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A Bible Gamer Amid the Blastphemers

You know you’re in a truly awful place when it uses breasts to get you to go there. Sans strippers, Crazy Girls wouldn’t be your first choice to get a pre-dinner drink.

But despite the fact that nearly every company stationed a halfnaked, salined babe in front of its booth at the Electronic Entertainment Expo at the L.A. Convention Center last week, it was even worse than I could have anticipated.

All trade shows are inherently awful sales pitches, but none are as loud, crowded and dorkified as the video game convention. It was as if Los Angeles created a huge, gaudy party on purpose, just to make me feel cooler than I am. It was like my second bar mitzvah.

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Although I like video games, after three hours of waiting in lines to play a diverse range of titles where I got to blast away all different types of aliens, I tired of the hard sell.

I had watched a Chinook helicopter circle overhead as part of the Army’s marketing for its war-simulation video games, which are its real training tools made easier because in the real simulations you die too quickly for it to be fun.

Someone blasted a T-shirt at me from a bus as I was crossing the street. James Cromwell, from the movie “Babe,” handed me a flier about unionizing video game voice-over actors. I thought this was a foolish cause. If Henry Ford had union members beaten, what would guys who behead aliens do?

Unable to suffer through another trailer to a video game, I needed to make myself feel better the only way I knew how: to find someone who hated being at E3 even more than I did.

That’s when I noticed the “Bible Game,” a PlayStation game coming out in August that was created by a Mormon bishop from Utah who is a personal counselor at Brigham Young University, father of five and an ex-Scoutmaster. If half-naked women and blood-soaked monsters were wearing on me, I couldn’t imagine what kind of a shower this guy was going to have to take in his hotel room.

Les Pardew, 46, told me that he founded family-friendly Alpine Studios in 2000 after feeling guilty for helping design video games such as “StarCraft: Brood War” and “Bio F.R.E.A.K.S.,” which was big on chopping off limbs, mutant blood spurting directly onto the screen and long, forced acronyms.

Unfortunately, Pardew still has to come to E3 to sell his game. And he had to sell it through Crave Entertainment, a publisher that also sells sin-besotted titles such as “World Championship Poker 2" and “Hard Rock Hotel.” “If I judged my publisher by the content of their other games, I couldn’t work with anybody in this building,” Pardew explained.

He said he is conflicted about coming to E3 because, as an artist, he appreciates the graphics even if the games disgust him. The nearly naked women, however, didn’t seem to bother him at all. “I’m an artist. Half-naked women are no big deal,” he said. I can’t believe that “artist” excuse works even in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When I went to check out the “Bible Game,” it was being played by Ed Lewis, who let me join him for some hot, multiplayer Old Testament action. “I’m helping to create the universe,” he explained. “I haven’t read the Bible lately, but apparently the seven days of creation involved a lot of shooting at rings around a giant funnel.”

Despite being raised as a Buddhist, Lewis, an editor at a gaming magazine, was faster than me at crossing the Red Sea and downing Goliath with a slingshot. I even lost to him in the “Jeopardy"-esque segment, when I didn’t know how many days Daniel spent in the lion’s den. When I guessed three instead of one, the smarmy Christian host said, “Daniel didn’t win a three-day getaway package!” I pressed a lot of buttons hoping to behead him.

Even if I didn’t love his game, I admired Pardew’s decision to put his morality above commerce and try to creatively marry his professional passion with his personal one. But making a Christian video game is like trying to teach monogamy through porn. The medium is designed for the thrill of quick, random violence. Much like the Old Testament.

As much as Pardew wants them to, people don’t really change. They just make things louder and more annoying.


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