From time to time I hear people asking “what exactly is a Christian computer game, anyway?” The logic goes like this: surely people are Christians – people who trust in the death of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. A computer game is… well… it just is. A computer game doesn’t trust in anyone, and I’m pretty sure that a computer game doesn’t have sins, even if it does involve stealing cars and beating up hookers.


Perhaps, then, a computer game is “Christian” if it’s based on Christian content – perhaps a Bible trivia quiz or a memory verse game that gives you points for demonstrating your superior knowledge of the scriptures. The trouble with this is that it bears little resemblance to Christianity – no-one ever got saved by knowing their Bibles well, and there’s no spiritual browny points for being able to recite the book of Jude from memory (although you might earn yourself a high five from me!) After all, the scribes and the Pharisees in Jesus’ day knew their Old Testaments better than anyone, and all it did was make them puffed up with self-conceit and hardened their hearts against realising their desperate need for the forgiveness Jesus was offering. As James tells us, if Christianity were a competition to see who knew the most right answers, we’d all be left for dust by the demons.

Maybe, then, a Christian computer game is an evangelistic tool – a game that helps educate people about Christian things and challenges them to think about their lives and about matters of eternity. The Bible trivia quizes and their ilk tend to work on the premise that you already know the answers (either that or it’s going to be a really depressing experience!), so they’re not much good in this respect. I could imagine that many of the so-called “Christian” games out there see themselves in this light, and I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to assess whether they succeed or fail on this front. One of the big challenges in pulling this off is that people don’t typically play games to be educated, they play games to relax and blow stuff up. There’s a bit of work to be done to really make this approach succeed.

For my money, I’m not sure the label “Christian computer games” is very helpful at all, and I’ve done my best to avoid using it all together. The underlying conviction behind my Old Testament adventure game is that God works in his world through his word, the Bible. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit, it’s sufficient for every good work, and the spiritual milk by which we grow up into mature adulthood. As God says in Isaiah 55:10-11:

As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.


And so, trusting that it’s the teaching of God’s word that changes people, my point & click adventure game, Ebenezer, is designed to explore the events of a short section of the Old Testament and tease out their significance, both in history and for today (in this case, I’m covering 1 Samuel 8-12, although if it’s a success I hope to make lots more about other passages!) It’s also designed to be a lot of fun in the process, and not to take itself too seriously (I take a lot of inspiration from Monkey Island on this front, as well as on many others!)

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