BibleMan: A Fight for Faith is a full length videogame developed by Covenant Studios in 2005. It is based off of a Christian television series geared for children ages 2-10 (I do not know how you do that!). By using strange villains and charismatic heroes, the series and the game strive to instill the tenets of Christian living into the young minds of the audience.
First of all, the technology in this game is elementary at best. The graphics are blurry and many of the levels are only partially developed. A large portion of the playing field is left a black and green grid. The characters in the game have only one or two actions that they can perform and the enemies’ actions are largely algorithmic. In a ten minute span, it is possible for the player to have gone through all of the phrases and smart-alec quips the villains can say.
In addition to being designed poorly, this game is overrun with stereotypes and generalizations about non-Christians. To begin with, the main villain in this episode of the game is the Wacky Protester. He is a blue academic type demon who is cynical toward all things Christian. The company that produces Bibleman has become the subject of scrutiny for its choice of villain because they often follow Jewish stereotypes. Thus they have been accused of pushing an Anti-Semitic agenda under the guise of Christian pedagogy. Another example of their anti-Jewish nature is in the third level of the game where the task is to offer Bibles to passers-by until you locate the man who is to become the next Bibleman. All will deny the Bibles except for him. It is problematic however that some of the comments you receive from the passers-by identify them as of the Jewish faith. One of the figures asks you if the Bible you are handing out is the Jewish version and another tells you to “get lost”, for he is late for synagogue. By pairing unfriendly behavior and Jewish keywords, it may be said that the makers of Bibleman are making a comment on members of the Jewish community and their affect towards Christians. There is a large population who argue that commentary and prejudices of this sort have no place in children’s games.
I found this game boring to play and was actually more interested in what negative or questionable commentary I would discover than in the storyline. The game ended in an “altar call” where the “real-life” BibleMan, Cypher, and BibleGirl talked about the wages of sin and that the time to repent was now. They then led the player on a call and response style, verse by verse repentance and salvation script. I found this incredibly troubling because I do not feel as though BibleMan: A Fight for Faith had done enough biblical teaching to have persuaded a child to truly change their ways. That being said, it raised some questions within me: Are these children saved by repeating these words with no subsequent action? If not, is it responsible of the creators to lead a child into thinking that they are “saved”? What confusion does this bring about in the child if and when they are presented with a different method of salvation?
These questions lend themselves greatly to the idea of belief. Is belief enough? Or should it be accompanied by action? This is an age-old question in religious talks. I believe the answer is that it depends.