Originally posted on 10/15/10 on Mrrrdev.


A world of possibilities opened up before me as a computer science major. Once I had room for only one major-related course of my choosing, and now I had room for seven. I filled my next year with what I considered the “game development trinity” – software engineering, computer graphics, and artificial intelligence – and loved every minute of them. I went beyond the requirements of my assignments just because I enjoyed them. For one artificial intelligence assignment, we just had to demonstrate different search algorithms using a senior project made by a past student, but I created a program in which Link from the Legend of Zelda waited for his fairy to search the world for some stairs leading downward, at which time he would trot his way over there down the best path to the goal. Because I enjoyed making this program and I wanted to work on a bigger project, I offered to enhance it into a more robust program that could be used in future assignments, and it is still in use today.

I soon enrolled in Cal Poly’s “4 + 1” masters program (though it turned out to be a “4.5 + 1.5” program for me), and continued learning more and more about my “game development trinity.” I made exploding chocolate bunnies using the QSplat rendering method, I implemented a Metal Gear Solid-esque sneaking scenario using the Neverwinter Nights scripting engine, I created an MP3 music player using an orbiting planet system instead of a folder file system, and as part of my thesis work, I used artificial intelligence to make a virtual character reliably act out the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story despite her autonomous nature. My last half of college was proceeding wonderfully, and I was ever preparing myself in all aspects that I could for an eventual career in the game industry.

Somewhere along my journey through college, I felt that God was actually leading me toward a career in game development.  I had noticed that the realm of video games was a mostly untouched ministry.  There are many movies that present Christian theological views, at the least implicitly as to cause the moviegoer to think, such as with The Matrix.  Actors saying “Jesus” (though usually as an exclamation) in reference to Neo, his death and resurrection into a glorified body, and his sacrifice to bring peace to the world make him resemble a Jesus figure without outright evangelizing Christianity.  Something like this has not been seen in video games.

Usually, games fall under three categories when it comes to Christianity:  completely secular, secular with minor or misguided references to Christianity, or completely Christian.  The vast majority of games by default fall under the “completely secular” category; their game universe has no need to refer to real-world religions.  Some games attempt to have minor references to Christianity such as by having Christian or Christian-like priests or churches, though not intending to promote Christianity itself.  Sometimes they actually advocate quite powerfully against it through portrayals of corruption.  Others misuse Christianity to promote an “interesting” idea.  When I saw the opening cinematic of the game, Apocalyptica, in which a soldier picks up a bible and loads it into his gun like a magazine, I had to laugh at how odd that seemed.

The last category of games are those that seem to have been made by Christians, for Christians.  I originally only saw these games in Christian bookstores, and they didn’t look very fun.  They usually followed some biblical story, such as with Bible Adventures, and show bible verses at times.  These games tend not to have any context to their bible verses and rely on the player having already read the passage to get meaning out of it; who said those words, and why?  Other games, such as Guitar Praise, are basically a Christian take on a secular game.  There is nothing wrong with this, and it helps Christians play something popular but molded into their realm of interest.  Both of these examples just mean that only Christians will ultimately enjoy such games.

So where are the games that straddle the line between theology and fun?  Where are the games that make you think about things greater than your day-to-day life?  I don’t want to make “Christian games.”  I want to make games where the player finishes the game a changed person.  A player does not need to be inundated with Christian theology to be given a thought-provoking experience.  These games do not have to point someone to directly to Jesus, but just to make them question their current reality as to cause them to investigate a higher purpose.  Have you ever been moved to action through a movie?  I want to do the same through a video game.

Fired up with a mission from God, I pressed onward through my studies and prepared for taking the dive into the game industry.  That is, until the visitors came.


Post image By Copyright 1980 by Atlantic Records., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=734296

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