Friday, August 2, 2013

Chapter and Verse: The Past and Future of My LDS Scripture Game

This adventure all started for me in early 2006.

Well, earlier, really.  I’ve been a tabletop gamer all of my life.  I loved the early role-playing games, and I played Avalon Hill’s wargames with my friends from as early as 8th grade.  I’ve come up with various game ideas over the years, too.  But in the early parts of the century, as I got more and more involved in collectible card games (CCG’s, like Magic: the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Pokemon, which I played with my sons), I found myself wanting to make an LDS game that expressed my faith.  I tried making one that was based on the Book of Mormon, but I struggled with it, and in the end, it didn’t satisfy me.

But in early 2006, an idea gelled for me, and I created a set of rules, and a set of cards.  I talked about it in my Mormon commentary blog here, and here.

Rather than be a strict story-line game, it would be more abstract.  The players take verses of scripture, from the seminary scripture mastery list, combine them together into thematic chapters and then close them up into books.  The verses would have individual effects which would change the play of the game, just like MTG and YGO cards do.  It was, and still is, a new idea in the LDS game market.

Over the years, I would work on it, abandon it, then work on it, and abandon it in a sort of creative/frustration cycle.  It was usually my son that would break the frustration part by asking to play it again.  That would trigger a new wave of creativity, a new version of the rules, and more playtesting, until the next cycle of frustration would make me set it aside for a while.

All the time, I thought I wanted to publish it, but I’ve never known how to accomplish that.  I’ve looked at lots of options, and I’ve submitted it at times to various publishers, I’ve priced out printing, etc... but I’ve never really been sure how to proceed with it.

A few months ago, after I turned in the manuscript for my the final book of my Dutch oven cookbook contract, I started thinking about it again.  I brought it out, dusted it off, and started reworking some rules ideas that had been bugging me about it.  I made a whole new set of cards, and Brendon and I started playtesting it.  My boys started taking a deeper role in the development and promotion of the game.  Then, another idea hit, and the Church changed the official list of Scripture Mastery verses, and we remade the whole cardset again.  We’re now in version 11 of the rules.  I’ve been contacting a number of key people and sharing the game with them, gathering input and even endorsements.

Last week, I met with a friend who owns a game store, and I demo’ed the new Chapter and Verse for him.  He was very positive and his suggestions were more directed toward how to get the the game published and distributed, rather than any fixes that needed in the game.

A switch turned inside me that night.  I realized for the first time inside me that this game needs to be published and that it will be published.  I’m not sure when it will happen, but there are now several options on the table to get it done.  For the first time in the 7 years I’ve been working on this game, it feels ready and it feels like it will actually happen.

And that is very, very exciting!


Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his Dutch Oven blog.

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