Minecraft has swept the world by storm. More than one hundred million games have been sold. Parents of children who play Minecraft will love this fun, educational collection of Bible stories. With the world of Minecraft as a backdrop using vivid, full-color screenshots, children will experience the Bible as never before.
My daughter age 6 1/2 is a huge Minecraft fan but not a very avid reader. She can read very well but prefers graphic novels or comics. Finding material to grow her faith and keep her interested can sometimes prove a challenge. You can’t possibly imagine how well this book was received by her. She loves the graphics from her favorite game presented in an easy to read and comprehend format. She pretty much has been immersed in reading this non-stop since I gave it to her. I like she’s reading and growing in her faith at the same time! I believe many parents will appreciate it. I’m hoping to see more in this format from the authors! I highly recommend it for children that love Minecraft and are eager to learn more about the Bible.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
The process of creating this book has proven to be a blessing and a great joy for my life. I have been writing for about twelve years. This has been a hobby of mine and a way to express myself. These small projects evolved into full novels the first being “Knights of the Golden Moons,” which is a fantasy hero story I wrote based on my life experiences. I then continued the first book and made it into a trilogy with two others: “Knights of the Golden Moons: Dark tide” and Knights of the Golden Moons: Crimson Dawn.”
When Skyhorse approached Chris, he came to me and asked if we could change my books and adapt them to the Minecraft world. We rewrote the first couple chapters, gave the pitch to Skyhorse, and they turned the idea down, for the reason, “the books were too good.” It was nice to hear that the writing was good, but devastating to have the chance at being publish turned down. This had shown, however, that we were capable writers and our first attempt was put in the back of the mind of our editor that we could craft a story.
My day job is teaching English and History at Manhattan Beach Middle School. I have been a teacher for thirteen years. I have always seen myself as a Renaissance man and enjoy hobbies such as carpentry, crafts projects, computer digital art, and gaming. I also love riding motorcycles.
I am a California boy, born and raised. Though I like to travel, I love living in Southern California.
What Inspired you to create this book?
As I stated before, Skyhorse first approached Chris Miko with wanting a children’s book on Minecraft. But after our pitch was turned down, a month later our Editor contacted us with another idea. She asked, “Can you make a Minecraft book about the Bible?” As one can possibly imagine, I was “gung ho” for the project for two reasons. Three years earlier I had a shaking of my Christian faith and was struggling with my belief in God. The struggle with faith is a story in itself, maybe another book? Having the opportunity to write a book about the Bible just fall in my lap at the right time in my life was a blessing. So I proceeded with the project with a glad heart. The second reason was that I really wanted to get my books published.
For the first pitch to Skyhorse, Chris and I decided that we wanted our book to take on the feel of a Graphic Novel. We presented the ideas to the Editor on that look we wanted, and were eventually given a “thumbs up on our second pass.
The Message of the Bible is a vast history of God’s interaction with Man. The overarching theme of the Bible is God’s desire to have a personal relationship with his creation, so I chose that as the story I wanted to tell. To accompany this theme, I made the plot of the book the story of how Man had lost Paradise, the Garden of Eden, and regained it through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Along the way to this conclusion, I included the beginning of Man’s wickedness, God’s beginning of redemption and his covenant with Abraham, the bloodline of Jesus through Ruth and King David, and finally the birth that changed humanity.
What were the challenges in bringing it to life?
The challenge in creating a live-action story in a limited game proved to be the biggest hurdle in the project. Each night, Chris and I sat down and started first by creating the sets for which the story would take place. Then we would boot up a half dozen or more computers to get the characters we needed into the game and place them in position. Invariably our work would come to a halt, as some unforeseen problem would arise. This was frustrating at first, but soon became something to be expected, and in a way fun to have new challenges pop up that had to be solved.
The biggest challenge was one of the most rewarding, the Goliath problem. As we worked along through the stories, there was always a nagging problem I could see coming. Creating a character in Minecraft that was three times larger than the standard character was proving to be a task that was impossible. We had neither computer programs that could change the in-game structure nor any other solutions to the problem. As we approached the story of David and Goliath, we began to build a village for the scenes in the story. I altered my character in the game so that it could fly, giving me a bird’s eye view of the village. Chris then did the same. As Chris’ character rose off the ground, he became bigger and bigger in relation to the house below. Like a lightning bolt it hit me that this was the solution to Goliath. I shouted at him to stop where he was and then took a screenshot to show him the forced perspective, and it was perfect. The book seemed to just flow like this all the way through to the end.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Being that this was the Bible, I did want it to have the message the Bible was created for its readers. For me personally, the book was very important. It taught me that life has a powerful purpose for me and that faith does bring rewards. About three years ago I had a shaking of my faith in God and was struggling to hold on to the beliefs that I was raised with. The secular world has a very powerful pull on Men’s hearts and I was not immune. The book was an unexpected blessing that really proved to be the miracle I needed to have restoration of my Faith in God as the truth.
What are your current projects? Chris and I will be doing more Minecraft books. We are working on our next idea for a book, which we are planning on completing by Christmas. We are first going to put all our focus on making The Unofficial Holy Bible for Minecrafters a success, but keep an eye out for more graphic novels set in Minecraft from us. Personally, I am starting my own company, Romines Digital Arts, which will focus on graphic novels and digital advertising. I am also looking for my novels to be published and would like to be Teacher of the Year.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I am a passionate k-12 teacher who specializes in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), and GATE (gifted and talented education). Currently, I work at Fairmont Private Schools teaching junior high science and robotics. Ever since I began teaching, I was always exploring education outside the classroom, as the curriculum standards kept the scope pretty narrow in what we could teach within our four walls. This eventually brought me to start my own educational services company, the Advanced Learning Project (ALP) which would be my laboratory to create and build new innovative curriculum. I began offering project-based science and technology summer camps, like LEGO Robotics, rocketry, and outdoor science education.
From the start, Garrett, whom I had met at GATE training just before I started at Manhattan Beach Unified, was right there with me, helping support my project. In fact, the first year I couldn’t afford to pay him, so he worked as a volunteer. As time went on, the business grew and subsequent years I was able to happily put him on the payroll. It seems regardless of the crazy hair-brained schemes I came up with, Garrett was always there to lend a hand. 8 years later, I get the offer from Skyhorse to make this book, and I knew I needed Garrett on the project.
What Inspired you to create this book?
All my life I have been a huge video game fan. Once I had my career path set and knew I was going to be a teacher, I began imagining a video game-based virtual world to teach in. Going back ten years ago, though, the technology wasn’t available to make such a project happen. So I waited, all the while continuing to build it in my head. Then, one day in 2012, a student of mine, Travis, asked me to be his mentor him in a gamification project he was doing, on using Minecraft in the classroom to teach with. At that time, I hadn’t played Minecraft, but as soon as I immersed myself, I immediately started to understand its potential and saw my dream project unfold in front of me. Travis and I went on to build my dream: a project-based model for educating with Minecraft we call Craft-Academy (www.Craft-Academy.com), and have been developing it in the classroom for the last three years. It’s a turn-key system for teachers to easily and quickly do Minecraft projects in the classroom with very little learning curve. Last year, ALP launched the first educational Minecraft servers to run Craft-Academy, and is in the midst of its public beta testing. We will be doing a full public launch in the fall for the subscription-based servers. It was all my work with Minecraft in education that brought Skyhorse knocking on my door, looking for someone who could make this book… with that offer, I felt like I found a golden ticket. Getting to build a cool, creative, innovative, educational project with one of my best friends — life is good.
What were the challenges in bringing it to life? The biggest challenges in creating the book were overcoming all the technological details. Because of Craft-Academy, I had a vast working knowledge of running a customized Minecraft server, and was able to create the worlds, sets, and environments that we needed to bring the stories to life without too many bumps in the road, although many new skills were acquired in the process and that took time. As Garrett worked on the writing, I sorted out all the technology, and created all the characters.
The other main challenges were the timing of the project and the time constraints. Last March I bought my first house, with which I have been doing the lion’s share of the work on a major renovation. I also got married in July, and started a demanding job at Fairmont in August. Skyhorse had a very quick timeline to get the book made, so Garrett and I had a lot of late nights working on the book after a full day of teaching, and we worked non-stop through Thanksgiving and winter break. It wasn’t the ideal time to take on this project during my first year of marriage and everything else going on, but it was a blessed opportunity that couldn’t be passed up. Thankfully, my amazing wife, Lindsey, has been extremely supportive.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? As a Catholic, it was fun imagining back to my days at CCD and confirmation classes learning these Bible stories, and how I wished we had something like the Unofficial Holy Bible for Minecrafters back then. I think we were able to capture something pretty cool with the book, blending technology with theology, that kids these days can relate to and are interested in. I hope our readers enjoy our book as much as we we enjoyed making it.
What are your current projects? I thoroughly enjoyed the creative process of making this book and look forward to begin working on the next, but that won’t begin until the summer. For now, my focus is on my students at Fairmont, and spending time with my wife.
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Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample of the product for review purposes. The opinions are my own or my immediate family members, based on our personal experience with the product.