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Catholic Catechism Educational Game June 6, 2006

Posted by joshg in Christianity.
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Via Serious Games Source:

Catholic publisher Silver Burdett Ginn Religion and Third Day Games announced that the companies will hold national training sessions to introduce Catholic educators to the The Gospel Champions series of educational computer games that use action adventure gameplay to educate children by recreating the Gospel stories they hear in Mass.

Gospel Champions is a series of 3D action / adventure style games that, apparently, recreates popular Bible stories. I'm grabbing the demo as we speak, so maybe I'll give it a mini-review later on. I think it's an excellent concept that has the potential to give kids a deeper awareness of the context and the emotional impact these stories have, which is easily missed when reading a writing style that seems terse and undescriptive to the modern ear.

It seems the game is being promoted via training sessions because they've chosen a purchase-per-parish sales model, where a parish or Catholic school buys a license to distribute the game freely amongst kids who attend there. While it might seem like an unusual sales model from a mainstream perspective, this is roughly equivalent to the way that other non-digital curriculum materials for Christian children's ministries would be sold. I've also seen this same approach used by Kidzap, a Christian kids website / portal. However, Kidzap scales the price based on the size of your church; it looks like Gospel Champions is a flat rate.

(Kidzap is interesting in that they feature an emphasis on providing safe web-based games for kids to play, and frequently add new games. However, most of the games aren't specifically Christian in content or designed with an integral message in the gameplay itself, from what I saw demoed a couple years ago.)

Update: Well, I played the demo, and it looks like another in the long list of, "Great for really young kids, far too cheesy for anyone older than 8."  Highly colorful and cartoony, there are coins to collect for no particular reason and more jumping puzzles than contextual realism.  Side goals generally involve finding and collecting items for people and delivering them, which is at least good in that you're playing out charitable acts.  All in all, it felt like a slightly awkward 3D platformer with a child's version of a Bible story overlaid onto it.

As a learning tool for younger children in a Catholic environment, this is worth looking into.  For kids around 10 and up, they might still have fun playing the game, but I don't think this game has enough substance to deepen their understanding of the Biblical stories represented. 

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