Our family of seven has never been much for gaming, but lately our two elementary-aged boys have started complaining about missing out on the video games their peers are playing. My husband and I haven’t purposefully tried to deny them such a quintessential childhood experience, but it’s daunting to sift through the excess of often undesirable options out there and find a game that can do more good than harm. So when I heard about Wanderlight, a faith-based video game from Loyola Press, I was thrilled.
In Wanderlight, the player embarks on a pilgrimage to their godparents’ house, along the way learning foundations of the Christian faith while also finding opportunities to put it into practice. For instance, the Pilgrim learns the 10 Commandments from Moses and rescues lost puppies with St. Francis. In Wanderlight, as in life, faith and action go hand in hand.
Wanderlight is marketed for children between the ages of 5-11, and my children, ages 6 and 10, really loved it. One particularly welcome feature was the ability to customize their own player by choosing from a wide spectrum of skin tones. My kids—one black and one white—both squealed excitedly as they pointed out which shade best matched their own. The color of the Pilgrim’s tunic is also customizable.
Creating a faith-based video game was a brain child of Loyola Press years before it was released, but there is an unmistakable sense of the Holy Spirit’s timing in the fact that it became available in a pandemic year when children have less access to religious education classes and other forms of communal faith formation.
Parents who worry that their child will miss out this year might be pleasantly surprised by the catechesis of this video game, where a child learns about the Mass, sacraments, reflective prayer, and Catholic social teaching all—in a setting of self-discovery. There is also an educational version available for Catholic schools or parish programs.
Joellyn Ciccarelli, president and publisher of Loyola Press, believes Wanderlight is an evangelization tool that St. Ignatius would be proud to stand behind; pointing to the saint’s encouragement to “go in their door and let them come out yours,” meaning to meet the seeker through the avenue they most enjoy, and then guiding them to what you’d like them to see. Ciccarelli also points out that Ignatius was one of the first of his time to purchase a printing press, proof of his passion for using available technology to reveal God to as many souls as possible. There is no doubt that Wanderlight keeps the spirit of this great saint alive.
These days, when my big kids ask to play a video game, I’m able to say yes without second-guessing whether it’s going to be good for their inner growth. I know that no virtual experience can ever supplement the daily formation that takes place in our family life and parish, but it sure is nice to have a little backup now and then—and Wanderlight is one I can trust.