By Abe Rose
I remember hearing a lot of conversations like this, growing up in the nineties: “No, little Johnny, you cannot play Pokemon. Pokemon is influenced by satanic worship! If you squint your eye and turn your head and look at this Pokemon upside-down it looks like a demonic symbol! No, no, no. If you are going to play a game, you’re going to play a Bible game that is full of good teaching!” Considering that Pokemon merely faint when hit with bubble attacks, and people are mauled to death by lions in the Bible, this sounds like a command to play some awesome M-Rated games! Awesome! The Bible is filled with awesome, epic stories. What kind of game? A Bible game about Samson? Think of the possibilities!
“And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith. And Samson said, ‘With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.” (Judges 15:15-16) If you are confused as to how an ass has a jawbone, you can thank ol’ King James for creative donkey-naming.
Man, Samson would be an awesome hack and slash game. Or how about a game about Ehud?
“As the king stood up from his chair, Ehud reached with his left hand and took out the sword that was tied to his right hip. Then he stabbed the sword deep into the king’s belly! Even the handle sank in, and the blade came out his back. The king’s fat covered the whole sword, so Ehud left the sword in Eglon. Then he went out of the room and closed and locked the doors behind him.” (Judges 3:20-23)
Dang, that would make an awesome boss battle! It’d be a stealth assassination game like Assassin’s Creed, or Metal Gear Solid. You could have the belly of the fat king be its own Zelda-dungeon type of boss. There are so many possibilities! So what’s the most well-known Bible game?
Bible Adventures on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
All right, that’s cool. The Bible is full of fighting and wars, especially in the Old Testament. This sure to be a great game.
Ah, no way! There’s THREE games in here? A game about Noah’s Ark, a game about Baby Moses, and a game about David and Goliath? Wow! I can’t wait for the David and Goliath one. It’d be a game about a giant boss battle, like Shadow of the Colossus, or God of War, or…
Why am I just collecting sheep? There’s no giant? No epic battles? No rooftop battles where he has to fight his inner lust that’s trying to force him to look upon a bathing Bathsheba? This game is only about David when he’s a little boy? Did they just pull a George Lucas here?
The game is filled with a lot of really oddball moments. Here in the game is a really hungry-looking lion, but he doesn’t do anything. You can pick him up and fling him across the land, but he doesn’t really seem to mind. You’d think that this lion has a serious case of Isaiah 11:6, chilling all peaceful like, but as soon as you introduce a lamb, the lion goes berserk and murderous. He’s certainly not a tame lion.
He’s just reading the Bible.
Maybe he’s Aslan.
That’s weird. How about the Noah game? It could be a construction game, or a seafaring adventure game, or…
Why am I just collecting animals? Is this truly the most interesting part about Noah’s journey? And why can Noah pick up like five animals, one on top of the other? And why can he run faster than Sonic? They must have gotten him confused with Elijah. “Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.” (1 Kings 18:46)
How could they do this? How could they take such great stories, and choose to focus on only the most trivial parts of it? “Hey, here’s a video game about Joseph, who gets beaten and thrown into a pit by his brothers, sold to slavers, falsely accused of rape, gets sent to jail, and later on becomes the second-in-command to all of Egypt! But this game is only going to focus on the part where he lost his coat and sandals, and you gotta find ’em!”
Why would they make a game about Noah, who had to witness the destruction of the world, and only focus on him herding cows?
How did this train wreck happen? Did they actually think they were doing kids a favor by teaching them Bible lessons by stripping down these stories of content? The actual Bible stories are super violent. If the developers were afraid to address violence, then why even make games about the Old Testament? Nearly all the stories in the Old Testament are not tame in content. If filmmakers were to depict every scene of the Old Testament accurately, it would garner a NC-17 rating for violence and sexual content, easily.
I’ve heard arguments that watching R-rated movies is against Christian values. Believe me, I’ve had MANY of these conversations in my lifetime. But if we cast a finger of shame at all the filthy content in video games and movies, should we then sort of skip over all the stuff in the Bible about Solomon, Sodom, Lot and the entirety of the book of Judges? Remember, everything is about context and intent. The Bible is filled to the brim with stories about sinful creatures doing wicked things. By telling these stories in a “safe” fashion, it would be like watching a G-rated version of Goodfellas.
I’ve come to understand that a re-cut version of The Passion of the Christ exists, which attempted to gain a PG-13 rating. What would there to be gained from watching that? Isn’t the whole emotional impact based upon watching the gruesome violence? If people are afraid of letting kids see these things when they aren’t ready, then OF COURSE don’t show them! Diluting the story washes away the emotional poignancy of the story. These films really shouldn’t be viewed until students are emotionally mature enough to handle them. I’d wait to introduce them to Schindler’s List instead of giving them the Dora the Explorer version of the Holocaust.
I would argue the same case for the M-Rating in video-games. There are specific avenues of sin and theology that you can’t fully explore in an E, or a T-rating. The way that the game Catherine has you flee from a demon of lust simply could not be replicated with a milder rating. Nor should it, or else parents have to deal with those awkward questions sooner than they would like. “Mommy, what does ‘demon of lust’ mean?”
By making a game about Bible stories, but completely taking everything of importance and interest out, its no better than making a book about George Washington and leaving out all the important parts except the part where he had a dog, and a nice doggy at that. A book like that couldn’t possibly exist.