Christian 'Guitar Hero' Game Maker Says Demand Is High, Hints At Full Band Game

When Christian-themed "Guitar Hero" spin-off "Guitar Praise: Solid Rock" came out earlier this year, the game had its fair share of skeptics.

But the developers at Fremont, California-based Digital Praise told MTV Multiplayer this week that "sales are exceeding inventory of guitars on hand," and that the company is focusing on providing stock to Christian retailers so that customers will be able to find the game in time for Christmas.

We unboxed and tested the game ourselves and spoke with Digital Praise CEO Tom Bean about why we needed a religious guitar game in the first place.

"We were getting e-mails and letters mailed to us asking to create a guitar controller-based game using Christian music," he said. "Some of them told us that they attempted to communicate [the idea for the game] to some of the other makers but they were not getting any indication that anything was going to be done... We think that there's an opportunity that no one else has either seen it or felt compelled to try to address in the marketplace, so we have."

He also explained that the "mainstream" guitar games had things in them that their customers found offensive. "Sometimes the feedback we get is that the words in some of the songs are not everything [parents are] hoping their kids are going to be singing," he said, "or that some of the characters on the screen aren't necessarily the role models [parents] want their kids to be emulating... the kind of stuff we're doing allows people to have fun. [Our games] don't have some of the negative stuff that some people perceive in some of the other products."

"[Our games] don't have some of the negative stuff that some people perceive in some of the other products."

That's why "Guitar Praise" has no avatars and includes clean music from Christian artists. But Bean also didn't want to give the impression that their games ram Christian ideology down their players' throats. "Of course, we function in probably what most would term a 'niche' market, and most of our games I would classify as having basic Judeo-Christian values behind it," he said, including Digital Praise's other titles, like "DDR"-type game "Dance Praise."

"But our purpose and our function as a company isn't to promote religious imagery or a religious experience," he added. "Our games are about having fun first, and then about having positive, encouraging content. We think people and families of different faiths can play our games and have fun and have a positive experience."

"Our purpose as a company isn't to promote religious imagery or a religious experience... Our games are about having fun first."

The game had been in the works for almost a year and was designed and programmed by a dozen in-house employees and about two dozen contractors. Bean said that they've played the competing music games, but claimed they got most of their design ideas from their customers. As for the guitar controller, he said that they met with a Chinese manufacturer to create their "own design" for the guitar, which was "designed uniquely for our game." However, in my impressions, I didn't see any huge differences from other guitar peripherals I've used with other games. When I pressed for details about what makes controller different from the other games' given some of the copyright issues that have come up, Bean declined to comment.

Regardless of the controller, with the game's sales doing well, Bean said they plan on creating expansion packs for the game. He said it was even possible for a full band game a la "Rock Band" or "Guitar Hero: World Tour." "That's definitely been part of our discussions," Bean said. "We've invested a lot of time and energy in creating this game, and if it's compelling then we'll consider our next steps in that direction."

He said that Digital Praise, whose games have only been for the PC/Mac, may expand to consoles one day. "Our customers have been begging us to create console games," Bean said. "You have your Xbox 360 fans, your PS3 fans, but we get a lot for the Wii. We'd like to be able to go there but we'll see."

As for the critics, Bean ultimately encouraged them to give "Guitar Praise" a try. "I would ask anybody to try the game and see what they think," he said. "I think people would be impressed with the gameplay and some of the unique features about it."

"Guitar Praise: Solid Rock" is available in various retailers now.

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