Sunday, March 10, 2013

Leviticus! the game?

(Godcast, via Tablet)
Apple's app store has a new offering just in time for the beginning of Leviticus in this year's Torah reading cycle. From Tablet Magazine:

As the game begins, cartoon animals go flying in the air, and players must slash their throats by swiping a finger across the screen. Like many similar video games designed for the iPhone and the iPad—most notably the ubiquitous Fruit Ninja—this new game, too, is fast, fun, and unremitting: one misguided touch and it’s all over. But play for a moment or two, and you realize that the game’s rules—blemished animals must be spared, doves must be sacrificed by the pair—were set in place by the grandest designer of them all: The game you’re playing is based on the Bible’s most intricately detailed book. 
Titled Leviticus!, the game, as its title suggests, is both irreverent and deeply faithful to the source text—all that business about doves and cows and purity is right there in the book. But whereas Leviticus is too thick with rules to make for a very compelling read, it’s perfect when played.

The game's author explains:
“The whole book is a series of rules,” she said. “It’s all about how the priest should do this but shouldn’t do that, and if he did something a certain way, something will happen, and if he didn’t, it won’t. It’s just a bunch of rules with rewards and punishment, and that’s what games are.”
Interesting. The following comment about trivial personal choices and identity is also interesting:
When players of Leviticus! learn, for example, that swiping at that pig casually making its way across the screen means an automatic game over, this question of belonging arises in full force: Nothing delineates the boundaries of identity more sharply than being forced to make rapid, personal choices, even seemingly trivial and symbolic ones like whether or not to sacrifice a virtual pig in a video game. Put simply, to keep the game going, the player chooses not to touch that pig, and, by doing so, recalls that we’re the people who find pigs impure. This is how ritual works; it’s also the fundamental structure of good education. this a brilliant way to help kids (and adults) learn the laws of Leviticus Torah? Sacrilege? Ethically troubling? (What if kids start imitating the behaviors in the game?) Regardless, it sure gives new meaning to the term 'angry birds'...

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