Are you struggling with the last-minute shopping for that pre-trib pre-mill dispensational teenage boy in your home? Don't worry, wholesome Christian entertainiment is but a mouse click away! You can still purchase the Left Behind: Eternal Forces video game!
Your child will enjoy the basic strategy of the game. To wit: players must try to convert unbelievers. If they won't convert, players must kill them.
Dereck Wong, VP of Sales explains:
The premise of the post-rapture game–classified as "real time strategy" because players direct multiple characters' actions from a bird's-eye view of the New York City streets–is that "you are on the Antichrist's shoot-to-kill list, and you must defend your own life and the lives of those around you–with violence if necessary,"
Don't worry—this game is not really violent! We have this reassuring explantion from Left Behind Games' president, Jeffrey Frichner:
the game actually is pacifist because players lose "spirit points" every time they gun down nonbelievers rather than convert them. They can earn spirit points again by having their character pray.
Well, alrighty then!
Now, prior to release, we are happy to report that Left Behind Games took a hard but principled stance, that (virtual) dead bodies littering the streets after fierce gun battles would, as a public service, be left in place. Why? Well because sanitizing the game by removing them might desensitize kids to violence. Company CEO Troy Lyndon explained:
What's more damaging are games that show killing and then let the bodies disappear, desensitizing gamers to what's going on," explains Lyndon. "Although seeing hundreds of dead bodies in Left Behind: Eternal Forces at the end of a horrific battle wasn't our original intent, we can't help but stay away from desensitizing gamers. It's our hope that we don't end up with a Mature-rated game...but we might. Ultimately, our argument is that it's more humane to show the reality of death than to desensitize in the name of a lighter rating."
Unfortunately but not surprisingly (knowing programmers—they always screw up) when the game was released it turned out that due to a software glitch those corpses do, in fact, simply and cleanly disappear. But that was surely a bug, not a marketing decision, given Lyndon's previous statement.
I would suggest, in the spirit of fairness, that the company offer video games for all eschatological views. For example:
- Whoa, I didn't see that coming! In this amillennial game, players just go about their everyday business. Believers preach the gospel but are mostly unsuccessful. The world slowly drifts toward universal apostasy, and suddenly: bam! history ends, as Christ returns to rescue a dwindling, isolated, frightened church.
- Church Victorious! In this postmillennial adventure, players must work hard to make the Great Commission a success. As the players advance through level after level, the world becomes more converted until, at some point in the distant future, the earth enters a golden era and awaits the Parousia. History ends as Christ returns to a church victorious through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the last level, the people sing Joy to the world, the Lord is come! as the song was originally intended—as a celebration not of the first advent but of the second.
- AD 70! In this action-packed game, set in historic first-century Palestine, the prophesies of Christ's Olivet Discourse and John's apocalyptic vision are fulfilled in the ill-fated Jewish rebellion against Roman rule and the subsequent siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Players can take the role of Josephus, Titus, Vespasian, or Christians who followed Jesus' instructions and fled the city.
Meanwhile, back to the Left Behind Game. How do Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, who on a scale of one to Benny Hinn made a great deal of money from the book series†, feel about the game? In this USA Today article, LaHaye suggests a reason for the irrational concern over the game's violence:
These groups don't attack other violent video games. Their real attack is on our theology.
Meanwhile at the International Christian Retail Show in Denver (International Christian Retail Show?) where the game was demonstrated, Jerry Jenkins offered this rationalization:
(The controversy) makes you examine your motives, success (and) what you're doing. I looked at the violence for the game to be in the (Christian retail) market. It's not more violent than the Old Testament
More fun facts about the game:
- Buy It! buttons direct players to iTunes where Christian music used with the game can be purchased (sold separately—offer prohibited where void.)
- Left Behind Games will offer a Christian-market exclusive by bundling the game with Tyndale House Publishers' New Living Translation Metal Bible.
- The game, according to this report, installs undeletable tracking software—known better by its other name: spyware. (Isn't that something the other side would do?)
† I never heard if Tim LaHaye and/or his lawyers made even more money as a result of his lawsuit.