Saturday, June 10, 2006

Religion, Intellectual Bankruptcy, etc., Part Deux

Not too long after listening to the story on NPR about the migration of people from church to church I came across another stunning example of the shallow treatment of religion among some of its most fervent practitioners. My wife and I were watching a BBC story on Christian video games when she pointed out that they looked a whole lot like any other video game. She's totally correct about that. For example, take N'Lightning Software, makers of Catechumen. Tell me, does this not look a whole lot like Doom? And then you've got Left Behind Games, who bring to you such innovative fare as LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces. The BBC story had some video of this one as well... looks a whole lot like one of a number of RTS games. My favorite part of the story was when they were interviewing Troy Lyndon from Left Behind Games, a developer I believe. He was explaining how why Eternal Forces was a Christian game:
There is warfare, the bible is full of warfare, so are all the other great games that are on the market. So naturally speaking we've got new elements like spirit points, which are fantastic in that as you do good your spirit points go up; as you pray your soldiers are more prepared for battle.
Don't you see? Your "praying" to make your soldiers stronger. That way when they'll be more effective when they go out and blow shit up. Again, shallowness... they're not making a Christian game, they're marketing a game to Christians. Take out the blood (but not necessarily the violence), take out the cursing, throw in some token references to Christian subjects ("No, that's not a BFG9000, its The Light of God"). But for the most part you're still going around beating the crap out of things. There's really very little to differentiate the nascent Christian video game genre from everything else that's out there. There's certainly room for innovation. For example, you could do a Sim City type of game based on Christian principles. Rather than just putting a Christian skin on the game you could actually allow Christian philosophy to permeate the game mechanics. But there's the rub... it would be great for pedagogy, but would it sell?

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