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ACE, Christian Developers Conference Focuses On Responsible Game Development

ACE, Christian Developers Conference Focuses On Responsible Game Development

May 3, 2006 | By Jason Dobson

Members of the Association of Christian Entertainment (ACE) have announced new measures to help the development of non-violent video games, and in so doing "improve the landscape of digital entertainment."

ACE was founded by Tim Emmerich and his wife Jane, and is home to more than 300 members, including several video game developers and executives. The organization also runs an annual Christian Game Developers Conference, with the 2006 iteration set to take place May 17-19 at Warner Pacific College in Portland.

The ACE's 2006 Christian Game Developers Conference will feature talks and workshops on game development, marketing, channel development and other business and spiritual topics, and will also show case a number of upcoming Christian-themed video games. Entertainment professionals from around the world are expected to attend, including individuals from the United Kingdom, Australia, Egypt, China, Korea, Brazil and Nigeria.

"By networking at this event, individuals and companies can discover resources in programming, art, manufacturing and marketing,” said Emmerich. “This is a group of people who are incredibly willing to share their knowledge and connections to develop the category,"

While the Christian video game segment is small compared to the broader industry, those within ACE strongly believe that it will eventually wield the same clout that Contemporary Christian music does in the music industry. "The industry portfolio of Christian games for computers, Xbox and PlayStation is quickly growing," says organization president Bill Bean, who also serves as vice president of marketing and sales for Christian software developer Digital Praise. "Considering the level of talent involved, it's only a matter of time before a breakout title comes along that defines and legitimizes the category."

An example of a compamy poised to release breakout hits such as those Bean describes is Left Behind Games, which has developed Left Behind: Eternal Forces, the first PC game based on the Left Behind series of books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Other examples include Classic Media-owned Big Idea Incorporated, which owns the popular Veggie tales franchise, which has recently released a set of five PC titles, the most recent being Minnesota Cuke and the Coconut Apes, and Bean's own Digital Praise, which has released a DDR-style game called Dance Praise that features Christian rock artists.

"The most exciting thing is that very dedicated people are sharing their passion for games that deliver a better message," declared board member Jay Moore of GarageGames. “This is beyond the idea stage. Like Christian music, we're not stopping until there is a whole section in the mass retail stores dedicated to Christian gaming."

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