The Surprising Controversy Behind the ‘I Am Jesus Christ’ Video Game

December 23, 2019

Who is going to be the most controversial new video game character in 2020? We’re putting our money on Jesus!

Publisher PlayWay has released a trailer for a video game called I Am Jesus Christ. The trailer alternates between third-person shots of Jesus walking in the desert and being crucified and first-person shots of things like healing the infirm.

The trailer instantly caused a ton of controversy in both the video game community and the Christian community. Wondering what it’s all about? We’ve got the lowdown on the I Am Jesus Christ game and all the controversy behind it.

What is ‘I Am Jesus Christ’ about?

The developer says this is a game based on the New Testament. While the focus on Jesus makes that obvious, you shouldn’t be holding your breath for any Old Testament DLC anytime soon.

You can pre-order the game on Steam right now, although there is currently no set release date. You can also read a list of game features there. Those features include things like “open world,” “healing people,” and “walking on water.” Oh, and everyone’s favorite feature: “realistic fight with Satan.”

While it’s great to tell us more about the upcoming game, these features caused more controversy than the trailer (more on this in a minute).

What type of game is ‘I Am Jesus Christ’?

As noted, the trailer doesn’t show us that much. It’s mostly first-person shots of Jesus working miracles. To gamers, that leaves an obvious question: what kind of game is it going to be? Are the developers hoping to redefine FPS as “first-person sacrament?”

The fuller game description calls this a “realistic simulator.” Our only other hints about gameplay include developing “special skills” and doing various acts to increase your “Holy Spirit” (which seems to be a power meter of sorts).

It’s possible that a fuller description would have reassured people. But everything we know so far has managed to rile just about everyone up. Here are a few reasons why.

Video games as conversion tool

Once Baby Yoda is old enough to talk, he might paraphrase older Yoda: “Begun, these Culture Wars have.”

The fight over politics in video games is ongoing. How bad have things gotten? When Wolfenstein II was released, Bethesda released a weird reassurance that their game (about killing entire armies of Nazis) was not meant to “incite political discussions.”

It seems “political discussions” are inevitable with a game called I Am Jesus Christ. Don’t like social justice in your video games? Jesus is literally the personification of social justice. Don’t like media trying to get you to take a side? This entire game is a religious recruitment tool.

Basically, if you spent your holiday season hoping no family members said anything weird about politics or religion, you’re probably not going to like this video game.

A more limited ‘open world’

Another reason this game may cause a stir among gamers is the “open-world” description. Based on what everyone has seen so far, this open-world doesn’t look like it will be very open.

In true open-world games, you can do what you want and decide your own path. That’s what put the Grand Theft Auto series on the map. Sure, you can follow a linear story if you want. Or you can spend all your time making your own fun and doing almost anything.

It’s extremely doubtful that gamers can make Jesus do anything that is out of character. And it’s unlikely that there will be anything new for Jesus to do outside of what is written in the New Testament.

What, then, is left? It sounds like this “open-world” game is going to be super-linear and offer no real surprises. And that’s disappointing to any gamer, regardless of their faith.

Poor legacy of religious games

Believe it or not, there is a long history of Christian video games. This includes such games as Bible Adventures and Sunday Funday for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. But unless you remember Seanbaby dunking on these games, you’ve probably never heard of them.

Why haven’t you heard of these games? Simple: they are really bad. In the case of Sunday Funday, it was simply a Christian skin on an older game called Menace Beach.

Basically, religious video games are a lot like video games based on movies. While there may be some hidden gems here and there, most are really bad. And I Am Jesus Christ looks like it will fall firmly in the “bad” camp.

The portrayal of Jesus

The trailer for this game gives us a very clear look at Jesus. And that has kicked off even more controversy.

Historically, the real Jesus would have had very dark skin. Nonetheless, many people have been raised to think of Jesus as someone with much lighter skin, thanks to a lot of European art.

The I Am Jesus Christ game seemingly sides with Jesus as a very light-skinned dude. In that way, even the game’s simplistic graphics seem destined to kick off a controversy.

Gamification of God

One of the most uncomfortable aspects of this game is at the heart of its design. Basically, it’s the “gamification” of God.

The features describe doing various acts to increase your Holy Spirit. When you have enough of this, you are described as “super-powered.”

As a design feature, this seems to cheapen both the nature of God and the performance of good acts. The divine grace of God sounds like it’s going to function as a power star in Super Mario Bros. And doing good acts for people will now be just a way to win a game rather than a sincere motivation to make the world better.

Overall, this seems like a very cynical take on everything Christianity stands for.

The fight with Satan

The game promises a “realistic fight with Satan.” This sounds like it is going to be hilariously bad.

First of all, based on trailers and promotional pictures, it looks like this fight will be very boring. Will Jesus just hold out his hands and win? Because that’s what the rest of the game is like.

And even if it’s a great fight in terms of gameplay, the whole thing seems pretty tasteless. This is supposed to be the personification of good and evil in a battle for the souls of humanity. Does anybody really want to turn this into a bad Mortal Kombat mod?

Are you going to play I Am Jesus Christ, or avoid it like a leper? Sound off in the comments below!

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