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Christian Games for Non-Christians – penny

penny

Member

Posts: 101
From:
Registered: 08-15-2006
Here are some thoughts of my own in regards to non-christians playing christian games.

If you make a game that is fun, most anyone will play it regardless of content. Take 'cave story' for example (Thanks for getting me addicted
clint ). The story is really cliche and incredibly japanese (go figure), but the game play rocks. So far everyone I have shown it to loves to play it. Though not for the story.. most say, "Its a really solid game."

People, in general, do not like to know they are being indoctrinated. But they do accept truths if they are given enough situations where the truth applies--even if those situations are hypothetical in a game.

In the end, however, a Christian game should be just that... a game! Not an educational exercize, or a historical recounting.

This is hard for me to say this as a fiction writer, but, I think familiar linear stories(Pilgrims progress) are fine to use as games as long as the focus is *not* on the story. This is similar to games that follow a movie. Often in these games the story is auxillary to give the game definition. Sometimes the game is nothing about the movie. They just use the characters with a different plot all together. There is a reason for this.

You really can't use an existing familiar story to create a game with a really dynamic story. People just get offended by it. As if you are molesting it even. Could you imagine if someone took LOTR and made it so you could totally screw up the outcome. Thats right it wasn't Frodo who destroyed the ring of doom, it was Gandalf and he decided to destroy it by some other means than molten lava. People would be ticked. This is true even more so with the Bible stories.

I believe, that teaching Christian principles via a video game does require a game with a deep dynamic story with a lot of dialog. Why? Because the Christian walk is *relational*, with plenty of opportunity for failure--effectively the story of our lives. So, unless you want to do bible trivia in game format(boring), you need to have a deep compelling story.

Ok, so, all that said. I think the best Christian game would be as follows.

1. Deep compelling story of a Christian walk. Perhaps a criminal to saint story, or mediocrity to passionate journey, or even discovering God.
2. Fun game play that fits a decided genre perfectly and then adds something new.
3. Restrict the player so that to "beat the game", or "get the best ending" they have to choose and follow the Christian way.

Some people might be offended at item number three, but, honestly, this is what all the japanese games do. You have to play like a buddhist or shintoist to beat the game.

So, to the offended I would repeat what I always told my parents when they complained about the new-age concepts in some game I wanted to rent at the supermarket.

"C'mon! Its just a game!"

Just my humble opinions.

------------------
penny --Is. 64

HanClinto

Administrator

Posts: 1828
From: Indiana
Registered: 10-11-2004
Hey Penny!

Wow, excellent thoughts! I really enjoyed reading this, and I think you're right on track.

I liked what you said about the way Japanese Buddhist/Shinto games present things. It's crazy how well they can present their worldview without it feeling obvious, obnoxious, or overbearing. I think you're right -- we could stand to learn a lot from how they do it.

I don't have time to type much, but I just wanted to post a quick "right on!". A while ago I laid out some guidelines for creating a doctrinally correct game, and some of what I thought people could and couldn't hope to accomplish with it. I put it here if you're interested, but I haven't updated that page in a long time, and I'm not sure how much I feel that is feasible anymore. I really like everything that you wrote -- I really look forward to seeing what you do with Christian-based game development.

In Christ,
clint

P.S.

quote:
Originally posted by penny:
Take 'cave story' for example (Thanks for getting me addicted
clint )

hehe. You're quite welcome.
Lazarus

Member

Posts: 1668
From: USA
Registered: 06-06-2006
quote:
Originally posted by penny:
Here are some thoughts of my own in regards to non-christians playing christian games.

If you make a game that is fun, most anyone will play it regardless of content. Take 'cave story' for example (Thanks for getting me addicted
clint ). The story is really cliche and incredibly japanese (go figure), but the game play rocks. So far everyone I have shown it to loves to play it. Though not for the story.. most say, "Its a really solid game."

People, in general, do not like to know they are being indoctrinated. But they do accept truths if they are given enough situations where the truth applies--even if those situations are hypothetical in a game.

In the end, however, a Christian game should be just that... a game! Not an educational exercize, or a historical recounting.

This is hard for me to say this as a fiction writer, but, I think familiar linear stories(Pilgrims progress) are fine to use as games as long as the focus is *not* on the story. This is similar to games that follow a movie. Often in these games the story is auxillary to give the game definition. Sometimes the game is nothing about the movie. They just use the characters with a different plot all together. There is a reason for this.

You really can't use an existing familiar story to create a game with a really dynamic story. People just get offended by it. As if you are molesting it even. Could you imagine if someone took LOTR and made it so you could totally screw up the outcome. Thats right it wasn't Frodo who destroyed the ring of doom, it was Gandalf and he decided to destroy it by some other means than molten lava. People would be ticked. This is true even more so with the Bible stories.

I believe, that teaching Christian principles via a video game does require a game with a deep dynamic story with a lot of dialog. Why? Because the Christian walk is *relational*, with plenty of opportunity for failure--effectively the story of our lives. So, unless you want to do bible trivia in game format(boring), you need to have a deep compelling story.

Ok, so, all that said. I think the best Christian game would be as follows.

1. Deep compelling story of a Christian walk. Perhaps a criminal to saint story, or mediocrity to passionate journey, or even discovering God.
2. Fun game play that fits a decided genre perfectly and then adds something new.
3. Restrict the player so that to "beat the game", or "get the best ending" they have to choose and follow the Christian way.

Some people might be offended at item number three, but, honestly, this is what all the japanese games do. You have to play like a buddhist or shintoist to beat the game.

So, to the offended I would repeat what I always told my parents when they complained about the new-age concepts in some game I wanted to rent at the supermarket.

"C'mon! Its just a game!"

Just my humble opinions.


I should try that on my parents when they won't let us watch Walker because of the Buddhist stories.

...Didn't work.

penny

Member

Posts: 101
From:
Registered: 08-15-2006
It sometimes worked for me. ...sometimes...

I would like to see some japanese kid begging his/her parents to play one of these Christian games because its "soo coool". Talk about an impact. It may be his/her only contact with Christ, or planting seeds that God can grow in the future.

** personal mental note: Make my Christian games translatable.

------------------
penny --Is. 64

Jari

Member

Posts: 1471
From: Helsinki, Finland
Registered: 03-11-2005
quote:
Originally posted by HanClinto:

I liked what you said about the way Japanese Buddhist/Shinto games present things. It's crazy how well they can present their worldview without it feeling obvious, obnoxious, or overbearing. I think you're right -- we could stand to learn a lot from how they do it.

One important thing to remember is that they are just religions, earthly carnal things and whatever is spiritual in them is not of God.
That said we must realize that some people hate the truth which is that unless they repent they will die to their sins. I don't know about you but I think it's very wrong not to speak about this truth because it the whole truth and the truth when we add to it that God forgives through His Son Jesus Christ.
So I would never get in the line where its just grace and no mention about why there is need for grace. I'm saying this because religions are pleasant for people because they offer some way to happiness but don't have the message of what happens to the soul who sins against God, who is Love and destroys every evil thing in the end but also wants that no one would perish but have everlasting life.

Every Christian knows that but I had to go through the basic fact because the idea of learning from something that has something to do with a religion just doesn't sound right.
We must think Jesus and how boldly He spoke the truth in His great compassion because it is the truth will set free and nothing else.

In Christ,
Jari.

------------------
1Jo 2:9-10 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
Joh 17:26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

[VoHW] (Help needed) [Blog] - Truedisciple (mp3)

steve_ancell

Member

Posts: 37
From: Brighton, East Sussex, Southern England, United Kingdom.
Registered: 09-16-2006
I don't see any reason why non-Christians would'nt play Christian games (I think they would). During my school years, teachers have put Bible oriented films and toons on for us. Even the kids that were non-believers sat quietly, getting sucked in by the story, so it definately goes to show that Bible content rocks.
penny

Member

Posts: 101
From:
Registered: 08-15-2006
So, could one safely say that the biggest beef people have against Christian games is that they are poor quality games, and not because of the Christian content?

I don't mean poor quality as in bad graphics, but more like game play that is not fun, or is just cheesy/corny, etc.

------------------
penny --Is. 64

Jari

Member

Posts: 1471
From: Helsinki, Finland
Registered: 03-11-2005
quote:
Originally posted by penny:

1. Deep compelling story of a Christian walk. Perhaps a criminal to saint story, or mediocrity to passionate journey, or even discovering God.

That sounds like a great way of telling about God's grace! In fact I have couple game "ideas" (which are very similar though) where you are person without grace and in one day you realize that the fate of your everlasting soul is unknown to you, which yells for answers.
Other version of this story was meant to be represented in the awakening (my CCN competition entry) but I ran out of time. I am planning to add the story once I get the time and finnish the game though.

quote:
Originally posted by penny:

3. Restrict the player so that to "beat the game", or "get the best ending" they have to choose and follow the Christian way.

That sounds good from a Christian's perspective but about the person who has not come to known God's grace? How can player ever truly accomplish this if he does not know the grace of Jesus?

------------------
1Jo 2:9-10 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
Joh 17:26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

[VoHW] (Help needed) [Blog] - Truedisciple (mp3)

[This message has been edited by jari (edited September 26, 2006).]

penny

Member

Posts: 101
From:
Registered: 08-15-2006
Well jari,
It would simply be role-playing for the hard-hearted. There would be no commitment of the heart, just beating the game. The game will guide the player to make good choices, but it will still be the player's choice. Even if it doesn't impact some, I still think it would be worth creating the game just for planting seeds, and witnessing.
You can lead a person to Christ but they have to make the decision. And some people will just play it for fun only, and some will smirk, and some may be challenged.
In a sense, you may be giving a person a chance to "try God", by acting out in the video game.
I used to do this when playing RPGs as a kid. Playing it as the dark character, or always doing the right thing. I think in some ways it helped me learn about consequences in my own life challenges.
Currently video games offer such world views as: follow you heart, trust in you friends, or even get a bigger gun.
As Christian game designers, we have a chance to offer other world views... and also control the consequences of those world views. Its a powerful tool for sharing God's love and purpose for our lives.

------------------
penny --Is. 64

[This message has been edited by penny (edited September 25, 2006).]

Lazarus

Member

Posts: 1668
From: USA
Registered: 06-06-2006
My Aunt works at a library, and one day this lady comes in with a book written by Bill Myers(he writes Christian books for kids), one of the Wally McDoogle series.
And she says that it should have a warning label on it that it's a "Christian book", because if she'd known she wouldn't have let them check it out.

There are some people who dont' want to have anything to do with God or Christianity, and they probably won't let their kids play your game. Most normal kids would get it anyway and play it when their parents weren't around .

Lazarus

CheeseStorm
Member

Posts: 521
From:
Registered: 11-28-2004
To those of you who still think that you can convert non-believers through games, I think your best bet would be to use a realistic(ish) setting.

Remember Half-Life? You aren't killing monsters as soon as you click on "New Game". You go to work on the subway, get into your Hazardous Materials suit, talk to some scientists and security guards, go up and down a few elevators, and then get to work in the lab. Then BAM, the story kicks in, and you've got aliens all over the place.

Like, if kids were your intended audience, maybe have Joey getting up in the morning, grabbing his backpack, and starting to walk to school, when "something" happens. Maybe someone is following him (a demon?) and he has to find a way to get rid of it. I dunno, I'm not a Christian, so the details are up to you.

Fantasy games can get messages across too, but realistic ones have way more impact. The violence in Grand Theft Auto isn't even that bad, it just scares some people because it takes place in "real life".

*edit* Oh yeah, I forgot to ask you guys (mostly Clint and Penny): how the heck do you "play like a Buddhist" in your Japanese games?

[This message has been edited by CheeseStorm (edited September 25, 2006).]

HanClinto

Administrator

Posts: 1828
From: Indiana
Registered: 10-11-2004
quote:
Originally posted by CheeseStorm:
*edit* Oh yeah, I forgot to ask you guys (mostly Clint and Penny): how the heck do you "play like a Buddhist" in your Japanese games?

lol. Well I know that's a bit of a loaded question (how would someone who's achieved Buddhahood enjoy gaming?), but I'll do my best to answer it.

Some games are moralistic, often teaching/encouraging the principles of sila either through storyline or sometimes through explicit gameplay.

I haven't known many Buddhists, and even fewer hardcore/traditional Buddhists (only one who actually wore the orange robes and shaved his head). So much of what's classified as "Buddhist" nowadays seems to be a sort of neo-Buddhism, often mixed with principles of Taoism, and Wiccan/pagan philosophy. So you will find people using things like Yin/Yang in their overarching philosophy of Buddhism. A lot of it boils down to people following some/all of the principles of sila. Not stealing, respecting all forms of life, and generally fighting those who cause suffering. Just as you find principles of Christianity presented in all different forms in games (with varying degrees of accuracy), so too you will find principles of Buddhist philosphy presented in all different forms in games (again, many with questionable accuracy).

"Enough rambling -- give me some examples!" you say. Okay, here goes.

We'll start with an obvious example. (Be one with the duck!) However, this game isn't much fun, and it knows it. A game that tries to be a little more subtle while still being very newage/neo-Buddhist is Endorfun. It would give (subliminal?) messages at the completion of each round, quite similar to Christian games cheesily flashing Bible verses on the screen after finishing a task. I remember getting this game bundled with our computer when we bought our first Windows 95 computer, but I don't remember ever playing it. I think the weird messages in the booklet scared me off -- either that, or I couldn't get it to run for some reason.

Then other games are more of a melding of new age religions -- one clear and (somewhat) popular game is Rag Doll Kung Fu. While not explicitly Buddhist, it tends to really only tie itself to the principles of qi. So while it's very compatible with Buddhism, it also works well with Taoism and other new-age flavors you find in the great big melting pot that is modern perception of classic Eastern religion. It's a game that encourages meditation, self control, and the eating of psychotropic mushrooms. If your following of Buddhism makes you a pacifist, you can still play this game, because there is plenty that you can do where you don't have to fight.

And proceeding from there, you get other varying degrees of Buddhism. The concept of "universal oneness", is a presiding principle of modern neo-Buddhist thought. This can be found in the storylines of games/anime/books, and while it's certainly not excusively a principle of Buddhism (many other religious schools share this principle of oneness), it's certainly not a principle of Christianity. I don't play many/any Japanese RPGs, so while I can't give you an example of a game that exemplifies this, I can certainly give you a popular example in book form (and looks like it's soon to have a movie as well).

Modern Buddhism is such a roll-your-own sort of religion anyway that is fairly laid back and usually non-agressive in its proselytization (Soka Gakkai may be one exception to this), so it's hard to pin something down and be able to say "this is Buddhist!", because it's not quite that simple nowadays.

Overall, does this answer your question?

I hope I didn't talk your ear off, but there's a little bit as I understand it. I'm sure there is a lot I don't understand, and while I've done the best I could to represent things fairly and accurately, I hope that you will correct me where I'm wrong.

Thanks!

--clint

[This message has been edited by HanClinto (edited September 26, 2006).]

Faith_Warrior

Member

Posts: 490
From: So.Cal.
Registered: 09-05-2006
quote:
Originally posted by penny:

Some people might be offended at item number three, but, honestly, this is what all the japanese games do. You have to play like a buddhist or shintoist to beat the game.

So, to the offended I would repeat what I always told my parents when they complained about the new-age concepts in some game I wanted to rent at the supermarket.

"C'mon! Its just a game!"


But in such games, itís not Christianity. There is certainly a double standard, people will enjoy playing a Buddhist in a game, but say the character is Christian and they may get upset. Thatís the nature of the world, they have been duped by the Devil and show their animosity towards Christ. So just because someone may like a linear game where the centralized character is Buddhist, Muslim or even an Occultist, does not automatically mean the same appeal of the story structure will translate in a way that the same people will accept a Christian character.

This is the point where I just donít worry about trying to please everyone. Someone told me recently that I cant openly present my game as Christian or no one will play it, ...so what?! Iíll just have to see how it goes is all, I know at least Iíll play it. Actually I would love to see a Pilgrims Progress game being made, as a Christian that really appeals to me and funny enough I list PP as one of my inspirations for the games Iím working on. But you want to pull in the non-believers to play a Christian game? Well that would really need to be by the work of the Holy Spirit, so my best recommendation would not to water the content down to make it appeal to non-believers, they will either like it or wont.

Lastly, I donít buy the ďitís just a gameĒ thing. I think thatís a terrible clichť. Everything we experience becomes part of our psyche. From when we are born until we grow old it all gets assimilated and in many cases we imitate what we have experienced. Even in little babies itís easy to see, they mimic what they see and this trait really never fades throughout ones life; itís part of the human nature. So, casting fireballs as a wizard in a game all day, month and year, it will effect youÖ as well as many other negative acts one can repetitively do. When your parents were giving you a hard time about the selection of games, I probably would have backed them up, their right.

Jari

Member

Posts: 1471
From: Helsinki, Finland
Registered: 03-11-2005
quote:
Originally posted by Faith_Warrior:

This is the point where I just donít worry about trying to please everyone. Someone told me recently that I cant openly present my game as Christian or no one will play it, ...so what?! Iíll just have to see how it goes is all, I know at least Iíll play it.

That's the spirit! I have the same attitude because Jesus says that His sheeps hear His voice.

And I agree, games are not just games, everything has effect more or less.

------------------
1Jo 2:9-10 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
Joh 17:26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

[VoHW] (Help needed) [Blog] - Truedisciple (mp3)

penny

Member

Posts: 101
From:
Registered: 08-15-2006
CheeseStorm,
Clint has given some great examples of blatent buddhist concepts in games where, if you want to play the game(and win), you have behave like a buddhist.
I was thinking a little more subtly.
A quick example that came to my mind was in the game Earthbound. The character the game called Poo by default, a playable character, has an interesting trial that he (and you as the player) must face.
Here is a snip from the Starmen.Net walkthrough (http://walkthrough.starmen.net/earthbound/dalaam.php).
--Snip--
The first test is to shut off the outside world. A woman from the palace will come and tell you to hurry back to the palace. Do not listen to her. Do not touch the controller, or you will not be able to continue. Just ignore her and wait a short while to pass this first part.

If you fail, Poo will simply stand up and nothing else will happen. Go back to the palace and talk to Poo's master again, and then return to the mountain.

Next you will meet the spirit of Poo's ancestors. He'll ask you if he can rip off your legs, arms, ears, eyes, and then finally take your mind away. Say yes to each question. Even though your HP will be reduced to 0, you won't die. Then your Mu training will be complete. When you've successfully completed the training, a man will come by and tell you.
--Snip--
And we as the player are forced to follow this obviously Zen Buddhist trial eventhough I would not make such choices in my life as a Christian, or even believe that such an encounter with a spirit of my ancestor is possible.

However, its interesting to note, that since the game offers the situation (meditating and meeting the ancestor) I, again as the player, learn a "truth" (used loosly) that applies to that situation.

Hope that helps to clarify.

------------------
penny --Is. 64

[This message has been edited by penny (edited September 26, 2006).]

CheeseStorm
Member

Posts: 521
From:
Registered: 11-28-2004
Thanks for the examples. I guess some of the concepts are there. What's the matter, nobody wants to play a REAL Buddhist game? "If you can read this, turn off your computer and go meditate!"

You know a lot more about the different sects than I do. I've never even heard of Neo-Buddhism... sounds like a hippy thing. Trends come and go.

quote:
Posted by Faith_Warrior:
There is certainly a double standard, people will enjoy playing a Buddhist in a game, but say the character is Christian and they may get upset. Thatís the nature of the world[.]


Isn't Christianity the most popular religion in North America? I'm not sure if the Underdog Card is applicable here.

quote:
Posted by Faith_Warrior:
So, casting fireballs as a wizard in a game all day, month and year, it will effect youÖ as well as many other negative acts one can repetitively do.


Eight years and counting... nothing yet. Although I have been regularly running over pedestrians since playing Grand Theft Auto. Oh, wait.

I practice Zen meditation and it has nothing to do with contacting long-dead ancestors and junk. There is a difference between non-attachment (free from worldy desires) and shutting out the world (emotionless robot-style).

Now, destroy this thread before the anti-violent-videogame activists get the idea that Nintendo is trying to make kids get ripped apart!

dXter

Member

Posts: 59
From: Texas, the US of A
Registered: 09-26-2006
Here's my idea of a good (hopefully effective) Christian game for non-Christians:


1. It's best to be a MMORPG, as it is the genre that involves the most interaction between human players.

2. It doesn't shout out at the player "BE A CHRISTIAN!!" every 5 seconds. Instead, for the sake of more people playing the game, the gameplay doesn't directly involve Christianity, but the storyline could be symbolic for the story of Jesus, or better, just the story of Jesus presented in a slightly different way (not being exactly like the story in the Bible).

3. Good behavior and good interactions with other people is encouraged and maybe enforced, although not overly strictly (like getting banned for saying a cuss word), or else people might label the game as being lame or for 3-year-olds.

4. Christian players are encouraged to fellowship and witness to non-Christian players. I'm not sure how well the witnessing part would work, whether it would be very effective or it would just tick people off. But then, it's only our job to tell the good news, and the Holy Spirit will pick up from there.


This kind of game is meant to be mainly for witnessing to non-Christians while still (hopefully) attracting a good number of players. I don't know if it would actually do both (or either), but that's what I think of when I think of a Christian game for non-Christians.

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Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
--Matt. 19:26