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In the footsteps of Jesus--"An educational and inspirational game for the entire family" Review by Melissa Theberge

Hagai Rom, Michael Slor
DNA Educational games

This game gives card-playing a whole new look! As soon as I held the game container in my hands, I knew I would love this set . . . the Holy Land artwork on the glossy cardboard box wraps all the way around and gives a soft, earthy look. The outer sleeve has openings that reveal the cards inside, and the card container slips out neatly, revealing two stacks of playing cards. While it's made of a cardboard kind of material, it is all beautifully decorated and fairly durable. The cards themselves are thicker and sturdier than traditional playing cards, and the colors evoke an ancient feel. The back of each card is printed with a repeating brown fish on tan background, while the front of each card has an arch design with organized text and crisp photographs.

The creators of this game took a simple "go-fish" style of play and adapted it to include information about the life of Jesus and the Holy Land. There are fifteen sets of four cards each, totaling sixty playing cards. Each set of four cards covers a specific event and location related to Jesus' time on earth (denoted by a certain color at the top of each card), and the four cards within that set represent location details. For example, the set of cards related to "Jerusalem: Lord's Supper and Arrest" include Room of the Last Supper, Garden of Gethsemane, Grotto of the Betrayal, and St. Peter in Gallicantu. Each of the four cards has a small, full-color photograph showing the actual location the card represents, as well as a brief description of the photo and a Scripture reference to accompany it. In addition, each card includes the complete listing of all four cards that make up the set, which is critical for game play. The cards span Jesus' life, with sets about Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Judean Wilderness, three sets about Galilee, and three sets about events in and around Jerusalem. In total, there is learning to be done at all major points in Jesus' life on earth.

Although I could spend quite some time just perusing and reading each card, there are games that can be played as well, either to go along with Bible studies or just for fun! A simple game of go-fish can involve players seeking full sets of four by asking for the missing cards to complete sets in their hands. At first, play might be slowed down as players look over each card, examining the photos and the explanatory text, but this is an educational diversion that we truly enjoyed. The game's packaging suggests that once a player gathers all four cards in a set, she can take a few minutes to share the full set with everyone by showing the photos and reading the explanatory text. Additionally, players can look up the various New Testament text associated with each card. We have yet to do all of this in each game, but we have enjoyed reading many along the way and saving some for next time as well.

Another activity to enjoy once the cards have all been played and the winner has been declared is to put the fifteen sets in chronological order. The correct order can be found on the packaging for reference as needed, as well as all of the game playing suggestions.

Our experience has been that the most exciting game can be had with more than two players, though the recommendation is for 2-5 players. Also, the age listing begins at age 4, and this is only fully possible if the 4-year-old can read in order to say which cards she still needs in a set. However, adaptations can be made if younger children can name colors, since each set has a color code that could be used to make requests of other players. The reading limitations haven't put a damper on the game playing in our home, and we have all enjoyed walking with Jesus through the Holy Land locations included on these cards. There are many images I have not seen before and many details I hadn't studied in depth, which just adds to the family fun . . . it's quite rewarding for my children to see that I'm still learning too!

The game's subtitle of "educational and inspirational" certainly rings true for us, and we still have hours of playing to go before we've learned all the information contained in this one game. I recommend this for families of all ages, and I expect we'll be sharing this game with our loved ones at Christmas, Easter, and other special occasions.

Product review by Melissa Theberge, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010