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Xbox 360 gains a Bible app

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–An Xbox 360 application featuring the Holman Christian Standard Bible is now downloadable through the “Indie Games” channel of Xbox.com.

Yes, the Bible.

“Bible Navigator X” is thought to be “the first complete Bible available on a video game console,” according to a news release from LifeWay Christian Resources.

“This application will bring the Bible into people’s living rooms and onto their televisions in a completely new and innovative way,” said Aaron Linne, executive producer of digital marketing for LifeWay’s B&H Publishing Group.

The new Xbox application consists of the Old and New Testaments of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) as well as three additional tools: a concordance-like search function; bookmarking, allowing for marking passages and reorganizing the bookmarks into an order appropriate for teaching or study; and a presentation mode that features a larger display for projecting onto a screen.

“We’ve included 10 different themes to change the look and feel of the Bible, while maintaining the readability,” Linne also noted in comments provided to Collide, a magazine focusing on visual media, music, technology and the Web in communicating the Gospel. “We wanted to be sure that there was a theme for everyone, including our HCSB look, themes for students [such as LifeWay’s Fuge camps] and even a [women’s] PrayerGates.com theme.”

Bible Navigator X — its www.BibleNavigatorX.com website includes a TV news report on the new tool — was added to the Xbox Indie Games channel on Jan. 19. It can be purchased from within the Xbox dashboard or via the product page at Xbox.com for 400 Microsoft Points (the equivalent of $5).

Xbox “isn’t just secular entertainment anymore,” Linne said. “We can use technology … to study Scriptures through a new medium. Some people are just more comfortable with a controller in their hands than a book…. Why should we force them to hold paper and binding in their hands if plastic and buttons can be just as engaging?”

With Bible Navigator X, Linne added, “We can gather our small groups around our HDTVs and scroll through the word quickly and easily. We can enjoy the greatest story ever told on the screen where so many other mediums have reigned for so long….

“There are so many ways we can leverage technology to share the Good News of Christ, and B&H is proud to be able to use our resources and the HCSB translation in order to carve out new ways to distribute the Word,” Linne said. “It’s important for us to always be thinking about how else we might share the Gospel.”

Linne said Bible Navigator X can be “a great tool for youth ministers who often teach in youth spaces that already have Xbox consoles in them. It’s a quick way to create teaching aids from equipment you already have.”

With the bookmarks function, Linne said, youth ministers — or any small group leader — “could use it to queue up lessons. You can shift around the order of the bookmarks, so that as you scroll through them it can follow your lesson plan. As a hidden tip, pressing the RB or LB buttons on the controller will move to the next or previous bookmark so that the Bible Navigator X application can be used as a Bible presentation tool.”

Regarding the search function, Linne said, “A user will be able to run a basic search of the entire Bible. Enter any word and it will return all of the places that word shows up in the Bible. [LifeWay’s Bible Navigator X] development team has done a great job of making this work amazingly fast on the Xbox, considering that it literally runs through the whole Bible in seconds.”

As an aside, Linne noted that the Xbox programming language has no mechanism for displaying text, so “all of the text on the screen is literally sprites, just like the alien ships you shoot in Space Invaders.”

Saying he was “a ‘gamer’ before the word existed,” Linne recounted, “My father collected video games, amassing a collection of every Intellivision game released in the U.S. and some from Europe. So for me, video games have simply always been a part of my life.

“In the recent years, Microsoft has made the Xbox 360 a hub of digital entertainment. At my home, playing games on it is just one of the functions it does; we use it to watch TV, play music and even connect to Facebook and Twitter. So all of my digital entertainment is right there on my screen, funneled by the Xbox.

“But no one had yet attempted to channel that hub into telling … the story of Christ.

“Not long after the Xbox released and they started doing downloadable games, experimenting with digital distribution, I knew that we had to find a way to get the Bible on the Xbox,” Linne continued. “I actually spoke with a Microsoft representative back in 2005, when I worked for LifeWay’s Internet Technologies department, about the possibility of us working with them to produce something, but it didn’t pan out. It became my dream at that time to find a way for LifeWay to make it happen.”
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press; Brooklyn Lowery is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.

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  • Art Toalston & Brooklyn Noel Lowery