4 min read
04 Feb

A new VR game allows children and adults to face off against Goliath
The Philistine giant is tougher to beat than Darth Vader in a new VR game.

When Mike Woodward was growing up, at Sunday school with a teacher who used a felt board and puppets to bring the story to life, he learned about the story of David and Goliath.

His sons Parker, 12, and Owen, 9, had more high-tech experience as beta testers for DvG: Conquering Giants, a new virtual reality game that retells the famous showdown, battling wolves, lions, a bear and finally the big guy himself.

The game is the first offering from Virtuous VR Gaming, a new video gaming company hoping to connect children and young adults with classic Bible stories, using a fun and educational immersive VR experience.

Woodward, a member of The Latter-day Saints' Church of Jesus Christ, said his sons had a good time playing the game and were learning about the Bible. That, he said, was a win.

Besides, VR is a lot cooler than boards made of felt.

Playing DvG was a hoot for the boys.
In a campaign, they set the game up much like classic games, like Punch Out! The Nintendo game became famous for featuring Mike Tyson, a former heavyweight champion. Before facing Goliath, players start out with an easy opponent, some wolves harassing a flock of sheep in the fields, and move on to more tough opponents. Players learn a distinct skill at each level that helps them to move up. Either a virtual sling that they whirl overhead or players can use a slingshot.

Parker Woodward said that the game made him think freshly about the fight between David and Goliath. He used to think that one day David had just shown up and ended up fighting the Philistine giant.

Playing DvG made him realize that there was a lot of preparation going into that fateful fight.

Players can compete for spots on a leaderboard with rankings for accuracy and speed alongside the campaign. That led to some friendly rivalry between the boys and their father. The boys beat Goliath a few times.

Dad continues to have some work to do.

He said, "I know what I am supposed to do." "But I can't get there altogether."

The game stands up to other VR games, the Woodward brothers said, a fact that delights game developer Jarom Sidwell, a veteran special effects specialist from Hollywood who worked on movies such as "Avengers," "Avatar," "Transformers" and "The Hobbit."

He posed a question after hearing that Parker and Owen had played Vader Immortal, a "Star Wars" game: "Who is tougher, Darth Vader or Goliath?" ”

"Goliath," said the boys in unison. Goliath, they said, is faster and less prone to monologues.

Yes!-Yes! "Sidwell said. "I'm going to write this in my journal."

Sidwell, whose Immersive History software company has also created a VR version of Jerusalem's Second Temple, said the game allowed him to combine two of his passions, the Bible and special effects. He said, more than anything, he wanted the game to be fun and bring to life the story of David and Goliath.

He hoped players would experience the Bible by doing that. And maybe you'll learn something about overcoming challenges in life along the way.

"You can conquer giants in actual life with a little of perseverance and a bit of faith and battle," he said.

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After seeing how young individuals drawn to VR experiences, Bill Issler, owner of Virtuous VR Gaming, which developed DvG, got the idea for the game. Issler, a former steel industry engineer who later ran his own software company, started a nonprofit called Industry Lift that developed VR games to attract young people to the building industry. The nonprofit that enable users to drive a forklift or crane or learn to weld has developed several VR games.

Issler wanted to try the same approach to the Bible, which he says is one of his passions in life, having seen how well those games worked for the construction industry.

Issler said the Bible shaped his life and his family's life. His parents were German immigrants who, with the help of a Baptist group, came to the United States. He is now attending a Virginia community church. He said he wanted to use the blessings he had received to help others after selling his company.

He said: "My passion is to use the resources they have given me to do good."

Issler said he wanted DvG to be high quality and good enough to compete with other video games and to be exciting without the shooting and blood and guts found in other popular games while still being family friendly.

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DvG, which is rated "E for all," features what they call "Looney Tunes" style action by Sidwell. For instance, when a player defeats Goliath, the giant in a comic animation topples over.

The game is currently available for the Oculus Rift VR system on the online gaming website Steam. The developers hope to have it for the Oculus Quest and PlayStation available soon.

If all goes well, Sidwell is already thinking of a follow-up, a multiplayer game based on the life of Samson, the biblical strongman.

"What truly intrigues me about Samson is that he tells the exact opposite of David's story," he said. The Goliath of his age is Samson. What does it look like to be Samson, and what are the difficulties you face in fulfilling the purposes of God?”

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article by Amit Caesar:

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