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'Left Behind' Battles Rage On (Left Behind - The Video Game? AAAAA!)
The Christian Post ^ | Wednesday, Apr. 19, 2006 | Staff

Posted on 04/21/2006 8:50:48 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger

The rapture has come, and the believers have been gathered up and taken to heaven. As for everybody else: They've been left behind to duke it out in a smoldering, apocalyptic New York City.

That's the scenario in a soon-to-be-released Christian-themed video game. Meanwhile, in the real world, the Christian community is engaged in its own skirmish over the virtues or vices of the concept of a Christian video game that involves killing.

"Left Behind: Eternal Forces," which is made for PCs and will be unveiled at the E3 show next month, is a classic struggle of good vs. evil.

Here, the angelic Tribulation Forces and the demonic Global Community Peacekeepers, led by the Antichrist, battle it out to convert secular, neutral units to their respective sides.

Players participate in "battles raging in the streets of New York," according to the game's fact sheet. They engage in "physical and spiritual warfare: using the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry throughout the game world."

The scenes and challenges that unfold — as players control more than 30 unit types from Prayer Warrior to Hellraiser to Spies, Special Forces and Battle Tanks — are based on the prophecies from the Book of Revelation as interpreted by the popular "Left Behind" book series, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.

On the one hand, it's perfect content for a video game — set in a fictional, futuristic world with a black-and-white view of what's good and what's bad. Take those elements and tie them directly to the Bible, and now you can market an exciting, conflict-ridden game to the Christian community, enticing them with something that, if packaged differently, might come across as potentially harmful to wholesome Christian youth.

But on the other hand you have ... something that's potentially harmful to wholesome Christian youth (or any youth for that matter).

A Newsweek article last month said the level of violence in "Left Behind" makes it "reminiscent" of "Grand Theft Auto" — a game well-known for depicting shocking levels of brutality and accused of inspiring hooked teenagers to commit real-life copycat crimes.

The CEO of Left Behind Games — a company started specifically to turn the book series into video games — said the Newsweek article was uninformed. He said the game won't be rated any higher than a "T" for teenagers, and that it depicts nothing more menacing than what he calls "Star Wars violence."

"Our game has no blood, no decapitation, no vulgar language," Troy Lyndon said. "Our game does not have gratuitous violence for the sake of showing intestines on a doorknob."

He insists his company has produced an inspirational source of entertainment with a good message, without compromising on quality.

"We believe parents need a substitute for the degrading moral values of 'Grand Theft Auto' or some of the top-selling titles," Lyndon said. And you can't get gamers to switch over from "Grand Theft Auto" if you only offer a conflict level of, say, Pong.

Christian attorney Jack Thompson, a fervent anti-video-game-violence activist in Miami, says the makers of "Left Behind" are compromising their values as they try to provide an effective substitute for mainstream games.

"It breaks my heart to realize that the culture has basically transformed the church rather than the church confronting the culture and trying to transform it," Thompson said.

Having litigated and been involved in many cases fighting against violent video-game content, Thompson said studies show young people's brains are not developed enough to properly process simulated violence.

He thinks the company is counting on a naiveté within the Christian community to embrace the "Left Behind" game just because it is produced by self-proclaimed believers.

The negative effects of violence in video games should not be underestimated, he said, even if it's delivered in a box that is supposedly blessed.

"You've got a generation of boys in this country who are spending sometimes dozens of hours a week blowing away people," Thompson said. "Now they're going to have the opportunity to do it in a Christian setting and, you know, where does it stop?"

But it's not going to stop, some argue. Pop culture is there to stay, and maybe you can win out in promoting your ideology or theology by embracing pop culture and making it your own rather than spending your energy in a fight you might never win.

"Rather than forbid young people from viewing their favorite pastime, I prefer to give them something that's positive," said Tim LaHaye, an author of the "Left Behind" book series who is supporting the game developers.

The Christian community has long been leaving its mark on radio, television, music, movies and fashion. Perhaps it's only natural that video games would come next.

"This is just part of a long trend, part of the cultural DNA of evangelicalism, to make whatever it's doing relevant to pop culture," according to John Schmalzbauer, who is a Protestant Studies chair in the Department of Religious Studies at Missouri State University.

However, enticing believers with movies, books or video games is only half the picture. Great sales or high numbers could mean people just like a good game.

"Whether it helps them actually live out their faith is a different question," said Lynn Schofield Clark, an assistant research professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who wrote an upcoming book called "Religion, Media, and the Marketplace."

"To evaluate whether a game is a 'Christian' game you need to ask this: 'Does it make young people more compassionate? Does it make them more interested in human rights?' " she said.

And of course, there's another question: Does it connect with players spiritually?

Lyndon, the Left Behind Games CEO, said parents who have seen the game are thrilled. They say it will instill good Christian values in their children — and they're especially excited about the "pray" button.


TOPICS: Current Events; General Discusssion; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: christianmedia; jerryjenkins; leftbehind; timlahaye; videogame; videogames
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Look, the BOARD game was a bit much, but THIS...! And...a PRAY button!? This sounds absurd.

1 posted on 04/21/2006 8:50:52 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger
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To: DaveLoneRanger

This reminds me of the game "spiritual warefare" from years ago, where the little cartoon Christian throws fruits of the spirit at the unsaved and "saves" them. Sometimes, little demons come out of the unsaved and come at him, and he must throw fruit at them too. I never could find the fourth grape...


2 posted on 04/21/2006 8:55:08 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger ("You're not going crazy! You're going sane in a crazy world!" - The Tick)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
It won't be as popular as this game:


"Gunfight" - Atari 2600

3 posted on 04/21/2006 9:00:07 PM PDT by BigSkyFreeper (There is no alternative to the GOP except varying degrees of insanity.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Does it come with "God Mode"? :)


4 posted on 04/21/2006 9:02:55 PM PDT by BigSkyFreeper (There is no alternative to the GOP except varying degrees of insanity.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
remember: violence is only bad when Christians use it. Grand Theft Auto has been around for, what, a decade? And now all of a sudden Newsweek has a problem with video game violence?
5 posted on 04/21/2006 9:20:43 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (deletum est carthago)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
"It breaks my heart to realize that the culture has basically transformed the church rather than the church confronting the culture and trying to transform it," Thompson said.

Impossible by definition.

6 posted on 04/21/2006 9:22:34 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (deletum est carthago)
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Ping to read later


7 posted on 04/21/2006 9:31:16 PM PDT by Alex Murphy (Colossians 4:5)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

LOL! Follow the money.


8 posted on 04/22/2006 4:51:39 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Dump the 1967 Outer Space Treaty! I'll weigh less on Mars!)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Is the word "rapture" in the Bible?


9 posted on 04/22/2006 6:16:33 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Why does this remind me of The Simpsons parody "Billy Graham's Bible Blaster"?

Bart: "Full conversion! All right"
One of the Flanders boys: "Nah, you just winged him and made him a Unitarian."

All humor aside, the merchandising of the Christian faith is going to seriously hamper it in the West. When people keep trying to sell Christianity to a consumer culture like widgits, that eviscerates Christianity of its countercultural status and places it on the same plane as brown sugar water or 99-cent hamburgers.

10 posted on 04/22/2006 6:19:49 AM PDT by jude24 ("The Church is a harlot, but she is my mother." - St. Augustine)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

we should pursue love, not make games out of spiritual issues.


11 posted on 04/22/2006 6:54:27 AM PDT by alamo boy (Peace Y'all)
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To: jude24

###All humor aside, the merchandising of the Christian faith is going to seriously hamper it in the West. When people keep trying to sell Christianity to a consumer culture like widgits, that eviscerates Christianity of its countercultural status and places it on the same plane as brown sugar water or 99-cent hamburgers.###

so true. genuine faith is walking in truth and love not games and disharmony.


12 posted on 04/22/2006 7:01:47 AM PDT by alamo boy (Peace Y'all)
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To: Salvation
Is the word "rapture" in the Bible?

The word isn't. (That by itself is not such a big deal.) The concept is. What is made of 1 Thessalonians ch. 4 is in question. What to say to be charitable? Let's just say I don't see it LaHaye's way.

Hard to make an exciting video game out of postmil or amil eschatology. . . .

13 posted on 04/22/2006 7:34:03 AM PDT by Lee N. Field
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To: jude24
You mean like these:

Image hosting by Photobucket

14 posted on 04/22/2006 7:41:16 AM PDT by Gamecock ( "I save dead people" -- God (Eph 2:5)
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To: alamo boy; Alamo-Girl
There's an alamo boy????
15 posted on 04/22/2006 8:42:24 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Colossians 4:5)
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To: Alex Murphy

huh?

I am a male and San Antonio is a special place.
Any problems?


16 posted on 04/22/2006 8:52:29 AM PDT by alamo boy (I left my heart in San Antonio)
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To: alamo boy

The only issue is that Alamo-Girl is something of a legend around here.


17 posted on 04/22/2006 9:30:08 AM PDT by jude24 ("The Church is a harlot, but she is my mother." - St. Augustine)
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To: Gamecock; P-Marlowe; xzins
Gamecock - your image didn't come through. Here's the link.

I gotta ask if this is for real. This is almost as bad as the True-Love-Waits underwear. (I maintain, if you're showing off your "True-Love-Waits" underwear, the question is moot.)

Advertising the gospel on girl's butts. Now that takes the cake - if it's really true, and not an Onion-style parody, that is the nadir of trying to use viral marketing techniques for evangelism.

18 posted on 04/22/2006 9:38:29 AM PDT by jude24 ("The Church is a harlot, but she is my mother." - St. Augustine)
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To: Salvation
" Is the word "rapture" in the Bible?"

That's a legitimate question. If you had a Latin Bible, you would find the word "rapio" or "rapere" which means to seize, or to snatch. The word rupture is simply a twisted variant on a doctrine contained in the Word of God.

Technically, the word "rapio" or "rapere" (I'm not a Latin Scholar so the exact spelling I'm unsure of.) occurs in the following verses...
Thess. 4:17
Acts 8:39
2 Cor. 12:2,4
Rev. 12:5
John 10:28-29


The following people in the Bible had a rapture type event...
Enoch (Gen. 5:12, Heb. 11:5)
Elijah (2 Kings 2:11)
Phillip (Acts 8:39)
Paul (2 Cor. 12:2)
Jesus (Acts 1:2,9)

Therefore, the doctrine of rapture is clearly in the Bible. Exactly how and when it will happen in the future is a muddier discussion. I hope this helps you.

Sincerely
19 posted on 04/22/2006 9:46:12 AM PDT by ScubieNuc
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To: ScubieNuc; Salvation; Gamecock
The word rupture is simply a twisted variant on a doctrine contained in the Word of God.

Maybe your etymology is correct; it's irrelevant, however. "Rapture" is a term of art referring to the alleged event - distinct from the Second Coming - where Christ "picks up" his Church, but not the rest of the dead.

That concept - forgetting the Latin root words, which is an exegetical fallacy since etymology introduces anachronisms that the word didn't mean in when the text was written - is found nowhere in Scripture. It is the invention of John Nelson Darby, a ninteenth-century English preacher from an obscure separatist sect.

20 posted on 04/22/2006 9:50:36 AM PDT by jude24 ("The Church is a harlot, but she is my mother." - St. Augustine)
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