The normal explanation would be that the graphics are clumsy and out of date, the character animation is creepily unhuman, the plot is inane, and the preachy moralizing and weird evangelism is off-putting. But to the people at Phoenix Interactive, who are having a hard time getting funding for a game called Bible Chronicles: The Call of Abraham, those factors are not to be acknowledged. It’s because of SATAN.
"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?"
I’m sitting in a nondescript office in an unremarkable neighborhood in Bakersfield, CA, interviewing three men about their plans for a Biblical game based on the life of Abraham.
I believe that, 100 percent,replies Richard Gaeta, a co-founder of Phoenix Interactive. He argues that since the launch of the Kickstarter for Bible Chronicles: The Call of Abraham, trouble has come into all their lives.
It’s very tangible,adds his business partner Martin Bertram.From projects falling through and people that were lined up to help us make this a success falling through. Lots of factors raining down on us like fire and brimstone.
Nobody is winking or joking or pulling my leg. There is no irony here. They are absolutely serious.
It’s an interesting rationalization. None of their problems are their fault, it’s all the work of a malignant supernatural entity. But what I found particularly intriguing is the extent to which they’ve taken it: failure is a sign of their importance.
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,adds Ken Frech, a religious mentor to the project.I fully would expect something like this to have spiritual warfare. 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.
Since I’m a nice guy, and very sympathetic, I propose that we all shun every product from this company and the wackaloons running it, just so they’ll all feel very, very important. And if we all point and laugh at them, their self-esteem will skyrocket, because it can only mean that Satan is paying a lot attention to them.
We atheists live lives of sacrifice, working so hard at the request of our master Satan to make Christians feel important.
So Satan made them come up with a video game that sucks farts out of stillborn orangutans?
Old Nick is more subtle than I thought.
Mr Ed says
Once I was a programmer and we used to say “the Devil is in the details.” I had no idea it was actually true.
Raging Bee says
Why don’t they rename it “Call of Abraham — Holy Ghost Protocol?” Wait, don’t tell me…SATAN???!!!
By any chance does our favorite “polymath” Vox Day have anything to do with this? Wait, don’t tell me…SATAN is keeping him apart from the people who need his help!!!
So anyone who opposes them is acting for Satan, you PZ are an agent of Satan and so am I an all who post here. Feel the Power!!
Well obviously there’s a market for it, the Left Behind video game is a good indicator for that, right?
I have no doubt that a good video game based off the bible could be made, but it will not be a game funded and made by exclusively christian organizations. Also, it won’t have a shitty website and claim that the game covers one of the most important chapters of history.
And hey, they want to release this game on the Xbox One and PS4. Good fucking luck.
This is why America is losing respect, folks.
John Horstman says
You guys, I think I found the problem:
Shit happens, dude. Deal with with it. And just because somebody stabs you in the back doesn’t mean satan was involved. Stop blaming your problems on fairy tale creatures and grow up.
Oh, the wishful thinking! “Lookit us, we are so important, we’re scaring the devil!”
That’s downright pathetic.
So they couldn’t find an open source mod of Doom and tweak it a bit?
….must be Satan! [insert church lade here]
Jeff K says
The devil is in the details.
John Horstman @ 8:
My first thought upon reading that was “I wonder if these guys are shitty tippers”
Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall says
Umm. Wasn’t Abe famously called to
murdermake a glorious sacrifice of his child? I’m now picturing summat like Whack-A-Mole. With knives. And babies.
Know someone who used to work for that outfit. Really.
I always thought Satan was fucking cool (and suspected from an early age that he wasn´t evil, but rather the only one with the guts to stand up to god). Plotting against such a shitty game really does seem beneath a supernatural, hiperpowerful being, even a mythological one.
Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says
Yeah, but that was out on Highway 51.
The game sucks so bad that the Christian publishers won’t even get behind it? Damn. Like with music, the “Christian” label is a crutch for a dearth of talent. They may not get any sales at a big retailer, but at least they’d have the Christian bookstores.
Chaos Engineer says
This sounds like a good game to me. I read the article and it looks like a darker, edgier version of the indie hit The Binding of Isaac, but told from the villain’s point of view.
I don’t know why they weren’t able to meet the Kickstarter goal.
Oh. That would have done it, I guess. The gaming community as-a-whole is open-minded in many ways, but there are still a few things that they’re deeply uncomfortable with, and one of them is having the main character being a recognizable human who isn’t a white male younger than 30.
Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says
I’m a firm believer (erm) that if in the eyes of the artist the message is so much more important than the contemporary art-form on which it is presented, the results are going to be a pile of crap. Unless said artist is a bona-fide genius. No, I’m not a fan of protest songs either.
The tech looks dated *and* uninspiring, so it seems that the devs were pumping the message as opposed to the game. Even a captive Christian audience doesn’t have to buy shit like this.
Kickstarting stuff like this is always a massive gamble for the investor. There is an argument that when it comes to entertainment this form of funding may actually be a bad thing as it doesn’t force the artist to necessarily do the greatest of jobs as they already have a revenue stream. On the other hand I have also put down money for one gaming Kickstarter – Elite: Dangerous, a space sim. I did so before any gameplay demos were available but there was already a full team at work, and was headed by one of the original game’s programmers. The only regret that I have about this is that I may have to buy a new PC to run it in it’s full glory!
“darker, edgier version of the indie hit The Binding of Isaac” Darker and edgier than the binding of Isaac??
Lynna, OM says
It might work to create a video game that featured Satan raining fire and brimstone down on various dunderheads who are trying to create religious/bad video games.
For what it’s worth, mormon missionaries are told that Satan is out to get them, and that Satan hates them most of all.
Anthony K says
I mean, it’s not impossible for a game to be darker and edgier than TBoI, but I don’t see a bunch of “Let’s loudly and publicly pray in this Applebee’s® for God’s guidance as to which flavour of chicken wings we should order”-type American evangelicals making it, unless they somehow exhumed and reanimated Torquemada, promising to forgive his Catholicism if he learned C++.
It appears this effort is nobly continuing the firmly-entrenched legacy of shitty religious video games. From the merely staid Bible Computer Games on early PCs, the straight-up sucky Noah’s Ark and Spiritual Warfare on the NES, to the downright hideous Left Behind a few years back. The tradition continues.
I´m not saying it´s impossible for a game to be darker than TBoI but i definitely don´t see how the Abraham game has any chance of being that game.
And I bet they believe in “personal responsibility” when it comes to things like being poor or homosexual.
Anthony K says
My “Yeah, what?” was misleading, azhael: it was aimed at the part of Chaos Engineer’s comment 19 you quoted.
I think you and I are in total agreement here.
I think this may be their problem…
circular = 'Everything in the bible is true'
reasoning = "Because the bible says it's true"
real = 1
the_bible = real
while the_bible >= 1:
if the_bible == real:
real += 1
real -= 1
Satan – the reason Christianity is the religion of zero personal responsibility.
Oh, sorry, so we are.
“We atheists live lives of sacrifice, working so hard at the request of our master Satan to make Christians feel important.”
I wonder how much time it will take, to some random religious person, put this sentence in their site, tv show or newspaper, has a proof of the devilish nature of all atheists and our worship by Satan?
You know, many religious persons find very dificult to understand the concept of sarcasm… that or they like to twist everything someone says (or write) because “lying by Jesus is a good deed”.
That was a fun kickstarter to watch. Goal too high, too many people working on it, claiming they’ve been working on it for years and the “coding is almost done”. A total bust on all fronts.
The failing end of the board games on kickstarter is often rife with christian games. Usually small things they’re putting their heart into. Strange people with no design sense at all. (M:tG style game with the game text over the pictures for instance) This project was overreaching. Can’t feel bad at all for them.
Oh man, I could have a field day working up stuff for this. Are the health potions going to be figs, and you collect them by beating trees? Is the currency going to be foreskins? Oh, secret boss fight with a snake and the ability to summon Elijah or something. When you escape from Sodom, salt falls from the sky, and if you get hit, BAM, random battle. And you could get “commandment points” every time you stone an adulterer or kill a baby with a rock.
I don’t see why they didn’t get the funding.
Over the years I’ve belonged to several book discussion groups. One of the problems with these get-togethers is also one of the strengths. In a diverse set of people there are bound to be selections which you would never, ever pick up on your own and read. But that’s not always bad. Sure. there are some unexpected gems — but even the stinkers can be valuable. You sometimes get insights and a first person perspective on worlds and communities completely different than the ones you’re used to. It broadens.
Thus I justify having read, for book discussion, This Present Darkness.
Whoa. This is how they imagine reality. It’s not supposed to be fiction; it’s only a fictional story. The book is supposed to inform us how the Spiritual Realm works and it’s scary.
It actually only tells us how some Christians think … and it’s even scarier. Imagine the self-centered narcissism of people who believe that angels and demons stand and watch them perform mundane tasks and the fate of their soul and even of the world itself might hang in the balance on their choices. It’s a socially-sanctioned form of Walter Mitty.
Huh. I always thought if you prayed real hard to Jeebus, his daddy would make you rich. And Jeebus’ daddy is stronger than Satan right? So, it’s pretty obvious these guys didn’t pray hard enuf.
I think that’s the joke. Chaos Engineer is saying that it’s “told from the villain’s point of view”, so that would make it edgier. Of course, the villain in that case would be a Christian.
Is the currency going to be foreskins?
Maybe not foreskins, but golden hemorrhoids are a possibility:
1 Samuel 6
4 Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden hemorrhoids , and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
5 Wherefore ye shall make images of your hemorrhoids, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
17 The gold hemorrhoids which the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the LORD were for the cities of Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron.
Oh, and you can quest for the ark of the covenant so you can unlock special summons like Moses doing his special “throwing tablets” attack, or his parting the red sea overdrive. Boss battle against pharaoh, too? I’m pretty sure he can use copycat and doublecast, so it might be a tough fight. Awesome.
Sorry, replaying FFX HD. :-)
Yeah, as a veteran gamer I’d say the problem lies with the storyline which sounds pretty linear. A relatively believable, interesting plot is a strength in all good RPGs, imo. It sounds more like a shooter than an RPG as the end point is known.
BTW, I’ve played many characters that don’t look anything like a <30 yo white male. Try Skyrim or ME or even Civ. Of course, in those games one has a choice of characters with all their foibles including a variable degree of loyalty and/or commitment to complete any particular goal.
Rey Fox says
Wow, they’re so like Job, and so unlike every other person who has ever undertaken a large and ambitious project of any kind.
Ray, rude-ass yankee says
tsig@4, wait a second here, if we’re agents of satan shouldn’t we get membership cards at least?
Holms@7, Reality, they’re doing it wrong.
Anthony K says
No worries. I was unclear.
That makes sense. The link in the OP is blocked at my work, so I can’t see the game itself.
The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) says
Well, sure. I can see that. In fact, I can outline a game for you, and it would even have a similar title to this one — “Abrahamic” — but the source material wouldn’t be just the Bible. There are four modes, trivial, easy, medium, and hard. In all three, you start with an FMV:
Some guy wants more out of life than he’s going to get. He realizes that the people around him are stupid, so he comes up with a story to tell them which makes them believe he’s a messenger of god. You then go around bilking people out of their money and goods, fleeing the authorities (who recognize a swindler when they see one), and eventually, if you have enough followers, starting wars. You would also be able to set groups of your followers against each other by giving them arbitrary “stars upon thars” distinctions to fight over. The difficulty would control A. how much power you start with, B. how easy it is to find simpletons to prey on, and C. how hostile non-simpletons are to your group. The gameplay would be a little like Pikmin, only with humans instead of little plant guys, and more violent deaths.
In trivial mode, you’re an ancient rabbi (Moses and his story is made up, so someone did that, and probably for gain, and given the fact that the Torah reinforces rabbinical privilege it was probably someone who already held power). In easy mode, you’re claiming to be one of the disciples (somebody wrote the gospels, and in the context of the timeline and the fact that they often contain material which conflicts with Paul’s ideas — and we’re reasonably sure Paul is actually historical, unlike Jesus — it looks a lot like it was a person trying to fleece the people Paul was able to convert, who must have been pretty stupid). In medium mode, you’re John Joseph Smith. In hard mode, you’re Mohammad.
@ The Vicar
So in insanity mode, you’re L. Ron Hubbard?
Torquemada was an expert on torture, remember? What makes you think he doesn’t already know C++?
Hey, wasn’t there already a successful bible-based videogame out there?
That SMITE button is basically the entire Old Testament….
I don’t know, you could probably turn the Brick Bible into a good game. I mean they somehow did that with the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, so I’m sure they could make “Lego: The Bible” fun.
Also in the interview they talked about how Christians go out and buy GTAV. So I mean the obvious game they should be making is “Grand Theft Camel: Judea”
Good thing we had an agent Inside. This thing could’ve destroyed NuAtheism as we know it.
To be honest, it doesn’t look aaawfwful – about comparable to a lot of alpha-level games in terms of graphics and the sheer size of the world is ambitious – perhaps too ambitious. And they’ve been at this for about a decade – sorry guys but the technology you’re working with is antiquated – time to move on.
There’s no good reason why a swords and sandals RPG in Mesopotamia shouldn’t work – it’s got a breathtaking range of geography, interesting cities and villages, a good backdrop of the rise and fall of empires. If you add in some god or devil-powered magical weapons there’s a recipe there for a good game.
The problem with a Bible game made by Christians is that there can’t be any shades of grey morality, there’s no interesting character conflicts to overcome. Imagine playing Skyrim or Fallout with a ‘god’ game mechanic telling you that you can’t do something because it’s wrong.
Don’t games need some action? The patriarch stories (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) don’t have a lot of action in them. Moses is a little better, but a lot of preaching and law giving…yawn. The Joshua, Judges, David, and even the Solomon novellas have more action. Lots of warfare, killing…even genocidal killing. Couldn’t loose. But maybe they don’t want to emphasis those stories.
Introducing Abraham Rock Law! It’s like Guitar Hero, but without instruments. Microphone is hidden inside two tablet controllers. Make your way from baby in a basket to death, telling the story and commanding the digital Israelis.
Kevin Alexander says
It’s a a video game. All it needs is some zombie Canaanites to smite with honking big swords. And some Sodomites swishing out of the doorways to get some Righteous Christian Wrath!
I got dibs on the Kirk Cameron character.
F [is for failure to emerge] says
I’ve been to Bakesfield twice, and four county fairs, but I’ve never seen a fool like that anywheres.
The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) says
Nah, not an Abrahamic religion. I’d say “Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God”. The game play would be similar to Mormonism, although with extra hostility from other groups, since it would be set in the modern period, but periodically your believers would kill each other and hide the bodies, so you’d steadily lose numbers. And — this would be unique to the Insanity level — if you ever fell below a membership level of one third of your maximum, you would lose the game instantly, by means which will be obvious if you know who the MRTCG were. It would be in bad taste, but that would be the “insanity” level, after all.
@ voidhawk #49
Sandals, Swords, interesting geography. . . sounds like it’s been done before — Assassin’s Creed.
Doom, Blood, Diablo, Castlevania, Dungeon Keeper etc etc… Satan and demons are the best influence on games. He was probably just trying to give them a few pointers. *tsk* they shoulda listened.
Azuma Hazuki says
I liked this game better when it was called Shin Megami Tensei and you weren’t fighting on the wrong side. Juuuuuust saying~
It’s been done already. There’s Darksiders, a game about the Horseman of War being framed for starting the Apocalypse early and traveling the remains of Earth to clear his name, and El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, a game based loosely on the book of Enoch, with Enoch traveling into worlds made by fallen angels and killing them so God won’t flood the world. They’re not perfect games, but they had their fans, and Darksiders was even popular enough to get a sequel where you play as Death.
I’m a little confused by the company’s web site. The only game they have information for is this game about Abraham. So, I assumed this is their first. But, behind the nav menu, I reached a page where the background is a painting of what appear to be Revolutionary War soldiers. Now, I admit, I don’t know my bible so good. But, I’m pretty sure Abraham wasn’t alive during the Revolutionary War….or even The Crusades…I think.
Should I go back and read it again?
Ingdigo Jump says
Now there’s a possible idea for a crack game. Playing as an amalgam character “Abraham”
The character is based on the biblical character, and the lives of Abrahams Lincoln, Desomer and Maslow. It’ll be a thrilling epic from a childhood being chased by anti-semites trying to stone Abraham to going on to fight against the confederates at Veracruz and then being shot in a theater and traveling back in time to paradoxically found your own religion.
Ingdigo Jump says
While there will be a fast paced action element similar to Borderlands there will also be a SIM set of states where you have to fulfill Abraham’s hierarchy of needs
This whole “Satan” thing is a little weird for a non-Christian. In Judaism – which is how I was raised – Satan isn’t an Evil Anti-God, plotting to bring down the Throne. He’s a civil servant, an angel, which means he has no free will. He carries out his function which is to test, but never to the point of failure. The idea that Satan would hate Four Consonants in Search of a Vowel and make war on him is ludicrous. And worshiping him? It would be like worshiping the who stamps forms at the DMV.
(Yes, that whole “Abrahamic Religions” and “Judeo-Christian” thing is pretty stupid. A lot of it is an artifact of carpetbagging Christians and Muslims who move in and say “We’re the New Jews. Give us money. Give us props. Follow our religion”)
Ingdigo Jump says
makes me imagine Satan as a sort of clockwork being like an Inevitable from D&D
A good example of that is in the book of Job. Satan’s not the villain, he’s more like the prosecution in a court case.
It seems that at some people the character of Satan got associated with that of Lucifer, a Prometheus-figure (the clue is in the name – “light-bearer”) who rebelled against God . Anyone know when or whereabouts that happened? I’m going to guess the book of Revelation, but if anyone knows any more, I’d be interested to hear it.
 Only Lucifer’s the villain, not the hero. Presumably a heroic rebel was unacceptable to the authoritarian cultures that gave rise to the myth.
Ingdigo Jump writes:
Kinda. Angels in the Jewish tradition, particularly the Rationalist/Maimonedean version, are single-purpose creatures which cannot, by definition, deviate from their assigned role serving their Creator. A Promethean Rebellious Angel is kind of like dry liquid or dense vacuum or the color of a sound. It doesn’t make any kind of normal sense.
Dunno exactly where it started. Of course Prometheus was a Titan, older than the Olympian gods and much more deeply involved in the creation of things like humans and animals.
anuran @#63 — Perhaps you should include Rabbinicism among those carpetbaggers because they seem to have done pretty much the same thing.
Azuma Hazuki says
@anuran and others
Isn’t the Satan we know and…know, basically a result of syncretism with Zoroastrianism during the Babylonian Exile? “Satan” as an almost-omnipotent anti-god sounds a lot more like Angra Mainyu vis-a-vis Amesha-Spenta/Ahura Mazda than the Lord’s prosecuting attorney (“sh’t’n” = adversary, one who judges, “diabolos” is dia/across + ballein/to hurl, cf. “mudslinger”).
And “Lucifer” is supposed to be Nebuchadnezzar isn’t he? Or possibly Venus in the sky, if one gets astrotheological…
@67 @68 – I don’t know where the Christian-style Satan myth came from.
Diablo and Dungeon Keeper, add to that the old Lucasarts graphic adventures and you have right there my favourite games in the world. So i guess that means that roughly i´m into demons, pirates and evil tentacles. Ha…..
Since the topic of Satan has come up I am going to plug one of the podcasts I really enjoy as his current series is all about conceptions of personified evil in Judean and Christian culture, looking at their origin and history.
Series 8 is the one I have in mind, but I really recommend the others as well. They are all quite interesting.
I think they should go down the Populous rout and let you actual be YWHY with Abraham as one of your starting pawns.
Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says
I’m glad that someone mentioned Populous. Populous 2 is one of my all-time favourite games, and uses the Greek pantheon in a highly entertaining fashion. Much spectacular smiting can be done!
So, essentially, these folks are claiming that Satan is publicly kicking god’s ass on this issue?
That god is trying to get something done, but that Satan is just too powerful?
That god wasn’t bright enough or strong enough to overcome Satan’s machinations?
…whose side are these guys on, anyway?
(As a side note, if an atheist group were to do a youtube video portraying a group of middle-aged men gathering at the local Dennys to work on video games by holding hands and praying and then blaming their lack of success on TEH DEBIL, it would be panned as unrealistic unfunny ham-handed satire. Just sayin’.)
Oh man, I saw this kickstarter a while back… made me think of two things.
1) There’s a game I used to play a few years back… it was a birth-of-egypt-type thing. An mmo where you played a random person out in the middle of nowhere. You had to build things, you could roam all across this vast desert, and there was a place where a huge number of players had come together, and were building some vast monument. I don’t think it was a pyramid… it might’ve been one of those monumental cities – like the place they go to in The Mummy? (The first one with Brendan Frasier & Rachel Weisz.) Something like that would’ve been good. An mmo where you have a year to build a vast and impressive civilisation between you, and then you notice a guy has built a boat and you all drown.
2) The Path. (Have any of you played it? Awesome. Bit disturbing… lot disturbing.)
So, you’re Abraham, and a demon has gotten inside your mind. It’s telling you that it is responsible for the existence of everything, that it is perfectly good, and that it wants you to
murderoffer up your son as a sacrifice for its pleasureto prove your holiness and obedience. You have to take Isaac to the sacrificial altar, and you have to rediscover and reintegrate the pieces of your moral compass – empathy, personal responsibility, forethought, etc. – and expell the demon before you reach the altar.
The game’s ending depends on how many pieces you can discover before the end – there would be at least three possible endings.
a) You find all the pieces and free yourself from possession – Upon reaching the altar, you suddenly understand what you’re doing, you fall to your knees, hugging Isaac tight to your chest, sobbing into his shoulder and begging his forgiveness for what you almost did, vowing to oppose such evil, and help those afflicted by it for the rest of your life.
b) You find at least half of the pieces – You reach the altar, strap Isaac down, and raise your dagger above your head….. you hesitate. “God” appears, recognising that his power over you is tenuous, but that you are in his power… he simply needs to be patient (this is shown entirely by facial expressions)… he tells you that you passed his test, “now I know…”
c) You don’t find enough pieces – You reach the altar, strap Isaac down… he looks you in the eye, “father?” but you are not there, in your eyes there is no recognition, the glassy stare of the body that used to contain your soul is the last thing he sees. Fade to black, “god” laughs cruelly in the background.
YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith is a Spocktopus cuddler says
Naming your company after a Greek myth and then blaming Satan for failing? Hmmmm….
I’ll take “Doofuses” for a thousand, Alex.
Oh thank you, I just snorted tea out my nose reading that.