This week's new batch of downloadable tracks for Rock Band all have one thing in common. Did you catch it? The post-Easter releases from bands like Anberlin, Hawk Nelson and Skillet all fall under the "Christian rock" label.
That's a fact that wasn't overtly publicized by MTV Games and Harmonix, who simply referred to the groups as "alternative rock" acts in the official announcement that went out last week. The official Rock Band 'Zine was slightly more descriptive, calling the half-dozen new songs "from artists ranging from inspirational alternative rock to positive alternative pop."
The 'Zine writers later joked "It's like the clouds parted and a ray of sunshine shone upon the office of Harmonix... and then these songs appeared, fully authored."
Given that this is Religion Week on Kotaku, it struck us as more than a little curious that MTV seemed to be so... sneaky with its announcement, one that was recognized as a full Christian line-up by fans of the bands, but got little publicity otherwise.
And we're not the only ones. "Rapture Ready!" author Daniel Radosh writes on the site Beliefnet that the makers of Rock Band are "obviously hoping to attract the interest of the Christian marketplace, so why not throw the word Christian into the announcement as one selling point among others?"
"It's almost like they're trying to sneak that fact past non-Christian audiences who might automatically dismiss Christian rock without listening to it," Radosh theorizes "or even think that having Christian rock in the game makes the entire platform less cool by association."
MTV declined Kotaku's requests to be interviewed about the newest additions to the Rock Band library, only confirming "there already have been other Christian acts that have appeared as part of the Rock Band catalog in the past."
Rock Band makers may simply be exploring the viability of appealing to the Rock Band fan with a thirst for music with a message, appealing to the more family friendly and E-rated LEGO Rock Band crowd, which exhibits stronger restrictions on the content that can be downloaded and played. But would MTV Games go as far as making their own version of Christian music game Guitar Praise? Themed track packs we can see, but maybe not a full-fledged game.
What do you think? Do you find the video game audience too easily dismissive of content aimed at the Christian or otherwise devoutly religious gamer? For the Christians in the crowd, would you prefer more downloadable content in your Rock Band that features these types of bands? Let us know in the comments.