Oct 02 2011
Um, Maybe We Shouldn't Make Christian Video Games

Yeah, uh... I don't think so.

I know they're a burgeoning art form, but I really don't think we want many more "Christian video games".  This new game, here, is supposed to have heavy theological themes, but a) I don't understand them, and b) any profound truths are going to be completely eclipsed,, theologically-speaking, by the main guy's pants.  

...and his blouse-thing.  (I would, however, buy a spin-off game:  Ultimate Answer Quest IV:  What's Up With That One Guy's Shirt?)

Anyway, it brings to mind the only "Christian video game" I've ever owned.  I'm not sure why they sent it to me.  But I played "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" long enough, back in the day, to answer these FAQ's, and hope we maybe, you know, don't ever try this again:

FAQ's:  Left Behind:  Eternal Forces

Does Left Behind:  Eternal Forces let you kill people?

Yes.  But only in self-defense.

With a tank?

Yes.

But you're protecting others, so it's morally good, then.

No, it costs you Spirituality Points.  It's still bad.  But sometimes, you have to kill bad guys, but it's still morally bad, but you should do it sometimes, but it's morally bad, but sometimes you just have to, you know?  But it's bad.

How can you tell who the bad guys are?

They cuss.

No, seriously.

No, seriously.

What do you mean?

Each character has special traits and abilities.  The Christians all have "Pray" under their special ability section.  Like, there's a woman who's the Worship Leader, and her special abilities are "Pray, Crowd Worship"  When you equip her with "music" and "public speaking" training, she gets the ability to "positively rivet the audience nearby."

Awesome.  But she doesn't cuss.

No.  Bad guys have "Swearing" as their special abilities.  All of them.  For example, non-Christian musicians get special abilties "Swear, Sing" or "Swear, Play", or -- for the Level 3 Rock Star -- "Swear, Perform Concert"  And she wears a scanty blouse-thing, which should tip you off that she's fixin' to swear.

ALL the bad guys have "swear" as their special ability?

Yes.  It's pretty realistic of the end-times, when cussing will increase ten-fold.  The Gangster bad guy has "Swear, Rumble", the soldier has "Swear, Explosive Bullets" and thief, curiously, has "Swear, Pickpocket, Poison", which is an awesome name for the next Shaun Groves CD, in my opinion.

Swear, Pickpocket, Poison?

Swear, Pickpocket, Poison.

Is there a David Crowder Band song in this game?

Yes.  For me, this is causing some cognitive dissonance.  I don't know how to account for this.  I do kinda wish he, himself, were in the game, and he could drive the tank maybe. That'd be cool with his hair sticking out and stuff.

Back to the good guys/bad guys.  You mentioned they have to be trained or something, to get their special abilities?

Yes.  The good guy Christians get trained at, primarily, something called The Mission Training Center.  Also Churches, Cathedrals.  Christian Level 1 Soldiers get skills like "Pray, Explosive Bullets".

So they're trained at Mission Training Centers.  Where are the bad guys trained?

All the evil people are trained at...you guessed it..."college".

Can the good people marry the bad people?

No, because all the good people are already married.

All the characters are married?

No, the good people are married.  All the bad people are single.

You made all this up.

I made nothing up.

Comments (38) -

10/2/2011 5:26:10 PM
jenny United States
jenny
too funny. I have to agree with ya. No Christian video games Tong
10/2/2011 5:44:28 PM
Mike United States
Mike
You all this up.

I made nothing up.


lol.

All that stuff is in that Left Behind game? I never knew.

But yeah, I agree about the video games. That El Shaddai game looks so ridiculous and, imo, boring. I heard that it wasn't even created by Christians.
10/2/2011 5:44:51 PM
Mike United States
Mike
* You made all this up.
10/2/2011 8:10:46 PM
Susie United States
Susie
That's just hilarious!
10/2/2011 11:37:41 PM
Jinx McHue United States
Jinx McHue
"I made nothing up."

You're a rotten liar.  You took a few loose facts about the game and then filled it in with your own material -- i.e. you made it up -- in order to make the game sound bad.
10/3/2011 8:59:03 AM
Eric United States
Eric
Anyone else remember the craptastically bad "Bible Adventures" for the original NES? "Good work! But you forgot Baby Moses!"
10/3/2011 9:44:33 AM
Jacob United States
Jacob
Ok, I’m married and I don’t cuss but I am not a dispensationalist… Am I still a good guy? Am I even allowed to play “Left Behind?”

Also, on the other game, I was mostly weirded out by fabio’s uh… er… shirt? Is he wearing a “man-zier?”
10/3/2011 12:55:24 PM
brant United States
brant
Jinx, are you serious? Sadly, I'm giving an accurate account of the game.  I recommend reading the game booklet.  (Just in case you weren't kidding.)

And I love that:  "Good work! But you forgot Baby Moses!" -- needs to be on a T-shirt.



10/3/2011 1:03:34 PM
Becca United States
Becca
I read this and it doesn't leave much room for people to wonder what is WRONG with Christians sometimes >.< As funny as it could be, I think this is just expounding upon the Christian stereotype problem :/
10/3/2011 1:17:16 PM
Tricia United States
Tricia
We have the Left Behind game... somewhere... my son played it on our old pc, I never tried it though!  I don't even know if it would work on this one, but I now have this strange urge to go dig it out though and see if it will!  Smile

As for that other game... um, weird!  I cast my vote into the no more Christian video game camp...
10/3/2011 3:00:55 PM
Chris SKaggs United States
Chris SKaggs
I know this isn't exactly the forum for deeper conversations but don't you think you're throwing the baby Jesus out with the Left Behind bathwater?

1. It's pretty universally agreed that LB was...um...challenged.
2. El Shaddai is not a Christian game. It's not made by Christians or for CHristians - it was a Japanese artuer making agame very loosely based on the book of Enoch - so really it shouldn't be included here.

But to say the shouldn't be any Christian games is like saying there shouldn't be Christian music or Christian movies - it sounds vaguely thoughtful while the quality in the space is low (like pre Keith Green days) but when there is a genuine market hit - and there will be - then we'll all be saying things like "That is such an awesome testimony!" and then we'll criticize the developer behind their backs because they dont display our particular brand of the faith. ;)
10/3/2011 3:25:42 PM
Luke United States
Luke
Christian Video games have always sucked. I shall be the first to testify to that. but to say that there shouldn't be any at all is a gross mistake. There are people that decided against suicide because of Final Fantasy. Video games are a HUGE part of culture. You change people by changing culture. You stop trying to change culture or make your own little sub-culture for you and people that think like you, and you miss out on influencing potentially hundreds of thousands of people for Christ. There NEEDS to be Christian-themed Video games that can compete with the production values of the mainstream. To surrender an entire segment of culture without a fight isn't right.
10/3/2011 3:50:29 PM
Jacob United States
Jacob
Interesting. The book of Enoch. That might make and interesting game, what with the whole “sons of God “ as angels mythology and exploring the seven dimensions. Still can’t get past the Fabio’s  blouse though.

Actually I would make the same distinction with video games that I make with music. Ideally we would be generating music and content that is consistent with a Christian world view free of labels like “Christian music”. However we live in America and we love to classify and capitalize on everything, so to just have “music” as some abstract medium free of labels is really unrealistic. The whole industry would crash and then artist would be complaining about how there is no money in writing music. The problem I have is that so much of what is labeled Christian media often confuses worship and spirituality with entertainment and emotional manipulation.

When it comes to video games I am actually for no one making video games. They are generally harmful, they degrade imagination, they kill literacy and attention span, they tend to encourage a sedentary lifestyle they are habit forming they generally promote violence and carnality; the list goes on. People would, in my opinion, be better off just studying and applying theology and pursuing their vocation. However, I suppose that if anyone should be making such things it should be Christians. Or at lease the makers should be working from a Christian world view. But again, that is not reality.

I think (and I may be wrong here) that Brant is really making the point that if the best the church can come up with is Left behind, which lacks both theological veracity and imagination, maybe we shouldn’t bother. And I would agree. Now if believers could come up with games and stories that nourish the soul and the mind (maybe something more akin to the Myst games which are about the only games I’ve played that didn’t inflict lasting damage on my conscience) I might consider picking up a controller again. But even then I doubt I would be able to shake the feeling that I have a lot of better and more important things to do… like comment on Brant’s posts when I should be working.
10/3/2011 3:55:35 PM
Brant Hansen United States
Brant Hansen
I'm really not being terribly serious in this post.  It's more of a "Well, if THIS is what we come up with..." kinda thing.

But I'm all about storytelling, and I'd be an idiot to not see that video games aren't developing as potentially THE way to tell a story in the future.  I'm all for telling the Christian story, through various, creative ways.  

I know it can be done.  When it does happen, it'll likely be the work of true game enthusiasts and reflective artists/storytellers, rather than those attempting to teach us something didactically.  
10/3/2011 3:58:23 PM
Brant Hansen United States
Brant Hansen
On another note:  I wonder what a game that engages the Christian story might look like...?  

Not a rhetorical question.
10/3/2011 4:12:33 PM
Tammie United States
Tammie
I have to strongly agree with Chris S. and Luke! Jacob tI would disagree with no video games but then fully agree about the point Brant is trying to make and we need to as Christians come up with a video game that is just as good as the competitions like Cod or battlefield. I will be attending college to ve a game designer and feel compelled to see this awsome CHRISTIAN video game out!!
10/3/2011 4:42:08 PM
Jacob United States
Jacob
perhaps it would look something like a George MacDonald story.
10/3/2011 4:49:05 PM
Chris SKaggs United States
Chris SKaggs
For what it's worth, there is a small but growing group of game developers who are all about making something that really rocks and still stays true to the faith. Check out www.cgdc.org
10/3/2011 6:22:07 PM
Stone United States
Stone
Ok, there's a number of things I want to point out about El Shaddai and a few things I want to mention regarding christian video games in general.

Regarding El Shaddai: The company that produced it is not christian. It's not even based on canon scripture, but rather is inspired by the events in the book of Enoch. So it's about fallen angels sleeping with humans and having hybrid offspring, etc. An example of how this game is not based on scripture is in the angel who aids the main character is named "lucifel" yes, it's supposed to be the angel of light prior to the fall, but as we know it was lucifer who tempted adam and eve prior to all this, so yeah. I will say this though, i read a review for El Shaddai that was on a faith-based website and they said that for all the inaccuracies and the things that one might find wrong with it from the christian's perspective, it also has a few things going for it in that its depiction of God Himself isn't that unrealistic. He has an active role in the game and intervenes on behalf of the main character when the opposition becomes too much, and there are even times when the player loses control of his character temporarily and it's during this time that he is mysteriously removed from being in a position of danger and you hear the character say "was that God?"

on christian video games in general: i think that there are unfortunately many bad examples of christian video games, so when good ones do come along (yeah, believe it or not, but there are a few). for the most part, the media did a pretty decent job of making sure the public knew about how you can kill people in the left behind game, but nobody bothered to mention how in the computer game "Catechumen" when you used the sword of the spirit on human targets, they would actually convert, and at the same time this same weapon would be lethal to spiritual targets such as the varying types of demons in the game. then of course there's big idea's Larry Boy and the Bad Apple, it's not bad as far as platformers go and was actually released for the playstation 2 console, though the design was obviously meant for a young audience (say elementary - early middle school age). then of course there's a number of computer games which again aren't meant really for the high school/college crowd are pretty entertaining and can help to reinforce fundamentals that parents might be trying to teach to their children such as "light rangers"

anyway, having said all this, it is my opinion that the left behind game was an example of what a game that gets the title "christian video game" should not be. i can't speak for what the production team was going for, but it's ended up being the butt of many jokes among the gaming community. the thing about this is that if we as christians are going to try to venture in to video games, then we need to do it and do it well because this community is highly critical of products that aren't well thought out and produced. it's the same with christian music, for decades christian rock has had this stigma that it's somehow not as good as secular, but now we've got bands like Skillet and P.O.D. which are not only bridging the gap, but doing it well and gaining credibility in the secular community for their talent. if we're going to bridge the gap to the gaming community, then we need to do it and do it extremely well.
10/3/2011 9:11:16 PM
Hannah United States
Hannah
"any profound truths are going to be completely eclipsed, theologically-speaking, by the main guy's pants." Amen. *wolf-whistle*
10/3/2011 11:12:03 PM
Jinx McHue United States
Jinx McHue
"Jinx, are you serious?"

On this, yes.

"Sadly, I'm giving an accurate account of the game."

Hardly.

"I recommend reading the game booklet.  (Just in case you weren't kidding.)"

What makes you think I haven't.  Let's see...  nothing about marriage in the booklet...  nothing about "you just have to kill bad guys sometimes"... no "explosive bullets" skill for Christian level 1 soldiers... so, yes, you made stuff up.  What other stuff do you make up?  As a Christian, I mean.
10/3/2011 11:27:47 PM
Jinx McHue United States
Jinx McHue
"It's pretty universally agreed that LB was...um...challenged."

Universally agreed among those whom you agreed with about the game?  You know, the interesting thing about the most negative reviews of the game is how almost, if not absolutely, all of them were more about the reviewers'... um... personal distaste for all things Evangelical.  One included a personal revelation from the reviewer: "I'm a practicing Agnostic."  WHO CARES???  And then there's the one reviewer -- who gave the game the worst grade of "F" -- who began his "review" (read: "diatribe") with this steaming load:

"I am sick and tired of being told that I have to respect everyone’s beliefs. That is simply not true. What I should respect (and you better believe that I do) is your right to believe whatever crazy crap you want to. And that same freedom you get also guarantees me the right to make fun of you for thinking that invisible people live in the sky."

Do you honestly trust reviews by people like that?  I read that opening paragraph and it told me everything I needed to know about why he gave the game an F.  I didn't bother to read the rest of the "review."

It's fascinating that when a Christian reviewer of games, movies or TV shows bases his review on the content, he is severely chastised and his review mocked and rejected.  Someone does the same to something Christian and they are lauded, often by people who proclaim themselves to be Christians!  Interesting choices you "of the world" guys make.
10/3/2011 11:29:10 PM
Jinx McHue United States
Jinx McHue
Hey, Brant -- given the state of a lot of Christian music and books, perhaps we shouldn't have Christian radio stations or bookstores any more.
10/4/2011 6:04:57 AM
Matthew United States
Matthew
"Alpha team...a band of time pirates have just entered Ancient Egypt and are wreaking havoc on the timeline. We're sending you in. Stop the pirates and correct the timeline. Good luck!"

It could work! =D
10/4/2011 9:03:22 AM
Becca United States
Becca
Found this on discovery news and thought of you Brant!
Enjoy

news.discovery.com/tech/video-game-fail.html
10/4/2011 1:52:01 PM
Fork United States
Fork
Oh dear.
Oh dear, dear me.
10/4/2011 5:28:45 PM
Amber United States
Amber
i think they should have a Christian Guitar Hero, but other then that, yeah i agree
10/5/2011 5:37:51 PM
anonymous United States
anonymous
They do have a Christian Guitar Hero. It's called Guitar Praise.
10/5/2011 7:24:31 PM
Hannah United States
Hannah
Someone should just make a video game of Narnia and end the whole conversation. haha
10/5/2011 11:04:34 PM
Bethany United States
Bethany
I'm planning on going to college for game design and my mom is actually wanting me to do a christian game. I think if someone made a christian game, it should be an RPG (maybe that's just because that's all I really play). However, I don't think it would sell very well. Third party companies don't always make good games. Maybe we'll just have to be happy with the fact that bands like Family Force 5 and Relient K have songs available for purchase on Xbox live to play on rockband or gutair hero (one of those).
10/6/2011 8:50:06 AM
Adam United States
Adam
That actually didn't look that bad, it kind of has the whole campy thing going for it that will make 'Suing the devil' a classic.
Though if you really look closely, one of the angels uses a cell phone, there are freakish masked 'pigs' who bleed profusely from the eyes and Gabriel has breasts. Seriously, he has breasts.
10/6/2011 3:17:39 PM
Jake United States
Jake
People, as a gamer, gamers want games that are engaging.  Visually & audibly engaging with a story that is gripping.  If done right, there are some pretty neat stories (especially in the old testament) that would be worth exploring (think, the book of Joshua).  All that said, the big issue is choices.  Gamers want to see a world react to their decisions, and be able to choose whatever path they want.  I don't see a scripture based story ever providing that.  
What I do see as possible are Christian themed games using fantasy original fantasy story lines (think Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn novels, but in a game).  Create a unique, open ended world and gaming experience, with a strong moral main character.
Lastly as a gamer, the LB game was one of the lamest I've ever played.  Beyond that, the view of the end-times presented in the novels is not the view of most of the Church.  Questionable theology + poor gameplay equals lame attempt by non-gamers to make a christian video game.
10/13/2011 12:01:20 PM
Kyle Wiering United States
Kyle Wiering
I actually played the LB game for a bit - didn't like it much.
From my perspective, I think there is a real problem with Christian game titles, specifically in attempts to create them (here comes wall of text).

As Christians, we are to give glory to God and bring him our praise.  In video games, specifically LB - the attempt was made to emulate this by giving the Good Guys Prayer and Praise abilities.  The only problem, is that Prayer and Praise are used to further the players objectives and not to glorify God.

The question that must be asked is this: How can Christians take something that is secular and based on Ego and turn it to glorify God?

Sports are primarily secular, but many Christian athletes glorify God by giving credit for their triumphs.  

Lastly - God has given me the talent to be a professional software developer in the gaming industry.  Maybe God will give me something to work on soon.


1/12/2012 7:54:35 AM
The Knute United States
The Knute
From what I hear about the Left Behind game, it seems like junk.

However, I think the Christian video game field is wide open. Big Idea could make a slew of VeggieTales games for kids. Not sure if they'd sell well for consoles, but wouldn't it be cool if sites like Bible Gateway, Air1 and other Christian sites had games for kids on there? I've often wished there were more Christian games online to let my kids play.

As stated before, the Narnia movies would translate well to a game, but it may be too late for that. Either platform style or even more RPG would work.

If there were games for the Wii based on Christian music (Sing along style, Dance competition style, and Guitar Hero style) I would buy quite a few. My daughter said a while ago "I wish there was an Air-1 (sing along) game for the Wii... That would be so cool!" I do think the WOW brand could try some sing along games.

Bible-based gameplay would translate well to an RPG format. If you want to give choices, have there be a time machine, and you can play out the role of different Bible characters... it could work well.

The old testament stories would make an AWESOME action game. Don't market it as a Christian/Bible game. Call it "Ancient Battles" or something. Play as Sampson, David in war, etc. Make it realistic and cut the Christian cheesiness out. I bet gamers would play it. Christians may have a hard time with all the gore, LOL! (Imagine David hacking Goliath's head off, lifting up his severed head, and all the Philistines getting slaughtered!) Surprised
Yes, that is edgy. But it is an idea.  

That said, who says that Christian games would have to be "exclusively" Christian? I played an online game once that was a platform game, and it was based on a Bible story (don't remember which now...) yet it was something that anyone could play. It had scripture here and there, was a decent game, but nothing too deep. That works well for the simple online games that are out there.

I think there should be more games made by Christians out there. Some may actually rock!

Brant, sorry for using so much of your space! Thanks all for reading my book! LOL!
5/11/2012 2:39:31 PM
Jinx McHue United States
Jinx McHue
I guess Brant couldn't respond to my posts...
9/19/2012 5:17:08 AM
Pokal United States
Pokal
Useful information shared. I am very happy to read this article. Thanks for giving us nice info. Fantastic walk-through.
I appreciate this post.
12/23/2012 10:38:34 PM
Saskia Australia
Saskia
Hilarious!
I don't know though, you could probably say pretty much the same about Christian rap - most of it is really, really terrible, but then again, that makes it all the more needful to produce something that actually is good.

I think what needs to happen is not someone to say "I need to create a Christian themed game", but for a Christian who likes gaming to produce something that comes from their own life and worldview. Then it will have a better chance of actually being worthwhile and still showing something about Christianity that's positive.
1/3/2013 9:04:40 PM
anonymous United States
anonymous
"No, it costs you Spirituality Points.  It's still bad.  But sometimes, you have to kill bad guys, but it's still morally bad, but you should do it sometimes, but it's morally bad, but sometimes you just have to, you know?  But it's bad."

i'm not afraid to point out how hypocritical that post is. are you tryin' to be a a preachy, do-gooder and stuff? fyi, sometimes killing is necessary. trying to refrain from killin' bad guys is black-and-white thinking. but violence, on the hand, is a gray way of thinking. so who the hell are you to decide whether or not killing is good or bad?

pointing out that sometimes you have to kill bad guys is necessary and bad is highly indecisive. in certain life or death situations that involve villains, you  must decide whether or not to kill them to survive. after all, there's a saying that says, "kill or be killed."

thinking that killing is always bad is a closed-minded way of thinking. what if you're trying to survive?

but if you wanna be a pacifist pussy for the rest o' your life, be my guest. just don't blame anyone but yourself if you suffer the consequences of your actions.
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