NEW YORK — The American Bible Society's' stated mission is to engage people "with the life-changing message of God's Word," and the 200-year-old Christian nonprofit appears to be pulling out all the stops to stick to that mission. Its latest form of outreach is a new interactive "immersive experience" — a 3D game, dubbed "Dive In" that is supposed to turn players' minds to the condition of their heart.
Dive In was unveiled less than a month ago outside of the American Bible Society's New York City headquarters, not far from the heavily-trafficked Christopher Columbus Circle.
The game uses a 3D camera that incorporates gesture tracking. Once a player steps up to bat, their body movements are tracked and they can then control their avatar's movements by leaning left or right, flapping their arms or waving as they swim through an imaginary water world.
As Dive In designer Ryan Jahn told The Christian Post, the game is based on Luke 12:34: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." The Bible verse is flashed across the middle of the screen before each game.
The heart theme kicks in during the game, as players are prompted to collect as many heart-shaped jewels as possible as they progress through three levels.
"For us, we know that by playing this game, whether you know it or not, you're engaging Scripture even in the lightest of ways," said Arthur Satterwhite, senior program manager at ABS.
"We believe that when the Word goes forth, like the Bible says, it doesn't come back void. So in some way, even in the most miniscule way something inside the people that are playing this game is being transformed."
But not every player makes that heart-to-heart connection.
When The Christian Post visited ABS for Dive In's debut, players definitely seemed to be enjoying the virtual swim, but the message failed to surface for some.
Karen Mack, visiting out of town from Massachusetts, did have a few thoughts on the Bible after reflecting on the game.
"No matter what kinds of ups and downs you have, there's an answer there," Mack told CP. "I don't always find the answers right away, sometimes it's the searching, just like this [game]."
But for Olivia Bailey, a native New Yorker and a Christian, there was no religious connection for her whatsoever. "It's a game," Bailey told CP. "How does…religion connect?"
Watch a video report on American Bible Society's Dive In experience below: