Monday, April 7, 2014

Game developers in a fight with Satan

From Polygon:
"I need to be clear on this point: Are you telling me that Satan is literally working to confound your plans to release this game? You're saying that the actual Devil is scheming against you?"

I'm sitting in a nondescript office in an unremarkable neighborhood in Bakersfield, CA, interviewing three men about their plans for a Biblical game based on the life of Abraham.

"I believe that, 100 percent," replies Richard Gaeta, a co-founder of Phoenix Interactive. He argues that since the launch of the Kickstarter for Bible Chronicles: The Call of Abraham, trouble has come into all their lives.

"It's very tangible," adds his business partner Martin Bertram. "From projects falling through and people that were lined up to help us make this a success falling through. Lots of factors raining down on us like fire and brimstone."

Nobody is winking or joking or pulling my leg. There is no irony here. They are absolutely serious.

I just had to post this, given my interest in both computer games and faith-based thinking. How far into fantasy can people get? Their Kickstarter request failed, and it's all Satan's fault?

They requested $100,000 on Kickstarter, but they got only $19,000 in pledges. Hey, that happens. Frequently. It doesn't take Satan.

What's more shocking to me is that they got only 199 people to back the project! They couldn't even find more than 199 people who'd support this entirely for the goal to "stir hunger for God's word"? (Note that those people pledged nearly $100 apiece, on average, so I suspect that most of them were just Christians - or family members - not gamers.)

But they had faith. In fact, as another article says, "Prayer and conviction have kept them moving toward their goal of releasing a game every 1.5 years, beginning later this year."

Get that? They haven't actually created even one game yet, but through prayer, they've set a goal of creating one every year and a half. Starting with their first game. Which they haven't made yet and can't get anyone to support. Now that's faith!

I don't know what surprises me the most about this, but I think it's the fact that they couldn't get funding, even though they're backed by an assortment of religious leaders. After all, if there's one thing religious groups have in spades, it's money.

As an atheist, I wouldn't care if a game were based on Bible stories or not. I play plenty of fantasy games based on mythology, so why would this be any different? I do have to wonder at the choice of Abraham, though. That's the best they could do?

Still, I must admit to being curious about how they'd handle Abraham pimping out his wife to the Pharaoh, and again - when Sarah was more than 90 years old! - to Abimelech. Or that whole Hagar thing, including sending off his slave mistress and his first-born son to die in the wilderness.

Of course, given the fact that he was quite willing to cut the throat of his second son, Isaac, and burn him on a makeshift altar, Abraham was never going to get any father-of-the-year awards, huh?

And I wonder, how much freedom of action would you have, if your game is supposed to remain Biblically accurate? A wide-open world is fine - great, even - but not if you can't actually do anything but look around in it.

But,... Satan? Really? Even believing that a literal Satan actually exists is a bit much, but believing that you're so important he's taking a personal interest in defeating your game-developing ambitions? (Of course, your God is completely impotent, absolutely useless in support, if he gives a crap at all, right? So Satan gets everything his own way.)

Well, this is faith-based thinking. At least it's relatively harmless in this case. I just wish that were always true!

*PS. No, this game does not have "top-notch graphics" - not for 2014, certainly. Now, I don't particularly care about fancy graphics, but if you're going to brag about the "visually stimulating" graphics, you'd better have something to brag about.

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