Archive - Aug 2008

August 29th

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Memo to Digital Praise: YOU ARE DUMB.

One of the things that irritates me about American fundamentalists is their eternal desire to damn their cake and have it too. Our great culture warriors rail and weep about popular culture destroying our moral foundations. The music, the movies, the TV shows, the video games. You would think, after condemning all these things, they would abandon them, but no. They can't live without pop culture.

So they make their own parallel version of pop culture - taking the ideas of clever people and holy watering them down. They take the joy out, and pack it with Jesus Styrofoam and hope nobody will notice. That seems to be the secret motto of Digital Praise, whose actual motto is "Glorifying God Through Interactive Media", and whose new product is "Guitar Praise: Solid Rock".

This highly original game for the PC and Mac is due in September, and allows you to use a plastic guitar controller with five colored buttons to play along with some of Christian music's blandest hits. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, finally there's a version of Guitar Hero you can play in the church basement in-between youth-group sodomy sessions. Do you like Rock Band, but find Fallout Boy too satanic and extreme? Well, boot up your copy of Guitar Praise and try to master the blistering solos of Paul Baloche's "All The Earth Will Sing Your Praises".

Sounds awful? Sure! But wait, there's more! They also make Dance Praise, which is just Dance Dance Revolution with even crappier music. Dance Praise has been around long enough to spawn expansion packs, so if you ever wanted to stomp on dance pad arrows to the beat of Christian rap artists, um, what the fuck are you doing reading this website? I suppose, intellectually, I had to have known there was Christian hip-hop, but emotionally, I wasn't prepared to realize it was being shoved into a crappy DDR clone.

Oh, and there's Solomon Says, a trivia game that inexplicably features support for their dance mats. You know, back in the day, when I was enjoying the snarky, entendre-filled trivia of You Don't Know Jack, I distinctly remember never ever thinking that the two things the experience was lacking were more questions about Jesus, and the ability to buzz in with my toes. But why single out Digital Praise for criticism? They're just carrying on the tradition of Christian gaming, and Christian media for that matter. The Left Behind game was just Command and Conquer with sinners. Where are the original ideas from Christian game developers?

It's not like other mythologies haven't been mined for impressive gaming experiences. Look at God Of War. It's chock full of religion, but it's actually fun. And really, what are Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Bowser if not a pantheon of supernatural beings locked in an eternal good/evil battle? Video games ARE mythology, but all these companies can come up with are cheap ripoffs skinned to look godly and sound awful. This is what happens when your entire creative team has been told since birth that one book is all they'll ever need.

Who the hell wants to fake-guitar along to Christian Rock? It's been empirically proven time and time again that Christian rock is the worst rock. We all know it. Even the Christians know it, which is why they have to set up a whole parallel distribution system so that it doesn't compete with commercial music. And why Time-Life keeps selling new Christian pop collections that have the same eight songs on them.

Let's try a little experiment. Let's take a random Christian and put him in a room with Guitar Praise and, oh, Rock Band 2. Right next to each other. Convince him that nobody is watching. It shouldn't be difficult, since he thinks biodiversity is the result of a wooden boat. He can strum along to "Savior", by the beyond-inexplicably-named band "Skillet", or he can strum along to motherfucking Ace Of motherfucking Spades by Motorhead. And I guarantee you that Jesus will be forsaken for Lemmy every single time.