In a previous article I discussed some of the difficulties in making a genuinely Christian computer game that was also fun to play, and showed how a Point & Click adventure game might offer a way forward. Here I’ll give you my top five reasons why I think it’s a fantastic genre for use in Bible-teaching computer games.


What is a Graphic Adventure?

But first, what do I mean by a graphic adventure, or Point & Click adventure game? The classic examples I’ve used in the past have been Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle. The creator of Monkey Island, Ron Gilbert, described the graphic adventure in this way: “games in which the pace is slow and the reward is for thinking and figuring, rather than quick reflexes.” The element that brings adventure games to life for me is the stories around which they are woven. They’re games in which the characters and the story are the focus, and players move forwards by solving puzzles and interacting with those characters. So what is it about them that make them so great for teaching the Bible? Here are five reasons that I’ve come up with, but maybe you have more!

1. A Focus on Narrative

It hardly needs saying that a large chunk of the Bible is in the form of narrative, stories in which we see the character of God in the way that he interacts with his world and his people. Teaching such narrative involves two things: the events themselves – what is actually happening – and then the significance of those events. It’s not enough to know that David killed Goliath – what is the narrative teaching us about God’s character when this unarmed Israelite shepherd boy slays the mighty pagan warrior with a single shot of his sling? When I tell people I’m making a Bible-teaching Computer Game, their first instinct is to assume I’m making some kind of First Person Shooter, “David the Giant Slayer”, in which you run around with your sling shooting pebbles at people. But even if such a game could succeed in teaching people that there was a guy called David who killed another guy with a rock (which is a problem in itself, given the possibility that you might miss!) it would be very hard to explain the significance of those events in an FPS game. Contrast that with a graphic adventure, however, where your character could watch David kill Goliath, and then go and talk to him afterwards and ask all sorts of questions about why he was so angered by Goliath’s defiance of the armies of Israel and what the source of his courage was.

2. Stories Take You On a Journey

One of the common objections to the idea of Christian computer games is the assumption that nobody other than Christians would ever want to play them. Looking at some of the games already out there, I’m inclined to agree! But one of the brilliant things about telling a story is that it lets you take your player on a journey – from disinterest to curiosity, from unbelief to faith in Jesus Christ, or from faith to ever more wholehearted living. Every great story involves a character changing in some way, learning from their mistakes and ultimately overcoming adversity. It’s exactly the same with great Bible teaching – it should never be a merely intellectual exercise, the imparting of knowledge without changing the way you think and behave. At the start of Monkey Island, Guybrush Threepwood had no idea what was involved in being a pirate, but by the end he’d learnt how to swashbuckle with the best of them. The whole point of a Graphic Adventure is to take the player on a journey, and that makes them an ideal medium for teaching the Bible.

3. Puzzles Make You Think

It probably sounds tautological to say that puzzles make you think, but that makes them fantastic as a way to help people apply what they’re learning from the Bible. Suppose you’ve been hearing a sermon about the sovereignty of God – how he is completely in control of events. The exact question your Bible teacher is wanting you to start asking yourself during the week is “how should I act in this situation if God is sovereign?” The puzzles in an adventure game can encourage you to do just that – find a way forward given the premise of the game, in this case that God is sovereign. Figuring out what those puzzles might be and thinking of suitable solutions for them is the tricky bit, but my experience so far is that when it’s done well it can be a really powerful tool for application.

4. They’re Fun To Play Together

When I was a kid, before the days of the Internet and multiplayer gaming, I used to invite one of my friends round to play on the computer with me, and inevitably one of us would be pretty bored for most of the time, as we sat there watching the other person playing. As other people have noted,
most games give you a certain sense of satisfaction simply from interacting with them – steering your car, firing your gun, jumping between platforms. That means that gaming is really not a spectator sport – it’s boring for the person watching who is not getting that constant stream of satisfying feedback. By contrast, virtually all of the adventure games I played as a kid were played together with somebody else, without being the least bit boring for the one observing. That’s because the emphasis is far less on the basic interactions of gameplay – there is little thrill in instructing your character to pick up an inventory item. The reward comes from solving puzzles and making progress – something that can be shared equally by both the person doing the pointing and clicking, and the person by their side giving the ideas. Some people have highlighted this style of gameplay as a downside of adventure games – and it certainly does mean a certain amount of patience is required, meaning these games are not for everybody – but I think it’s the key to making them fun to play together. Parents might enjoy playing a Bible-teaching adventure game together with their child as a shared experience, or two siblings could enjoy it together.

5. People Grow to Love Them

This final point is a result of all that has gone before – rich stories with vibrant characters, taking you on a journey as you think through puzzles, perhaps in a shared experience with another person – all of these factors mean that people grow to really love adventure games. When I talk to people who’ve played Monkey Island, their eyes suddenly light up and their whole body language exudes an enthusiasm that I don’t often see when talking about computer games. Like a good novel or a beloved movie, great adventure games seem to capture a space in people’s hearts. Imagine if people were being made to feel that way about a game based on a Bible story – what a fantastic positive memory to leave people with.

So there you have it, my top five reasons why adventure games would work brilliantly as a way to teach the Bible. It’s my hope and prayer that my own Bible-teaching computer game will be able to put these ideas into practice and help people to learn how fantastic God’s word really is!

One Response to 5 Reasons a Graphic Adventure Is a Great Way To Teach the Bible

  1. Lydia says:

    If you haven’t already, check out and and read through the comments players leave. They really do play the game together by way of the comment section. It really becomes a community. Unfortunately, none of the games are Christian themed and some are to be avoided altogether, but they really give you a window into the players’ experience with “escape-the-room” games (yes it is a genre). I played a few and was inspired to make these (not that I have finished a game yet, though). Also check out the “Submachine” game series.

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