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Video: Designers challenged to make a video game bigger than Jesus

[Note: To access chapter selection, click the fullscreen button or check out the video on the GDC Vault website]
January 11, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff

January 11, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff
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    27 comments
More: Console/PC, Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet, Indie, Design, Video



Courtesy of the GDC Vault is this free video of the Game Developers Conference 2011 Game Design Challenge session.

Developers John Romero (Doom, Quake) Jenova Chen (Journey, flOw), and Jason Rohrer (Passage, Sleep is Death) presented to a standing-room only crowd three starkly different approaches to designing games as religions.

Romero simulated Christianity by mixing social media with physical play and requiring the winning apostle to kill Romero himself. Chen gamified the library of TED talks, adding social features to allow people to leave better feedback on how they've been influenced by certain speakers. Rohrer created a "holy object" Minecraft mod that existed on a single USB stick that people could only play in and alter once before passing it on to the next player.

Rohrer's winning concept went on to stir a bit of a holy war, as written by Wired's Jason Fagone, including the USB stick recipient's three month pilgrimage in Hawaii and a frantic online auction for the game.

Session Name: The Game Design Challenge 2011: Bigger than Jesus

Speaker(s): Eric Zimmerman, Jenova Chen, John Romero, Jason Rohrer

Company Name(s): Independent, thatgamecompany, Loot Drop, Independent

Track / Format: Game Design

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent GDC events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers. Those who purchased All Access passes to events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC China already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscriptions via a GDC Vault inquiry form.

Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can find out more here. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins.

Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more new content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from other events like GDC China and GDC 2013. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.


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Comments


Heng Yoeung
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What a ridiculous idea. Somebody had some major balls and major arrogance to come up with an idea like this. Bigger than Christianity is ok, but bigger than Jesus is walking on very thin ice.

Jeremy Reaban
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It's a line from one of the Beatles (can't remember which one, John, I would guess).

But yeah, they wouldn't pick any other religious figure...

Chris Dickerson
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Well said. I find it offensive. Lets not walk the hollywood path.

Benjamin Delacour
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It was Lenon. The controversy was mostly from misinterpretation.
See the wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_popular_than_Jesus

Justin LeGrande
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"Bigger than religion" would have been a better term... They should be targeting ideas, not people... nor deities, entities, or primal forces...

Heng Yoeung
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@christian

So, you think videogames are capable of converting an entire civilization (I mean the Romans, in particular) to an ideology, assuming you can make a videogame an ideology, of course, whcih I don't think is going to happen in the immediate future, much less the life of the universe. Not exact quote: the suns and stars will die, but my words will last forever.

Ramon Carroll
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Heng Yoeung
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@Ramon,

Damn riight, I'm offended. It's ridiculuos to say something can be bigger than God, which is what I believe Jesus to be. Why not bigger than consicousness or the the universe? Those things are fairly big. Certainly big enough to occupy puny human minds for quite some time.

Ramon Carroll
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Heng Yoeung
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How is it arrogant to defend what I, and millions of people all over the world, believe in?

Saying that something can be bigger than Jesus is like saying, let's make a game prettier than your mother, which is a subtle way to say that she's ugly.

You seem threatened by the name Jesus. Why? Because He stands for Truth? Because he stands for morality? Because he fights for the poor and the social outcasts? People like Hispanics?

You do not need to fear Jesus. He's on your side. Suffered unto death for your sins. (Yeah, I know, there's no such thing as sin, right?)

Ramon Carroll
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Rey Samonte
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@Ramon,

It's not so much that Jesus needs to be defended. He is greater than all which is one of the reasons why only He is worth worshiping. However, what Heng is trying to share with you is not rooted from insecurities but rather from the great commission to spread the gospel truth. If someone called themselves a follower but didn't heed or obey the person they are following, aren't they being hypocrital? I believe all that Heng is doing is trying to help you to see the right view of Who Jesus Christ is. Until you have the right view of who He is, you will not see Him as great.

I understand many will tell us "Christians" to lighten up and get a sense of humor, and no harm was meant. But those who see the true value for what Jesus died for will not see it as a harmless joke.

Ramon Carroll
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Heng Yoeung
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-->Good try. Anyways, I just think its ironic that you call someone arrogant, yet can't seem to catch on to the fact that this article has nothing to do with you.

You repeatedly make the claim that I'm arrogant, but when I ask you how I am arrogant, you answer because I'm arrogant. You validate your assumption and continue to be ignorant of what the word arrogance means.

Seconnd, who does this article have to do with?

It's addressed to the Gamasutra community. I am part of that community. Therefore, it is addressing to me, isn't it? Or do see a flaw in my logic.

Ramon Carroll
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Ramon Carroll
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Heng Yoeung
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-->The fact that you think any mention of Jesus or Christianity in a secular setting warrants a “come-to-the-rescue defense” of your views leads me to wonder if you are the one who is struggling with arrogance, as well as a little insecurity.

You can't seem to make up your mind, Ramon. Am I arrogant and insecure or not? First, you say that I am, then you say "..leads me to wonder if you... arrogant and insecure".

How did you get into the videogame industry? Are you a janitor or a programmer? Cause your logic is really poor. This is fact, not critiicism. Read over what you've written and think a little bit before you write. Please? With cherry on top.

-->Including Christian Philippe Guay here, who doesn’t really share the same views about Jesus that you do.

Here we go again. Assumptions. You know what they say when people assumes. The three syllables are built into that word. What kind of differences do you think there are between me and Christian, pray tell?

-->But at least he’s more open in his views than you are

It's good to be open. However, there is a point when being open lets your brain falls out.

-->He can do perfectly fine by himself without us “puny humans” taking it personal every single time someone does or says something that doesn’t validate their beliefs.

You are offended by the term "puny humans" , which isn't what I actually said (I said puny human minds). If you need convincing, let's compare yourself to the Grand Canyon. How big are you now? Quite small right? Now, consider standing side by side with the universe. How big are you now? Quite puny if I know anything about the size of the universe. You don't need to feel ashamed. Your picture looks like a big boy. I would guess that you are at least six feet.

-->Good try. Anyways, I just think its ironic that you call someone arrogant, yet can't seem to catch on to the fact that this article has nothing to do with you.

What do you think I was trying to do when you say "good try"? Are you afraid of being converted to a moral human being? That's essentially what Christianity is. Jesus came not to abolish the Laws, but to fulfull it. He is the perfection of the Law.

-->You can go on continuing to appreciate what you think Jesus did for you, especially if that gives you more peace and psychological stability, but in the meantime, accept the fact that you can be just as happy in this life without everyone validating your views by agreeing with you.

Have you really read the Gospels I wonder? Jesus didn't come to bring happiness. The Bible is not about happiness. That's Budddhist psychology. Instead, it is the sword. Division. Brother against brother, sister against mother, father against son. Again, perfection of the Law.

Ramon Carroll
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Ramon Carroll
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Heng Yoeung
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Ramon,

You got a lot of hate in you, bub. What is hate? Same thing as indifference, which is your defense of everything logical I say. You are in denial like a lot of pagans are when they feel threatened about their world views. I can understand that. It's not easy to change one's world view. In order to change, you have to be submit to humility. Jesus says, "It's easier for a camel to enter the eye of the needle then for a rich man to enther the kingdom of heaven." Do you know what this is saying? You are rich with hatred. You have to get rid of that before Jesus can be a part of your life. Again, you don't have to fear Jesus. He's on your side. Suffered unto death for our continued sins.

You do have a valid point about me being not a good representation of the model Christain, which in your mind are somehow all supposed to be saints. No, I am not a saint, Ramon. That's why I need salvation as much as you do. I am not one to be bullied though. LIved a good part of my life being bullied by insecure people. You are the one who fired the first shot (re: severly limited view of what art is; you have difficulty understanding English I am afraid to say; this is simply fact.)

It does not follow that what I said about janitors in any way implies that they are stupid people. You keep putting words in my mouth. I used to be a janitor once upon a time. It's a perfectly valid job. Doesn't pay much though. That's the problem and the reason why most people cannot be janitors. Why? Because it precludes having a stable family living.

I hope you find Jesus someday and become a part of God's family like He originally intended for us all to be. Good luck, man.

Ramon Carroll
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Heng Yoeung
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Ramon,

I am fairly sure, 99,9% sure, you'll respond to this, so I'll just drop this last thing and let you have the last word. Ok, bub?

It's ok to admit the truth. Jesus is there for you. I know because my pastor told me so. I would not lie to you about that. You know well what the truth is, so I won't reitarate it for you. A good way to come to grips with it is to sit in a quiet place and meditate. Me, persoanlly, I like to turn the lights down low, sit in my comfort chair, and hold to my favorite controller. Just an idea. You don't have to do as I suggest, but I suggest you do.

Yeah, you're right though. You're not that puny. I just noticed the picture. Did you do Photoshop, btw? Just curious.

This may sound hostile, but I am trying to get at the heart of the matter and not avoid serious discussion with like intelligence by deflectioni.

Fire away, champ. I konw all too well you will.

Ramon Carroll
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Amir Barak
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I dunno, I just can't imagine Jesus being that big... a meter sixty or seventy tops...

Heng Yoeung
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He's infinitely small and infinitely big at the same time.

Justin LeGrande
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This could be a good opportunity for these legends in indie development to concoct a spiritual, existential experience which we have not sensed before... unfortunately, the naming conventions of such events are still stuck in the primordial mud.

Ramon Carroll
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