An article in today’s LA Times Business Section (from the Associated Press) talks about the growth of religious-themed games such as Kosherland, Catholic-opoly, and the the Biblical Action Figure of Job, which comes complete with boils. This is a growth market: retail sales of inspirational gifts and merchandise, which includes religious toys and games, were an estimated $1.9 billion in 2005, an 11.8% increase from the previous year, according to an April report by Packaged Facts, the publishing arm of MarketResearch.com. The report projected 26.3% growth to $2.4 billion in sales in the gifts and merchandise sector by 2010.
So what’s out there? I once did a list on BGG. The article cites even more. There are Risk-style games, such as Missionary Conquest, which awards extra points to players who are martyred by stoning as they try to establish missions in the Middle East. Talking plush dolls, such as the smiling and sneaker-wearing Pray With Me Mantis. [No, I'm not making this stuff up, folks] There is the Muslim board game Race to the Kabah, where players advance by learning the meaning of the 99 names of Allah. KosherLand teaches about Jewish dietary laws, requiring, for instance, that players move backward if they mix milk with meat. In the Mormon game Mortality, good decisions help a player acquire “testimonies,” which strengthen his faith and help him endure life’s trials. In Catholic-opoly, like Monopoly, the job is to bankrupt your opponents–the difference is it’s done “in a nice, fun way.” There are talking Esther, Moses and Jesus dolls that have sold “tens of thousands”. [Really, I'm not making this up.]
Beliefnet lists even more: a Shiva Action Figure (sold by the “Jesus Christ Super Store”, with an Untouchable-Toucher Uzi automatic, in a Four-Armed warrior incarnation), the Dog Buddah, the Empty Tomb Candy Tin, the Jesus Loves You Shoes of the Fisherman, the “Gone to see Dad… Be Back Soon to Pick You Up” T-Shirt of the note on the Cross…. and the list goes on.
Yet still, there are numerous religions not represented. Where are the toys for the believers in Bob? Those who believe in the FSM (and no, Mamma Mia does not count)? Still, for those of you looking for Christmas ideas…. and there’s still one more day of Chanukah!