I recently entered into the closed beta for an interesting video game called The Aetherlight that bases its plot around various Bible stories, and I like it. They took the (in my opinion) very important stories from the Bible, and put them into a medium that can reach far more people than the Bible itself might. Of course, there is no substitute for reading the book itself, but video games could get people interested where they might otherwise not be.
Anyway, it got me thinking, why aren’t there more Bible-based games? On the surface, I can think of a few reasons: the Bible is a religious text and care must be taken in retelling it (though that hasn’t stopped people before); Christianity is often viewed as ‘boring’ or ‘uptight’, whereas video games are almost always the opposite; and the fact that many vocal Christian groups or individuals actively try to get video games banned, censored or destroyed, metaphorically and literally.
(For example, here is a video of people trying to convince us that the Pokemon series is demonic, that Minecraft is brainwashing children and that Magiquest is teaching children to use magic to summon and control spirits. I’m not even kidding. I wish I was.)
[This thing? Definitely an oriental demon. Just look at its name: Vanillite. Now, it could just be a reference to vanilla flavouring, but we all know it is almost identical to a Wanyudo, for definites.]
Still, there are very few Bible-based games that are good. Most are very safe and mediocre experiences that do little to raise any questions. You know, totally like The Bible. This likely stems from the view that video games are children’s toys and therefore any games must be aimed at children. They often focus on the same two topics – antediluvian Noah’s Ark or a general message of “God=Good, Satan=Bad” – and never delve into any of the more interesting, and important, Bible stories.
Oh, and most of these kid’s games are crap to boot. (Besides the aforementioned The Aetherlight of course, which you should definitely check out here.)
So I thought I’d write up two game ideas that could not only be Biblically educational, but engaging and fun video games. Because if even one person were to find their faith because of a Biblical video game, then the entire endeavour would be worth it (though I doubt marketers or investors would see it that way…).
An endless runner about Lot [Temporary Title: Escape from Sodom]
This is a relatively simple idea, that could very easily make a game. Endless runners on mobile platforms are very popular (see Temple Run, Jetpack Joyride, One Epic Knight, etc.) and would have a potentially giant audience.
The premise is that of Lot leaving Sodom on God’s orders. A brief introductory cutscene could explain the story of Lot leaving Sodom before its destruction [Gen.19:15–17] and the game could begin.
The game itself wouldn’t need to be anything ground-breaking. One thing that makes video games so great is that they don’t necessarily need to be innovative to be good, as long as they polish their mechanics to a mirror sheen.
A technically sound, visually appealing endless runner with a Biblically based story could be quite successful, and may make a few people interested enough to read the original story for themselves.
Oh, there wouldn’t be any microtransactions though. I don’t think asking people to stump up money for Bible-flavoured in-game currency would really teach the messages of the Bible. After all, I don’t think God ever said, “For only $4.99 AUD, you too could get a second chance at Heaven*!”
*Offer valid until ~30AD
An adventure game following the life of Jesus [Temporary Title: Jesus’ Story]
Let’s face it. Playing as Jesus in a video game wouldn’t work. It would completely remove all challenge, as Jesus is, you know, the Son of God. However, you could play as someone retracing Jesus’ steps.
Here’s the premise: A young boy or girl is in an argument with their friends about how well they know the story of Jesus’ life, before stating “If I were sent back in time, I could be Jesus!” Through some power – maybe God’s or some outside technology – the child is forced to retrace the steps of Jesus throughout the New Testament.
The gameplay here could be a standard point & click fair, with inventory puzzles and dialogue options. The player would have to combine various inventory items to pass “puzzles” or quote Jesus by selecting the correct Bible verse. A “Pray” option could also be added to facilitate certain options.
For example, the player could come across a blind man with the goal of healing him. By combining some mud with saliva they could make a mud-pie, place it on the man’s eyes, and Pray over it to heal him. Or, the player could call out to two fishermen on the river, and must choose the appropriate Bible verse to help them catch fish by quoting Jesus.
WHAT DID JESUS SAY?
“No one comes to the father except through me.” [John 14:6]
“Cast your nets on the other side of the boat.” [John 21:6]
“Blessed are the meek…” [Matthew 5:5]
Not only does this game have the potential to be a fun game to play, for players of all ages, it would also require quite extensive knowledge of the New Testament, and could even have an in game helper that could give hints as to where in the Bible the player could read from in order to learn more about Jesus.
Of the two games here, this is the one I think would be most effective; as a game, and as a Biblical learning tool. If I ever get to make video games, this would be one I would want to make, or at least be a part of its development.
There are many more games that could be made that are based on the Bible. Obviously, I’ve only listed two here, but I’m sure a smarter human than me or even a relatively intelligent household pet could come up with even better ideas that successfully marry the themes and stories of the Bible with the interactivity and excitement of video games.
Anyway, no matter your stance on The Bible, hopefully this has given you something to think about.
Logan, the Not-So-Dragon