Bellevue, Wa - Youth ministers across the United States eagerly awaited Thursday's unveiling of Microsoft's latest game for their popular Xbox 360. The program? A modified version of the already popular video game Halo 2, only with Bible verses added. First reactions to the product were almost unanimously positive.
"I think it's a tremendous idea" said Michael Redmond, youth minister at Twin Oaks Church of God in Lexington, Kentucky. "The guys in our youth group spend two, three, sometimes five hours a day playing Halo, and probably no time reading their Bibles. Now they can play Halo and still get a fresh dose of God's Word each day."
"This is what I've been waiting for for a long time" said David Kia, youth pastor at Bayside Presbyterian Church in Seattle, Washington. "Now the kids can read their Bibles and still have fun!"
The "campaign" version of the popular video game is set in a fantasy future world in which a lone hero must conquer an alien force that is seeking to destroy the earth. But most players often prefer to play against one another in rounds known as "slayer" or capture the flag. In these instances players either play against one another on the same machine or on multiple machines via the internet or LAN connections. At times as many as twenty to thirty players can be in a match against one another. Halo 2 Bible Edition combines the regular version of the game with Bible verses that appear on the screen at various times, often complimenting the battle scene.
While parents, especially Christian parents, have often wrestled with the morality of the game, with Halo 2 Bible Edition many parents are feeling a greater sense of comfort.
"It used to bother me that he played that game so much" said Elizabeth Grimes of her 13 year-old son Danny. "He would sometimes wake up on a Saturday and play all day long without stopping. He never read his Bible either. But now I'm much more at ease. With those Bible verses always flashing up there I can be assured that he's getting a good dose of the Good Book. I ask him every day now 'Danny, have you played your Halo today?' and if I don't think he's played enough I make him go in there and sit down and play some more."
"Two Sunday nights a month we're going to do away with Sunday night Bible study altogether and just have a Halo tournament" stated Redmond. "It's definitely a much more exciting way to learn about the Bible."
Microsoft founder and CEO Bill Gates commented on the new release
Gates. "What we've simply done here is catered to a particular audience of people, specifically Christians, by incorporating these verses into the game."
Gates went on to further state that more editions of the game are in the works for other religions.
"We are working on a number of other Halo 2 versions such as the Buddhist version where no one gets killed, they simply give food to one another. The one we're most excited about is the Halo 2 Jihad Edition where you get to kill all of the infidels. We think that one's going to be a hit."