A Nation Under Siege

Around about 3,000 years ago, the people of Israel were a nation under siege. Oppressed by the Philistines in the West, threatened by the Ammonites in the East, Israel had no king and no hope for the future. They were governed by an ageing prophet by the name of Samuel, but it was plain to all that he wouldn’t live much longer and his sons, the obvious successors, were corrupt and incompetent. The prospects of this fledgling nation seemed bleak.


Such is the setting of Ebenezer, an Old Testament adventure game I’ve been developing for the last few years, based around the events of 1 Samuel 8-12. To many, the Old Testament seems utterly incomprehensible; it comes across as far removed from our 21st Century existence and beyond irrelevant. Yet when you dig a little deeper, the hopes and fears of these ancient peoples were not really so very different from our own. What’s more, the Old Testament is first and foremost a book about God – a God unlike the gods of the surrounding nations in every way, a God who remains the same yesterday, today and forever and who desires all of us to know him better. As we read the pages of the Old Testament and see this God engaging with his people, discovering who he is and what he cares about, we do not walk away unchanged. There’s something electric and vibrant about the Old Testament that means uncovering its riches should never be boring or uninspiring. This is a book to be treasured.

Six Convictions

As explained in The Old Testament Adventure Games Creed, there are six core convictions that lie behind the Ebenezer project:

  1. Education isn’t the problem – humanity’s problem isn’t first and foremost that they don’t know how to please God, it’s that they don’t want to please God.
  2. Morality is useless – since we have an inbuilt bias against God, simply commanding us to be nice isn’t going to achieve anything.
  3. People need brand new hearts – we need a complete rebirth with a new nature that loves God instead of hating him.
  4. New birth comes through the word of God – God promises to perform radical heart surgery on those who seek it with his living and active sword, the Bible, made possible by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
  5. There’s nothing boring about the Bible – a man dying of thirst in a desert wouldn’t consider a cup of water “too boring”: it’s the very thing that meets his deepest need.
  6. Christian video games should teach the Bible – given all this, nothing could be more worthwhile or exciting that sharing the good news of Jesus Christ as presented in the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments.

So how does it work?

The game focusses on one of the anonymous minor characters from the narrative: Saul’s manservant. He is present during all of the key turning points in the story and so the player witnesses and engages with the unfolding drama through him. In addition, the story arc that has been written for this character parallels the main teaching point of the passage so that he serves the purpose of a “worked example”; as he himself learns more about God through his experiences he begins to see how they make a difference in his life, and in turn he demonstrates for us the relevance of the passage for today.

The artwork for The Secret of Monkey Island

Image via Wikipedia

The game is what you would call a Point & Click adventure game: a form of interactive story where the player has to figure out how to move the story on by engaging with the characters and solving puzzles. Take, for example, The Secret of Monkey Island, arguably one of the greatest adventure games of all time. The main character, Guybrush Threepwood, is seeking to become a pirate and to do so he must pass “The Three Trials”: he must find some buried treasure, steal something valuable and defeat the Sword Master. To complete the trials, Guybrush must collect various items and figure out how to cheat, steal and bribe his way to success, just like a true pirate. In the process the dreaded Ghost Pirate LeChuck kidnaps Guybrush’s new-found love leading to all manner of swash-buckling fun and adventure as he endeavours to get a crew together and sail off to rescue her. The whole thing is pulled off with aplomb and a tremendous sense of humour – it’s no wonder that the game holds a place in the heart of many (and it’s yours today for only £6.99!)

Whilst the Point & Click adventure genre had its heyday in the early 1990s, it has seen a resurgence in the last year or two with the release of many new games in the same format, as well as the re-release of many classic games for new platforms such as the iPhone and iPad. These touchscreen devices are perfectly suited to the genre, introducing some real gems from the past to a whole new generation of players. Ebenezer is currently being developed for the iPhone using the Unity game engine.

Get Involved

If you’re interested by what you’ve read, do sign up for our email newsletter to show your support and to receive all of the latest news. You should also follow me on Twitter.

I’m also always interested in hearing from people who have the necessary skills to help me make the game. If you have talents in the areas of concept artwork, 3D modelling (Blender) or animation then drop me an email.


One Response to Ebenezer – an Old Testament Adventure Game

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