I do not think there is such a thing as a good Christian video game – or at least I haven’t encountered one yet after many years. I think there are several reasons why it hasn’t happened and why it probably never will. To be honest, I’m not even sure that I want one to be made.
- Video games often are a reflection of popular culture. Christianity, at least the real version and not the kind that has been watered down, has never been popular with culture. The reason? Popular culture is consumed with self and Christianity is supposed to be concerned with loving and helping others. It’s hard to conceive of a game in which you want to give away your achievements, power-ups, or collected items.
- Video games need dualism. Dualism is a worldview in which good and evil are two equal powers that need to battle it out. It makes for great storylines and exciting game experiences in which you are the hero and you can save the world. Christianity is not dualism. It is one all-powerful God. Yes, there is evil in the world but that evil depends on good to exist – in order to twist it and spoil it. Ultimately, evil loses. That might make an interesting storyline but you are not the hero – Jesus is.
- It takes big bucks to make a video game, and there’s never going to be an investor willing to risk that much money to make a game to goes against the grain of popular culture. Could you imagine someone investing money in a game called “Quaker: The Peacelover” or something like that? Or a game called “Feed the Five Thousand”? It takes movie budget money in today’s world to make a game and Christians would much rather invest their money in doing something that would really help the poor and not just simulate it.
- There may be some other options though. Perhaps you could be playing a game in which you met a real honest to goodness Christian character – not some caricature of one. In Red Dead Redemption you come across a preacher who is an idiot, and a female believer who is an even bigger one. It would be interesting just to come across a character that really seemed to have an understanding of Christianity, that perhaps challenged your protagonist with a different perspective. I’m trying to say that perhaps, Christianity can exist in a well made game in which it’s not the central focus of the experience.
- The only area I could possible see a good Christian video game developing would be in the area of casual games. Perhaps some easy fun pick up and play kind of game that might actually work to instill some Christian concept. Some kind of puzzle game. Of course it would not ever win game of the year but it could help someone become more familiar with key Bible verses or something like that.
- In short, a Christian video game would probably never be a successful evangelistic endeavor, but it may just be that a game could be made that would be enjoyed by someone who was already a believer.
What do you think? Is there a great game out there that I’m not aware of? I would certainly be open to trying it out.