Lightgliders seeks to bridge a gap that is not attempted very often. The video game intentionally tries to use gaming as a discipleship tool. As the marketing states, “Lightgliders is a digital world of Christian faith, fun, and games for kids".” Digital gaming continues to be a popular venue of entertainment for children, and Lightgliders appeals to parents by giving their kids’ screen time a deeper sense of purpose while retaining the fun. Does the game manage to succeed on either front?
In Lightgliders, which can be played on a mobile device or a computer, players join the lightgliders in seeking to rescue little creatures called gliddles and restore the land from a blight.
This is done through mini-games and players have complete freedom of which games they play. There are a variety of games that span gaming genres such as platforming, puzzle, and tower defense. On the computer, players also have access to a shared world that can be explored. This experience has a light MMO feel. There is also an element of building and customization. Players can customize their avatar and they can also build their own custom tree house that gliddles occupy.
In addition to the games, Lightgliders does have a devotional component. Each week there is a devotional video highlighted. These tend to be a couple of minutes, and they are presented in a comic book style. These video are partnered with a prayer video as well.
Normally I divide reviews into what I like and what I did not like. However, in this case there is not much to like or recommend. I have three major problems with Lightgliders.
The first is the quality of the games. There is a lot of variety, but there is little depth or engaging material. The internet has a variety of free flash game websites, and honestly all of the lightglider games would fit right in. These games can be time wasters, but everything about them feels basic and amateur in both design and presentation. A child with no exposure to video games will get some mileage out of these shallow games, but for kids already gaming this is not going to replace Minecraft or Fortnite.
Second the devotions are a mixed bag. Their content and presentation is not bad, but other than some art elements they have no connection with the games. Unless explicitly asked to watch them, most kids will likely bypass them to play the games. This was true for one of my children. They would rather not play the game at all instead of sit through the “boring” video. It is worth mentioning my other child did not mind the devotion videos, but he never sought these devotional videos out in the app.
My final major problem with the game is that it uses a subscription model. Despite the shortcomings of the game play and the devotional integration, I would keep Lightgliders around for my kids if it used a “freemium” or micro-transactions as a way to get money. However, the content provided is in no way worth a monthly subscription cost. Reading your child an entry from a short devotion book before letting them poke around on a free flash game website would provide the same service that Lightgliders does.
Christian media has a stereotype of being an uninspired, second rate, knock-off of the real thing. Unfortunately, Lightgliders is a fine exhibit of why this stereotype exist in the first place. As both a video game experience and a faith development tool, Lightgliders is shallow and substandard in its content. Unfortuantly, we can not recommend this game at all.