'Guitar Praise' Developer Ponders Christian 'Grand Theft Auto'

After unboxing and playing the Christian-themed "Guitar Hero" spin-off "Guitar Praise," I got Tom Bean, CEO of Christian game makers Digital Praise, on the phone yesterday to chat about it.

During our conversation, he told me about how the company takes popular styles of games and infuses them with more positive and encouraging content; the company has also made a Christian-based, "DDR"-style game called "Dance Praise."

With that in mind, I asked Bean if he ever considered making a Christian version of "Grand Theft Auto" -- you know, without the "grand theft auto" parts.

Here's what he had to say:

Tom Bean, CEO of Digital Praise: There are a number of games that are out in the marketplace, and some of them have been derided for their content as being inappropriate for kids or inappropriate in general. And the thing that people don't readily recognize is that some of these games are popular and are successful because they're really fun; people have sometimes gotten distracted from the fun of a game by some of the content that's in it.

MTV Multiplayer: So just thinking about the core open-world gamplay, could we expect a clean, Christian version of "Grand Theft Auto" from Digital Praise?

Bean: Well, that's a very good question. Creating a game that has a lot of fun activities and stuff, that has appeal. But we would attempt to make the focus or the experience to be one that was positive. Again, that's a great, fun game to play -- it is. But you have to ask yourself, is this something that I'm totally comfortable doing? Is this what I want to have my kids play? ...

"The open-world gameplay is intriguing, and we have several designs of that kind of an open world."

The open-world gameplay is intriguing, and we have several designs of that kind of an open world. But then it comes down to what kind of things do you want to do in that world. What is the theme and over-arching story of that game? And do those activities support that? And is it ultimately fun? And so that's the challenge of it all. ... So we would like to try to explore creating one of those kinds of games; we've got some different design ideas about it. But creating those kinds of games is not inexpensive, and it's a challenge for a small studio like us to try to create products that will meet market demand.

MTV Multiplayer: But if you were to actually make a clean version of "Grand Theft Auto" -- essentially taking out the "grand theft auto" part -- how would you do it?

Bean: I don't have a real response for you there. That's the trick of it. That would be one of the bigger challenges. How do you do that -- make it fun and make it something that people want to play? That's the million-dollar question. If we think we've got an answer to that, we will generate a product that will try to answer that question.

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