Friday, August 16, 2013

The quest for quality video games with a Biblical narrative

I am not a serious gamer. The only two games that I really play are Scrabble and Chess. These are the only two games that I play online (sometimes). Due to a very busy life and schedule, I have little time for games.

Nonetheless, I was recently reading about video games and education from Prensky (2006), the author of Don't bother me mom-I'm learning! I have also been reading a number of other arguments for children playing video games (Franceschin et al., 2013; Olson, 2010; Shaffer, Squire, Halverson & Gee, 2004). This reading got me thinking that video games are the new media for thinking and working. Many video games are based on narratives and stories (Laurel, 2001). In fact, I agree with the readings that it is possible that a child could learn complex concepts from engaging with the media and in particular the rich narrative that the media can tell.

So I thought that I would take the challenge of looking up video games based on Biblical-narrative to see if per chance I could discover any such game that I would not feel guilty as a parent letting my children play. After all, a video game based on a Biblical narrative would help them think about God's word in a new way and a new medium.

My first search lead to not so encouraging results. The first article I discovered made it clear that Bible narrative based video games have been critiqued for being of poor quality. Brown (2007) in an article critiquing Bible-themed video games states that "devout fundamentalists often make incredibly bad game designers".

I was further discouraged by the video games that I did retrieve, which seemed to have the potential to teach my children erroneous doctrine, like the example of the Left behind game, which is based on the distorted doctrine of the secret rapture (I really need to blog about that another time). Another such Bible narrative-based video game is the game El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, which unfortunately makes Lucifer into a good guy (Flagged by me for deception. Lucifer is not virtuous guy, or at least he's not a virtuous character today).

Later on, while reading Prensky (2006), I discovered that there is a Christian Game Developers Conference. But from the look of their website, I don't think I want to see their games: I do appreciate though their motivation to use the medium for God's glory.

Eventually, I decided to enlarge my search to finding a Jewish Bible game. (Jews seem to be the masters at tell good stories and narratives). I came across this guy, Alex, who suggests that Bible narrative could make good games, especially seeing that there are a lot of wars in the Bible (Alex, 2010). I totally agreed with Alex on his last point that doing a David versus Goliath game would really be cool: "Give the player a slingshot and have him go to town. It’d be awesome."

On making better games with a Biblical narrative, I just want to suggest that the problem with Bible games is that we cannot make just Bible quiz games that drill in people facts, but we need to use Bible narrative to get players to negotiate and experience the conflicts of the Bible and Bible characters. So in all seriousness, we need more Biblical narrative role-playing games. Too bad my drawing and programming skills aren't so good for me to participate in bringing such games into being.


Alex (2010, Jan 3). The quest for the Jewish videogame. Hipster Jew [blog post]. Retrieved from

Brown, S. (2007, Nov 18). PrayStation: The 6 most misguided Christian video games. CRACKED. Retrieved from

Franceschini S., Gori S., Ruffino, M., Viola S., Massimo M, Facoetti A. (2013). Action video games make dyslexic children read better. Current Biology, 23(6): 462 - 466.

Laurel, B. (2001). Utopian entrepreneur. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Olson, C. (2010). Children's motivations for video game play in the context of normal development. Review of General Psychology, 14 (2): 180-187.

Shaffer D.W., Squire K.R., Halverson R. & Gee J.P. (2004). Video games and the future of learning. Phi Delta Kappan 87, (2): 105-111. Retrieved from

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