Hell's No Game, Son


Here's something I didn't know existed until just recently: Christian knock-offs of strategy board games. I guess I don't quite get it. I understand Christian Rock; it's for parents who like the sound of rock, but who find rock lyrics to be counter to the Christian ethos. And it's useful to give to kids to distract them from real rock music. And I get Christian versions of games for very young children. They're good for education and such, Bible trivia, that sort of thing. But Christian strategy board games? Are they trying to shield their kids from the harsh and sinful world of... Carcassonne? Is building the french countryside too violent? And if it's for indoctrination purposes, this also seems off. By the time your kids are old enough for Settlers of Catan, they've probably outgrown games-centered-on-the-Bible-for-no-reason. Moreover, I don't imagine there's much knowledge-type education to be extracted from Settlers or Carcassonne. They're educational, sure, but in a skill-building strategic-thinking way, not in an assimilating-the-Bible way. Not that these don't look like fine games, they seem to have the designer's seal of approval, and they could pick worse games to rip off, but I just don't see the point.


I was all set to join you in wondering what the fuck this was all about, when Jacob, who was reading over my shoulder, suggested a very plausible interpretation. This may be more like Simpsons Monopoly ("hey, it's more exciting when the peripherals are themed like something I'm into") than like Veggie Tales ("thank goodness for this because the alternatives are totally inappropriate"). They're basically fantasy games, after all -- it's just as far-fetched to pretend to be building towns in medieval France as to be colonizing Canaan (I know I'm mixing games, but that's not really important), and premises of fantasy games are always kind of interchangeable (Cheapass Games' outlandish premises make a perfect example). So since there doesn't seem to be any kind of indoctrinating material added to the games, I have to agree that it's probably just a question of creating a Y-themed X to appeal to fans.

I just realized you kind of addressed that:

By the time your kids are old enough for Settlers of Catan, they've probably outgrown games-centered-on-the-Bible-for-no-reason.

But I beg to differ. After all, I own Star Wars Monopoly and a Harry Potter-themed Clue game (though in the case of the latter I was duped by the packaging into thinking it was a different game). And aren't there -- I'm not too sure here -- themed Magic cards and things like that?

Forgive me if I'm wrong, as I don't play strategy board games, but don't they include a lot of magic and occult-themed materials?

That is a huge sticking point with the Focus on the Family followers, and part of the reason that every time I scan through the radio dials, I hear someone lamenting that their child wants to read Harry Potter and how it is destroying the fabric of America. That's the idea that jumps out at me.

Dianna: I'm actually almost tempted to buy the Bible-versions, because now that I look at them they're somewhat cheaper than the standard versions of the games, and, at least in the case of the Carcassonne knock-off, they appear to integrate the best elements of the expansions in one convenient package.

The folks at Board Game Geeks seem to rate them fairly highly. Though this could just be because the only people who buy the Christian-themed versions are folks who already liked the original game or who lower their standards due to the Christianness.

Ted: I think your instinct is good, and there are a lot of strategy games that involve magic and the occult (Magic, of course, and various Vampire-based games). I don't know that it applies here, but the suggestion makes me wonder if there isn't a Christian version of Magic: The Gathering out there somewhere.

On the subject of themed Monopoly boards, does anyone else feel queasy about the National Parks edition of Monopoly? Does it seem like the Parker Brothers folks weren't thinking too hard when they made that particular license? I mean, free-wheeling real estate developers buying and selling National Parks, charging rent to access, building houses and hotels. It seems like the sort of people who are into National Parks enough to buy the game are the sort of people who would feel skittish about the idea.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on March 28, 2006 11:11 PM.

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