By Katie McMillan
If news of the Pope tweeting isn’t enough, SGR Games, LLC (“SGR”), a Maui-based company, has launched a social network game called Vatican Wars. To date, over 10,000 have joined the race to become the next virtual pope.
“This is the first Papal election in which everyone gets a say in the outcome,” says Cheyenne Ehrlich, founder of SGR Games, LLC. “We’re excited to see it being embraced by so many people.”
The game is both embraced and rebuked by Catholics and the Catholic media. In the game’s trial period 83% of Catholic Clergy surveyed said they would recommend the game to members of their Parish and 76% of Catholic Clergy surveyed said they think it will be a useful tool for bringing people back to the Church.
Controversy around the game stems from the fact that users can take sides on divisive Catholic issues such as the ordination of women, same-sex marriage, and abortion. Media outlets such as the National Catholic Register, America Magazine (the magazine of the Jesuits) and the Sirius XM radio show, The Catholic Guy, all discouraged people from playing the game.
Nonetheless, Vatican Wars is attracting interest from around the world. Over the last week, Vatican Wars has been featured in more than 75 articles in the US and Europe, including more than 45 in Italy.
“We’ve definitely gone viral in Italy,” says Ehrlich. “They are talking about us in articles about the same sex marriage vote in New York and even general news about the Vatican web site that’s about to come online. It’s a movement, and the media is starting to see it as such.”
Is Vatican Wars part of a larger trend in religion and social media? Coincidentally, another religious themed game, Holy Town, also launched this week.
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