The Perils of a Christian Computer Game: Changing History

Woohoo! I’m now halfway through my 20 day challenge to write a daily blog post as I seek to finish writing the puzzles for my Christian graphic adventure.

As I explained yesterday, for a long time my plan was to make a game based around David and Goliath. When I used to talk to my work colleagues about it, a common reaction was “Cool! Will it be like Quake then, where you run around with your sling and your little pebbles to try and kill Goliath?!?” Just imagine for a moment that that was my intention; there would be a couple of quite interesting issues raised. The first would be: “what if you miss?” The whole idea of most computer games is some kind of uncertain outcome – who will win? If you’ve ever played an RTS like the classic Command & Conquer, it’s very hard to pin down a definitive answer to the question “which side won the battle?” – you get to play as both. You led both GDI and Nod to victory on different occasions.
This uncertainty doesn’t really mesh too well with a Bible story which is in no small part about the power of God to defeat his enemies. If you lost the game and the Philistines won, then you’ve just completely undermined everything the Bible was trying to teach you about God.

The other, and perhaps more subtle, issue is the so-called “Moses Is Me” syndrome. Our tendency as Christians is always to read ourselves into the position of the hero of the story. When we read the account of David & Goliath, our reaction is always to look for the ways in which we’re like David, making applications about who the “Goliaths” in our life are. I personally believe this is a very unhelpful way to read the Bible, since we actually have very little in common with God’s anointed Messiah, David, and are far more like the quivering Israelites David was busy rescuing. The primary applications are much more likely to be about God’s rescuing king, and how that is fulfilled in Jesus.

Applying all that to the issue of Christian computer games, then, helps explain my approach: you don’t play David or Saul or Samuel, but instead I’ve picked out one of the anonymous characters in the narrative (in my case, Saul’s man-servant). You play an ordinary Israelite with ordinary problems, but conveniently I’ve arranged it so that their character arc mirrors the big themes of the passage. That way, I can draw out the applications and demonstrate them in the life of this teenaged boy. Point & Click adventure games also have the benefit that, on the whole, you can’t really affect the ultimate outcome in the way that you can in other types of games, meaning that I (as the script writer) get the final word in how things pan out.


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