A new, interactive internet game that enables children to play in a world like modern-day Narnia, has been used by thousands of families since it launched earlier this year.
The Aetherlight, brainchild of the New Zealand-based Scarlet City Studios, tells the story of the world of Aethasia. Society has fallen apart and it is up to a group of resistance fighters, led by a Jesus-like figure, The Scarlet Man, to take the country back from a hostile enemy.
Players collect in-game items and build new ones to progress.
‘It’s like Narnia and is steeped in metaphor,’ says Bible Society’s Matthew van Duyvenbode, Director of National Programme and Research.
Eve Smith (10) from Sunderland, is a big fan of the game. She says, ‘It’s really fun. My favourite character is The Scarlet Man. I don’t know that much about him, but I like him because nobody really knows who he is and he’s very mysterious.
'The best bit of the game,’ Eve adds, ‘is just exploring. You get to meet new people and have mini-quests that are really fun to play. It’s funny when you get to fight the robots.’ Children like Eve need parental permission to play the game, which costs $10 per episode.
Tim Cleary, from Scarlet City, says that the aim of the game is to ‘reignite young people’s passion for the Bible. Connection to the Bible, especially amongst young people, can be really difficult,’ he says.
Players can personalise their character as they move through the game.
‘Many young people believe the Bible is boring. However, this simply isn’t the case. The Bible is a thrilling narrative. But there is clearly a disconnect.
‘The Aetherlight is designed to connect young people to the scriptures in a way that reignites their passion for the story, by telling it in a new and fresh way, allegorizing it into a steampunk world, whilst carefully balancing theology and theatrics. We hope that The Aetherlight will spark a new level of biblical engagement and passion in young people.
‘However,’ he says, ‘it’s not simply about engaging Christians in their scriptures. The game is designed to be accessible to everyone. Whilst the game is deeply biblical, we’ve designed the experience to be incredibly engaging and inviting to those who come without a faith background. The story is good in itself.’
Two episodes of The Aetherlight are already available in the UK. A third is expected to be on sale in the run-up to Christmas, with three more potentially becoming available next year.
Matthew van Duyvenbode says, ‘This is a contemporary way of bringing the Bible to life. You can feel as if you are participating in the story.’
Start playing The Aetherlight.