Premier Childrens Work magazine this month had an interesting article on a new game launched by Scripture Union. It's called Guardians Of Ancora and is aimed at 8-11 yr olds, I thought it looked pretty cool but being in the wrong demographic I encouraged my 11 yr old daughter to download it onto her tablet and let me know what she thought.
Although we are a church going family and she attends Sunday School, she is not, how can I put this, a keen Biblical scholar. There was an embarrassing episode a while back in church where she volunteered to go to the front and take part in a quiz, it became awkward when the quiz master started to get the congregation to shout up the answers to her while I slowly sunk down in my chair amazed at just how little she was able to to answer! It was all taken in good humour though and a few heckles were thrown about how the Sunday School teachers were obviously not doing their job.
But there the point was perhaps made that if church going kids aren't taking in Bible stories, how on earth do we expect non-churched kids to have a clue who David was and why his story is important today?
And this is where Scripture Union did their research and hit upon designing a game that can be downloaded for free onto a tablet, to engage children from all walks of life and bring the Bible alive, whether they're church attendees or not, and Guardians of Ancora was the result.
I had actually forgotten I'd suggested it to my daughter and I honestly thought she'd be put off by it being Bible based, but after about a week she came up to me and said "that game you told me to download, it's actually pretty good!" She even told me that she didn't know the story of Jesus filling Andrew and Peter's nets with fish and now she did!
I mean, come on! Eleven years of Sunday School and they haven't covered that story?! Nearer to the truth it's probable they've told that story dozens of times but she just hadn't taken it in, we certainly are living in an era where children engage with the world differently, we are the immigrants and they are the natives of this digital age!
The game is in its infancy so could do with a few glitches tweaking, occasionally your character can get 'stuck' in the graphics and you have to exit and start again, and I personally found it almost impossible to get the timing of the characters jumps right, meaning it got very frustrating and repetitive, the advantage being you don't lose lives, so the jumps could be attempted until you crossed the gap or threw the tablet in frustration, whichever came soonest; but as my daughter pointed out, I struggled to play it because I'm not 11!
Having said that, the graphics are great, the story's easy to follow and there are lots of extras like quizzes, missions, audio stories and places for you to make your own notes and drawings which can be shared with other players or kept private.
Also at the moment there are only 2 playable quests, which she has now completed, hopefully the others will be unlocked soon or the game may lose momentum for its early players.
I think my daughter is looking forward to the next quest. (And I must admit, I am a little bit too!)