Religious Warfare Vid for Kids: In Stores in Time for Christmas
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 06:04:25 AM EST
The countdown to the launch of Left Behind:  Eternal Forces into minds of evangelical youth to prepare them for the coming religious war, is now underway.

While many will no doubt play the new video game, like any other game, others in the game's target market will unwittingly  experience an indoctrination in the idea that the failure to convert the targets of religious prostylitization justifies killing them.

Nevertheless, the game's release is tied to the Christmas shopping season, suggesting that the evangelical Christian commercial marketplace is being harnessed to drive a dangerous form of Christian supremacism: Dangerous to religious minorities, as well as members of incorrect sects. Arguably, it  undermines and prepares for aggression against constitutional democracy itself, and foundational ideas of religious equality under the law.

Talk to Action has been a leader in reporting on these aspects of the game. Media are taking increasingly taking notice of the "game" as well.

In an article titled "Jews in the Virtual Crosshairs," New York Jewish Week writer Liel Leibovitz sees the situation clearly:

Manhattan's skyline is smoldering.

In the streets, the true believers are fighting to the death against the forces of evil, consisting of rock stars and atheists led by the anti-Christ, the leader of a UN-like organization.

Ordinary New Yorkers, Jews included, have little choice: They can either convert or be killed.

All this is taking place in a new video game, "Left Behind: Eternal Forces," created, ironically, by a team consisting of Jews who now say they believe in Jesus.


Addressing the game's basic premise -- that characters must either convert or, eventually, be killed -- [company president Jeffrey] Frichner sounded a more ambivalent tone.

"The game is actually agnostic," he said. "The `Left Behind' series is a Christian series, and it has a motive of wanting to convert people to Christianity. But in the game itself, we don't even mention the word Christian. We use the `Left Behind' premise as a backdrop. We have a good force and an evil force, and [the player's] job is to influence agnostic people."

All that, he added, was not to say that converting people to Christianity is "not important to us."

But the message differs according to who the company is talking to. The Record, New Jersey's largest paper recently reported:  

The company also plans to use it as a massive evangelical tool. The game is laden with biblical messages and inspirational music, and it rewards players for engaging in prayer or converting a non-believer. The company is offering a free demonstration model to churches.

"We see it as a beacon of light that could shine in the dark world of video games," said Jerome Mikulich, director of outreach ministries for the company. "The most important thing is that it helps kids realize there is power in the spirit world, and that by praying they can endure and get through their real-life situations."

Yes, there is even a "prayer button" to replenish your spirituality after wasting someone who refuses to convert. That makes it ok to have slaughtered innocent bystanders.

The game's manufacturer has put out double talk from the from the beginning.  They claim the game is not violent because it does not show blood and guts; but the game is still about a Christian militia slaughtering New Yorkers who won't be converted in the name or a particular brand of Christianity. It is evangelical; but its not. It is religious; but it is "agnostic."  

And so on.

Whatever the company's latest spin, the game still functions as tool of indoctrination into the  worldview of the Left Behind series of novels by Tim LaHaye, who has licensed the brand and the content to the video game makers.  Indeed, the game is prominently plugged on "The official web site of the Left Behind Series".  

It is a classic instance of the extension and licensing of the brand. Rather than something separate from the series, it is an extension of and promotion for the series.

A company press release on "Market Wire" dated October 18th clarifies their target market:  people familiar with Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series. Indeed, although it aims at a wider market, its core market are those already steeped in Left Behind lore:  

Left Behind Games Inc.  has released data specific to Left Behind® book readers' opinions of the upcoming PC game, LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces<sup>TM</sup>.

Independent studies by Barna Research Group and Christianity.com indicate the Left Behind readership to be in excess of 20 million. The study shows that of the 3,500 Left Behind readers that responded, 72 percent currently play video games and 92 percent intend to buy the Left Behind video game for themselves or a family member when it ships this November.

"We must be careful to realize research information for what it is," said Troy Lyndon, CEO, Left Behind Games. "Even within the context of a healthy and realistic viewpoint, these survey results indicate definite interest in our products among Left Behind readers."

More than 10,000 retail locations are expected to carry LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, Circuit City, GameStop, EB Games, EB Canada, CompUSA, Amazon.com, Costco and numerous others.

LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces, the first title released by Left Behind Games, is a real time strategy game set in post-Rapture New York City. Players control the Tribulation Force as they attempt to save New Yorkers from the Global Peacekeepers controlled by the Antichrist.

LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces will ship to stores in time for Christmas.

The shipping date is November 7th, election day. The game should be on the shelves on November 17th.

Merry Christmas.




Display:
So what rating did the ESRB give it? It sounds more bloody than GTA ever did.

by Firemage on Sun Oct 29, 2006 at 07:14:14 AM EST
it got a "teen" rating, for age 13 and up.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Oct 29, 2006 at 02:10:16 PM EST
Parent


I've just seen today that there's a mention of Eternal Forces in Richard Dawkins's new book The God Delusion. Alas, TTA is not cited - instead, Dawkins refers readers to PZ Myers' blog post about the TTA series here.

by Richard Bartholomew on Mon Oct 30, 2006 at 03:42:54 PM EST

the game will be a big story.  It will be important to have a sharp analysis of the game, and what it means.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 07:33:35 AM EST

I have a feeling Walmart will be one store that not only sells this game but pushes it rather aggressively.  This is the same store that sells censored CD's because they contain "dirty words."  

Personally, if I get the chance to play this game I will enjoy playing as the bad guys, which I understand is one of the options.  My only question is whether the programming will allow the player to win as a bad guy or if it will be rigged so that you can only win if you play as a Christian.

I am also curious if, at some point in the near future, we will see a news story about a kid who shot up his school after playing this game because he felt that the people there were not Christians or could not be saved.  Wouldn't that make for an interesting twist in the whole "video games cause violence" debate?

by Ross Raymond on Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 01:32:47 PM EST

the game is indeed rigged. The forces of the antichrist never win.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 02:40:42 PM EST
Parent

I am also curious if, at some point in the near future, we will see a news story about a kid who shot up his school after playing this game because he felt that the people there were not Christians or could not be saved.  Wouldn't that make for an interesting twist in the whole "video games cause violence" debate?

You are not the only one pondering this potentiality.  As a side note to this, but still on the same subject, there is a chilling moment in the movie "Jesus Camp" where a little 10 year old girl is talking about "dead" churches, i.e., churches which don't worship the way her church does and I couldn't help but wondering how far is it from dead churches, to thinking that the people in the churches are already dead and therefore. . .


by SFLady on Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 07:08:42 PM EST
Parent



First of all, a game is not "rigged" if it is only from one perspective. I am a gamer and have been most of my life. It is perfectly normal for a game to have you be only one side -- in fact, it would be a tough task for the game developers to add the code to make it playable from both sides. Example: you don't get to be the cops in GTA.

Secondly, it sounds a bit (okay a lot) paranoid to say that just because someone uses the term "dead" to describe a certain type of church that means they are one step away from KILLING those people. That is, I must say, ridiculous. People use the term dead all the time to mean all kinds of things. A "dead" church usually means one that is not spiritually alive, or the people are completely unenthused about God.

So far I was addressing comments, but I will say, man, the concept for this game is WEIRD. Killing people that don't convert? Strange. Very strange. I run a ministry for Christians who are geeks and gamers and I'm thinking most of us will give this game a pass. 

Steve,

Fans for Christ 



by SteveRacer on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 07:13:54 PM EST


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