Christian video game
A Christian video game, or Bible game, is a video game based on teachings of Christianity. Christian video games were first marketed successfully by BibleBytes in the early 1980s on several different microcomputer platforms. Wisdom Tree introduced Christian themes to console games, starting in 1991, with the unlicensed Bible Adventures for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Now they are made by many different developers. Most of these new developers meet yearly at the "Christian Games Developers Conference" and build support through the Christian Game Developers Foundation.
Christian video games are any game with Christian themes. Although this is sometimes called a game genre, Christian games can 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 (now a division of Kidware Software LLC) 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. An MS-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 & 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-20/64, and TRS-80, as well as extending and customising the programs to make them more interesting.
Starting in the late 1980s, the unlicensed game developer Color Dreams using the name of Wisdom Tree, developed the first Christian video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, called Bible Adventures. It featured Bible accounts such as Noah's Ark, Baby Moses, and David and Goliath. It was released in 1991 to Christian bookstores.
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 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.
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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