Pharyngula

GTA, meet LB:EF

Are you ready for the hot new game of the 2006 Christmas season, Left Behind: Eternal Forces?

Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission – both a religious mission and a military mission — to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state – especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is “to conduct physical and spiritual warfare”; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice. You have never felt so powerful, so driven by a purpose: you are 13 years old. You are playing a real-time strategy video game whose creators are linked to the empire of mega-church pastor Rick Warren, best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life.

I’m impressed. This sounds like it’s going to top Grand Theft Auto for the glorification of thug life. This is exactly how I imagine the Christian ideal…is this your picture of a benevolent Christian conversion?

i-1a839056d5c22fc90ce5546c0267447c-lbef.jpg

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.

Here are more screenshots, and in case you find the whole premise difficult to believe, there is an official website.

This is one of the screenshots, which I find hilarious. It aptly represents how this game can turn an icon of Christian thought (which, no matter how wrong it is, at least is a beautiful representation) into pure cheese.

i-e18a5527877089e09c7ea9eccd9ab787-lbef-creation.jpg

It’s tasteless, crass, stupid, and cheap…and the Left Behind fans will probably eat it up. It’s the perfect symbol.

Comments

  1. #1 Sexy Sadie
    May 30, 2006

    Holy shit!!!

  2. #2 daenku32
    May 30, 2006

    Hey, I think it’s great practice for me. I’m planning on playing/fighting on the AntiChrist’s side after rapture anyways.

    Of course what I don’t get, is that how can you play a “conservative Christian” since all of them will supposedly get raptured?

  3. #3 PennyBright
    May 30, 2006

    How frightening.

    Can you imagine the kind of uproar we would be hearing from the conservative Christian community if this were a game released in a Muslim country with the goal being to convert or kill Christians?

  4. #4 Jeb
    May 30, 2006

    Here I am, innocently bashing promoters and this popped into my RSS reader. At first, I figure surely this is a joke. Then I nearly stroke-out when I realize it’s totally freakin’ serious. People who get off on this stuff are truly insane/lacking empathy/demonic.

    Doesn’t the bible say in the end times good will be bad and bad will be fun, or something?

  5. #5 Jonathan Badger
    May 30, 2006

    This is one of the screenshots, which I find hilarious. It aptly represents how this game can turn an icon of Christian thought (which, no matter how wrong it is, at least is a beautiful representation) into pure cheese.

    Why is it any cheesier than the original? IMHO, what makes it cheesy is the absurd idea that an all powerful being would want to look like an old, feeble, white-haired male human of European descent — and that was in the original too.

  6. #6 Bronze Dog
    May 30, 2006

    Wait… Is Adam wearing tidy whities in that pic?

    I’d certainly like to see someone do a Muslim mod, just for the sake of exposing any double-standards and hypocracy among the promoters.

  7. #7 tacitus
    May 30, 2006

    Cool, the very first Dominionist computer game. The end is near…!

  8. #8 KeithM
    May 30, 2006

    I love the spelling mistakes in the interface, which tell me everything I need to know about the people behind the development.

  9. #9 Cynthia
    May 30, 2006

    This must be a joke, right?
    It’s old news, but I just realized that Bill Nye had Rick Warren perform the service at his wedding. I thought he was supposed to be the nice, skepticy guy. Do TV cameras cause brain damage?

  10. #10 Millimeter Wave
    May 30, 2006

    PZ, you’ve been had. This is a piece from The Onion.

    isn’t it…?

    please, dear god*, tell me it’s from the fucking Onion…

    *figuratively speaking, obviously 😉

  11. #11 rrt
    May 30, 2006

    This just CAN’T be real. I’m gonna do some digging…

  12. #12 Jonathan Badger
    May 30, 2006

    It’s old news, but I just realized that Bill Nye had Rick Warren perform the service at his wedding. I thought he was supposed to be the nice, skepticy guy. Do TV cameras cause brain damage?

    I’d suspect the blame for that would go to Nye’s now wife, the author Blair Tindall. She always liked to talk about “spirtuality” in interviews, although to be honest, I thought I had her pegged as a New Ager, not a Fundy.

  13. #13 longstreet
    May 30, 2006

    Well, my only question would be “How good a game is it?” The subject matter for the first-person shooter genre is always, shall we say, morally suspect and the more outrageous the justification the better. If it’s a good game–that is, fun to play without being bogged down in extraneous preaching–it could sell. It will no more convert players to Christian Dominionism than Doom makes them believe in demons on Mars.
    Mind, anybody who’s connected with ‘Left Behind’ probably knows nothing about pacing or action, so I suspect it will be far too boring to actually get played.

    Steve “Especially if parents approve of it” James

  14. #14 longstreet
    May 30, 2006

    Well, assuming it was real, my only question would be “How good a game is it?” The subject matter for the first-person shooter genre is always, shall we say, morally suspect and the more outrageous the justification the better. If it’s a good game–that is, fun to play without being bogged down in extraneous preaching–it could sell. It would no more convert players to Christian Dominionism than Doom makes them believe in demons on Mars.
    Mind, anybody who’s connected with ‘Left Behind’ probably knows nothing about pacing or action, so I suspect it would be far too boring to actually get played.

    Steve “Especially if parents approve of it” James

  15. #15 Bronze Dog
    May 30, 2006

    As I recall, preachy games tend to stink SomethingAwful.

  16. #16 Ginger Yellow
    May 30, 2006

    I pretty much agree with longstreet. In practice, there isn’t a chance in hell that this is going to be a good game, because it’s being made by people who know shit all about good game design and who have a proselytising agenda. But in principle the Rapture would be a fantastic setting for, say, a System Shock style RPG. All the fun of the Left Behind books without the godawful writing! It’s a ready-built gameworld full of intrigue, conflict and challenges that doesn’t have any of the cliche baggage of your usual post-apocalyptic environment.

  17. #17 George
    May 30, 2006

    God appears to have put on a little weight. Time for Dr. Atkins?

  18. #18 George Cauldron
    May 30, 2006

    There was a video game like this that Rod & Tod Flanders played once, tho there I think the goal was just to convert the heathens. (“You just winged him! Now he’s a unitarian!”) There wasn’t a notion that killing them was just as acceptable.

    Once again, art imitates life. And once again, our worst stereotypes of hardcore born agains are all confirmed.

  19. #19 Sunny
    May 30, 2006

    WOW. That’s all I can say.

    I’ll stick with my Civ 4.

  20. #20 Greco
    May 30, 2006

    Wait… Is Adam wearing tidy whities in that pic?

    Yes.

  21. #21 Carlie
    May 30, 2006

    I….no. This can’t possibly be real. Please.
    Love Adam’s Hanes, though (or is it Fruit of the Loom?) – didn’t notice before BronzeDog pointed it out. And why does God look bloated? One would think that if he wanted to be an old white male, he’d at least want to be a fit old white male, more Jack LaLane than Orson Wells.

    daenku32 – the conservative christians in the game are those who have converted after the rapture took away all the others. They learned of the “good news” from pastors who were never actually saved to begin with, [which they discovered after not being raptured (oops)], who then became zealous evangelists. Um, not that I know. Ok, all of my fundie relatives were reading them, so I read all of the stinking books just to know what they were all talking about. Don’t judge me! It was atrocious – the first couple of books weren’t so bad, but by book 4 or so, it was a horrible slog just to be able to say I did it, and by around book 6 I wanted to stab out my eyes with a letter opener. Even actual fundamentalists I know who happen to also be serious sci-fi/fantasy nerds thought it was awful.

  22. #22 rrt
    May 30, 2006

    Okay…it IS real. Wow.

    I can’t find much detail on the specifics of the story, but I suspect this is inaccurate:

    You are on a mission – both a religious mission and a military mission — to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state – especially moderate, mainstream Christians.

    I figure the Bad-Guys-Who-Must-Be-Slain will all be obvious demons or humans who will be presented as insane cultists, terrorists or (evil) trained, organized forces, as implied by the mention of the Global Community Peacekeepers.

    The above excerpt implies you’re encouraged to just walk up and kill average people on the street who don’t share your religious affiliations…I don’t think that’s the case. If it is, they may as well have just taken whatever credibility they had with the general public, packed it into a rocket, and fired it into the sun.

    This was apparently exhibited at E3. A friend of a friend attended, so I’ve sent a note asking about it, though I doubt they even noticed it, or got much detail if they did.

  23. #23 Carlie
    May 30, 2006

    Greco – the resolution’s a lot better in that link. And it looks somewhat like Adam has a hard-on. And now I’m going straight to hell for saying that.

  24. #24 George Cauldron
    May 30, 2006

    It’s telling that they set this game in New York City. Fundies have always had it in for that city — it seems to symbolize the exact opposite of their fantasy White Protestant small town Grant Wood utopia, even more than LA or SF. So when they fantasize about offing nonbelievers, of course they go straight to the belly of the beast.

    The funny thing is there are other cities in the world that are MUCH more wicked or much less Christian than NYC, but part of the whole Fundie mindset seems to be acting as tho the rest of the world outside America is beneath your notice.

  25. #25 Keanus
    May 30, 2006

    Gross. Goebbels would be envious.

  26. #26 MattXIV
    May 30, 2006

    From the game design, rather than the “culture wars,” perspective, the Christian end-of-the-world story is actually excellent grist for a real-time strategy game. The symbolism and plot sketched out in Revelations is vivid but lose enough that you can create dramatic tension by keeping the audience guessing as to how the familiar elements will appear while providing many opportunities for battles. The unit and character designers can draw from both mythological beings and modern weapons. In the hands of competent designers, it could make an excellent game.

    Unfortunately, this game looks like it won’t deliver on the potential contained in the biblical source material (I’m not familiar with how “Left Behind” itself treats the material, so I can’t say if they were painted into a corner). The scale should be much larger – the military campaign leading to the end of the world should be epic in scale, not squad-level. The character design looks lame considering what they could have done and the units and backgrounds look enough alike to be confusing. Plus, the generally substandard quality of “Christian” and product tie-in games (there are some exceptions to the later – can’t think of any for the former) does not bode well for it.

  27. #27 Johnny Vector
    May 30, 2006

    I’m still leaning toward the “hoax” interpretation, myself. Hoping, anyway.

    Still, I’d go out and actually buy one of them Nintendo PlayStationBoxBoy thingies if they released a Gaiman/Pratchett version of this game. I think I’d like to play the part of Dog.

  28. #28 TheBrummell
    May 30, 2006

    “This game immerses children…”

    I like how it keeps refering to children – is the author of this review unaware that the majority of gamers are older than 18? Yes, many 13-year-olds will play such games – but they neither make up the majority of the players, nor are they accurately refered to as “children”. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I see the word “children” I think “7-year-old” not “15-year-old”. Misleading statements in the review, but I doubt intentionally misleading.

    As was pointed out above, nobody playing Doom started believing in demons from another dimension running around on Mars. Find me an example of someone who did, and I’ll show you someone who was delusional before playing the game.

    Longstreet said “the more outrageous the justification the better.” and I agree. Completely silly makes games more fun.

  29. #29 Bronze Dog
    May 30, 2006

    Completely silly makes games more fun.

    Nah-nah, nanuhna-nana-na-na…

  30. #30 MattXIV
    May 30, 2006

    Bronze Dog – Maybe the Rapture will implemented via the rolling up of true believers with inexplicably sticky ball of junk of ever increasing size.

  31. #31 Tara Mobley
    May 30, 2006

    I hope, I really, really hope, that the gameplay sucks. I think it’s one of the most horrible game concepts I’ve ever heard of.

  32. #32 ulg
    May 30, 2006

    Looking at the screenshot – I’m left wondering … Why is God surrounded by muscular, nude young men and colorful bedsheets?

  33. #33 goddogit
    May 30, 2006

    “Level 4: You are now 17 years old. You have noticed that, although your cries of ‘Praise the Lord!’ ring out with the same fervor, you feel neither joy nor a sense of purpose. Only a feeling of competence even partially fills the emptiness of your mission, as you have become bored with the dull routine and faceless comformity of your peers, and disturbed by occasional glimpses of the hypocrisy of your commanders.
    “You have also begun to notice that many of the infidels, even when defending themselves, seem at peace: the few remaining Buddhists, who make no attempt at defense but show a calm, almost preternatural ingenuity in fleeing; the Muslims who die fighting, yet seem to honestly bless you in Allah’s name with their dying breath; the remaining atheists laugh easily even as the required-by-regulation stakes are driven into their hearts.
    “You have entered a State of Doubt.

    “To complete this level, evade the scrutiny of your own comrades and commanders, and seek out an infidel who will discuss these misgivings with you. You will, of course, have to risk going unarmed. And openminded.”

  34. #34 SkookumPlanet
    May 30, 2006

    I don’t know how widely this is known, but the purple whatever behind God and the angels [poorly reproduced here] is an anatomically correct cross-section of the human brain. Right up there on the chapel ceiling.

    Somebody was studying cadavers. Find a good photo and check it out yourself. My source — Zippy the Pinhead. I believe the punch line was “God sweats the details.” Zipster also said this was discovered by a neurologist who walked in on a tour, looked up, and said, “Hey, that’s a brain up there.”

  35. #35 Eric Paulsen
    May 30, 2006

    Man, this is even worse than a game some of my friends and I were brainstorming a few years back.

    The tenative title was Cardinal Sin and you began the game fresh out of seminary and given a small backwoods parish. The goal was to build your flock, sodomize the alterboys (extra points for using candles, crosses, or the communion wine bottle), avoid the nuns, and don’t get caught. If you successfully avoid detection you slowly gain notoriety within the church and advance, possibly as far as the papacy. If you do get caught you are moved to another parish and have to start over from the beginning. If you managed to win the game the earth would crack open at your feet and Satan would drag your shrieking ass straight down to hell. Maybe I should mock up a few faux screen shots and put together a small site to promote the game as a hoax.

    Of course back then the big story were all of those pedophile priests. Cardinal Law was going to be the Vatican legal counsel.

  36. #36 PennyBright
    May 30, 2006

    If it’s a hoax, the NYTimes fell for it.

    http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F1071FFD3C550C718CDDAA0894DE404482

    I don’t buy times select, so I can’t read the whole article, but the abstract names the same CEO that the website PZ mentioned does.

  37. #37 George Cauldron
    May 30, 2006

    Man, this is even worse than a game some of my friends and I were brainstorming a few years back.

    The tenative title was Cardinal Sin

    You mean THIS guy?:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaime_Cardinal_Sin

  38. #38 Big C
    May 30, 2006

    PennyBright said:

    I don’t buy times select, so I can’t read the whole article, but the abstract names the same CEO that the website PZ mentioned does.

    Google is your friend. The Times apparently doesn’t remove the original articles from their server, only the links to them. Typing the article title into Google produced the full version still available for free here.

    I also found another article by a different author with the same title talking about this game here. This article is more recent and reports on the game’s showing at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

  39. #39 Diogenes
    May 30, 2006

    Apparently not a hoax, since the main left behind site has an article about it:

    http://www.leftbehind.com/channelnews.asp?pageid=1285&channelID=17

  40. #40 BJN
    May 30, 2006

    If this is a hoax someone put a lot of effort into it. There’s a video “trailer” for the game along with a preview article that’s not played at all for irony or humor:

    http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/left-behind-eternal-forces/

    Bart: Ooh, full conversion!
    Rod: No, you just winged him and made him a Unitarian.

    No footlongs.

  41. #41 Corey S
    May 30, 2006

    It will be interesting to know which video game sells more, Left Behind or The Da Vinci Code.

  42. #42 Azkyroth
    May 30, 2006

    Heh, it’s like Command and Conquer with Nod as the “good guys.”

    Sooner or later I’m gonna have to publish a series of critiques of the Left Behind series, possibly titled “Horse’s Behind.” ^.^

  43. #43 WJD
    May 30, 2006

    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).

    Well in that case….. count me in! 😉

  44. #44 BC
    May 30, 2006

    No, this is not a hoax. Not only is there plenty of information available about the game on the internet – including gaming sites, but I’ve actually seen the box at the local GameStop — they have the pre-order boxes in stores *right now*.

  45. #45 Bronze Dog
    May 30, 2006

    Somewhere, deep down, I expect that when I head to my local game store and look on the rack for this game, Rick Warren’ll jump out from behind a Lara Croft cutout and shout, “Made you look!”

  46. #46 Jake B. Cool
    May 30, 2006

    Well, this IS in an Onion article, “New Triple-X Dinosaur Park Opens In Nevada” and well worth reading for the punchline.

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/48974

    Salacious in the Cretaceous. heh.

  47. #47 Peter Holt
    May 30, 2006

    As was pointed out above, nobody playing Doom started believing in demons from another dimension running around on Mars. Find me an example of someone who did, and I’ll show you someone who was delusional before playing the game.

    I think that no one who played Doom fervently believed in demons from another dimension before they played the game.

    At least part (all?) of the audience for this game believes in it’s premise. They are delusional before they start.

  48. #48 the_blur
    May 30, 2006

    Lol, this game looks awesome. I just hope the gameplay is as good as the screenshots. Another good game would be a RTS where you play a terrorist / mujahideen freedom fighter carrying out missions for Allah, and you could switch sides to be the brave israeli soldier / heartless invader oppressor and hunt down the palestinian hamas scum.

    It would hame for a good game I think, if done right. It would probably play a lot like a really close-up version of ufo aftermath, or maybe (to a lesser degree) command and conquer generals.

    Despite it’s dubious provenance, this doesn’t sound like a bad game (although if it’s programmed by the same people who commissioned it, it’s going to suck)

    =)

  49. #49 Greco
    May 30, 2006

    Why is God surrounded by muscular, nude young men and colorful bedsheets?

    It is based on Michelangelo‘s painting. I guess that explains it…

  50. #50 George Cauldron
    May 30, 2006

    a better link:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/God2-Sistine_Chapel.png

    It is based on Michelangelo’s painting. I guess that explains it…

    And yet, Michelangelo was a homosexual and, of course, a Catholic. Go figure.

  51. #51 patski98
    May 30, 2006

    I’m going to make a game about how Theocrats are destroying the world and only you, Johnny M-16-wielding Atheist can save it!

  52. #52 Millimeter Wave
    May 30, 2006

    “This game immerses children…”

    I like how it keeps refering to children – is the author of this review unaware that the majority of gamers are older than 18? Yes, many 13-year-olds will play such games – but they neither make up the majority of the players, nor are they accurately refered to as “children”. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I see the word “children” I think “7-year-old” not “15-year-old”. Misleading statements in the review, but I doubt intentionally misleading.

    by the way, the review page also noted that the game is not yet rated. I’d presume that this would be receiving an “M” rating…

  53. #53 mersault
    May 30, 2006

    I wonder how many fundamentalist Christian parents are going to be shocked – Shocked!- when they come home to find little Rod playing as the Anti-Christ. “Eat cloven hoof, Reverend John!”

    I, for one, am looking forward to crushing the armies of righteousness with my demonic minions. I mean, which is cooler: m-16s or the fiery breath of Beelzebub himself?

  54. #54 Paul W.
    May 30, 2006

    Who cares what counts as “children”? Isn’t there a more important distinction to be made here—are we really talking about tidy whities?

    http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001992.html

  55. by the way, the review page also noted that the game is not yet rated. I’d presume that this would be receiving an “M” rating…

    They are hoping for an “E” rating, or at worst a “T” and mostly because it doesn’t have any of the sexual titillation that we find in other objectionable games.

    I am glad that we can kill infidels in games but not have to worry about seeing a little T and A. Johnny gets really disturbed about T and A, but violence just rolls off his back like it was nothing…

  56. #56 Bronze Dog
    May 30, 2006

    I went tidy, since Adam’s forbidden fruit of the looms didn’t look terribly tight to me.

    I wonder if they put them in an effort to lower the rating, or if they felt the Sistine Chapel wasn’t appropriate. Probably both, mostly the latter.

  57. #57 Azkyroth
    May 30, 2006

    by the way, the review page also noted that the game is not yet rated. I’d presume that this would be receiving an “M” rating…

    They are hoping for an “E” rating, or at worst a “T” and mostly because it doesn’t have any of the sexual titillation that we find in other objectionable games.

    I am glad that we can kill infidels in games but not have to worry about seeing a little T and A. Johnny gets really disturbed about T and A, but violence just rolls off his back like it was nothing…

    Pithecanthropus Erectus

    Unlikely; Medal of Honor: Allied Assault had neither blood and gore nor suggestive themes and it still got a “T(een).” I don’t recall too much swearing in it, either.

    Of course, this game effectively endorses terrorism, which might be a little thornier if it’s made clear to the ESRB that they will be crucified if they appear to be endorsing it…

  58. #58 Bachalon
    May 30, 2006

    Dead link now. I guess they got wise, eh?

    I saw the article for a few scary moments and then I hit back. I tried to show it to others, and that’s when I found out it wasn’t there.

  59. #59 Millimeter Wave
    May 30, 2006

    Pithecanthropus Erectus,
    thinking about it, you may be right; I have a feeling that this might get a “T” rating if only because the raters are afraid of upsetting the fundies.

    As one point of reference, read the GameSpy review. It’s notably factual, with very little commentary as to the how good or bad the game is, compared to what I would typically expect in a game review. They’re normally not at all shy at saying what they think. I would normally expect a “this is going to be great!” or “this is going to be terrible!” commentary.

  60. #60 lytefoot
    May 31, 2006

    But in principle the Rapture would be a fantastic setting for, say, a System Shock style RPG.

    I actually started writing one of these, years ago, when I was in high school. (Old-school pencil-and-paper.) Then I realized I’d have to actually read the book of Revolations to pull it off, and hunt down a couple of apocrypha as well. Still considering it, once I get some time.

    I’ve run a couple RPGs in a setting based on the Christian rapture (still haven’t gotten ’round to doing all my research), and boy, was that fun! The primary servent of the Christian god was Tim, the Destroyer of Worlds. Faithful servent of the smiting god until he realized he could get more power by taking the throne, then he turned on Yaweh and stormed the gates of heaven. With tanks. It was great. Great.

    Of course, the beauty of an old-school pencil-and-paper game is that you can work for whoever you want. Myself, I’ve always thought the Antichrist offered a pretty good deal. You have to decide to worship him, but then he’ll take care of you, in this world. You know, useful social programs, peace on earth, nuclear disarmament, all that good stuff. Big problem if you’re a monotheist, but if you’re a polytheist, sure, fine, you can be god too, Mr. Antichrist.

  61. #61 lytefoot
    May 31, 2006

    I’d also have to spell “Revelations” correctly…

    Or I could go the AEG route. This isn’t Japan, after all. (The powers of your choice help you if you understand this one.)

  62. #62 Greco
    May 31, 2006

    They are hoping for an “E” rating, or at worst a “T” and mostly because it doesn’t have any of the sexual titillation that we find in other objectionable games.

    Half-life 2 and the first Ghost Recon had no references to sex, and yet got M ratings.

  63. #63 SEF
    May 31, 2006

    I’m not really in the game-playing culture. Would there be something in the terms and conditions of the game, eg during installation, saying that it can’t be held responsible for any damage you may do in real life? Most commercial software has disclaimers like that about possible effects on your hardware, other software or data.

  64. #64 ZorkFox
    May 31, 2006

    Hello, PZ: I’ve been reading you for several weeks now and though a lot of your biology posts go right over my head, I wanted you to know I enjoy reading, and trying to understand. I find you a good resource for instruction in critical thinking, and an excellent source for science news. I’m grateful you take the time to put your words down for all of us to read.

    I haven’t made any comments before, but this awful game caught my attention so thoroughly that I had to reply. I don’t consider myself religious, though I was raised that way, and I am really gunning to find out what my local church will have to say about it. I find the concept of this game to be disgusting; I would never have known it existed if you hadn’t brought it to my attention. I almost can’t wait for it to be released, owing to a sort of horrified fascination. How can they possibly hope for such light ratings from the ESRB?!

    As a small upshot, I was reminded of this amusing image, from Something Awful: Reservoir Gods.

  65. #65 zilch
    May 31, 2006

    I too would like to think that no one will decide to go postal on heathens after playing LB:EF, but as Peter Holt pointed out, there are many believers in the Rapture, as opposed to very few believers in, say, the Arena Eternal.

    The screenshots looked pretty tame, actually. How about a game based on Pinkoski’s vision of dinosaurs egged on by fallen angels to attack Noah’s Ark? I’d play that one…

  66. #66 Ginger Yellow
    May 31, 2006

    I’d have thought that belief in the Rapture in itself would be more considerably more likely to make people go postal than playing a game based on it.

  67. #67 Sailorman
    May 31, 2006

    I really don’t see why this should be let slide.

    I mean hell, can you even IMAGINE if it were reversed?

    Can you imagine if they took the same game and ported it so atheist (gasp) were killing fundies who refused to renounce God?

    Shit, they’d be burning down your door with torches and pitchforks. Literally.

    This is truly insane.

  68. #68 Daniel Martin
    May 31, 2006

    It seems appropriate at this point to link to the archive at slacktivist of his Left Behind posts.

    To summarize a point he makes again and again by citing ample evidence, the books are bad when looked at as literature or stories, and manage to be even worse when looked at as theology. However, none of that dents the sales any, just as sales of the Bible aren’t hurt by the long-winded “begat” sections or lack of overall narrative structure. I suspect we’ll see a similar, albeit muted, effect with the game: it doesn’t matter if the game is total crud, it will sell like hotcakes.

    Of course, one could always hope that this game will awaken the general populace to the truly scary side of the fundies, but somehow I’m pessimistic about that.

  69. #69 rrt
    May 31, 2006

    It would probably play a lot like a really close-up version of ufo aftermath, or maybe (to a lesser degree) command and conquer generals.

    hehehe…you young’uns are cute!

    http://www.xcomufo.com/

    (okay, yes, I know, you may have just been keeping your refs current or are a post-twenties gamer and somehow (!)haven’t heard of X-Com…but that makes my observation less funny!)

  70. #70 gregorach
    May 31, 2006

    But in principle the Rapture would be a fantastic setting for, say, a System Shock style RPG.

    I actually started writing one of these, years ago, when I was in high school. (Old-school pencil-and-paper.) Then I realized I’d have to actually read the book of Revolations to pull it off, and hunt down a couple of apocrypha as well. Still considering it, once I get some time.

    I’ve run a couple RPGs in a setting based on the Christian rapture (still haven’t gotten ’round to doing all my research), and boy, was that fun!

    Seriously dude, read Revelation. Then marvel at the fact that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever (like, much, much less sense than all the other nonesense in the Bible) and bears no resemblance to anything you’ve ever heard about the Rapture. That shit is just completely made up (not that Revelation isn’t, but at least somebody regards it as canonical). In fact, if you regard Revelation as canonical, you’re pretty much obliged to regard the Rapture as heresy. They just don’t line up at all.

  71. #71 Greco
    May 31, 2006

    Then marvel at the fact that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever (like, much, much less sense than all the other nonesense in the Bible) and bears no resemblance to anything you’ve ever heard about the Rapture.

    It’s nowhere in the Revelation. John Darby invented the Rapture based on 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

  72. #72 Ginger Yellow
    May 31, 2006

    Can you imagine if they took the same game and ported it so atheist (gasp) were killing fundies who refused to renounce God?

    Shit, they’d be burning down your door with torches and pitchforks. Literally.

    And that’s the difference between us and them. You can’t really complain about this while letting GTA slide. Yeah it’s creepier because they actually believe this is going to happen, and soon, so it’s basically premature wish fulfilment for them, but the principle is the same. By all means point out the hypocrisy (for once Jack Thompson comes out looking OK).

    I suspect we’ll see a similar, albeit muted, effect with the game: it doesn’t matter if the game is total crud, it will sell like hotcakes.

    I’d be surprised. In general I agree with your premise, but remember that fundies are deeply suspicious of video games – have you read any Jack Chick? – and for that matter any modern entertainment medium.

  73. #73 George Cauldron
    May 31, 2006

    It’s nowhere in the Revelation. John Darby invented the Rapture based on 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

    It’s weird how Fundies make such a cottage industry of obsessing about things that Jesus never mentioned. Aside from the Ancient Hebrew Creation Myth in Genesis, most of these things are from totally marginal parts of the Bible, such as 1 Thessalonians, or cherry-picked silliness from Deuteronomy and Leviticus. Revelations is another splendid example — it’s basically the nutty visions of some Greek who lived long after Jesus died, many branches of Christianity urge that it be ignored, and yet it seems to be the most important part of the Bible to millions of American Fundies. Yeesh.

  74. #74 Ginger Yellow
    May 31, 2006

    George, this is hardly an original observation but it does seem that fundies know (and follow) the words of Paul more than the words of Jesus.

  75. #75 Chris
    May 31, 2006

    I’m not going to say that this game shouldn’t exist at all – even though I think it’s basically a training manual for religious terrorism. The game itself doesn’t shoot anyone and criminalizing it would be creating a thought crime. *Acting out* the game is, of course, murder.

    But if there is a rating system based on a game’s content, encouraging the player to kill humans has got to be one of the most objectionable forms of content possible, and one that is actually dangerous if available to people who can’t fully distinguish between the game-world and the real world.

    I think the rating system *is* at least sometimes useful in guiding some parental and consumer decisions, but only if it has meaningful standards that are applied consistently. Murder, war and terrorism have to be right up there at the top of the list of “mature themes”.

    Does anyone else think that encouraging the player to kill human beings, in a game with realistic graphics and lifelike settings and weapons, should be an automatic M?

    Maybe we should start a mass emailing to the ESRB urging them to put an M on this thing. It’s as violent and realistic as GTA3.

  76. #76 George Cauldron
    May 31, 2006

    George, this is hardly an original observation but it does seem that fundies know (and follow) the words of Paul more than the words of Jesus.

    Yup. I suspect that’s mostly because it’s easier. Paul’s writings are much easier to assimilate than, say, Matthew V.

    And it’s very easy to make an argument that Paul is directly to blame for the misogyny inherent in conservative Christianity (an argument I’ve actually heard several Christians make).

  77. #77 lunartalks
    May 31, 2006

    This is where you want the game code to go all evolutionary, strings of binary swapping sequences and emergent behavour occurring in God’s legions: some soldiers suddenly putting down their weapons, shyly holding hands then engaging in egregious acts of gay love in public, others heading into tattoo and piercing parlours for some personal adornment the rest running in fear back to barracks when confronted with a menstruating woman. Using their Humvees to ferry women into family planning clinics past (or even over) lines of hate contorted as-yet unevolved Sim Fundies. Cue Fundie gamers furiously clicking mouse buttons, bashing at keyboards, hysterically ringing tech support (no doubt a premium rate line) for as you are reamed in this life, so shall you be reamed if you die in expectation of something after life.

  78. #78 Mike Fox
    May 31, 2006

    So, is controling a large segment of humanity from above with divine knowledge and power no longer the job of God? Or is the idea to make the child playing the game their own idol? If the latter, does playing (and getting “into”) this game count as forsaking God? If so, this game could very well send many children to Hell, even by the Christian belief system.

    –Mike Fox

  79. #79 rrt
    May 31, 2006

    (in response to suggestions the game will sell well)
    I’d be surprised. In general I agree with your premise, but remember that fundies are deeply suspicious of video games – have you read any Jack Chick? – and for that matter any modern entertainment medium.,

    I disagree, in part. I recognize the point about suspicion of video games, though I think a large percentage of the suspicious will overlook it since it has “Left Behind” slapped on it.

    But my main disagreement is that games are more likely than most other products to sell or flop due to quality. If it’s a good game, and well-reviewed, it will sell. From what I can see so far, it will not be a good game. Also note that this is still pre-release…it’s even possible the game will never reach shelves.

    Of course, that’s more a rule of thumb, even with games. Witness the success of Deer Hunter. Quality doesn’t ensure success, either. The death of the quality-riddled spaceflight combat sim genre is a good example. Sometimes crappy games sell and great ones don’t, especially if they push (or don’t) the right buttons–just as crappy books (coughleftbehindcough) do.

  80. #80 quork
    May 31, 2006

    This guy must be the advance force:
    Fla. man in women’s bathing suit arrested

    KEY WEST, Fla. – A man wearing a purple women’s bathing suit and carrying a flare gun was arrested after he told a bartender he was going to “get rid of all the dirt bags in Key West,” authorities said.

  81. #81 Keith Douglas
    June 1, 2006

    SEF: I understand the legal status of many of those click-through liscences is unknown (and of course would vary from juristiction to juristiction anyway). So something like that sort of “mental health” disclaimer is probably doubly dubious. In many places there are certain rights you cannot ever give away anyway …

  82. #82 arensb
    June 4, 2006

    SkookumPlanet:

    I don’t know how widely this is known, but the purple whatever behind God and the angels [poorly reproduced here] is an anatomically correct cross-section of the human brain.

    I call pareidolia. All I see there is a bunch of naked people and a red cloth.

    The lesson to be learned here is that Zippy the Pinhead is not a good reference for art history trivia. Or, indeed, humor, though that’s obviously more subjective.

  83. #83 Matt
    December 8, 2006

    OKay,

    I don’t think that this left behind thing has anything to do with Christ. I think that Satan is on both sides of this game, personally because Jesus told us that Salvation means to Love God and Love One another.

    To be born again,
    or born of the Spirit, one must believe (trust) the Truth, which is the WOrd of God,which will set a person free. If we could understand that it is the fallen human nature, and not each other, that is the real enemy, I think we could do great; but if we refuse to forgive one another, we will have no salvation, because only the meek will live under grace.

    Read Jesus, His words. Seek to understand what they say.
    Ask Him to help you. Many miracles have happened in my life since I put my faith in God through Jesus. He is very powerful and merciful, with unfathomable love and understanding.

    I would not suggest listening to human inventions because humans are liars, but the Spirit of God is Love (1 John 4)

  84. #85 SJR
    January 16, 2007

    This statement is posted from an employee of Left Behind Games on behalf of Troy Lyndon, our Chief Executive Officer.

    There has been in incredible amount of MISINFORMATION published in the media and in online blogs here and elsewhere.

    Pacifist Christians and other groups are taking the game material out of context to support their own causes. There is NO “killing in the name of God” and NO “convert or die”. There are NO “negative portrayals of Muslims” and there are NO “points for killing”.

    Please play the game demo for yourself (to at least level 5 of 40) to get an accurate perspective, or listen to what CREDIBLE unbiased experts are saying after reviewing the game at http://www.leftbehindgames.com/pages/controversy.com

    Then, we’d love to hear your feedback as an informed player.

    The reality is that we’re receiving reports everyday of how this game is positively affecting lives by all who play it.

    Thank you for taking the time to be a responsible blogger.

  85. #86 Greg Laden
    January 16, 2007

    Pacifist Christians?

    …You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. -Luke 6

    “Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace be to this house.'” -Luke 10

  86. #87 Justin
    January 23, 2007

    I have played the demo – and that even makes it scarier. Forget the fact that it is bloodless. There are bodies piled up of people killed by the so-called “Christians” who carry high tech weapons and use them to kill who they think are the forces of the antiChrist.

    It is frightening to see that the Left Behind Games people are willing to support killing (uh hem – “defending”) in the name of Christ. This is the equivalent of Islamofascists calling for the death of the infidels who they perceive are attacking their way of life.

    Left Behind is calling for a Christian jihad – and it is the same thinking that led to the crusades and inquisition where thousands lost their lives because of what they thought.

    Fundamentalists are showing their hand – willing to use violence in the name of Christ. They spit out the term “Christian Pacifist” as if it’s evil.

    Jesus was the ultimate “Christian Pacifist” – He laid down His life. It’s time to wake up and see that these so-called “Christians” are taking America in a very scary direction. They are reviving the beast power of Revelation and themselves are representing the true antiChrist.

  87. #88 Jon
    January 24, 2007

    Err… is it supposed to be “affecting lives”? This implies the game is supposed to have some sort of message. It’s a game aimed at young people, maybe not children but young people none the less.

    If you admit that it is even biased then you admit to sneaking dodgy religious messages into ignorant people. If I could invent an atheist hell much like your christian one, people like you would be the first in. Mind the step.

    Also – people don’t believe there are demons on Mars, because it was not written in a book thousands of years ago. If it had then who knows…

  88. #89 Nathan Parker
    March 22, 2007

    You are on a mission – both a religious mission and a military mission — to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state – especially moderate, mainstream Christians.

    This appears to be inaccurate. If so, it should be removed from this article. Let’s not act like creationists.

  89. #90 Steve_C
    March 22, 2007

    Please do show us where that’s wrong.

    Does it really matter? no one bought the game.

  90. #91 dean cameron
    May 28, 2007

    I’m inclined to disagree with Badger post (#5). Jehovah is one hot deity! And how about that beard? Santa with pecs! Woof.But what’s with that stupid nightshirt?
    He’d look better going around naked, like Zeus. I mean, having a bunch of worshippers means one must always remain in a state fit for worship! *SIGH* Ever since his divorce from Astoreth back around 800 b.c., the Old Man Upstairs just has been getting meaner and sloppier and harder to live with. No wonder the kids are screwed up.

  91. #92 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkZqbt_zOb2Sxqdt-iHOkkGGr-Xrm5XTbs
    July 18, 2010

    http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/left-behind-eternal-forces/749748p1.html

    “[A]nyone looking for explicit “Kill the unbelievers!”-style content to justify their fear of the game won’t find it here.”

    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/reviews/2006/12/leftbehind.ars

    “Many groups have made inaccurate statements about this game that need to be corrected. For one thing, it is not particularly violent. While there are violent aspects of the game, the game makes it clear that shooting is the last resort.”

    http://pc.ign.com/articles/745/745956p1.html

    “To keep the balance of power in your favor, you’ll have to find non-violent ways to avoid getting killed. Your units will definitely fight back in a life or death situation but, for the most part, you want to either avoid your enemies or have a ready plan to convert to your side using musicians and disciples.”

    http://www.adl.org/Interfaith/leftbehind.asp

    “Conversion to Christianity in the game is not depicted as forcible in nature, and violence is not rewarded in the game.”

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