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Left Behind pegged as **Violence!** December 14, 2006

Posted by joshg in Christianity, mainstream games, morality & ethics, violence.
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An article from USA Today sums up some of the controversy in Christian circles over Left Behind: Eternal Forces.

It’s hard to pick a quote when there’s so much verbal sniping going both ways, but my favorite has to be this one from The Tim LaHaye himself:

“These groups don’t attack other violent video games. Their real attack is on our theology,” says Tim LaHaye, co-author of the novels, who endorsed the game.

I think this is a case of him saying something true that implies something completely untrue. Give me a second and I’ll try to make that statement make sense.

Do these groups attack other violent video games? Well, let’s just assume that they don’t for now, although that’s probably not true of all the groups involved. Is their real attack on the Left Behind theology? Okay, sure. But does that mean that their real objection isn’t to the violence? Nay, says I. The issues of violence and theology aren’t independant here – the way that violence is used as part of gameplay is a theological message.

LeHaye has a good reason to try and deflect the notion that the objection to this game stems from the general issue of “Violent Video Games”. For some, it probably does, but the reason that Christian groups are placing this game higher on their moral agendas than, say, Dawn of War certainly isn’t because Left Behind is more violent. But the fact that this is an attack on theology certainly doesn’t mean that it can be brushed aside, thinking, “Oh, that’s one of those academic theological differences that Christians don’t agree on, anyway.”

The theological topic is incredibly relevant: when does our faith justify violence?

Don’t try and tell me that issue is purely academic in our world today. I’ll laugh.

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Comments

1. joshg - December 15, 2006

I think I put “assume that’s the case” when I meant “assume that’s not the case”, or some other way of phrasing it that actually reads well. If that made your brain hurt while trying to figure out my point, I apologize.

I’ve edited that to something that makes more sense now. (FWIW, it didn’t really change my point, it just makes the lead-up to the argument clearer.)

2. LeftBehindGames - December 22, 2006

A statement from Left Behind Games CEO Troy Lyndon:

There is a lot of misinformation being spread about LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces.

This has been written to respond to media reporters who, in most cases, haven’t played our game. They are not credible. Here’s what real experts are saying:

– The Anti-Defamation League: Although they speak out against the book’s theology, this is what they have to say about the PC game, “Conversion to Christianity in the game is not depicted as forcible in nature, and violence is not rewarded in the game.” http://www.adl.org/Interfaith/leftbehind.asp

– IGN says, “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. This gets much harder as the game progresses.”
http://pc.ign.com/articles/745/745956p1.html

– Wired Magazine says, “So the great surprise of LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces is that it actually kind of rocks…few titles are as ambitious and as polished as this title.” http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,72071-0.html

– ArsTechnica.com says, “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. Second, it is not hateful to other religions. It does have an agenda, and I think you need to know that going in, but there’s no bashing of other faiths.” and “…the game is fun, it’ll keep parents happy with its light levels of violence, and it’ll be sold at video game stores, religious book stores, and everywhere else people spend money on God. This game will certainly get the message out.” http://arstechnica.com/reviews/games/leftbehind.ars

Many of the technical issues these reviewers experienced were with a non-updated version of the game. A brand new free update just went live (for registered owners of the game) and can be retrieved by clicking the update button from the main menu in the game. In the future, we will be offering additional free updates.

Play the game and decide for yourself. You can download the demo on many sites. This site does not require you to create an account: http://www.vgpro.com/file/20183_EternalForcesDemoSetupfull.exe.html

Should you have any concerns about this game, please go to the contact us page on our website at http://www.leftbehindgames.com and we’ll do our best to connect with you.

Sincerely,
Troy Lyndon
Co-founder, CEO
Left Behind Games Inc.

3. joshg - December 23, 2006

Whoever you are from LBG, thanks for the comment, especially for the link to a demo. It certainly would be helpful if the game’s official site actually made the demo easy to find – I looked there at the time I wrote this post and couldn’t find a demo anywhere, and assumed there wasn’t one. Anyway, I’ll give it a try and post my thoughts later.

I don’t know if this was a PR reaction to my post being filed under “someone slamming LB:EF”. If you look further back in this blog’s history, I’ve written both of my concerns and hopes for the game’s faith-related mechanics, and also spoken out against those who were reading the worst into every pre-release bit of information they could find.

If you read my post above carefully, you’ll note that I never actually said what I think the game’s message about faith and violence is – because I haven’t played it yet. The simple fact that the two ideas are intertwined in the game play has already been made clear through previews and descriptions of basic game mechanics (such as using “prayer” to boost units’ spirit levels), so I’m not saying anything new or controversial about the game’s content. My intention above was just to point out that there’s a difference here between the “violent games” issue and the much more complex issue of what this game could be saying about faith’s relation to violence. (Which, in fact, can be a good thing, such as showing negative spiritual consequences for violent acts.)

4. joshg - December 23, 2006

(I feel it’s only fair to mention, if it isn’t obvious to anyone reading, that the above press release definitely picks and chooses the highlights of various reviews.)

5. sjrnyc - January 9, 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.

6. NYC - February 8, 2007

Hey, with so many people having an opinion about this game, how many have actually played it? And what credibility do they have? Focus on the Family has publications which can set the record straight for everyone…at http://www.pluggedinonline.com/thisweekonly/a0002989.cfm.

7. joshg - February 8, 2007

FYI, the previous comment seems to have been made by someone from Left Behind Games, judging by the email address used to post the comment.


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