As the founder of GraceWorks Interactive, a Christian video game company in Corvalis, Ore., Tim Emmerich knows how hard it is to develop games that please both parents and teens. His company's "Interactive Parables," which includes games based on every parable Jesus taught, has sold around 5,000 copies.
But Emmerich also keeps tabs on others in the Christian gaming world. In July he brought hundreds of players, creators and manufacturers to the Christian Game Developers Conference in Portland.
Asked about the state of the Christian gaming industry, Emmerich says it's similar to the state of the contemporary Christian music industry a couple of decades ago. Good people are creating good stuff, but the quality isn't up to secular standards, and most kids overlook Christian-themed games.
"On a spiritual level, those of us in this industry are glad that gamers who play our games can get closer to God," he says. "But from a secular point of view, it would be nice to have a break-out hit or two."
Emmerich looks forward to the day when Christian gaming can generate something as big as the VeggieTales videos, which inspired him to get involved with gaming in the first place.
Some of the leading Christian games include:
• "Left Behind Eternal Forces" and the sequel, "Left Behind Tribulation Forces," both based on the best-selling "Left Behind" book series created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins;
• "Heavenly Harmony," a response to the popularity of karaoke;
• "Dance Praise," which allows players to dance to Christian music;
• "Ominous Horizons," in which players shoot demons and demon-possessed Roman soldiers (the soldiers don't die. They kneel down and pray!);
• "Charlie Church Mouse," a series of games for small children.
Christian video game resources
GraceWorks Interactive: www.graceworksinteractive.com
Christian Games! Now!: www.cgnow.com
LB Games: www.leftbehindgames.com
N'Lightening Software: www.n-lightning.com
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