Making video games may SOUND like a fun idea, but this industry is a tough business that has chewed up and spit out even the most talented of gaming visionaries time and time again. While the world of gaming has never been bigger, the virtual video game shelves have become an incredibly crowded space that are typically dominated by the largest publishers and biggest gaming studios… and when you are trying to make content that has a Christian worldview, the challenge to breakthrough becomes even greater. So, when the opportunity to sit down and get to know more about the mission and ministry of TruPlay games was presented to us, we jumped at the chance to shine the spotlight on a company who sees games as more than just a form of entertainment… they are seeking to change a generation of gamers by sharing the principles and messages of the Bible in a format that is fun, relevant, and more necessary now than ever.
One of the largest challenges for the current generation of young gamers is that there are very few games that are made with them and their specific interests in mind… games are either purely educational without enough entertainment value to keep the target audience engaged, or the games they are interested in playing feature content that most parents are trying to avoid. Keeping it real… gaming already tends to possess a fairly negative stereotype in most Christian circles, and there are very few games that do much to change the opinions of those who consider video games to be an “empty-calorie” form of entertainment at best, and a source of evil at worst. Enter TruPlay games, a company that is fully committed to finding the balance between games that can be completely fun to play while reinforcing a belief in Christ and a worldview with God at the center of it. Our full video interview with TruPlay founder and CEO Brent Dusing is below, but here are some excerpts from our conversation:
Finding God in Video Games: 63% of Americans identify as Christians, and 70% of Americans play video games. That indicates a pretty large amount of crossover, but video games still carry a large stigma in the Christian community. Why do you think that is, since so many of us are clearly playing them either publicly or privately?
Brent: One of the reasons for that is why we do what we do… there’s a lot of toxic content out there. I certainly don’t think every video game is bad… there’s a lot of games I enjoy, and I am happy to have my kids play. But the level of ultra-violence, the sexual content, the drug use, the dark spiritual stuff, black magic and things like that that are in so many games… are reasons, and rightfully so, that a lot of Christians have an aversion to some of that content. And what has been missing is that there haven’t been many great examples of truly excellent, fun and world-class games that contain a Godly message.
Finding God in Video Games: We know that 90% of kids 17 and under are playing games, so what would you say is the challenge in having faith-based gaming alternatives, since clearly Christians DO want to game?
Brent: From having walked down this road I can tell you there are a few reasons… one is most of the large gaming houses that create most of our content have no interest in building anything that has any kind of Christian message to it. And there’s a lot of social and other spiritual reasons for that, but that’s no different than the movie industry. The second reason is that I think a lot of people have been too afraid to take the risk… anybody that has ever done anything new, when you are pioneering, there’s a lot of things you have to do to step out in faith. If you look at our society, we can talk about a lot of statistics about how bad things are for our children… anxiety, suicide and depression rates are at all-time highs, while 62% of Americans over 40 years old believe in God only 32% of kids do. Things are really, really bad for our kids, but what I find with most Christians is that they are comfortable, and they are unwilling to do anything about it. I think we all as Christians have to think about what has God called us to and what is our legacy? The biggest risk, I think, is to not do it.
Finding God in Video Games: As a gamer at heart, how do you balance creating compelling game content while blending the message of Christianity in a real and authentic way?
Brent: We measure our games based on metrics that every game company uses; we use a very data driven approach. And we do a lot of user testing, we are looking at data and at kids using it… we do that to make sure it’s fun, and on the story side some of our games are explicitly Biblical. And this new universe of characters we created called the Rhymverse, and in the story of these characters its’ a very modern human story in terms of the way God works in our lives. One of our characters has divorced parents and she is struggling with it, another one has lost their brother and hasn’t been able to process it, another one is adopted, another one is getting bullied at school, some are strong believers in God, and some are not yet… they are on a journey. And what it’s about just like all of us in life, you are praying to God and relying on God, you are experiencing personal spiritual growth and the Scripture is woven in there.
As believers in Christ, we all carry a responsibility to use our God-given gifts to reach the world around us for the Lord. And as Brent shared his heart for making games with a message that matters, one of the most potent statements from our conversation is a call to action for all of us in whatever method we have been gifted to serve the Lord…
“The Bible doesn’t call us to pray and complain, it calls us to pray and ACT. Everyone in the Bible who did anything meaningful… Moses, David, Jesus, Noah… they didn’t just sit and pray. They went out and got after it.”
As a parent, the truth is that I look forward to sharing my passion for gaming with my children… and how incredible would it be for those games to actually bring them closer to the Lord and reinforce Christian values instead of pushing them farther away? As a Christian, a parent, and a gamer I could not be more excited to see quality games with high production values being made that grow my family spiritually while still providing entertainment and fun… here’s hoping that TruPlay is able to churn out games for decades to come that make a difference to a generation of gamers that are desperate for truth that is presented in the language they understand and in a format they are eager to consume. The world can be a harsh enough place for our young gamers, and the world of gaming should be a safe haven for them. It is encouraging to see a company make the decision to shine the light of Christ in a place that has been neglected for too long 🙂
(Finding God in Video Games is not affiliated with TruPlay games, received no compensation for this video interview/article, and is purely interested in shining a spotlight on creators who are using their gifts to reach the world for Christ!)
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Categories: Christian, Christian Living, Christianity, Gaming, God, Jesus, Uncategorized, Video Games
Awesome, I had an interview with Brent as well. Will be watching this one 🙂 I hope their service comes out soon!
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