As I wandered the halls of Speil ’14 every now and then someone would sidle up and ask me if I’d seen the Jesus game yet? While other games were getting buzzed about, this was being whispered about. No one seemed sure whether the fact it existed at all was a good thing or not.
Given that this was in the same place I encountered “Lapdance: The Boardgame”, I figured it was probably bringing balance to the Force if nothing else.
Intrigued, I scoured the halls for this stand and, when I located it, I found the game itself to be pleasingly unique and convinced its designer, Alfred Vesligaj, who, fortunately for me, was near fluent in English, to give me a few minutes of his time.
FTN: So when did you start designing games?
AV: I’ve been designing games for more than twenty years, since I was a kid, it was like my hobby, you know? Changing the rules for Monopoly and Risk and stuff like that. I’d be like “Oh this would be better like that,” and then I started making my own games.
FTN: Did you make Monopoly better?
AV: Ah, I improved some aspects, you know, to make it faster and stuff like that, yeah. I improved Risk a lot! I’m joking! Just how to make it faster again, so you don’t have to roll a die 50 times when you have a 100 armies
FTN: So your latest game is Walk to Jesus, given that most games, even the ones you mentioned, are about conflict etc, how did you come up with this?
AV: Exactly! That’s exactly how I started! Most games are about conflict, so now I said let’s make a game where you have to help other players instead of beating them. So that was the basic idea, to think outside of the box; then I was like “You know, I need a story for that,” because that’s what players catch on to.
So, of course religion, or the Christian saying ‘help your neighbours, help your enemies’, fits perfectly to this concept. Then we added other concepts of living a Christian life and we got a good balanced game of living bad or good, going to heaven and helping others, and coming to heaven if you help others.
FTN: Could you give us a brief overview of how the game works?
AV: The players help other players to get to heaven and when they help the other players they get some divine grace cards which are needed at the end of the game to win and come to Jesus in the centre of the board. They have to walk on the four circles of the board and with good deeds they move to higher circles and with bad deeds they move away, if they get a sin tile they have to go back to the start and so on. It’s a simple game but the concept is very likeable
Then we added other concepts of living a Christian life and we got a good balanced game of living bad or good
FTN: How have people reacted to it?
AV: Very well actually, I was shocked that it was a total hit at game cons. You know where you meet ‘God people’ and heavy metal fans but they all love Jesus! The game precedes me, when I get to a new con people run to me “Oh can we play Jesus?” and you look at them and you know, they have horns and whatever.
You know, because you can play at different levels, there’s the kid’s level where you just help other players or you can play where you don’t really help them and that’s great fun for gamers because then it’s not a co-operative game. Every player plays for himself, but you still have to help your adversary to advance, so you improve their position but you still want to win yourself.
(Editor’s Note: The adult version only has room for one person next to Jesus; the whole thing has shades of Ayn Rand, really)
FTN: Sounds great!
AV: Yeah it’s a very good game mechanic.
FTN: So, do you have any plans to expand the game?
AV: This was the first edition, so now we will make a Junior edition, then not really expansions, but different game sets, like a 3D version. We also have walk to Jesus playing cards (standard 52 card deck with art from the game) and puzzles.
FTN: So if people want to check it out online where do they go?
AV: They can visit our site here
FTN: Thanks for your time, Alfred.