Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Left Behind?

The BBC is reporting that the "Left Behind" computer game is causing a bit of a stir. This game is the first video game by christian game makers "Left Behind Games" - of the Left Behind book fame - and - from the accounts I've read - is mediocre at best. But that's okay, good computer games are hard to write which is why games such as RockStar's "Bully" cost so much money and take so much time to make; and I can certainly see a niche market for christian computer games, just as there are niche markets for christian rock, and christian diets

The complaints, however, are not about the quality of the game but that:

"It's about religious warfare. The way to win is to convert or kill. You have both the Inquisition and the Crusades,"

It has to be said that as this is a computer game, I'm not overly concerned that a computer games manufacturer would have included violence in it. I very much enjoy playing violent computer games; I personally think that the Grand Theft Auto series is one of the greatest computer game franchises ever built, and I'm very much looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of RockStar's "Bully". I think, then, that calling for the Left Behind game to be banned from WallMart's shelves because it is violent is exactly as unfair as organisations calling for Bully or Grand Theft Auto to be banned. Somehow I doubt that were there to be a sudden spate of killings that the Left Behind game would be blamed, but that's hardly the fault of the game manufacturer.

However - and there's got to be a however - The accusations as levelled against the game are, nevertheless, true in regards to large populations of American evangelical christians:

And that message is the "dehumanisation of the feared other - Catholics, Jews, Muslims, the wrong kind of Protestants, people deemed to be sinners", he says.

But this is what religion does. Each religion believes that all religions except for its own is damnably wrong, and that the misguided followers of the other religions should convert or be damned to hell. Quite why this argument should occur when each religion's holy books are supposed to be the literal word of their god is quite beyond me, but nevertheless that is what each religion teaches.

In discussions about religion, the religious leaders have recently been talking about inter-faith harmony, and whether this religion or that religion is a religion of peace; yet each religion damns the followers of the other religions to hell for not seeing the apparent self-evidence of one interpretation of a book. Is it really that surprising that a game coming from such an organisation should make this aspect of religious life all too painfully clear?

"Anybody who is not a follower of Jesus is the enemy," he claims.

That statement, from a person trying to have the game removed from WallMart's site, could ironically just as easily have come from the lips of a christian evangelist, or a catholic priest, or a Jehovah's Witness. That statement is uttered - in one thinly guised form or another - throughout the UK every week from - The Flying Spaghetti Monster alone knows how many - pulpits. Once again, it should come as absolutely no surprise that a christian organisation has placed this message clearly in their game.

These are revolting messages, and messages and ideals that should be repugnant to most moral, right-thinking people, but these are the messages of religion.

As an aside, whilst going through some of the reviews (principally to see what weapons you could use...), I came across this image from the game. Have a look.

people of other faiths could play it and not know it's Christian," [the games author] says.=

Sadly, that is probably only too true.


JavaElemental said...

Hello! I found you via the Bronze Blog. Nice blog you have here. :) Good writing! I have a question though -- I've been wracking my brain for twenty minutes, and can't come up with a reason why a spiral shell would be particularly strange for the Left Behind game. It seems to ring a bell . . . Doesn't the Discovery Institute use a spiral shell as a design in their logo or something?

SJR said...

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 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.

baldywilson said...

Perhaps sjr should have bothered to read what I wrote before posting. Nevertheless, I notice that no claim is being made by Left Behind Games that there is no violence in the game. One can reasonably surmise - given the statement "There is NO “killing in the name of God” and NO “convert or die”." that there is, in fact, killing in the game (or a "there is NO killing" would suffice).

Again, I should re-iterate that I, personally, am rather pleased by this. Violence in computer games is damned good fun. I just hope they'll be in there defending RockStar games next time a school shooting is linked to a computer game.

NYC said...

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