Focus On The Family-Endorsed Game Gives Kids Brain Damage ?
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 03:10:32 PM EST
Outbreaks of self contradiction and moral relativism, or perhaps moral atrophy, continue at the powerful "family values" organization Focus On The Family. First came Vice President Tom Minnery's surprising concern - "I fear that we're in a society in which you will be held to the standards which you claim." (see full story). Now, a Focus On The Family website has both enthusiastically endorsed a video game - that lets players command forces to convert to fundamentalist Christianity or kill all the residents of New York - as "the kind of game that Mom and Dad can actually play with Junior" and highlighted findings from researchers at the Indiana State School Of Medicine indicating frequent playing of violent video games can cause parts of children's brains to atrophy.
One retort to this might be the claim " 'Left Behind: Eternal Forces' isn't that sort of game ; they probably were researching the impact  "first person shooter" games had on kids' brains and the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" is a game of grand strategy where players control armies and not individual soldiers." But such distinctions may break down in actual game play, and an otherwise enthusiastic reviewer writing about the LB:EH game for Wired Magazine wrote, in reference to a game feature called the 'prayer button' that recharges the spirits of game fighters after they kill :  ""....In the thick of a really hectic Left Behind battle, I'd click the prayer button so instinctually that I pretty much forgot I was, well, praying."". Such decriptions indicate the distinction between the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" game may be blurry.

Moral positions at Focus On The Family seem a bit blurry of late as well :

Since the Foley Scandal a sort of institutional Tourette's Syndrome (that one commentor called "mendacity as performance art") has broken out on the Christian right in repeated displays of hypocrisy and apparent moral relativism. In early October, in "Help, Help! We've fallen Into Moral Relativism and We Can't Get Up !" I described a Focus On The Family radio broadcast featuring James Dobson and Focus On The Family Vice President Tom Minnery, in which an obviously angry Dobson wondered what the Foley scandal had to do with him and Tom Minnery aired a rather suprising concern : "I fear that we're in a society in which you will be held to the standards which you claim." : scary indeed for those guilty of a wide gulf between words and deeds.

Moving along - from Minnery's concern about being held to publicly professed standards and James Dobson's tacit agreement with that worry - to the antics of "Plugged In Online" :

Early this December the Focus On The Family website "Plugged In Online" has enthusiastically endorsed the "Left Behind : Eternal Forces" video game allowing players to wage religious warfare against non-fundamentalist Christians on the streets of New York City as " the kind of game that Mom and Dad can actually play with Junior" [I characterized the product as a 'Satanic Role-Playing' Religious Warfare Video Game]. Plugged In Online now appears to have attacked its own endorsement by highlighting research showing that violent video games can cause brain damage in children, causing areas of their brains involved with self control to atrophy.

In "Video-Game Violence Studied", Plugged-In Online staff wrote:

Research confirms what many experts have concluded for years.

After brain-scanning kids who frequently play the games, researchers at the Indiana State University School of Medicine have found an increase in emotional arousal, and a decrease of activity in the area of the brain involved in self-control.

Dr. Karl Benzio with the Christian Medical Association isn't surprised by the study results. He told Family News in Focus the brain's response to violent video games is similar to not exercising -- if you don't, your muscles atrophy.

that are damaged.  The saddest part is the emotional and spiritual damage done.  This is the video equivalent of that "Jesus Camp", which I believe closed under the weight of public light and judgment.  Hopefully, the same will happen with this.  Forgive my 'preachy-ness' but this is soooo anathema to the revelation/teaching of One who calls us to love enemies and to not fear.  Gee, maybe this mushy moderate will dare to say something this Sunday!  It could happen. :-)

by Don Niederfrank on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 12:11:56 PM EST

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