Imagine it all really started in the 1930s in remote New Zealand.
Scarlet City Studios’ game The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance is an epic retelling of the Bible for kids growing up in a digital world. But the company’s up-to-date mission has its roots in the historic mission of the Postal Sunday School Movement (PSSM)—a ministry that dates back to the 1930s.
For the better part of a century, the PSSM mailed Sunday school lessons to children living in remote parts of New Zealand — and unable to attend church.
“They never would’ve said their mission was to reach kids through the postal system,” remarks Scarlet City’s Tim Cleary. “They would’ve said, ‘Our mission is to reach kids where they are with the story of the Bible.’”
A plan was hatched to reinvent the model in order to reach kids who are growing up in the digital age. That led to the formation of Scarlet City Studios — and its 21st-century allegorical adventure game, The Aetherlight.
Cleary, a former youth pastor, notes that this digital generation wants to actively participate rather than simply consume content. “Games give you that opportunity,” he says. “The other thing that is immensely exciting from an educational point of view is that good story is not tied up in the part of our brain that handles rote learning — with information and facts — it’s stored with memory.”
And that, he says, is the strength of the storytelling model used for The Aetherlight. “We’re able to let you ‘feel’ the story — making it an experience less likely to be forgotten, or simply filed away. The Aetherlight allows the Bible to occupy a place in their imaginations, not just a place in their brains.”
The game’s second episode is “The Resistance Takes Flight.” The biblical story of Jacob and Esau is recast in a world where the Resistance is fighting to save Aethasia with majestic airships.
The strong biblical themes infused into The Aetherlight has attracted partnerships with the American Bible Society, World Vision and Tyndale House Publishers. “God has been orchestrating this since the beginning,” Cleary says, “in a way that’s just unbelievable.”
Parents can receive emails that show what their children are learning about God’s Word in the game. But players are doing more than just opening their Bibles, they’re living out their faith in the real world as part of the Resistance.
“Their lifestyle becomes part of the Resistance,” says Cleary. “And they grow in their foundational knowledge of the Bible and live out that Great Story in faith, hope and love.”
In all, 16 “episodes” of The Aetherlight are planned. There is also a full-text companion Bible.
Find out how you can help your kids save Aethasia at