You are hereIn Christian video games, Bibles are weapons of choice
In Christian video games, Bibles are weapons of choice
by Cathleen Falsani
When the ad for a "Christian video game" crossed my desk, at first I thought it was a joke. Perhaps the quick-witted folks at The Wittenburg Door or The Onion were putting me on, or someone had finally decided to market "Billy Graham's Bible Blasters," the fictitious game featured on an episode of "The Simpsons" a few years back.Remember the episode shortly after Maude Flanders' untimely death where Bart goes next door to visit the normally shiny-happy Christian Rod and Todd Flanders to cheer them up?
Bart: When I'm feeling low, you know what cheers me up?
Bart: Oooh, tough room. Video games! Whaddyagot?
(He reaches to the bookshelf and picks up a copy of "Billy Graham's Blasters," and they begin to play.)
Rod: Keep firing! Convert the heathens!
(A series of "heathens" crosses the video screen as a "Bible gun" fires Bibles at them. When a "heathen" is hit, he turns into a conservatively dressed man with a halo.)
Bart: Got him!
Rod: No, you just winged him and made him a Unitarian.
Todd: Look out, Bart! A gentle Baha'i!
(Bart zaps the Baha'i, turning him into another suit with a halo).
Bart: All right! Full conversion!
It's always been one of my favorite ''Simpsons'' episodes--a clever idea and a biting bit of religious commentary--but one I thought was purely the product of the writer's fertile imagination.
Not so, apparently. With a little investigation, I discovered a whole world of "Christian" video games where Bibles, or at least the Word of God, are the weapons of choice.
One such product that just hit the markets this summer is "Obstacles of Life," a Christian shoot-em-up game from south suburban Dolton's MVG Christian Entertainment.
"Obstacles" is set in a generic urban setting with the protagonist, David, a suit-and-derby-wearing Christian encountering demons, spirits, and deceptive humans on his way to confront the ultimate evil, The Devil.
"No weapon formed against you shall prosper," the game tells me, as it loads on my computer and I see David for the first time. His weapon of choice is an umbrella that shoots red Bibles.
"Get thee behind me," David yells as a ghostly specter floats toward him.
With a few taps of the computer's control key, the ghost disappears in a green cloud.
Next up is a husky bald man wearing a smiley-face T-shirt. Looks harmless enough, but I shoot him with the umbrella anyway and he falls over, disappearing into the green mist.
"I rebuke you," David says.
Around a bend, I (or David, actually) pick up a few more red Bibles to fortify myself (er, himself) before encountering a menacing-looking guy in a suit and a man-eating Venus flytrap. Zap, zap, zap. "Get thee behind me! I can do this!"
When I'm not quick enough with the control key, another specter cuffs David in the head and he squeals, "Lord, have mercy!"
I've never been particularly adept at video-game playing, so I didn't make it beyond the first level of "Obstacles."
Later on, David encounters Delilah, "a tall pretty lady who looks to be one way, but she's not," Obstacles' creator Victoria Gatling said.
"Along the way, David meets deceptive characters. All of them are portrayed to be one way when they're another," explained Gatling, a mother of five who taught herself computer programming to create a more family-friendly computer game for them.
The graphics in Obstacles are pretty rudimentary, which is much different than another Christian video game, "Catechumen" from N'Lightning Software Development.
Set in 1st century Rome, Catechumen's protagonist is a newly converted Christian believer whose quest is to free church leaders from the Roman catacombs.
In Catechumen, the player has to wend through computer-generated catacombs, encountering demons, "minor devils" and lions, and smiting them with Scripture and the "armor of the Lord." There's the "sword of the spirit," "the shield of faith" and "the breastplate of righteousness." All are based on a passage of New Testament Scripture in the Book of 2 Corinthians.
After an encounter with an angel, the computerized Christian gets his spiritual "weapon," a sword that shoots blue light. (It took me a while to figure this one out. I spent about 15 minutes--and five tries--hopping up and down in front of a bench trying to grab a "key" to open a door into the catacombs before I could find the angel in the first place.)
When confronted by demonically possessed Roman soldiers, the Christian wields his sword but does not kill them. The soldiers are merely converted, and kneel in prayer.
In order to sustain his energy, the Christian must pick up scrolls of Scripture (the verses are displayed on the computer screen when he picks them up).
A Web site called the Christian Computer Game Reviews lists about a dozen "Christian" video games, including Catechumen.
"Heaven Bound" is a game based on John Bunyan's Christian allegory "Pilgrim's Progress," where the cartoony protagonist, "Christian," meets characters along the road to heaven.
Heaven Bound's Christian is led by "Evangelist," who gives him the "staff of Moses" to ward off demons.
In another, darker game, "Eternal War: Shadows of Light," you play "Mike," a friend of "John Coronado," a suicidal teen. (Told you it was darker.) "Mike" has to fight demons in John's own personal hell. If you win, Mike kicks a lot of demon butt and John is redeemed. If you lose, John kills himself. Neat.
While its graphics weren't much to look at and its story line not nearly as complex, I much preferred "Obstacles."
When I (as David) hopped into a gaping crevice by mistake and fell to my untimely death, the game stopped and a message popped up on the screen:
"You're still victorious."