I’m excited to announce a Kickstarter project that I think is going to be big – I already supported it this morning! Today is the first day to support the Bible as a videogame! David & Goliath is the first complete game – coming up in episodes 1, 2 & 3 with plenty of more stretch goals to go as well. I happen to know the guys behind the project (they’re volunteers in our student ministry) and have the chops to pull this thing off. Anyhow, I was excited to sit down with the twins and talk about the project. Read this then head to Kickstarter to support the game!
1. Where did this concept originate?
It’s a childhood dream, actually. When we were in High School we turned our High School into a 3D game. It took 3 years. Once that was done, we thought: “What’s next?”. We had always loved the stories of the Bible. So we thought: “How come nobody turned those stories into an epic series of games?”. That’s how the idea for the Game Bible series was born. As we worked in youth ministry, the dream resurfaced in our hearts. We did all the prep work, from research to budgeting and found out we’d never have enough money. So we started small companies to fund initial development. One or two new businesses a year, it was hard work. From the profits we brought in professional developers to come alongside us. It took seven years to get to the “perfect” prototype. Now we’re ready to see if people want it. They’ll show that by backing us on KickStarter.
2. What are the fears/concerns/excitement over adapting the Bible to a video game?
Let’s take excitement first. Just think about it; you can’t go back in time to see Goliath go down. The only medium that really puts you in the shoes of the characters is a videogame. You make the choices. You move. You act. It’s not a movie that you have no influence over. It’s an experience. Even building it is. You tweak and tweak and slowly it takes on a form of its own. Then, all of a sudden we stepped back and let the game blow us away. When that happens, you know that something great is happening.
Of course we have had many fears in a project this size. We’d been nervous of what our non-christian subscribers and game-industry friends would think. But they loved it. Countless of people proudly said “I’m atheist, but I can’t wait to play this”. We heard the same from Muslims, Agnostics, Mormons, Hindus, and more walks of life. There’s a lot more love for the Bible then we thought.
Secondly we were curious about what fellow Christians would say. As it turned out, kids can’t wait, parents keep saying “Finally a game I can give my kids”. Pastors are stoked. Some wept of joy when we showed them the project. A few pastors “pester” us consistently, asking if the game is done yet. We never expected the excitement to be this high.
3. Why have people failed before to bring the greatest story ever told to the interactive world?
We believe there are four main reasons. First of all, you can’t minister through media if you can’t minister face-to-face. That’s key. You can’t step into an executive role and expect success. Media is a megaphone that amplifies what you’re already doing, it doesn’t magically fix it. Secondly, people often think that if their project is on a cool platform, it’ll attract people. It won’t. In fact it’s 10 times harder because you’re now competing with all creative industries.
Third, you need to take the time for quality. It takes years to learn a craft that constantly updates. Some people say “I’m called to make media”. That’s great, but that doesn’t mean you’re already good at it. You’ve got to train like an athlete, and surround yourself with people much better than you.
Lastly, you have to stay true to the Bible. Some add things for “entertainment value” or make up stories in-between. But the Bible doesn’t need any improvement. All major Hollywood script-writing classes refer to the Bible. Everything is already there. Instead, time is better spent on research and trying to find out what the culture was like in those days. Re-creating that will bring far more excitement to the game. For example: once you feel the tension of standing in front of Goliath, you start to make the choices David made. And that’s a whole new way of understanding David’s faith.
4. The game already looks terrific – who else is helping you with the game?
We are so proud of our team. They are literally all over the world. A level designer from France, concept and character artists from Sweden, developers in the US and Holland. It’s crazy. The games industry is a funny world: the bigger studios often lay-off their teams when a project is finished. This allows us to pick up highly talented people. Our freelancers and consultants have worked on games like Assassin’s Creed (PSP), Stargate, Starwars, Lego, etc.
We enjoy working with people from all walks of life. After all, the Bible is for everyone. One of our gameplay designers said “I’ve always wanted to know more about the Bible, can you tell me how to read it.” One of our top freelancers is an atheist. His doorbell rang and there was an evangelist telling him “I want to talk about the Bible”. He replied: “I don’t have time, I’m working on a videogame about it.” The gentleman was OK with that and moved onto the next door. Hilarious!
5. Where do you go from here, what stories are next? New Testament, too?
This first installment is the story of David. That’s what we’re asking people to fund on Kickstarter. It’s 10 massive episodes taking you from David as “teenage shepherd” to “king of the nation”. That’s why the game is called “David, Rise of a King”. If it gets funded successfully, we have plans ready for all other major stories, from creation to Jesus. The series will come to a climax at Jesus’ story.
BONUS: Tell me there’s and Xbox version coming out if you reach your bonus funding!
Haha! We would love to. The technology we use already allows the game to work on XBox & Playstation. However, to keep our team and budget laser-focused we target Mac & PC first. Once that works, we’ll talk to the console owners because it’s really up to them. Most game developers say that Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo won’t allow games with “religious content”. We aren’t sure if that’s true, but we’ll find out over the next few years.