Religiofying video games

While Cracked is encouraging readers to “rationalise” games, the “Opposable Thumbs” blog is exploring the question of religious video games. There aren’t many – and none of them are good.

It’s odd really. There are Christian subsets of just about every other form of culture or entertainment. But the “Christian” video game landscape is a barren wasteland with the odd “Left Behind” game or a couple of terrible ports of popular games. I remember standing in Koorong one day as a kid playing the Noah’s Ark 3D game – a nasty rework of Wolfenstein where Noah ran around armed with a slingshot putting animals to sleep so he could bundle them onto the ark. Badness.

The Christian market is untapped – and we’ve seen (from the music industry) that we pay over the odds for bad quality just so that we can avoid engaging with the world around us.

Part of the problem, so far at least, is that the poor theology of Christians wanting to make games leads to bad games. Here’s a description of one from that article:

John E. Nelson’s Tribulation Knights seeks to put gamers in a stealth/adventure-based post-Apocalypse setting. Following a series of natural and economic disasters, a corrupt politician’s administration takes control of the globe and manages to convert most of the remaining population into a mindlessly-loyal legion. Some citizens, however, do not convert and find themselves without any rights in the new world society; accordingly, a group called the Knights rises up to protect these rebel citizens from the Gestapo-like Enforcers and gather enemy intel, all while staying hidden and avoiding armed conflict. “I wanted to create a game that had both an entertaining adventure but also hold true to the commandment of ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.'” Nelson explained to Ars. “It was important to do so, and it is not easy. You can defend yourself by stunning Enforcers, or thugs for a very brief time. The goal is the mission, and to avoid direct contact with the enemy as much as possible.”

Thou shalt not kill? What about a game based on Judges. That would be awesome. Assassins Creed: The Ehud Edition. Here’s a potential blurb.

Ehud the left handed rallies support from his fledgling Israelite nation to pay a visit to the fat and oppressive king – Eglon. Ehud fights off animals and marauders on the way to deliver his tribute to the king. He straps his short sword to his leg in order to deliver a message from God to all those who oppose Israel – and he must find a way to hide the body of an obese monarch before evading the clutches of his pursuers.

Yeah. I’d play that. Or what about Mega Church Tycoon – decide what staging and lighting to install in your multipurpose auditorium in order to lure the heathens from your chosen demographic.

Or “The Sins” your chance to sanctify a neighbourhood of sinful sims through the power of hospitality.

There is a Christian version of Guitar Hero out there somewhere – but what about HymnStar – the chance to belt out your favourite hymns, songs of praise, and Christian power ballads – you could have a special “Christmas Carols” edition slated for a December release.

Join me in producing these and we’ll be rich.


Mr Snuffle says:

Cool idea, but in my experience Christians are terrible at doing anything creative or appealing with their mythos. I actually have a fair bit of a soft spot for what I like to call "christian fiction". I even watched through all of the left behind movies because rapture apocalypse is actually a really cool concept. I even downloaded the game. Fuck it was woeful.

Mr Snuffle says:

<snip> (your website cut off my reply!)

You'd think with the massive amount of profitability behind mainstream religion we'd actually see some pretty awesome stuff.

But we don't! You guys have dropped the creative ball! There is a lot of stuff you have to work with, but no, we keep getting shitty Christian rock. If I was God, I'd be a little disappointed. :(

Lee Shelton says:

Remember Myst? It was the bestselling computer game in the 1990s and was created by a couple of brothers who also happened to be Christians. I think it worked because they didn't set out to create an explicitly "Christian" video game.

Andrew says:

Lee – exactly! For some reason there's this (fairly modern) idea that if you're a Christian, then your 'art' must double as a gospel tract. I would reccomend "Art and the Bible", as short book / essay by Francis Schaefer to any Christian involved or interested in creative arts.

On the topic of video games, one of my mates from school / church had one where you walked around collecting bible verses, so that when you encountered some demonic alien monsters you could rebut their lies, Jesus style. Though, after a successful rebuttal with the 'sword of the spirit' you did the get the chance to whip out a real sword to finish the job.

Aaran says:

Sounds like your on a winner to earn money to get through bible college Natan.

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