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Jesus and a Squirrel: What does success look like? May 14, 2015

Posted by P, J, or J in Ethnogamification.
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Jesus and NicodemusJourney of Jesus is a facebook game that has been played by two million people and counting. It’s a different way of telling the story and not the first or last game to try and do so. But do it’s numbers mean it’s a success?

I’m interested in the idea of games as tools to aid both discipleship and in promoting and sustaining minority languages, and was encouraged recently to meet a few other people exploring similar ideas.

Like books and films, games often have serious agendas behind the fun, exploring ideas and promoting changes in attitude and behavior. I could cite many examples but will throw in one from my own childhood. In the early 1970’s, before Darth Vader got into road safety campaigns in the UK, we used to get road safety messages from a small red squirrel and his friends.*

Tufty Flufftail 1953-????

Tufty the squirrel was extremely effective at instilling messages about road safety. At it’s peak an estimated 2 million children were members of the Tufty Club. I don’t think my sister and I were but we did see all the public information films and we did play the board game. I mentioned to my wife that the Green Cross man had reappeared on British TV screen last year. She said, “and what about Tufty?”. His message endures.

Back to Journey of Jesus let’s focus on the story first not the game. In the illustration shown how did that one-to-one encounter between Jesus an Nicodemus turn out? What did they each expect from it? And what was John’s purpose in telling us about it?

Success isn’t always about numbers. Jesus often preached to thousands at a time but many stories John chose for his gospel focus on one to one encounters. It’s not clear in the first recorded meeting whether Nicodemus had come to truly learn from Jesus or trap him in clever debate. If the latter Nicodemus failed and gained much more in losing (it appears from later in the gospel that he probably became a follower). John’s gospel has definitely been a success but that shouldn’t be judged by how many people have read it but about whether it achieves the purpose it was written out for.

John’s purpose in telling the story? Well you could explore the story for yourself and see what you think. The purpose of his whole gospel is spelled out in one verse fairly near the end. I could tell you if you don’t know it …but what would be the fun in that. The adventure is in finding some of these things as you journey through the game, the film, or even the book.

It’s a purpose that lies behind a new blog I’m working on. But more on that later.


No really, there is a good reason for having Jesus, the Green Cross Man and Tufty in the same image*For those that didn’t already know – the actor who played Star Wars villain Darth Vader was Dave Prowse, a British actor from Bristol who also played the part of the Green Cross man, a superhero who used to tell children that he wouldn’t be there when they crossed the road.

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