Christian video game
Christian video games are any game with Christian themes. Although this is in itself a game genre, most Christian games follow the gameplay of many different genres. This ranges from Guitar Praise, a Christian-themed rhythm game, to the shooter game Catechumen. Some Christian-games with an evangelical purpose can be thought of as serious games, but most Christian games are simply entertainment for players who are already Christians, or historically interested in Christianity.
One of the first Christian video games was the “Bible Computer Games” series published by BibleBytes for the TRS-80 Color Computer in 1982. The “Bible Computer Games” were then released on the Timex Sinclair and Texas Instruments TI-99/4A computer platforms in 1983. The Bible Computer Games Series was then released on the Apple IIe, Commodore 64, Commodore VIC-20, and the Kaypro CP/M computer platforms in 1984. A DOS version of the Bible Computer Games was released in 1986 by PC Enterprises.
Several Christian themed computer programming books, based on the original BibleBytes "Bible Computer Games" source code, were also written by the Conrods. John and Joyce Conrod were the primary authors on the first two books while their son, Phil Conrod, was one of the original game developers and served as technical editor. The first BASIC programming book, "Computer Bible Games", included the BASIC source code for the Timex/Sinclair, Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer, and Texas Instruments TI-99 computer systems. The first programming book was written in the Fall of 1983 and published by Ac'cent Books on January 1, 1984. These beginner computer programming books were designed to teach students how to write BASIC Bible Computer Games on their own personal computer.
Since then, PC Enterprises and BibleByte Books has published several "Computer Bible Games" programming books for Microsoft Small Basic, Visual Basic, Visual C# and Java. All of these Bible themed programming books were designed for Christian Middle-School and High-School students in addition to Homeschool Computer Science students.
Another Christian video game pioneer was Bernard K. Bangley, who wrote "Bible BASIC : Bible Games for Personal Computers" with his son, David Bangley. Bible BASIC was published by Harper & Row in December, 1983. His book included type-in BASIC programs to create Bible games. The programs were intended to work in any version of BASIC, but the book included tips for adapting the programs for the Apple II, Atari 400/800, Commodore VIC-20, Commodore 64, and TRS-80, as well as extending and customizing the programs to make them more interesting.
The Nintendo Entertainment System featured numerous Christian video games, though Nintendo's corporate stance at the time was that religious symbolism was forbidden. Nevertheless, even officially developed Nintendo products sometimes featured Christian symbols; for example, The Legend of Zelda featured a Christian cross on Link's shield, as a protection against evil. One of the first NES games to use overt Christian symbolism was Castlevania, which were sometimes censored in various regions, the games followed a Christian vampire hunter named Simon Belmont who carried weaponry such as holy water, crosses that function as boomerangs, and a blue rosary which cleared all on-screen enemies. Konami released a game based on Noah's Ark in Japan and Europe, but it was never released in the United States, due to stricter standards and practices at the time. Starting in the late 1980s, the unlicensed game developer Color Dreams using the name of Wisdom Tree, developed the specifically Christian video games for the system.
In 2000, Catechumen was released, made by N'Lightning Software Development. Catechumen is a Roman-themed first-person shooter video game. It is known for being one of the most expensive Christian video games made. N'Lightning spent nearly $830,000 during the development process. The game had disappointing sales. Catechumen had a spiritual successor released in 2001, called Ominous Horizons: A Paladin's Calling, which eventually led to the company's disbandment.
In 2002, Sunday Software began developing and distributing Bible video games and interactive Bible story lessons for Windows XP to 10, primarily designed for use in Sunday School. Using 3DGamestudio, they created Bongo Loves the Bible, Galilee Flyer, Joseph's Story, Exodus Adventures, Attack of the Sunday School Zombies, and Faith Through the Roof. Designed as lessons, these games included narrated scripture and questions presented onscreen or spoken by 3d characters. Using Macromedia Director, Sunday Software also released several interactive Bible storybook programs for Windows, including Good Sam the Samaritan, Awesome Bible Stories, Elijah and Jonah, and The Ten Commandments (which features iPix photobubbles shot on-location on Mt Sinai). Most of these programs were subsequently donated to the members of www.Rotation.org, a Sunday School lesson ministry where they can be download for free.
In 2006, Left Behind: Eternal Forces was released by Inspired Media Entertainment based on the evangelical Christian Left Behind series of novels. Left Behind: Eternal Forces was a real-time strategy game. Upon its release, Eternal Forces was subject to much criticism and controversy from various watchdog groups claiming that it promoted religious warfare and bigotry. Inspired Media Entertainment went on to create four sequel to Left Behind: Eternal Forces. In 2010 Inspired Media Entertainment merged with Digital Praise (creators of Dance Praise and several other Christian video games.) However, by the next year Inspired Media Entertainment went defunct, and in 2013, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission made public their pending lawsuit against Left Behind Games under the allegations that CEO Troy Lyndon issued nearly two billion unregistered shares.
The annual Christian Game Developers Conference (CGDC) was started in 2001 by Tim Emmerich, founder of the small independent studio GraceWorks Interactive. The conference has been described as a place for Christian game developers to gather, make deals with other Christian developers, and gain encouragement from developers with a shared faith.
In the 2000's, Christian video games were receiving much criticism for being lacking in innovation and gameplay mechanics because of focusing too heavily on getting their message across. Some Christian games were criticised for being "clones" of other, more popular games with Bible-related themes and characters simply re-skinned over the top.
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