The Ellen G. White Estate has released Pitcairn, a new online game that helps Pathfinders earn the “God’s Messenger” honor.
The White Estate first unveiled the honor at the 2014 Forever Faithful International Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Pathfinders can earn the honor by achieving 200 or more points on either the Pitcairn game or the soon-to-be released free Pitcairn app.
During a report to delegates at the 2014 Annual Council in Silver Spring, Maryland, the White Estate demonstrated the Pitcairn game. It may be the first time Annual Council delegates played a video game together.
The idea for an Ellen White-themed honor originated at the Ellen G. White Estate over concerns that an entire generation might grow up without knowing the history of the Adventist Church.
“They are growing up with very little knowledge of our roots, our past, or who we are,” said Chantal Klingbeil, associate director at the Ellen G. White Estate.
Klingbeil works to help young people become engaged in White’s writings and learn how the writings can be relevant to them, but she faces the problem of engaging a generation growing up with new technology.
“We kept trying to think of creative ways to connect with [the youth],” said Klingbeil. “With Oshkosh coming up, we realized that it was an ideal opportunity to connect with a lot of kids we wouldn’t otherwise have had contact with.”
Initially game’s makers thought the online game would revolve around earning money to build the Dime Tabernacle in Battle Creek, Michigan. Players would answer trivia questions about Ellen White in order to gain enough money to complete the structure. However, as time passed, director of the Ellen G. White Estate, James Nix, proposed the game be centered around building the Pitcairn boat.
The Pitcairn was the first Seventh-day Adventist mission ship built to send missionaries to Pitcairn Island.
In 1979, Fletcher Christian led a group of British navy men in mutiny against sea captain William Bligh on the ship Bounty. On January 15, 1790, the mutineers, along with Tahitian companions, arrived on Pitcairn Island. The story of mutiny on the Bounty shone an exciting light on Pitcairn Island colony, motivating the new missionary project. Everyone did their part—men, women, children—everyone saved up pennies, nickels, and dimes to help pay for the Pitcairn.
Image: Some of the first Adventist missionaries to Pitcairn Island
In October of 1890 the ship was completed and set sail with John Tay, Edward H. Gates, and a group of missionaries to Pitcairn Island. Soon after arriving in November, Gates performed over 80 baptisms, which was most of the people on the island. The Pitcairn went on to make six other voyages over the next ten years until 1899 in efforts to evangelize the pacific islands and to maintain relations with Pitcairn Island.
Since young people were part of the contributors that raised the funds for the Pitcairn, the White Estate team decided it would be interesting to create a game for youth that focused attention on a project in which young people in the church participated.
With the idea of the Pitcairn game on the table, the challenge was now taking the idea from conception to fruition. “I know nothing about videos games,” confessed Klingbeil with a laugh. “At the time, I probably didn’t know how impossible it was. At first I thought, ‘Oh you know, we’ll make a little game.’ But then I discovered there was a lot more to it!”
In early discussions of the game, the creative team worried it would cost thousands of dollars to produce. However, God sent someone along who helped create the game at minimal cost, the White Estate revealed. However, the Estate would not disclose the individual’s identity, saying that the developer preferred to remain anonymous.
With the web version of the game now up and running, the Estate is excited to focus on expanding its outreach. In a few weeks, they hope to launch the mobile version of the Pitcairn game in the App Store and on Google Play. The app is already set up to offer translations in Spanish, Portuguese and German. There are talks of creating French and Korean translations as well.
The web version of Pitcairn game gives players seven minutes to navigate an island by answering multiple-choice questions about Ellen White, her ministry as a messenger, and about the authority of Scripture. Game users earn points for correct answers and can score tokens that allow them to buy more points or time on the clock. If players answer a question incorrectly, the game allows them to keep guessing so they can learn the correct answers to questions they missed. There is no limit to how many times users can play the game.
While the game still has a few bugs, Klingbeil believes they will soon be worked out as more players use the game and give feedback. For instance, some web browsers are set up to block pop-ups, and this feature can impact how users navigate the game.
The God’s Messenger Pathfinder honor falls under the "Spiritual Growth, Outreach, & Heritage" category. It is a level one badge that originated at the General Conference. In the future, the White Estate hopes to expand the game and offer higher-level honors.
For those who wish to earn the honor in a more traditional manner, they can display their knowledge of Ellen G. White facts in a creative fashion, such as on a poster or through a presentation.
Rachel Logan and Eliana Zacarias are Spectrum writing interns.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6349