Skip to comments.'Left Behind' Battles Rage On (Left Behind - The Video Game? AAAAA!)
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.
Look, the BOARD game was a bit much, but THIS...! And...a PRAY button!? This sounds absurd.
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...
Does it come with "God Mode"? :)
Impossible by definition.
Ping to read later
LOL! Follow the money.
Is the word "rapture" in the Bible?
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.
we should pursue love, not make games out of spiritual issues.
###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.
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. . . .
I am a male and San Antonio is a special place.
The only issue is that Alamo-Girl is something of a legend around here.
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.
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.