On Christian Video Games

It’s no secret that video games are one of my major interests. And if you’ve read my blog for any length of time it should be no secret that I’m a Christian. If you’ve been reading my last few posts, you should also be aware that I’m currently beginning to write a book about the way religion is depicted in games – although the total scope for that isn’t set in stone. These three things come together to form the topic that’s on my mind at the moment – Christian Video games.

I have long held that Christian Video Games would be a great thing for the Video Game industry as a whole. I’m not talking about the kind of educational games where you memorise scriptures and get in game rewards for it, but robust, entertaining games with either Christian values, or with Biblical events, at their core. I am, however, yet to see a wide variety of games that I would like to play coming out of the various Christian developers. As it stands, there have been two games that I have played and enjoyed, both of which were First-Person Shooters. There are a few games that are on my wish-list that also seem interesting, and that have a couple of different genres, but most of the games that are being produced by Christian developers are the disappointing educational games that no-one outside of a Christian environment will ever use.

The problem with the Christian Video industry at the moment, as I see it, is that the focus of the developers is wrong. As it is, they are not targeting people like me – that is, people who pick up a game to delve into a story, or to shoot things for a few hours. That demographic is one of the largest sources of income for the mainstream industry, and I’m almost certain that if a Christian company made an FPS or RPG that was based on Christian values/theology, or on biblical stories, without being in-your-face about it, the game would be supported by one of the big developers, and they would be able to make a world-wide impact. The world is searching for answers to questions of life, and they are searching almost everywhere for it. If the mainstream Games Industry can notice this, and respond by developing games about a biblical apocalypse, or about a variety of new age ideas, why can’t the Christian Developers? They don’t even have to violate their morals in order to make something like this – non-combat games are becoming more popular each day.

I guess the worst part about this is that Christians are the best friends, and worst enemies of this kind of advance in the industry. On one hand, we have groups like the Association of Christian Entertainment, who encourage their members to make games that don’t belong in the ‘educational genre’, and sponsor a yearly conference for Christians in the Games industry. I think that something like this – a group that supports both Christian development studios and Christians working for mainstream studios – will help the Christian sector produce the kinds of games that I (and hopefully many other people) would like to play, and distribute these games in such a way that anyone can get their hands on them. On the other hand, you have Christian gaming Magazines that promote the kind of senseless writing off of much of the medium that has the potential to cripple the industry irreversibly. I know there isn’t a middle ground between these two points, but it would be more helpful if Christians weren’t so two-minded on this sort of thing.

I believe that the Christian Games Industry has the potential to make a game that is more fun, and more engaging than many of the games that I have played so far in my life, and I believe that they can do that while exploring and wrestling with the diversity that I also desire in a game. I believe that this can be done with a range of different genres, styles and settings, and that the results will be awe-inspiring and thought-provoking. One of my dreams is to see this become a reality in my lifetime, and I sincerely hope that this will happen.

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7 responses to “On Christian Video Games

  1. This is really good Ben! I really think that a Christian based video game is a good idea. (Before I go on, I must apologise for any typos, my dad’s laptop likes to jump the cursor around a bit… :/)
    I like the thought that it be adventurous, kind of like Rachet & Clank and such. Not educational, but your characters or challenges are Christian based.

    I am very much into the Sims 2, as you probably already know. ;P However, it is not Christian based. (I get on my soap box A LOT about the non-christian ways other people go with their sims.) I love pretending my sims are Christians, it’s kind of a habit now. I don’t have to think about it. Sure, I let my sims go on free will a lot… but then I end up yelling at them. Yup… I yell at pixels.

    I really do hope that, in future, a game, like you’ve suggested, is made. 🙂

  2. You are challenging the stereotype that Christian games / Christianity is boring.We should be out there on the edges of society leading the way in many technological advances.

    I can see some great ways forward with OT themes. The wars that Abraham involved himself in. Joseph, Exodus, King David, etc. Spears, slings…the prophets… Elisha being called a dickhead (baldy)by some local twits and he calls the bear to maul them.

    And the book of Revelation: talk about some themes / visuals that are just begging to be used in the gaming industry.

    The ethics / morals / themes and applications of the stories can be realised as you wrestle in the game with the various characters.

    I believe it can be done in ways that don’t make a mockery of the Bible, nor water down its message; rather brings about a deeper awareness in the community of Biblical truth.

    • The thing is that the secular games industry is doing that. There was a game that came out in early 2010 called Darksiders which was very loosely based on the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the book of Revelation, and the entire war between heaven and hell idea. While it seems to have taken some major liberties (at least, from the wikipedia page and various reviews I’ve read for it), it’s a playable, fun game with biblical themes as a starting point.
      If the mainstream games industry can make a game – with a biblical starting point – that made enough money for a sequel to be green-lit (in an industry where it takes millions of dollars to make about an hour of game-play), why aren’t the Christians making games at least considering it?

  3. I think that the biggest problems that are facing Christian/Jewish-based video games are that they only target Christians and Jews who want something that these developers and these religiously ritualistic organizations (i.e., the modern-day versions of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the religious leaders in the time of Yeshua Yamahshiyah/Jesus Christ) are trying to give us what THEY think that the Christians and Jews want and then they wonder why 99.99% of Christians and Jews treat their games like they were the Black Plague.

    The developers also tend to not have the latest equipment, have the financial funds to go to the fancy game art and design schools, colleges, and universities, they lack the faith in their Creator to finance such funds, they have too much religion in their lives and not enough faith, they tend to be afraid to go to secular universities, they are too paranoid and fearful about living in the world, they take the whole concept of “being in the world but not of the world” WAY too literally, and they live lives of directionlessness, fear, judgmentalism, and paranoia instead of living lives that are full of purpose, faith, loving their neighbors as they love themselves, and with a spirit of conquering and bravery in their lives.

    If this sounds like I am being judgmental, then I assure that I am most certainly NOT being judgmental here. It is VERY expensive for the average person to go to these fancy schools, colleges, and universities and most people simply do not have as deep of a faith in the Lord Yahweh who is God as they should in the ways that they should because it says in the Scriptures that “He is able to meet, exceed, and provide ALL of our needs according to His riches in the place of glory.” Also, these religious groups and developers are only preaching to the choir because they want to be safe and in their comfort zones rather than being as bold as lions and being the kinds of conquerors, no, being MORE than conquerors through Yeshua Yamashiyah/Jesus Christ who gives us our strength, of which this very thing is the same thing that the Lord Yahweh who is God commands us to do in our lives. Might I suggest to these people that they start out to live their complete lives in faith instead of being fearful of the world? Does it not say in the Scriptures, “Be happy and cheerful, for I have overcome and defeated the world?”

    Finally, these people are so scared of the world that they fail to realize that, yes, there ARE things that are of the Lord Yahweh who is God in many of the video games that are out there and they need to be, as one other guy said here, to be the influences, the story writers, and the world changers that the Lord Yahweh who is God has commanded us to do in our lives. I am sorry, folks, but you have got to be confrontational in this world and you have also got to challenge the status quo of the world but also of the established mainline forms of Christianity and Judaism, regardless of where they are on the political/religious spectrum. It says that in 2 Timothy 4:8 that we are supposed to show ourselves approved with the doctrines that we learn in our lives. Also, these people fail to consider things like what Yeshua Yamahshiyah/Jesus Christ said in Matthew 9 about healing people on the Sabbath day.

    Now what does that have to do with people who are in the video game industry? Well, the answer to that is quite simple. The Christian/Jewish video game developers and religious organizations that promote video games by and large are only going to the people that are in their respective realms and yet they get frustrated when they see people NOT trying out their video games. They do not realize that, as I have said earlier, they already HAVE a faith in Yeshua Yamashiyah/Jesus Christ but that these people also want something more than seeing the old, recycled, has-been mantras that have been flooding Judeo-Christian thought for a little over five millennia. Yeshua Yamashiyah/Jesus Christ said to those kinds of people these words. He said, “Does a doctor come to heal the people who are well and that are in perfect health? The answer to that is no! A doctor only comes to heal people that are ill or injured.” Likewise, we as the people who truly know the ways of the Lord need to quit serving the Judeo-Christian community with these kinds of “faith-affirming” and “family-friendly” games and learn to get our hands a little bit dirty in this world. If you do not like this message, then all that I can do is to pray for you to seel the light and let you go on your way. We have a sick and dying world and we need to quit playing church and instead, we need to begin BEING the church that the Lord has commanded us to do in our lives!

    To put it this way, if you were a Christian or a Jew, which would you rather play, Battlefield or Veggietales? Given what most Christians and Jews say, they would much rather play Battlefield than they would Veggietales and it is not because that they are sinners that have chosen to sin that have condemned themselves to the eternal blazing fires of hell itself rather than choose a good, Judeo-Christian, sin-free video game. I do not buy that argument for one terrasecond because, let us be honest here, most, if not all, Christian-based video games are, gasp, TERRIBLE! There, I had the courage to say it to you all here! The reasons that they are almost always terrible are that the developers do NOT learn from the best secular people how to do things even remotely right, such as making interesting, deep, thought-provoking characters that seem real, they do NOT make any kind of revolutionary gameplay whatsoever in the game, they do not know how to properly advertise a franchise, they do not know how to properly program or code a video game, and, worst of all, they do not know how to even BUILD a successful video game franchise. It bears repeating that if you want to have people play games that promote your faith, then you must learn how to successfully promote and create the video games AND you must also be properly trained in how to make them in your lives.

    As far as I know, the only Christian-based video game that was even MODERATELY successful was the Myst series. Have you ever heard of this series of games or played it sometime? Some Christians and Jews have done so but as for myself, I found the whole point-and-click affair of the game series rather boring, despite the fact that it was also supposed to be an adventure game. I am sorry, folks, but I myself find that a point-and-click adventure game without any monsters or any real sources of conflict is not only bland, boring, and lazy but it is also devoid of ANY character development, personal struggles, or even, gasp, things that make you actually THINK in your life. In short, no matter how many puzzles were in that game, it was not the least bit engaging to my faith.

    My point in this Long Winded Text of Doom is this, people. I will only say this thing once to you and it is this sentence. WE ARE FOCUSING ON THE WRONG TARGET AUDIENCE!!! If we, as Christians and Jews, want more people to come into our ranks, then we should drop the religious ritualistic act, drop selling out to the world, and simply be humans that have the common sense to avoid things that are evil rather than become a bunch of religiously ritualistic, judgmental, sour-puss, negativity-spewing prudes. Yeshua Yamashiyah/Jesus Christ and the Lord Yahweh who is God do not like it when people do such things to other people. Does it not say in the Scriptures, “Do not judge unless you want to be judged?” This does not mean that you can not judge things as right or wrong according to the Scriptures, rather it means to help bless the person that is lost and to lead them by example as a sign of what Christianity and Judaism are really all about in your lives. Also, a check in Romans 14 should be something that is very well needed for all of us who intimately know the faith so that we also do not forget about it in our lives.

    Also, like it or not, but those things that the Christians and the Jews like to avoid even mentioning that are found in the Bible, well, guess what, they are found in the Bible, too. However, this does not mean that those of us that are in the faith should be selling out to the world, nor should we become, nor promote becoming naive about the forces of evil in this world. The reasons that I am saying these things to you are also good reasons. First of all, common sense should tell you that a story that is without conflict is, more than likely, NOT going to become a huge hit and if we are supposed to fulfill that Great Commission thing, then if we fail to do so by our own emotions, feelings, dogmas and religious ritualism, then we are not obviously doing our jobs right in the sight of the Lord. What I mean is when an author makes a good story, then people will rave about their work. Since that is true, then what we have to do with our faith is to make a best-seller that transcends our limited, narrow, religious-based, comfort zone-obscessed minds and that actually reaches out for the most important target audience to our faith, which is the people that are stuck in the world system. Second, conflict makes for deeper characters and, consequentially, character development. Read any good book and you will find this to also be the truth. Third, conflict is juicy and desireable to the audience. If it does not do it well, or at all, then it will not sell, period. Fourth (and I have to stress this point here), please, PLEASE actually BE original and revolutionary when you make a video game! This does not mean that you can not learn from the great secular video games of the past, rather, this means that you all need to be original enough when you make your own video games so that people can make it the next Mario, Final Fantasy, Wild Arms, Personna, Gran Turismo, Need for Speed, Midnight Club, Tetris, Bejeweled, etc. Finally, you need to make sure that it is the work that the Lord gave your body to make for His glory and edification rather than get the big head and start praising yourself on the accomplishments. If there is one thing that most people in the world and people that Christians and Jews who are deeply grounded in their faith that they can agree on, it is the fact that they mutually hate selfish, narcissistic, self-promoting behavior when it comes to making video games. I have this message to the Christians and Jews that are either making your own video game companies and/or who are working for the secular video game companies, please be sure to praise your employees, regardless of whether or not that they are Christians or Jews because a little praise, positive thinking, and leading by example go a LONG way in their lives. Also, by doing these things, the Lord may use you to win that soul over to His Kingdom by simply even doing something nice for someone without showing off or expecting something in return or by even saying and meaning a kind word to them at random during the workday.

    As for a good idea when it comes to a decent video game that is based upon faith, my suggestion is to make a video game that plays like a much superior version of all of those Dynasty Warriors-type games but, instead of it taking place in China, Japan, Europe, in giant mecha in outer space, planets, and space staions and space ships, or a complete fantasy land, we can make it take place in the Middle East during the times of the wars in the Old Testament and maybe the Apocrypha. There are TONS of good characters to build on and lots of potentially good ideas to make in this game. A good example of something that could be a good feature that also promotes faith is collecting letters of the Scriptures or the words of the Scriptures to make things like weapon upgrades, getting angels to help you out in battle, getting a bodyguard or two or four, making new attacks on the battlefield, etc. I am not saying that this is the perfect idea for a video game that promotes the faith of Christianity or Judaism, rather, it is just an idea that could, if it were done right, be VERY successful and make these kinds of video games no longer be the laughingstock that they are in the video game industry.

    Also, as a final set of closing words, I want you all to know that there are a lot of Judeo-Christian themes in, yes, even secular video games if people would get the blinders off of their eyes and see things as the Lord Yahweh who is God sees them through His eyes. Finally, if anyone would like to add something here, such as additional things to make to my idea of a good video game that promotes the faith of the true knowers of the Lord Yahweh who is God and His only born Son Yeshua Yamashiyah/Jesus Christ, or pointing out anything that is in error with the Scriptures in what I am saying here, then please feel free to do so to either one of those things because, as has been said before in the Scriptures, “A fool will scorn correction and they will also laugh at those people who will try to correct them; however a person who is truly wise who commits an error will truly humble themselves before that person, they will admit their mistake, and they will give their pennance before the person or people that were offended and also before the Lord.”

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