
If you are really good at a certain thing, why wouldn’t you offer to help others with that certain thing? Pro bono? We get so obsessed with charge and payment that we forget that we can just do things for people because it’s a good thing to do. Imagine if we all made ourselves more available for those around us.
Imagine if we saw someone needing help and we stepped up and we helped them. We saw a gap in the system that we just so happened to be specifically gifted at. Shame on us if we don’t take the opportunity and seize it for the greater good of love.
I’m pretty awful at social gatherings - one of the more introverted folks that I know - the best events that I have ever gone to have been the ones where someone more outgoing came along beside me and helped me meet the right people at the right time so that I didn’t waste my precious introvert energy on Idk awkwardly standing and trying to ask someone where the bathroom is or something. It’s silly, but it makes a difference. Made a difference to me.
Maybe you’re an artist, maybe you’re good with your hands and crafting, maybe you’re good at writing, good at speaking, good at fill-in-the-blank, take those things and offer them up to the community around you, to the one who needs help.
Maybe you’re really good at video games? Honestly, I might’ve laughed at that one before this example, but how do we know that Let Me Solo Her hasn’t legitimately helped someone through something real by being good at a video game? Maybe someone really needed that win. I’m not trying to be dramatic here - video games can be important and having someone to help you reach that precious W - who’s to say it didn’t make all the difference to that one person that one time? At least Let Me Solo Her is offering up their services.
And don’t let me hear that you don’t have anything you’re good at! Let Me Solo Her practiced that boss for hundreds of tries. He didn’t become great right away, but knew what he wanted and worked for it and then offered it. It’s not overnight - it’s a generous passion.
So, if you’re wanting help discerning what that thing is for you or if you’re really needing someone to help you beat that boss, come check out what we’re doing at Checkpoint Church. We’re striving to do good, do no harm, and strive to grow. And we’re not doing it for our own sake - we’re doing it so that we might be able to serve one another better.
So whether you’re a summoner, a summoned, or a solo player, know that you’re always welcome at Checkpoint Church.
Question: What’s the greatest gaming challenge you’ve ever tackled? Mine has been the genocide run of Undertale probs. I wish someone could have come along and solo’ed Sans.
God loves you.
We love you.