“The Light of a Thousand Stories”
Design, Play and Community in the Christian Videogame Guardians of Ancora
Understanding a videogame requires attention to the social dimensions of its production, its material form and its reception. Games are produced in communities of designers, played by communities of gamers, and accepted into families, households, and other communal settings. Christian games have often been designed with this wider community context in mind, advertised to families and churches as products that can help attract and retain new audiences.
This article focuses on the children’s videogame Guardians of Ancora (GoA), produced by the Christian organization Scripture Union in 2015. We will use an interview with the product developer to explore the intent behind the game, and we will use an interview with a British volunteer at ‘St. George’s Church’ to discover how the game has been used within a Christian community. GoA incorporates a degree of procedural rhetoric (Bogost 2007) into its design, but St. George’s invites children to engage with the game’s story and world in the context of a week of crafts, songs and other volunteer-led activities. Scholars of digital religion have long been fascinated by the relationship between online and offline religion, and the study of the social context of religious gaming offers a new way to approach this classic theme.