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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Changing the game

Virtual violence and sexually explicit characters drove Shawn Nicholson from a no-longer comfortable job as a video-game programmer to a new venture in Tallmadge, Ohio — Christian video games.

The Akron [Ohio] Beacon Journal reports Nicholson, 26, is one of many programmers who followed their faith to create morally sound alternatives to such games as the Grand Theft Auto series.

Nicholson is looking for an additional $3 million so his 15 employees can finish and market Spirits, his adventure game for teens and young adults. The hero is David, a "discerner of spirits," who has the power to enlist angels to battle with demons who live to "destroy any good work that would bring glory to God."

Christian games show about $100 million in annual sales, a fraction of the more than $18 billion spent worldwide on games in 2003. In 2001 and 2002, video game U.S. earnings topped what Hollywood movies brought in.

Programmers, who say they work Christian content into their games while avoiding preachy moralizing, hope to ride a rising wave of interest and soar from Christian bookstores to high-volume outlets such as Target and Wal-Mart.


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