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How Games And Religion Could Mix 180

Posted by Zonk
from the greatest-game-never-played dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Passion of the Christ brought in $370 million at the box office. The Left Behind book series have sold over 63 million copies. And Christian Rock is growing more and more popular. But the video game industry has so far ignored the topic of religion. CNN/Money's Game Over column talked with game developers (including id Software CEO Todd Hollenshead and Diablo co-creator Bill Roper) about the reasons behind this - and asked them what sort of game they would make if they were creating one with a religious theme. The answers ranged from a Moses RPG to a faith-based MMO."
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How Games And Religion Could Mix

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  • Games and religion? (Score:4, Informative)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Thursday July 07, 2005 @04:29PM (#13007404)

    Already been done. [neoseeker.com]
    • by Wylfing (144940) <brian.wylfing@net> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @06:04PM (#13008392) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, here's one of my favorite examples [games-workshop.com] of a game with plenty of religion in it.

      What? Oh, my mistake. You're not talking about games with religion. You're talking about games that evangelize American Protestant Christianity. Well, no, I don't want to play a game that is trying to convert me or get me "fired up for Christ!" or any of that. It's nothing to do with the fact that it's religious. PETA likes to produce "activities" that evangelize their viewpoint, and I don't want that junk either.

      I will go out on a limb and suggest that the only people who want a game that promotes a moral viewpoint are the ones who are already zealots.

    • by RevAaron (125240)
      Yeah, there have been religious video games since the 8 bit days. And they pretty much all suck. Oftentimes technically, but they're usually just really, really, really lame.

      Imagine my shock as a bright eyed and bushy tailed 8 year old:
      friend: "Hey Aaron! You coming over and play Nintendo after school?"
      me: "Yup, my mom said I could. Let's play!" ...
      friend: "Check out this game! It's called Moses and the Trees of God and it's just like Super Mario Brothers, but it's not evil!"
      me: "Mario Brothers is ... evil
      • by elrous0 (869638)
        And they pretty much all suck. Oftentimes technically, but they're usually just really, really, really lame.

        The problem with a Christian video game is that all the parts of the Bible that would make a good video game are the parts that Christians like to ignore.

        They pick and choose passages of Jesus going around being a hippy, feel-gooder and ignore the incest, barbarism, anti-semiticism (in the New Testament), brutal phrophecy (unless they're holed in in a compound in Waco), etc. And that is the stuff th

        • The problem with a Christian video game is that all the parts of the Bible that would make a good video game are the parts that Christians like to ignore.

          No joke! I remember when I read the Book of Revelations- I was like 10 years old. That would make a badass game. Maybe you can play good or bad, but unlike in all the christian games I've seen that allow you to do that, evil needs to be able to win. But have some consequence.

          You should talk to someone, get that cutscene put in some game. It'd be pret
    • I seem to remember an old (and buggy) Microprose game called Darklands. Based in late medieval Germany, and based on the society, equipment and beliefs of that time. E.g., you didn't cast spells, you prayed to some saint, or mixed explosive potions as an alchemist, or such.

      Was a bit _too_ much of a Bible lecture for my taste, but still, it made a nice change from the endless stream of me-too D&D clones. I mean, I'm not against RPG's derived (directly or indirectly) from Tolkien's work, but there are lo
  • by elrous0 (869638) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @04:31PM (#13007426)
    I'm not even a Christian, but I would BUY that game!

    Choose Your side!! Christian or Pagan, the Choice is Yours!!

    -Eric

  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @04:32PM (#13007442) Homepage Journal

    Both games and religion are make-believe, it only makes sense that they merge. Jesus with a BFG-900 taking on a 50M tall Ganesh with glowing laser-tusks could be fun.
  • by vasqzr (619165)
    Nobody wants to play a religous game, just like nobody wants to listen to religous music.

    Here's an example [somethingawful.com]. And another [somethingawful.com].

    The thing with religion in the US is, people will attend services but are embarassed to say so.

    • How do you explain the sales of Christian rock (as the /. blurb mentioned)?

      Do most of these teenagers listen to Christian rock because that's all they're allowed? Probably, but you could say the same thing about video games. No, the reason why Christian video games go nowhere is because they're horrible. Even Christian rock, Left Behind, and so forth are of much higher quality, especially when compared to the mainstream music and books that most people like now-a-days anyway.

      Rob
      • by Gulthek (12570) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @04:57PM (#13007686) Homepage Journal
        Did...did you just say that Christian rock and the Left Behind series are higher quality? Granted, mainstream isn't too high a target but I still have trouble seeing this.

        I guess things have come a long way since Carmen and Chicks comics. Or maybe they seem higher quality to those with ears for the faith orientation; but to my impartial eyes and ears the lyrics and books seem trite, the emotions forced and self-serving, and the "faith" monetary based.

        But don't just say "Christian" games go nowhere; I challenge you to find any real world religion well represented by fictional book, music, or video game. Where's my video game that simulates the Buddhist wheel of life and my character's struggle to wake up from it and break the chains that bind? Of course the realtime lifelong meditation would be tricky to gamify, but I'm sure it could be done. :-)

        The best religious videogame I can think of is Ultima IV and that wasn't even a real religion (nice concepts though).

        Give me a Bioware RPG (with the good and evil possibilities that implies) set in Biblical times and I'd be all over that game. How cool would it be to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt...or betray them for a rich reward.
        • Did...did you just say that Christian rock and the Left Behind series are higher quality?

          Than Christian video games? I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who's tried all of those who wouldn't agree with me. As corny and weak as that music and those books are, they're still far better than crap like what Wisdom Tree puts out.

          Where's my video game that simulates the Buddhist wheel of life and my character's struggle to wake up from it and break the chains that bind?

          I think this [the-underdogs.org] might be somet
        • I challenge you to find any real world religion well represented by fictional book, music, or video game

          Narnia to name the easy example. Books are easy. solid games are hard because of the interactivity ("Open World" systems like Morrowind, or Dues Ex well they almost demand that you rob people blind) I mean the easy thing I can think of would be SimMissionary but it would be hard to make that PC. (Also wooing people over to your side virtually seems like a waste of time outside of a training tool).
          • Game designers hit PC limitations all the time. Sid Meier's Pirates should have african slaves (Sugar plantations crews, slave raids, etc) and prostitues (comfort women, disease vectors for enemy crews) if it is going to be a "realistic" sim, but there is no way those would make it past the ESRB.
        • I challenge you to find any real world religion well represented by fictional book, music, or video game.

          Fictional books: Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Do you consider Paradise Lost by Milton fiction? Then that too. What about Dante's Inferno? Pilgrim's Progress by Bunyan. And that's just off the top of my head--there are others.

          Music: Have you ever heard of Bach, Mozart, maybe Handel? Or any of the classic hymn composers? I think simply listing Handel's massive Messiah should prove my poi
        • If given the choice between a top 40 station and something like RadioU (christian rock radio station, but available streaming online at radiou.com), I can't think of a single music fan (of rock, obviously) that would willingly choose the former. Their may be better music in indie circles that I haven't heard, but compare anything from Thousand Foot Krutch, tobyMac or Falling Up to mainstream 'rock' like Coldplay and there's no competition.
        • I challenge you to find any real world religion well represented by fictional book, music, or video game. Where's my video game that simulates the Buddhist wheel of life and my character's struggle to wake up from it and break the chains that bind? Of course the realtime lifelong meditation would be tricky to gamify, but I'm sure it could be done. :-)

          Most of the other answers to this challenge focused on Christianity, so here's a couple others:

          The religion of Atheistic Existentialism I feel is well-re

        • I challenge you to find any real world religion well represented by fictional book, music, or video game.

          Books: I would characterize the Bible as a mix of fiction and history relating to religion.
          Video game: I thought Darklands did a good job handling the religious aspects of medieval Germany
        • No, seriously, try Enix's "Valkyrie Profile". That's one video game which is thoroughly good and entertaining and it's based on a religion. Norse religion, to be precise. (As the title might suggest, you actually play as a Valkyrie.)

          Now it's not really "well represented" in the sense of being a treatise on it or anything. It's a rather liberal interpretation of the sagas. (E.g., their Valkyrie fights and trains the Einherjar, rather than being just a taxi to Valhalla. E.g., their version of Ragnarok and es
      • I just have to put in my 2 cents worth. Left Behind was awful. I got about half way through the book before putting it down. The writing is childish at best, the story is so thin you can see right through it to the preaching. For goodness sake, if you're going to talk about christian fiction, at least use C.S. Lewis or Dante, or any one of a number of good writers who did christain based works.
        As for christian rock, as long as it isn't too preachy, it's not too bad.
        As for why the stuff is selling so w
        • I read the first two books; I got that far because of how unintentionally funny the whole thing was. But I suspect (and this is borne out by the sales) that the people who would buy Christian books in the first place would enjoy this series a lot. Not so with Christian video games; those are so bad that I don't think most people would play them even if they had nothing else to play.

          Rob
    • Nice, reference two OLD games, and link reviews, and that suddenly leads to the fact that no one wants to play religious themed games? Also, about people being embarassed about attending services, I don't know where you came up with that idea.
    • I listen to and write Christian-influenced music (not Christian rock, or Christian pop, mind you - I have a solo Industrial project, and I also write classical and neo-classical music - almost all of my music is instrumental). Granted, most Christian music in my favorite genres.. well.. suck. If you are into electronic/industrial, check out Juggernautz - they definately rival their secular peers.

      I'd play a Christian game if it was good. Thats the point - Love it or hate it because its good or not, to you. People play those stupid deer avenger games, or the Extreme Paintbrawl games, and they are awful by most gamer's standards.

      Look at classical music - Handel's "Messiah", Vivaldi's "Gloria", Brahm's German Requiem - all regarded highly among classical music fans. Why? Because they are all good.

    • Nobody wants to listen to religious music? Thats why several christian rock bands break 50,000-100,000 sales on every album they sell (Pillar, Skillet, etc)
      • Interesting that they remain almost totally unknown outside of Christian circles. I've never heard of either band.

        Christian music really seems to live in its own isolated world. It's pretty rare to see one acheive anything remotely like mainstream popularity. I think Creed was the most recent one to broke out, and that was years ago. I have no idea who the last one before them was.
        • Stryper [stryper.com], maybe?

          BTW, Creed was just a "Christian" band (i.e. they tried really hard to act like they weren't, but they so obviously were). Real Christian bands are not only open about their faith, they also make it a very explicit part of their music (yes, even more explicit than Creed did).

          Rob
        • If you insist that I name popular bands, I point to P.O.D., Switchfoot, or Lifehouse as Christian bands that have achieved mainstream success. I listed bands that would be comparable to other obscure genres (I doubt many outside of christian circles know Pillar, Hawk Nelson, Further Seems Forever, or any of a number of successful bands).
    • The thing with religion in the US is, people will attend services but are embarassed to say so.

      Quite the opposite -- Americans tend to overreport their observances; actual church attendance tends to run 10-20% lower than self-reported figures.

      As for religious music, the last few thousand years suggest you may not be right. More recently, how do you feel about a group like U2, whose music is deeply influenced by Catholicism? The Violent Femmes? Leonard Cohen, whose music feeds upon his Jewish heritage a

    • No one likes christian music they like that devil music like Switchfoot, P.O.D, Jaci Velasquez, Evanescence, Chevelle. ..irony.
  • I thought that the Xenosaga series was covering the topic very well.
    • Re:Xenosaga (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pluvius (734915) <`pluvius3' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @04:39PM (#13007515) Journal
      By "but the video game industry has so far ignored the topic of religion," the submitter obviously meant "but the video game industry has so far ignored the topic of serious Christianity (as opposed to the silliness found in Xenogears et al.)." And of course that's incorrect too, if you consider such examples as Wisdom Tree (which was actually mentioned in the article).

      Rob
      • Re:Xenosaga (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dizzle (781717)
        Mod parent up! The original poster obviously looked in the store, saw no games dealing explicity with Christianity, and said that there wasn't any. This is a sweeping generalization. Many games have religion in them, even if it's not necessarily retelling a religious story. Xenosaga is one (bad game, but that's beside the point), and I'm positive there's others. Just because they don't deal with the poster's religion doesn't make them non-religious games.

        Even GTA has religion. The mission for Jizzy t
    • That and Final Fantasy Tactics.
      • Or Final Fantasy Legends 1 on the Gameboy. Nothing like meeting the creator, and then killing him in one hit with the chainsaw.
  • hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by hobotron (891379) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @04:36PM (#13007483)

    :lvl 53 Judas LFG!
    :guyss??
    :plx i need grp
    :i wont tk guys rly

  • Fifield said he would use biblical stories as a framework. "The story of Moses has multiple decade long breaks in the text," he said. "Fill in those blanks and detail his rise to prominence in the Egyptian military, his wanderings and encounters in the wilderness and end the game with God's Judgment of Egypt and deliverance of the Hebrews through the Red Sea."

    From a gameplay point of view, this one strikes me as the most promising of the ideas. I don't recall Moses' "prominence in the Egyptian military" in

  • I remember when i was in high school. Our church youth group went on a trip somewhere, and they brought a projector and an NES. They actually had these kind of games with them.

    There was one I remember where you were Noah, you had to pick up animals and throw them in the ark, but none of us could figure out what the controls where to actually get them to stay in the ark.

    Seriously... It was something right out of the Flanders' household...
    • Bible Adventures, the game that could be found in every Christian household with a video-gaming child at that point in time. I don't remember having a problem with keeping the animals in the ark, though. I think you were just supposed to press Up to enter it while still carrying the animal.

      Rob
  • One of the problems with doing games based on historical contexts is that, like it or not, events happened a certain way. No retrying until you win. Purists--and there are a lot of outspoken purists when it comes to religion--hate it when the apparent outcome of a historical event can be changed by human interaction.

    However, I can see games being written that take religious values into account, and set the player's goals in line with those values. I'd probably even play a few.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Imagine a Scientology MMORPG..

      You'd start out with quite little, and have to work your way up through various 'levels', while either having to live in the game or by spending tons and tons of real life money just to get cool stuff in the game. You'd get addicted to the game, and they'd keep adding things to it to make sure you don't leave. The game would be set in a weird sci-fi world where things are totally ridiculous, but you don't realize so at the time.

      Oh.. hang on, that describes, um, almost every M
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Only I haven't seen an MMORPG game that has aliens infecting people brains and taking over.

        Oh wait I hear a knock on my door, one sec.

    • ...hate it when the apparent outcome of a historical event can be changed by human interaction.

      You obviously missed out on FF7. No part of the outcome of that game could be altered by human interaction, and it was one of the bestselling games in the world at the time.
    • Yeah, I'd think the purists would be rather upset if you prevented Jesus's cruxifition or altered the timeline in which Jesus was never born.

      You could however have fictional characters living in that time frame who interact with the main characters in cutscenes and then go off and do their own thing. Like Bob, who hears about Jesus and must make his way to Jeruselem and encouters mini-quests on the way.

      However, I will always be highly suspect of any group that sells Religion for money wheather it be music
      • I do believe they would be rather pissed off if we had a "PASSION OF CHRIST" game , with such boss battles as, the "Jesus whip-o-mania " , or a light gun mini game of firing crucifixion nails.
        (Or for those into Final fantasy) having a level 90 Jesus cast sodom on Pontious pilot , whilst st peter buffs up the party with his level 40 Fish and bread trick
        • Oh man that game would be a top seller. Can't wait till the sequel. What would the Add-on pack come with? New weapons such as chain whip with a morning star. Bonus stage in hell where you fight mr diablo himself.

      • "You could however have fictional characters living in that time frame who interact with the main characters in cutscenes and then go off and do their own thing. Like Bob, who hears about Jesus and must make his way to Jeruselem and encouters mini-quests on the way."

        Reminds me of a joke.

        So on TV Moskow during Communism they have this show on the aniversary of Lenin's birthday. Including an interview with comrade Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov, a simple man who's talked to Lenin no less than three times.

        Reporter:
      • You could however have fictional characters living in that time frame who interact with the main characters in cutscenes and then go off and do their own thing.

        You mean like Monty Python's Life of Brian? Yes, nothing controversial to Christians there...

    • It could be done in a current context, also. Perhaps something like paperboy, with the gideons, or something throwing bibles towards houses. To me, as a Christian, I think a game is a game, and I'll play Christian Games, only if they are good. Same goes for music (Personal favorite Christian band: Five Iron Frenzy).

      As a side note, I believe that many Christians (and perhaps other religions, also) take things way too seriously. I wouldn't force people to believe what I believe, because I've had peo
  • Science fiction has a tradition of writing about religious themes [butler.edu]. Since SF is a frequent subject in narrative games, it would be a good starting point for asking (and even answering) religious questions [wikipedia.org].
  • profit for sure (Score:1, Insightful)

    by czarangelus (805501)
    "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."
  • I think a Bible RTS would be pretty cool. Controling the Exodus from Egypt in an RTS fashion would be fun.
  • Nethack (Score:3, Funny)

    by atomic-penguin (100835) <wolfe21NO@SPAMmarshall.edu> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @04:52PM (#13007644) Homepage Journal
    Religion is a theme in NetHack. Haven't you ever #pray'ed to the RNG?
    • Roguelikes often have a fleshed-out diety system.

      Nethack's is rather primitive (the gods are more or less identical in their actions).

      The roguelike "Dungeon Crawl" has a well-fleshed out deity system. For example, Xom, the god of chaos, doesn't care what the character does -- he just randomly awards/punishes [google.com]. Trog, the god of berzerkers, hates it when you use magic. Sif Muna rewards magic casters.

      Crawl is a fun (although extremely difficult) little game.

  • Someone once said that linux/unix is the ultimate text-based adventure. I suppose Zen would be its religion.

    I guess the game could be called: "KISS, the Zen"

    I would also say that playing this game will actually increase you intelligence, attention to detail, and ability to earn a respectable income.

    Finally, playing "KISS, the Zen" would be frowned upon by parents (from the name alone), making it highly popular among smart rebellious kids.

    # /me rolls 4d3.
  • I think what this article really means to say is that there aren't many games based on positive, pro-religious propaganda.
    Xenogears and Final Fantasy Tactics were two that had heavy religious overtones, and were done very well. There are a handful of games that use religion to enhance the story, so I don't think this articles talk of the "potential" between games and religion is very accurate.
  • asked them what sort of game they would make if they were creating one with a religious theme
    They already wrote that sort of game...

    TETRIS

    Ask anyone who's hooked how religiously they play the darned thing.
  • Homeworld (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Unordained (262962) <unordained_slash ... @pseudotheos.com> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:05PM (#13007794) Homepage
    The religion gets stripped out, but if you look at the Homeworld RTS games, they're pulling pretty strongly from middle-eastern religious themes (and music) -- the jewish diaspora, the hebrew/arab relationship, the trinity (christianity thrown in?), the struggle to find a home ... but it's not really approached from a religious perspective. It's much more "the story of the jews, but without god, and in space".

    Besides -- you don't 'game' religion. Nothing about religion is predictable from a scientific point of view. If it were, people would be using prayer tactically to their advantage. Coding a game in which no results are ever guaranteed, nor even terribly predictable (don't even want to introduce the concept of probability that your prayer will be answered vs. the cost of praying) ... there's just nothing left. Random background noise, probability-wise? You can't "play" that -- there's no technique, no challenge. If anything, the game would teach you that you can do just fine without religion helping you. Oops.

    So it winds up always being story-oriented. And you're not very free to change the story. So you wind up with games like "go find the animals for Noah's ark" ... which really isn't about religion, it's more like slapping a theme pack on top of a game like Tetris -- the artwork can be religious, but the game isn't.
    • Remember Earthbound? With the completely random prayer effects? The first two times I had Paula Pray, my entire party died instantly to the effect. This was in the bad old days of SNES RPGing where that meant backing up hours and hours through the dungeon to the last save point in town. I concluded that God hated me and that I would never use the Pray ability again, so for the rest of the game I just used her regular, predictable heals and frying pan. I lived in fear of accidentally hitting the pray bu
  • B/c I don't think most religous fundamentalists would want to "Challenge Everything".
  • by gmezero (4448) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:14PM (#13007900) Homepage
    <sarcasm>A game where you hunt down all forms of religious zelots/fundamentalists, be they christian, muselum, etc... and pop a cap in their ass. You could hunt down the suicide bomber before he blows, or track down the nut before he starts killing at an abortion clinic.

    Heck we could even have it Deathrace 2000 style where you just run down all religious types you see when you're driving, like those "two guys on mountain bikes" types... Bonus, if you get them both in one shot.

    Wow... this could be a whole new game "GTA: Down Wit' Religion" (pun intended).</sarcasm>

    Sigh...
  • by Txiasaeia (581598) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:22PM (#13007995)
    So here's the story: the Jews spend 40 years wandering around in the desert before they reach the promised land. Moses dies shortly before they enter, leaving Joshua in charge. Now, if you've actually read the book, you'd realise that it's all blood and gore: Yahweh commands the Jews to kill everybody and everything. Can we say RTS?

    So they enter the promised land, call upon the power of Yahweh to do miraculous stuff (Walls of Jericho, battle at AI where the sun & moon stand still), and take over the land. Traditional RTS elements using real geograhical locations and a Biblical back-story. Age of the Promised Land, anybody?

    • I posted too soon, I suppose. An adventure game based on the life of Paul (post-conversion) would be pretty kick-ass too. He's gotta travel around the Mediterranean & spread the gospel.

      Last one, I promise: take the episodic system of Eternal Darkness for the Cube and trace the lineage of Christ from Adam. Each "chapter" takes about an hour to complete and has an extremely focused task. I'm not creative enough to figure out what Adam would have to do, but Noah's got a boat, David's got lots of inte

      • Please, for the love of the Elder Gods, do not drag such a masterpiece of a game as Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, which obviously borrowed so much from the Cthulhu mythos, down into the realm of 'Christianity.'

        You know the truth about the Second Coming?
        Jesus has to come back so Cthulhu can devour him along with all that lives.

        IA! IA! CTHULHU FTHAGN!

        • I'm not talking about the plot, which is absolutely fascinating to me (even as a Christian), but about the form, or the mode, of the game. I don't know any other games that feature a similar episodic element where the player controls successive characters. If you don't like Christianity, that's your problem, but understand that there's nothing wrong with making a game about it, and if you're so adamantly anti-Christian (as your post seems to imply), then perhaps you shouldn't comment on a story about "How
          • I see you're as anti-sarcasm as I am anti-christianity. And I am not Anti-Christianity. I have no problem with the religion. Just with many of its adherants.

            And I do agree. The game blew me away. An engrossing story and, what for me, atleast, was an entirely new form of play. Not to mention the fact that the game would screw with your head.

  • I would totally play a game where you're the Old Testament God! Imagine all the cool stuff you get to do! You get to wipe out the entire populace of a planet, flood said planet, burn whole cities to the ground, and annoy a bunch of egyptians with plagues! It would be similar to SimCity, Civilization, and Fable :)
  • That is easy. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zangief (461457) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:35PM (#13008122) Homepage Journal
    One based on Paradise Lost, by John Milton.

    An all out war between heaven and hell, and the adventures of Satan to tempt humankind.

    The main character is Satan, of course!

    Religious!
  • by TopShelf (92521) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:36PM (#13008126) Homepage Journal
    "I'm here to preach and chew bubble gum, and I'm all out of gum..."
  • by nunchux (869574) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:37PM (#13008150)
    For a Christian game to be successful, the first two thing it should NOT do is preach. The second thing it shouldn't do is educate. Kids will sense both of these coming a mile away and run in the opposite direction.

    And that's the biggest problem with most Christian entertainment, a total lack of subtlety. It doesn't have to be about hitting you over the head with the message. IMHO the best Christians live by setting an example, not by brow-beating you into submission.
    • For a Christian game to be successful, the first two thing it should NOT do is preach. The second thing it shouldn't do is educate.

      Sorry, I am sure this is just a typo...but it appears from this sentence that maybe a little education might be a good thing.
  • by Rimbo (139781) <rimbosity@@@sbcglobal...net> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @05:40PM (#13008166) Homepage Journal
    Take Peanuts by Charles M Schulz and BC, for example. Both artists are/were extremely devout Christians. In the former comic, Schulz focused on making the comic funny first, and he uses his beliefs as a springboard towards a joke or a humorous situation, such as one comic where Charlie Brown's baseball teammates are babbling theology while Charlie Brown himself is standing on the mound, physically above them all, mentally below them, and with a "good grief" expression more accurately saying, "Uhm... can we get back to baseball?"

    In the latter case, you see the comic used as a podium for lectures, for example a recent comic where Wiley's writing under his tree and writes how Darwin "made monkeys out of you and me."

    Now in games, I think we've already seen religion done right: Ultima IV. Being "moral" within the game is not just context, but the end of the game itself, and in that case, it made for a better, more interesting and (most vitally) more fun game than its hack-n-slash predecessors in which the goal was to defeat the murderous villain by being more murderous than him/her. Its religion is not specifically Christian, but the Ultima series shows the general principle that you can make a fun game based on religion. Making a game fun for a different set of beliefs is just applying the Ultima IV-VI design principles to different specific dogmas.

    Of course, it's all easier said than done, but that's why good designers make the big bucks.
    • I'd also argue that Schulz understood, better than most, the human condition, while Wiley seems to only understand humans as caricatures. Peanuts is Bonhoeffer; B.C. is James Dobson.
  • It's not a full game, but The Landover Baptist Church [landoverbaptist.org] has already created the "True Christian® mod" [landoverbaptist.org] for Unreal Tournament 2003 with a religious theme, check it out.

    Timothy explained that there was still a bit of tweaking to do in order to put Jesus into a "god-mode" without allowing the other characters to be in "god-mode" as well.

  • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @06:14PM (#13008523) Homepage Journal
    Bart: Whaddya got?... "Billy Graham's Bible Blaster?"
    Rod: Keep firing; convert the heathens!
    Bart: Got him!
    Rod: No, you just winged him and made him a Unitarian.
    Todd: Look out, Bart! A gentle Baha'i!
    Bart: All right! Full conversion! Thanks guys, this really cheered me up.
    Video: Second Coming! Reload, reload!

    http://www.snpp.com/episodes/BABF10 [snpp.com]

  • Yeah! Or, we could NOT mix them.

    Seriously, no thanks.
  • Breath of Fire 2.
  • Just create a first-person shooter called "Redemption" or something suitably generic and when you start it up, it prompts you for your religion of choice and presents a different skin depending on which you choose.

    Choose "Christian" and you get to go around killing muslims. Choose "Muslim" and you get to go around killing christians. Choose "Scientology" and you get to go around porking teenagers (hi Tom!). Etc.

    Who says selling shit in the Temple is bad, anyway?
  • Easy...and not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xTown (94562) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @11:55PM (#13010914)
    I'm assuming, as most of us seem to be (and as the interviewees do), that what they're really talking about is not a religious game, but a Christian game.

    On the one hand, it is indeed easy: because so much of the Bible is inherently story-based, it's quite easy to come up with ideas for games. Noah alone provides a lot of gaming fodder, from a "Concentration"-type game where you pair up animals for saving on the Ark all the way to an Ark simulator where you have to lay out the pens for the animals and keep them fed, sort of like "Zoo Tycoon" in a very small space.

    On the other hand, it is not at all easy. Designing a game that will appeal to Catholics and Protestants alike would have to be tricky. Also, and this is something that they touch on in TFA, you have the problem that evangelicals will condemn you to hell because a game by its nature will either glorify the individual over God, or will be outright blasphemy by making you play AS God. It's the same problem some Christians have with Christian rock: giving glory to the performer, rather than to God. Books and movies are okay for them because books and movies can directly praise God without too much emphasis on the writers and performers.

    Then there's the whole issue of "thought equals deed" that a lot of fundamentalists and evangelicals espouse--the same idea that they use to condemn D&D and other paper-and-pen RPGs, the idea that if you conceive of it, you are just as morally responsible as if you have actually done it. It's philosophically bankrupt, and totally destroys any notion of free will, but there you have it.

    I think that ultimately, the reason that there aren't a lot of Christian video games is that there's no need. The target audience doesn't buy video games, and non-evangelicals who do buy video games would buy mainstream games that don't actually suck.
  • I think the main problem with Christian games is that they're all focused on being pseudo-educational, non-violent budget games that won't offend anyone. If they got over this hangup and made the game about fighting vampires, demons, zombies, or something else that rectifies religious pacifism with entertaining gameplay, making a fun game that has a message behind it wouldn't be very hard.

    Just look at Metal Gear Solid. Extremely fun game, but it had a definite message that it was trying to get across. It w
  • The whole game is pretty much based entirely around mysticism and spirituality. It's just not the kind of religion that Americans like.
  • Shin Megami Tensei puts you in the middle of a war between Heaven and Hell. Japan is ruined in some way (as usual) and you pick what side you take and attempt to survive/escape/whatever.

    Most major religions are featured, for example the Christians are sadistic morale high grounders. "You side with us or we kill you" types. Total control freaks.

    In the second game if you took the Chaos path God was even the last boss.

    Untill recently none of them were translated but they get a lot of hype in Japan. It didn'
  • Game Over column talked with game developers (including id Software CEO Todd Hollenshead and Diablo co-creator Bill Roper) about the reasons behind this

    Yeah. Let's ask the guy who made a game WITH THE DEVIL IN IT why there aren't more Christian games. Just because Jesus wasn't walking around doesn't mean the game wasn't steeped in religious themes. Christian ones at that.

The Force is what holds everything together. It has its dark side, and it has its light side. It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.

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