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'Left Behind' video game — God Gameth, God Bloweth Away

It wasn’t that long ago that the bible beaters were wailing about violence in video games. RockStar Games’ R-rated Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas raised the ire of “family” groups because of its violence and sex (see my post here), so you’d think that these folks wouldn’t be proponents of a game like Left Behind: Eternal Forces.

The producers of this game, which will be out in October of this year, are connected to The Purpose Driven Life author and megachurch pastor Rick Warren,

It’s all tied together in “The Purpose Driven Life Takers”, by Jonathan Hutson at Talk to Action, a blog that reports on the religious right (it’s also up as a DKos diary). You won’t believe the latest Dominionist BS:

Time magazine has described Mr. Warren as one of the nation’s most influential Evangelical Christian leaders. He describes himself as a “stealth evangelist” and describes his training programs as “a stealth movement, that’s flying beneath the radar, that’s changing literally hundreds, even thousands of churches around the world.” He claims that he has sold tens of millions of copies of The Purpose Driven Life by developing a worldwide network of pastors.

The international director of Mr. Warren’s Purpose Driven Church, Mark Carver, is a former investment banker who serves on the Advisory Board of the corporation created in October 2001 to develop and market this game. The creators plan to market their game using the same network marketing techniques that Mr. Warren used to turn The Purpose Driven Life into a commercial success. For example, they plan to distribute their merchandise through pastoral networks, especially mega-churches.

This game immerses children in present-day New York City — 500 square blocks, stretching from Wall Street to Chinatown, Greenwich Village, the United Nations headquarters, and Harlem. The game rewards children for how effectively they role play the killing of those who resist becoming a born again Christian. The game also offers players the opportunity to switch sides and fight for the army of the AntiChrist, releasing cloven-hoofed demons who feast on conservative Christians and their panicked proselytes (who taste a lot like Christian).

Is this paramilitary mission simulator for children anything other than prejudice and bigotry using religion as an organizing tool to get people in a violent frame of mind? The dialogue includes people saying, “Praise the Lord,” as they blow infidels away.

Religious right nut and co-author of the popular Left Behind novel series, Tim LaHaye, sees this as an outreach program for teens:

Could such a violent, dominionist Christian video game really break through to the popular culture? Well, it is based on a series of books that have already set sales records – the blockbuster Left Behind series of 14 novels by writer Jerry B. Jenkins and his visionary collaborator, retired Southern Baptist minister Tim LaHaye. “We hope teenagers like the game,” Mr. LaHaye told the Los Angeles Times. “Our real goal is to have no one left behind.”

I first blogged about the upcoming Left Behind game in July 2005, when other faith-based games were talked up at the Christian Game Developers Conference, and Left Behind: Eternal Forces was being unveiled for the first time to conventioneers. (Red Orbit, 7/25/2005):

Left Behind CEO Troy Lyndon said the books have a diverse loyal reader base of more than 10 million parents, single adults, teens and kids. He said the company, which was founded in October 2001, will invest more money and resources into its first game than any Christian game has ever seen. Lyndon also said his games will be sold at Wal-Mart, which accounts for about 25% of all game sales.

“If only 10% of the readership buys our game, it will be a top hit, selling more than 1 million units,” Lyndon said.

…Go Play Research video game analyst Billy Pidgeon said “socially conservative Christians may not want their children to play games at all. . . . On the other hand, when kids are asking to play video games, Christian parents may find these games an acceptable way to promote their values, while keeping their children entertained.”

So, the values are “blowing the infidels away.” Talk about the End Times. Growing tomorrow’s fundamentalists, one game at a time.

Read the rest of Jonathan Hutson’s “The Purpose Driven Life Takers” — “God Gameth, God Bloweth Away“. I’ll leave you with this bit of gameplay:

For game enthusiasts, there is also a multi-player mode, in which you can go online and battle to take territory from other players. If you happen to blow away a neutral party – and collateral damage is inevitable in the End of Days – then you will lose “Spirit Points”. But you can power back up with merely a brief timeout for prayer, or by converting one of New York’s terror-stricken citizens.

Hat tip, Paul.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding