What Would Jesus Play

Racing to grace with the Bible Game

God saves—and He sells—so thearrival of Newport Beach-based Crave Entertainment's the Bible Game (for Xbox, PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance and assorted PCs) is not entirely a surprise. Except that it comes from Crave; its latest game will sit on shelves alongside the company's other titles—Bad Boys Miami Takedown, TriggerMan and World Championship Poker 1 & 2.

The Bible Game was designed to appeal to the "Veggie Tales" crowd—but unlike the popular Christian children's cartoons, it doesn't teach Bible stories so much as borrow from them. The game is structured around a trivia game show called "Do Unto Others," which tests your knowledge of Old Testament trivia. Quiz portions are broken up by Bible-themed games set to Christian rock music; in one game, players earn points by melting false idols—among them Egyptian gods and golden calves. In another game, contestants compete to create a universe—it took God seven days, but here you can do it in about 90 seconds. In a third, players race each other through the parted Red Sea, taking care to avoid wandering crabs and the walls of water on either side of the sea floor.

It all plays out like a squeaky-clean version of Jeopardy, albeit one with hidden "Wrath of God" tiles instead of Daily Doubles. Select a "Wrath of God" tile by mistake, and a plague of frogs and locusts or a hailstorm from the book of Exodus rains down from heaven. Game terminology is borrowed from the Good Book—not from, say, Press Your Luckor The Gong Show. Instead of "Ready, set, go!" the host begins each game with a "Let . . . there . . . be . . . light!" And when control of the game board shifts to your character, the host tells you, "You're next to seek the grace of God!"

Game play is enjoyable, whether you're a good Christian or a godless heathen—and angst-induced outbursts in a biblical setting are just part of the fun: when my brother stumbled on a "Wrath of God" tile and lost all his Grace of God points, he dropped the controller, raised his clenched fists and shouted, "I hate you, God!" in utter frustration. Blasphemous! Perhaps that's not the reaction the game was intended to inspire—but that's okay. Biblical relevance comes second to game play anyhow, as indicated by the fact that the biblical excerpts relating to each mini-game are only accessible after scrolling past game instructions and game tips. The game's tag line also shows far less humility than a truly godly game would: "The Good Book. A Great Game."

As far as teaching values, though, the game misses. In the game show's namesake segment, "Do Unto Others," a player is forced to give away his turn or points to other contestants—at which point his onscreen character frowns and shakes his head in distress. That isn't what Jesus meant by "do unto others" or "turn the other cheek," is it? It's a video game: you can hurl rocks at Philistines, get chased by flesh-hungry lions, eat fruit from the forbidden tree and single-handedly destroy the Tower of Babel. That's family entertainment!

THE BIBLE GAME, CRAVE ENTERTAINMENT; WWW.CRAVEGAMES.COM. $19.99.

 
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