I’m fascinated by attempts to remove violence from first-person shooters. One Wolfenstein 3D mod replaces enemies with giant coloured marbles and turns hanging skeletons to hanging pot plants, yet leaves in all the Nazi symbolism “in order to keep the original ‘spirit’ of the game.” That is, I think, a serious attempt at de-violenceing. More jokey is Happy Doom, where “you are a little boy who has a basket of flowers” and give them to “cloud people” to make them happy and sleep.
Super 3D Noah’s Ark, a game I never knew existed, was wholly serious. It’s essentially Wolfenstein 3D, and built on the Wolf3D engine, but with Noah running around the Ark, ‘feeding escaped animals’ using high-powered catapults. And now it’s been re-released.
It’s a simple premise: the animals have escaped their pens, and they’re hungry. So poor old Noah has to roam the levels of the Ark, feeding hordes of goats, ostriches, and ‘bosses’ like a bear until they’re sated and lie down for a snooze. He’ll be fine: he’s armed with elaborate feeding devices, multi-banded slingshots and mechanised doodads flinging pellets and coconuts at animals’ faces as they try to kill him. Scrolls scattered about pose biblical questions to players too.
Which may all sound like a parody but nope, it’s quite serious. Self-described Christian developer Wisdom Tree first released it on SNES in 1994, then for DOS a year later. A new version arrived this May, updated to support modern resolutions and operating systems. It’s up on itch.io for $4.99. Wisdom Tree are now having a crack at Steam Greenlight.
“Put aside your prejudices, this game is not about forcing religion,” they say. “The quiz merely covers the story of Noah’s Ark and never penalizes the player.”
It’s fascinating: trying to defang a violent game with friendlier graphics and a Christian message. We may instantly recognise the killing it’s built upon, 20 years later when FPSs still follow the same basic presentation of Wolf 3D, but would everyone in 1994 spot it so easily?
In a sort of “oh no will people assume I’m posting this mockingly?” agnostic’s panic, look, here are our token Christian John’s thoughts on the RTS series Left Behind wedging in Christian ideals. And here’s a video of Noah definitely helping animals, feeding them and making them very happy and absolutely not shooting them: