Left Behind Games: Foiled Again!
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 02:56:14 AM EST
The producers of Left Behind: Eternal Forces thought they were going to make a big score last Christmas -- with a new video game based on Tim LaHaye's best-selling Left Behind series of novels. It didn't work out that way. Talk to Action's Jonathan Hutson exposed that the game peddled an ideology of 'convert or be killed' to children and promoted, even rehearsed end-times religious warfare.  Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups, among others, agreed; denounced the game and variously encouraged the producers of the game to with draw it; stores not to stock it; and consumers not to purchase it. The controversy generated international media coverage. The game did poorly; got terrible reviews, even from gamers who were not concerned about the content. The company's stock tanked and it appeared that that was the last we would hear from them.

Then, researchers for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation learned that an evangelical Christian group operating under the auspices of the Pentagon was going to disseminate the controversial apocalyptic game to American troops in Iraq. Max Blumenthal exposed their plans in The Nation last week. This week, ABC News asked the Pentagon about it:

Plans by a Christian group to send an evangelical video game to U.S. troops in Iraq were abruptly halted yesterday by the Department of Defense after ABC News inquired about the program.

Operation Start Up (OSU) Tour, an evangelical entertainment troupe that actively proselytizes among soldiers, will not be sending the "apocryphal" video game in care packages as planned, according to the department.

"Left Behind: Eternal Forces" was inspired by about the battle of Armageddon, in which believers of Jesus Christ fight the Antichrist.

Well, the story and the game were not "apocryphal," the DOD statement not withstanding -- and neither has been the leading role that Talk to Action and the greater blogosphere has played in exposing this horrendous product.

The publisher no doubt had a big run of these games made up, anticipating that everybody who saw The Passion of the Christ was probably going to rush right out and buy this game, too.

And, of course, it didn't work out that way. Which means that somewhere, they had a warehouse filled with tens of thousands of boxes of software they couldn't sell.

I used to work in the computer game business, so I know what happens after discounting, promotional giveaways, and other attempts to unload the product fail. The remaining product goes to the landfill -- where the company has to pay Waste Management a handsome sum to bury it for good.

No doubt, that's what was happening here. The warehouse space was costing money. Disposal would cost money. And then, lo and behold! -- here comes OSU, with their bright and shiny 501(c)3 exemption to save the day. Left Behind Games "donated" their little problem to the troops, and got a big fat tax writeoff (probably based on original the suggested retail price, or somethng close to it) in return.

It needs to be note that, if it did indeed go down this way, then we the taxpayers subsidized this "gift," and gave LBG a nice little bailout from its failure. Which makes it just another faith-based initiative bought and paid for with your tax dollars.

As long as you're looking into angles, this might be one to check out.

by Mrs Robinson on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 03:38:27 AM EST

Also, I just have to add....

"apocryphal" ?!

Gee, the Pentagon's sure scuttling in full speed reverse away from that bit of "apocrypha" !  BOO !

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 09:02:15 AM EST

To Max and everyone at MRFF and Talk2Action involved in getting this story publicity. ABC News may have been the big name to ask the crippling question, but there's no doubt this is a victory for the blogosphere - including this site. Obviously, they know when they've been caught screwing up, or they wouldn't have retreated so quickly. They're accustomed to getting away with church-state melding without notice or outcry. Not any more.

by DonByrd on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 04:46:54 PM EST
I notice that a lot of what gets written about the game and the controversy it has generated leaves out how all this got started: the original reporting and and powerful framing by Jonathan Hutson -- and A LOT of related writing, primarily by Bruce Wilson, Chip Berlet and me.

Quite aside from matters of credit where credit is due, althought that is important -- it is also  important to understand how this series of tremendous victories came about so we can learn from the experience -- as well as properly celebrate the victory.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 07:18:54 PM EST

DoD-connected Christian group draws fire

by Chris Rodda on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 06:33:54 PM EST

Look on the bright side - the cost of warehousing or disposal has to be borne by someone, and that someone is now OSU and likely Steve Baldwin. I wonder how long it will take them to try to move the product into churches, now that they have to redirect the hatefest training to some other demographic.

Will the next Jesus Camps have game platforms and this game?

by NancyP on Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 11:00:16 PM EST

Nancy, IIRC (and if I do, I probably read it here first), LBG hired the same marketers who pushed The Passion of the Christ into churches. That was their original marketing strategy: to sell it directly into the pews.

But, apparently, quite a few pastors balked (in no small part to the critiques provided by sites like this one). The churchgoers just didn't bite for this game like they thought they would. It was not, to say the least, anything like the phenomenon they'd hoped it would be.

Which is why it seems likely they probably overproduced the game, and got stuck holding onto a lot of copies they couldn't sell. And also why going back into the churches with it isn't going to be an option. They've already been through that blitz, and kicked it back out again.

Crap stinks, no matter where you try to hide it.

by Mrs Robinson on Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 01:51:34 AM EST

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