Article – Religion in your board game

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basic-pack-walk-to-jesus-150x150[1] By Paco Garcia Jaen

At Spiel I saw a game called “Walk to Jesus”. Yeah, it is a very Christian game with a Christian theme, Christian teachings and Christian people behind it.

To start with I was indifferent about the game. I am not into organised religions, have no affiliation with Christianity whatsoever and I respect the choices people make to believe in whatever they want. I just don’t care.

Unless anyone tries to impose their religion on me or do something in the name of their religion that affects me, like trying to stop me from marrying my husband or tell me that being gay is immoral or sinful. Then I care. A lot. Because bullshit.

Anyhow. I let this game pass me by but I decided to tell a friend of mine during lunch as I know he’s religious and thought he’d appreciate it. Funnily enough he wasn’t interested either. That surprised me!

His reason was a pretty good one, I have to say. If the game is a bad one, people will not just be put off the game, they could be put off religion too. If a bad experience with a bad game is all people have to relate to the theme with, then I can imagine that to be true. And all the games he’s tried with a Christian theme have been pretty bad.

“But what if it was a good game?” I thought. I spoke to my hubby about it and we decided it’d be a good idea to go around their booth and check the game. Also, as I thought about it, it got to me that they had to be very passionate and devoted to take the risk of creating the game and coming all the way to Germany to promote it. Although I don’t care for their religion, I do respect people who have a passion and a belief and put their necks on the line for it (without doing stupid things…)

We headed to the booth to find when we arrived that the game was, in fact, pretty crap. A roll and move dice with a “help the opponent to win the game because that’s the moral of Christianity” sort of gameplay.

I actually got a bit angry. Not enough to say anything, but enough to walk away and not do the interview or talk with them.

That wasn’t a game. That was propaganda wrapped up as a game. Nothing but an attempt to recruit people into religion without a care for the game they were meant to promote. They could have been giving away motivational postcards just as they were selling the game. It would have made no difference to what they were trying to do.

Now that I have a problem with.

They were trying to manipulate people who are into games to come to their religion by disguising said propaganda under a veil of game. They weren’t interested in giving a good gaming experience or even a good game. They didn’t care about the people enough to make the effort to create a game worth playing. They just wanted to get more acolytes.

That’s unethical. Half truths and devious plots to attract people is what I expect from politicians, not from people who pretend to uphold the flagship of morality and virtue.

I don’t care if people want to talk about their religion through their games. I don’t care if you want to put your religion on my table and have a game or two; I would play your game. But at least have the decency to create a good game. Create an experience in which your religion is not the only thing that matters and at least attempt to care about or for me if you want to talk to me through your hobby.

Otherwise you are wasting my time. That and also reinforcing a lot of negative stereotypes.

If that is all your religion has to offer… thanks but no thanks.


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