Christian Video Game Makers Blame Satan for Game’s Demise
Products offered on the free market usually succeed or fail according to factors such as general interest among prospective consumers, quality, and sometimes elements that simply don’t work out the way they should, such as shipping, marketing, licensing, or other aspects to business.
Bad luck or other unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances might also play a part -- in which case, such hurdles are often referred to as Acts of God. But for one video game maker, the only explanation seems to be something for more diabolical.
Various online sources report that the people behind a video game that draws on the Old Testament for its storyline see only one reason their attempt to fund the project through a Kickstarter initiative fizzled out: The Devil.
The story originated with a March 25 article posted at gaming news site Polygon.
"If Satan is rallying some of his resources to forestall, delay, or kill this project, I think, this must be a perceived threat to his kingdom," a "religious mentor" to game company Phoenix Interactive Studios named Ken Frech declared in an interview with Polygon contributor Colin Campbell.
Frech offered no evidence for this view, and no alternative possibility -- such as America’s video game players ignoring the game in droves of their own volition. Rather, Frech described a scenario in which the forces of Hell took deliberate action in a bid to exterminate forces of light that transcend the glow of the gamer’s screen.
"I fully would expect something like this to have spiritual warfare," Frech exclaimed, according to the Polygon article. "Look at the gospel accounts of demons and so forth. That’s reality. Many Americans don’t believe it anymore. That doesn’t change reality."
Campbell wanted to ensure he was hearing the claim correctly, so he sought clarification. "I need to be clear on this point: Are you telling me that Satan is literally working to confound your plans to release this game? You’re saying that the actual Devil is scheming against you?" the writer asked.
"I believe that, 100 percent," company co-founder Richard Gaeta asserted.
Another company leader, Martin Bertram, chimed in with an additional claim that Satan’s handiwork was "very tangible" in the way that things were "falling through" for the game. Sinister as he might have seen it to be, Bertram likened the game’s woes to divine, rather than diabolical, punishment, saying that "Lots of factors" were "raining down on us like fire and brimstone."
"Bible Chronicles: The Call of Abraham" may sound like a first person shooter epic involving sandals, loincloths, and military-grade weapons, but its central character, a figure from the Book of Genesis, is best known for toting a knife and planning to cut his son’s throat at God’s behest. Abraham also argued with God regarding the punishment God intended to mete out to the sinful Cities of the Plains, Sodom and Gomorrah. Because of the dissolute lifestyles of the people in those cities, God intended to destroy them with a shower of flaming debris, but Abraham begged for mercy, of the sake of any handful of righteous people who might be living in Sodom and Gomorrah. When no such righteous individuals could be identified, God smote the cities.
The anti-gay religious right has long compared the advent of family parity and anti-discrimination protections protecting LGBT people to the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, despite a scholarly understanding that it was the unfriendliness of the city inhabitants -- rather than the threat of homosexual rape that two male angels faced in the story -- that convinced God to carry out his plan and incinerate the two population centers. Indeed, Campbell reports that Gaeta, at one point in their conversation, makes reference to "the ’darkness’ of Sodom... and ’its same-sex relationships.’ "
To the faithful, Abraham agreeing, at God’s command, to kill his own son, a boy named Isaac, stands as a model of surrender to the will of God. Because of Abraham’s willingness to commit filicide, God promised him great rewards and sweetened the deal by sparing Isaac’s life.
The Polygon article notes that the men behind Phoenix Interactive are "Biblical literalists," and goes on to report, "Bertram dismisses the theory of evolution as ’wrong.’ I ask them if they believe the world was created 6,000 years ago. ’Yes,’ they both say, without the faintest hint of prevarication."
Campbell reports that the video game, as planned, is meant to adhere faithfully to the Biblical text, which includes instances in which Abraham commits adultery and Lot, his nephew, commits incest. In another passage, Lot attempts to placate the perpetrators of the imminent gay gang rape by trying to get them interested in sexually assaulting his daughters instead.
But despite containing narrative twists that could earn any game designed along similar lines a "Mature" rating, its creators insist that "Bible Chronicles: The Call of Abraham" is a wholesome work fit for Christian family consumption.
"Not everything that happened in the Bible was sanctioned and good," Gaeta told Campbell. "It’s going to be portrayed in the proper context, that this was a dark thing that happened and it was wrong."
Added Gaeta, "In a lot of ways, this recount of what’s already been written will allow folks to get reacquainted again with the full version of what that story is."
Though some gaming companies might develop their wares after conducting market research, the visionaries behind Phoenix Interactive spoke to Campbell of how their faith-based business practices were guided by prayer. They continue to hope for what Frech called "a divine intervention."
Frech, the article noted, "works for Camupus Crusade for Christ," a group linked to anti-gay evangelicals such as Dr. Seyoum Antonios, who has worked in Ethiopia for a law similar to Uganda’s newly enacted, and quite harsh, anti-gay law. Indeed, anti-gay social sentiment and legislation in Uganda and Russia alike have been linked to the activities of American evangelicals such as Scott Lively, who, despite being ordered by a federal judge last month to stand trial for his alleged crimes against humanity, recently announced his bid to become governor of the state of Massachusetts.
Recent years have seen a resurgence of Biblically-themed movies, such as the recent "Son of God," which was partly culled from the History Channel’s ten-episode mini-series "The Bible," and the new Darren Aronofsky epic "Noah," which has received poor notices from the secular liberal mainstream media and right-wing religious groups alike.
"With the failure of its Kickstarter campaign, the team is now looking for alternative methods to raise funds for "Bible Chronicles: The Call of Abraham," a March 26 story at gmanetwork.com reported.
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.