Our editor-in-chief, Drew Dixon and our managing editor, Richard Clark, recently had the privilege of playing A Game for Good Christians with several other GameChurch team members. The card game is based on Cards Against Humanity but with a strange biblical twist. The game is played much like Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples before it, except that all the cards are tied to various passages in the Bible–particularly the most disturbing, controversial, and potentially offensive passages in the Bible.
Playing A Game for Good Christians was awkward, uncomfortable, convicting, and hilarious. After playing, Richard and Drew chatted over email about the experience of playing a game made just for them.
You can check out A Game for Good Christians on their IndieGoGo page if you are interested in pledging toward the game, or reserving a copy for yourself.
I am not sure that I am comfortable calling myself “good,” but this is probably the first board game I have played that was explicitly made just for me and my Christian sisters and brothers. I am not sure what to make of it though, so perhaps you can help me out. On the one hand, I thought it was genuinely funny and I think that too many Christians don’t know how to make fun of themselves. Also much of Christian culture is worthy of ridicule. On the other hand, the game certainly highlights the darkest, most disturbing stories from the Bible, that, when taken out of context, make the Bible seem silly at best and bigoted at worst.
On the game’s IndieGoGo video, they claim that the game is made for “people of all levels of Biblical knowledge: Jews, Gentiles, atheists, and agnostics.” When I heard that, I immediately thought to myself that I probably wouldn’t play this game with nonchristian friends because I fear it would affirm many of their misconceptions about the Bible. The game makers say, “we love the Bible, we just have a funny way of showing it.” Perhaps, then, playing A Game for Good Christians reveals my own insecurities about the Bible. Perhaps it’s helpful in revealing how much of Scripture we take for granted or refuse to acknowledge.
On the other hand, I think the game certainly phrases its biblical references in the most jarring possible way. We played the game in a group of Christians who are not easily offended and the game quickly went south. Sincerity and thoughtfulness were most often set aside in favor of creepy innuendo, we wanted to win after all. I suppose I should try playing the game with other Christians or even a mixed group as I can see how the game has potential to produce interesting questions and conversation. I do, however, wonder if the way the game frames things coupled with our own depravity allows for anything other than mockery?
I think the key is the way this game frames itself. Let’s think through how this thing is played:
The judge, or “pharisee” plays a black card. Usually something harmless like “For Lent I am giving up_____.” The judge has no play here. They have no sway over how this is going to turn out. At this moment they are the innocent party. Same can be said for the black card itself. It’s pretty neutral.
Then the rest of the players choose from an assortment of white cards. They might choose between “The forbidden fruit (Genesis 3),” “Levitical sex ban (Lev 18),” and “Making stupid life choices and blaming them on Php 4:13 [‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’].” At this point, some of the blame for the tone you bring up can be laid squarely on those who wrote the cards. But they operate more as temptations than anything. Can you play the third card, making a rightfully hilarious joke that actually illuminates a helpful truth? Sure. But that 2nd card has sex in it! Naughty!Ultimately though, when the judge picks the sexual joke, we all get to blame him. After all, we want to win, as you said. And that’s up to the guy in charge. But as each of us get a chance to be the judge, we start to realize that the blame is very much shared.
More often than not, the sex-related card is the one that get’s played. This explains why the white card selection actually seems to be a minefield of uncomfortable sexual references ripped straight from scripture. In actuality, it’s kind of a hilarious joke on all of us, for skimming over the weird parts of scripture in favor of, well Philippians 4:13.
I agree with most of what you’re saying. I think the focus is off, and the encouragement to interact with biblical passages and spiritual questions is framed cynically and flippantly. I’m mostly confused about who the game is for. I suppose ultimately they’re trying to cause us to think deeply about what a “Good Christian” even is.
One thing they do brilliantly is make “good Christians” feel foolish for acting as if they know all the answers, and for believing so deeply in the reverence and holiness of scripture. Because there’s a lot of weird junk in there too, and we’re all kind of obligated to figure out what the heck that is all about. That’s a deeply complex challenge. The game certainly makes us aware of that challenge. I’m just not so sure it’s up to helping us solve it.