Editors Note: Jana Maughan and her team canceled the kickstarer for Mormons vs. Zombies on Oct. 20 2014. Maughan said the game wasn’t generating the necessary donations but the team still plans to create the game in the future.
Jana Maughan, 43, climbed down the stairs to her parents’ basement to retrieve some canned peaches. As the mother of five looked around at the boxes of wheat, rice, potato pearls and canned fruit she had an epiphany.
“If anyone is going to survive the Zombie Apocalypse, it would be the Mormons,” she realized.
Hence, the idea for Mormons vs. Zombies, a side scrolling-style game designed for iOS and Android, was born. The game, still in development, features a variety of archetypal Mormons, each with their own unique zombie-fighting weapon.
“We wanted each character to be the one that felt like your everyday Mormon,” explained Christy Hughes, one of Maughan’s partners in developing the game. Mormons vs. Zombies’ quirky characters include a green-jello-wielding Relief Society president, an Elder’s Quorum secretary with a boomerang metal folding chair, a high-tanking Scout armed with a merit badge ninja star and others.
Maughan originally brushed the idea to create a video game aside. She didn’t have any knowledge about game development, but over the next several years she couldn’t shake the idea.
“It was just possessing,” she said. She would think about characters for the game throughout the day and even in the shower. Maughan explained the idea to her husband, Mike Maughan, who works for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ motion picture studio. They decided to go for it.
The game begins a year after the Zombie Apocalypse, as the Mormon’s food storage supply is dwindling. Now the characters must travel across zombie-infested lands to reach Welfare Square, where they’ll enjoy the “ultimate ward potluck.”
“We wanted to create a product that was really great,” Hughes explained.
After developing the story line, characters and other ideas for the game, Maughan is now looking to generate funding to begin programming and animating Mormons vs. Zombies using Kickstarter, a fund raising forum for creative projects.
Hughes explained that if Mormons vs. Zombies raises the necessary funds to create the game, they would expect to finish the project in about a year.
Maughan and her collaborators said they hope the game will appeal to a broader audience than just Mormons. They believe the unexpected weaponry, humor and uniqueness of the game will attract users of many different backgrounds.
Christopher Crowe, an English professor at BYU who specializes in adolescent literature, also hopes the game will reach out to non-Mormon audiences.
“It helps position Mormons into mainstream culture and shows we can make fun of ourselves,” Crowe explained.”The Church has been encouraging members to use media and the Internet to broaden the understanding of Mormons.”
Jeremy Golar, Maughan’s high school classmate who is not a member of the LDS faith, is one example of how Mormons vs. Zombies appeals to a diverse audiences. Golar explained that a major factor in his support of the game was the lack of violence and gore. As the LDS heroes battle zombies there is no blood; instead their chapel-friendly weapons turn the zombies into cuddly creatures. There are even service projects characters can do along the way.
“Normally zombie games have a lot of violence, and that just isn’t good for kids,” Golar said. “It’s genius that they use the Mormon culture to help them survive the Zombie Apocalypse.”
Maughan commented on the game’s family-friendly feel. “We wanted a game where moms felt comfortable letting their kids play it.”
Crowe even suggested a new character for Mormons vs. Zombies: a member of the High Council who puts zombies to sleep with boring talks. “Part of the fun is that they have taken something that was made to be scary and turned it on its head to make it funny,” he said.
On Kickstarter, Mormons vs. Zombies has currently raised more than $3,600 of the $87,500 the creators hope to receive to begin developing the game. They’ve also started a line of Mormons vs. Zombies apparel and products for fans.
Maughan is not much of a gamer herself, so she said her ideas aren’t based on any games she has played.
“My ideas aren’t based on anyone else’s ideas,” she explained. “The ideas came from the bowels of my brain.”