Why Biblical Video Games Suck

By Jaime Nava

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For Christians, Jesus is central (or should be). Without the cross, we’re doomed. Without the resurrection, we’re pitiable. All preaching, all reading of the Bible is done in light of Jesus since He Himself said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…” So, as an aside, if you’re going to a church and Jesus is a side note to the sermon or Bible study, flee to one where He is. As such, the Good News, by its very nature, is meant to be shared. That’s what you do with news. We are called to tell people that they are dead in sin. Not wounded. Not having spiritual ouchies. Dead. This means their very nature is a stench to God. It means a holy and righteous God demands justice against evil-doers, against you. It doesn’t give people the feelers they like. It’s not supposed to. The Good News is this, God sent His own Son to purchase the dead. He paid His divine wealth for a wretch like you. You can’t earn it because you’re dead. Instead Jesus scrapes the hard ground over your grave until His bloodied hands pull you out and He gives you life. For those whom God calls and elects, we are now living with God inside us. By the Holy Spirit, we might even do something good for once.

You came here to read this article because I claim Biblical video games suck. For those of you who also play videogames, I bet I don’t even need to tell you. You already know. Some of us might recall playing Bible Adventures on our NES. You either play Noah collecting animals (by force if need be), Miriam, Moses sister, who can toss her sweet baby brother around without harm, or David who eventually has to fight Goliath. Although nostalgic for some, it is so thoroughly unbiblical as to be laughable. This was not the first nor the last game to do this. There’s other games like Dance Praise (oh, the pain) and the Left Behind series which is based on hugely faulty theology. These games are just plain crappy. They are riddled with bugs and sloppy development. They are confusing and often try to rip-off other more successful secular games. What the hell are these people thinking?

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Christians think that, if they can somehow get the Bible into something, they’ve done evangelism. They think they are actually teaching something about Jesus when they’re not. It’s this weird delusion that if you can get people to be curious about what’s in the Bible, then we’ve done the job. *facepalm* That’s not all. Christians also love this weird sense of isolation. They try to white-wash cultural things into “Christian” things so that their poor little ones won’t be exposed to the sin of the world. So instead of Wolfenstein 3D, where you shoot pixelated Nazis, you have Old Noah shooting sedating food at rabid livestock aboard the Ark. Oh, that’s so much better. Instead of Guitar Hero you get Guitar Praise. It burns us. This doesn’t happen only in video games. There’s other things too. For example, Christian karate and Christian hip-hop. Kick some ass or shake those hips for Jesus! It’s an attempt on some level to insulate from the world. The reality often ends up being a second or even third rate edition of something other people do a whole lot better. Putting a Christian spin on something often appeals to the Christian Industrial Complex that is trying so hard to get dollars from Christian purses (Jesus Vuitton anyone?) and it’s working. Christians settle for mediocre because somewhere in there it might have a glimpse of something in the Bible. It gives the happy warms of having done something they really haven’t.

Here’s why Biblical videogames will never work. The Bible is boring. I don’t mean that the actual events are boring themselves. There’s all sorts of dramatic things. What I mean is your sinful nature simply avoids the Bible. It’s why Christians have such a hard time cracking it open. It takes work and discipline. It’s not written for entertainment. It’s written to tell the story of Jesus from one Genesis to another. It speaks about eternal life and killing our old Adam daily. It’s all that stuff I talked about in the first paragraph. This isn’t trivial stuff. If someone made a videogame true to scripture, it’s not going to sell, bottom line.

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Videogames, by nature, are meant to entertain. Sure, they can allude to motifs and the underlying story of all humanity but the minute you try to make a Biblical videogame, it’s going to suck because that’s not what the Bible is for. It’s almost as bad as rocking out for Jesus. For the love of God and your neighbor, stop making Biblical videogames.

What should we do? Look, if you want to make a videogame then make one that tells a story. Make it like Last of Us where characters develop over time, where moral decisions make an impact, where players are caught up in something that reveals the depth of human depravity and the struggle we have to fight for life and beauty, for something greater than ourselves. It won’t make the developers less Christian. It won’t mean they can’t talk to co-workers about the Good News or, better yet, invite them to church where they should hear that Jesus died even for them. Stop trying to mix things that simply do not belong. Let’s have some dignity and make superior products for the sake of making superior products. The opportunity to share Jesus Christ and Him crucified will arise. He will make sure of that, not your videogames.

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