The Art of Incidental Learning
Designed by Benjamin Kurien, an Indian game designer, ‘Bible-it’ is a tabletop game that offers an engaging experience for a diverse age group. Combining fun and skill development, it provides players with the opportunity to develop essential skills such as speed, quick thinking, and keen observation while enjoying quality time with family and friends. The artwork of the game, illustrated by Naomi Vettath, serves as an abstraction of the Bible’s complex concepts adding visual richness to the overall gaming experience.
Playing games goes beyond mere entertainment; it has the power to facilitate learning in an engaging and interactive way. This concept of learning through play, often referred to as incidental learning, has gained momentum for its ability to enable skill and knowledge development in a natural, enjoyable manner. Benjamin Kurien, the principal designer of the game Bible-it, through his design initiative Salted Mangoes, has made it his mission to create games that follow the concept of incidental learning. Through his designs, he aims to encourage people to spend more quality time with family and friends, fostering meaningful connections and shared experiences.
‘Bible-it’ is a tabletop game wherein players race against each other to get the 66 books of the Bible in order. Designed with three primary user groups in mind – those with no prior knowledge of the Bible, those familiar with it but unaware of the book order, and those with superior knowledge of the Bible – the game offers an inclusive experience. Apart from becoming familiar with the order of books within the Bible, ‘Bible-it’ provides players with the opportunity to develop essential skills such as speed, quick thinking, and keen observation. Through the game’s fast-paced nature, players improve their ability to spot and sequence relevant books quickly. This not only enhances their gaming experience but also translates into real-life skills that can be applied beyond the game. Integrating entertainment and skill development, the game provides a well-rounded experience that combines biblical knowledge with cognitive and strategic abilities.
The development of the artwork for ‘Bible-it’ posed several challenges, according to the designers. The game required graphics for multiple components such as cards, tokens, a rulebook, and the game box. Though each of these components had significant work done on them, the artwork for cards took maximum effort. With 66 cards, each representing a book in the Bible and grouped into 11 categories, the challenge was to ensure each one was visually distinct yet easily identifiable within its category. This involved abstracting complex concepts from each book into a singular graphic. Given the similarities across certain books in terms of their topics related to the Christian faith, capturing the essence of each book through graphics was a meticulous process. Another parallel challenge was to avoid any repetition or similarity between the illustrations of different cards.
“Each card needed to stand out on its own, enabling players with no prior knowledge of the Bible to easily identify and match the cards in the correct order. At the same time, players with a deeper understanding of the Bible should feel intrigued by the artwork, prompting them to explore the connections between the visuals and the underlying concepts of each book,” explains Naomi Vettath, the illustrator for the game.
Achieving this balance was crucial to enhancing the game’s overall visual appeal and elevating the gameplay experience. “We had a great group of advisors and well-wishers, without whom this process would have been extremely difficult. Pastor Koshy Joseph, who frequently joined in our brainstorming sessions, helped us get to the crux of the themes of each book faster. His guidance was crucial to getting this game published,” adds Benjamin.
The process of developing the artwork went through several stages. It began with initial rough doodles that explored different visual concepts and ideas. Then, decisions were made regarding the category colour palettes, carefully selecting colours that were sufficiently different from each other while maintaining the game’s overall aesthetics. Mockups were created, allowing for card layout iterations and refinement.
Through multiple rounds of play testing, a layout that enabled readability from both directions was finalised. The design team then diligently progressed from Genesis to Revelation, the first and last books of the Bible, completing each of the 66 cards while making sure to pay attention to the details and symbolism associated with each book. This draft set of cards was then sent out to multiple reviewers with superior knowledge of the Bible to be fact-checked. Once the comments were thoughtfully implemented and the artwork finalised, the cards were printed, bringing life to the vision of ‘Bible-it’.
“Since we were across time zones, there were times when, between us, someone was working on the game 24×7 for weeks, literally!” reflects Naomi.
Similarly, the other game components were meticulously developed. Each component went through rigorous reviewing and playtesting before being finalised and printed. On September 4, 2022, the game was officially launched at the World Harvest Church in Chennai, India.
“We are honoured and thrilled to see the game being played by so many people. Since the game is not heavy on calculations or thought, the game is enjoyed by a large age group. Younger players delight in the challenge of sequencing and matching the books faster than their friends, while for older players, the game invigorates their minds, helping them stay mentally agile. Seeing families and friends get together, and spend quality time with each other while playing our game is truly humbling,” Benjamin expresses his joy at witnessing the game being enjoyed across the globe.
All Images and Details Courtesy Naomi Vettath and Benjamin Kurien
Learn more about the game here: www.saltedmangoes.com/thebiblegame