NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–When talking about tech, there are a few events throughout the year that you simply cannot ignore. One of them is E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Each year, this convention hosts all of the major news and announcements in the video game industry, an industry that is now as large — if not larger — than the movie industry. In 2010, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” had the largest opening day with $72.7 million while “Call of Duty: Black Ops” broke $360 million in its first 24 hours.
As leaders in the church and culture we must be aware of the culture that surrounds us. We as the church are not the only influence in the lives of people; we are all regularly connected to new content, ideas and, in our fast-paced tech drive world, new technologies.
This year at E3, there were a number of new games and hardware announced to be released in the near future:
— Playstation Vita. The successor to the Playstation Portable, this is the second portable gaming device by Sony and will launch with key titles like “Uncharted: Golden Abyss,” “LittleBigPlanet,” and “Little Deviants.”
The device has an OLED screen and touch screens on both the front and back of the device, allowing users to play in what Sony calls “three dimension-like motion.” Perhaps the most interesting feature is the system-wide integration of social connectivity. The device will have a service called “Near” that will notify game-players of other players that are nearby and share content between the gamers.
— “El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron.” El Shaddai is an action-adventure game releasing in July, and it is one of the few games to tackle Christian mythology in a video game setting. Derived from the apocryphal book of Enoch, this game’s plot revolves around seven fallen angels who have taken command of the Tower of Babel.
— “Kinect Disneyland.” Microsoft has announced a new virtual experience in Kinect Disneyland, available this fall for the Xbox 360 and Kinect. In this game the entire layout of Disneyland has been recreated where kids can walk through the streets and virtually hug their favorite characters. In place of the rides, you get to go on an interactive game inspired by the ride, such as flying with Peter Pan.
— Wii U: Nintendo announced a new gaming system for release in 2012. The follow-up to the Wii, which has sold more than 80 million systems worldwide, this system will introduce HD graphics and a new controller. The new, 6.2 inch touch screen will be used to both enhance games played on the TV as well as enable the playing of games without the TV being on.
According to a recent release from Aggregame.com, there were more than 500 million videos games sold worldwide. Clearly, video games are having an unprecedented cultural impact unlike any they have had before. But there is a giant void in the games, which for the most part lack messages of hope or family friendly values or ones that — in any way, shape or form — point towards the Gospel. While there are Christian messages being found in books and movies, there are very few game development studios looking to actively create content for modern gaming systems.
Every year, I hope that at E3 some stellar new game will be revealed with at least Christian undertones. I hope for even a mediocre game, but nothing is announced. We have web developers, artists, film producers and authors all spreading the Gospel through their chosen fields; how dominant of an entertainment force must the video game industry be until there is a place for games with a faith-based message readily available and on par with the blockbuster titles that come out each week?
Aaron Linne is executive producer of digital marketing for the B&H Publishing Group of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. He writes a monthly technology column for Baptist Press.