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A whole new low for gaming

December 14, 2006

I play video games. Sometimes, it behooves me to shut my brain off for a bit to turn on the Nintendo and take on Bowser or Gannon. I have been a gamer for as long as I can remember, and try to keep up with the news on new games, etc. Somehow, this one slipped under my radar.

I’m sure there are few out there that are unfamiliar with the Left Behind series of fiction written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. For your benefit, I will summarize it: Christian Apocalypse happens, all the true Chritians are taken up to heaven, and the remainder of humanity is left behind (get it?) to battle the Antichrist.

Left Behind Games, a Christian game developer basing their works on the popular fiction series, has produced Left Behind: Eternal Force, a realtime strategy game, where players can

· Lead the Tribulation Force from the book series , including Rayford, Chloe, Buck and Bruce against Nicolae Carpathia – the AntiChrist.

· Conduct physical & spiritual warfare : using the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry throughout the game world.
· Recover ancient scriptures and witness spectacular Angelic and Demonic activity as a direct consequence of your choices.
· Command your forces through intense battles across a breathtaking, authentic depiction of New York City .
· Control more than 30 units types – from Prayer Warrior and Hellraiser to Spies, Special Forces and Battle Tanks!
· Enjoy a robust single player experience across dozens of New York City maps in Story Mode – fighting in China Town , SoHo , Uptown and more!
· Play multiplayer games as Tribulation Force or the AntiChrist’s Global Community Peacekeepers with up to eight players via LAN or over the internet! (link)

What the developer declines to add is that the game forces the player into a “convert to Christianity or die” situation against the opponent, whether the opponent is another player or the computer. The player is able to arm himself with realistic military weaponry and run around a realistic New York, trying to convert the heathen, or failing that, killing them.

I have never been a fan of the hugely violent and gory video games, and I even tend to stay away from the realistic ones. Give me a game where I can jump five times my height and punch apart bricks which contain gold coins or (bewilderingly) flowers that allow me to throw fireballs at mushrooms. I’ve even been known to play games that advocate the eating of ghosts, but tend to avoid games where I can hire a hooker, kick her out of the car, then run her over.

Up until this point, that Christian Right has shared my distaste for violent games, although they went farther than I would like by trying to disallow others from enjoying them. However, when a conservative group like Focus on the Family, who has offered the opinion

Children who play games that are mature or violent may act inappropriately at home or school. Parents should carefully monitor what, if any, video games they will allow their children to play since a high percentage reinforce aggressive behavior and violence. (link)

offers this new opinion

But Plugged In, a publication of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, gave the game a “thumbs-up.” The reviewer called it “the kind of game that Mom and Dad can actually play with Junior — and use to raise some interesting questions along the way.”

you have to wonder if Focus on the Family supports violence if it’s in the name of Jesus.

Not all Christian groups are so supportive of this game, though. The Christian Alliance for Progress has teamed up with the Campaign to Defend the Constitution to take the game off the shelves of Wal-mart, a company that normally decries violence and censors profanity in its wares.

To those of you who have bemoaned the negative influence of video games on impressionable children, please consider what impressionable children could learn from a game that teaches that it’s okay and even necessary to kill a person who will not convert to Christianity. Also, consider what Jesus would think of this game, which touts wholesale slaughter in his name.

The shortest sentence in the Bible is “Jesus wept.”

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    December 15, 2006 5:34 am

    Joe, as little as I would care about uber violent video games (I choose not to buy), I think it’s interesting how some people want to have it both ways. They’re saying my violent video game is OK but yours isn’t. I say: Make up your minds.
    BTW, I’d hate this game as the reviews I’ve read on it indicate that it’s just a crappy game 🙂

  2. December 15, 2006 6:41 am

    Mark, as I stated before, I’m not a fan of violent video games but I think it’s the right of any person of a mature age to buy them if they like. However, the hypocrisy of a Christian organization such as Focus on the Family supporting this particular video game when it has vilified others is very telling. They are saying that running around killing people is wrong, unless you’re killing them because they wouldn’t convert to Christianity.

    A game that makes you kill people for not accepting your religion brings violent video games to a whole new low, as it adds social violence to physical violence.

  3. January 4, 2007 11:59 am

    This game represents the beliefs of a christian minority, or dare I say extremists. They, are no different than extremists of other religions walking into buildings full of people and blowing themselves up, except that they choose to spread their message with video games and abusing the right to free speach.

    The people who’ll be “left behind” are the people that actually believe in this sort of convert or die crap.

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