After Hours

Prayer or violence? Christian soldiers compete in gaming warfare


Sure, you'd expect to see critics bashing a new video game that contains sex and violence, but what about a video game that supposedly promotes prayer? Take a look at this news story: "Christian video game stokes controversy in U.S."

According to the story, "Left Behind: Eternal Forces is a teen-rated PC strategy game based on the wildly popular Left Behind Christian book series created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. The game is set in New York City after millions of Christians have been transported to heaven. Players are charged with recruiting, and converting, an army that will engage in physical and spiritual warfare with the antichrist and his evil followers."

Critics claim that this game carries a message of violent religious intolerance - it's "a violent video game in which born-again Christians aim to convert or kill those who don't adhere to their extreme ideology." According to one critic, "After you kill somebody you need to recharge your soul points and to do that you need to bend down in prayer...I think the message is extremely clear."

Not having played this game, it's hard for me to make a judgment call. However, I question whether this "Christian" game is any better than any of the other violent killing games currently on the market. What happened to "love thy neighbor" and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? Oh wait, that game wouldn't sell. After all, no guts = no glory. 

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

8 comments
Tig2
Tig2

I have read the Left Behind series from the beginning to end. The books leave little in question regarding what they are about. That a game has emerged doesn't surprise me much. That people will buy this game thinking that they are somehow more "moral" doesn't surprise me either. Nor does the fact that it has been singled out for discussion and critique. So here's my $0.02 for whatever it's worth. The concept for the left Behind series is deeply rooted in the books of Revelations, Romans, and Daniel. The theory being that at a point, Christ will take up the "born-again" and leave the rest to cope. In the following seven years, a ruler will rise up and take dominion world wide. In the course of ever worsening events, this ruler will control all media outlets, including, to an extent, the internet. Approximately half way through the reign of this "world leader", he will be killed, only to be raised up again (sounds familiar to anyone who has read the Easter story from the bible). In the first half of the "world leader's" reign, life becomes difficult for those Christians left on earth. After the "rising up" it becomes downright impossible, forcing the Christian into making "die or be killed" decisions. So there is the back story. Does it sound like Grand Theft Auto or any of the other popular games out there? Probably not. The uproar seems to be that a freely available game- you have to purchase this product, and can CHOOSE NOT to- has a faith based premise. Me personally? Don't see the problem. I may (or may not) purchase the game only because I own the books, DVDs and other works related to the series and it's authors. I doubt that I would ever open the box. It would become a collectors item. But I think the question here is if it is morally acceptable for a Christian to do things like pray in the event that they have been forced into a situation in which they must kill in order to stay alive. I can answer that question a number of ways. I think that we cannot tell a Christian that their prayer offends us at the same time as we are supporting Muslims who loudly prayed in an airport terminal and then, on boarding their flight, did other things that made passengers uncomfortable. And were subsequently removed from the flight... causing new problems. I think that we cannot tell a Christian that their morals are offensive while supporting cab drivers- and making allowances for them- who refuse to carry certain passengers because coming near such people is unclean. Pick one, pick the other. But CHOOSE! We either support freedom OF religion or freedom FROM religion. But it isn't selective and doesn't target one group. And I don't really care which one you choose because I will believe as I do, regardless. If I were choosing a game for my child, I would want something that would make that child ask questions, and therefore hopefully learn something from his time on the game. I am a Christian. I hunt. I see nothing wrong with that. I eat what I kill in the field. I have also taken many classes in personal defense. I see nothing wrong with that either. If someone breaks into my home and gets as far as where I am in my home, I will kill him/her. The fact that they could take anything they want from the ground floor and insist on coming to my bedroom tells me that I am in imminent danger. And I will pray about it- probably for the rest of my life. But that doesn't change the fact that I would do it.

RknRlKid
RknRlKid

I consider it to be fairly offensive to MY sensibilities. But I think most criticisms of it will not be by people who claim to be Christian, but by people who would fingerpoint no matter what. HOWEVER...why is it ok to single out this ONE game, and not ALL the violent games? There certainly are games that are far far worse. The true hypocrisy to me is not the wedding of violence with a pseudo-Christian message (Which is what this game is, btw. Other than superficial trappings, it has nothing to do with historic or orthodox Christianity). The real hypocrisy is with those who are pointing the finger at this game and not at all others. Why is it ok for non-religious games to be violent, and not a pseudo-religious one? Consistency from critics would be nice. Either violence in games is wrong, or its not. It shouldn't matter who makes it, or what the background is. Either its wrong, or its "protected free speech." My guess is that this game is far more tame than Grand Theft Auto or the new Mortal Kombat, and will be far less influential because it caters to a niche market, not the general public. Criticism should be based on equal levels of violence, and on level of influence. Taken in that context, this game is of no significance whatsoever. Its definitely not inflamatory, except to critics.

Buckshot
Buckshot

I agree that the main objection should be to all of the violent games on the market now. The only thing that I would single this game out for is that there are some folks who will buy it for their kids because it says it's based on Christian beliefs. It's sad, but I know a lot of folks who will support almost anything that says it supports Christianity. I don't object to what I've read of the content of this game any more or less than Mortal Kombat or any of the other violent games. What I do object to is that it is marketed to those sheep out there who will buy it because of its roots in the Left Behind series and think that makes it okay for their kids to have a violent game.

minutus
minutus

Sounds like praying for people and helping them escape the rulership of an evil dictator is an appropriate expression of "love thy neighbor" and "do unto others..". I have not seen the game either, but the referenced article sounds more like propagandistic hyperventilation than reality.

revblugenes
revblugenes

When the Rapture (transported to heaven) thing happens, it will be survival of the fittest, which seems like a "far away" event for most, however, everyone will claim "God's" authority & be biased by their beliefs. Since we are all biased anyway, it is just a matter of which bias is the beat bias to be biased with anyway. Christians just happen to be right as time will tell for all you nonbelievers.

ITinAtl
ITinAtl

How sorry I feel you...you must have no real outlook on your life, as you think the world is going to end in Rapture and that you will be transported to heaven. What a shame for you... Do yourself a favor and read a good book: The End of Faith, by Sam Harris. This 'game' is just another show of intolerance and ignorance from the Christian right. Its too bad that America is being detroyed by fundamentalist Christians.

minutus
minutus

The automatic assumption that those who do not agree with you are crazy does not argue well for your analytical or rhetorical ability. The automatic assumption that you adequately know or understand the life situation, thoughts, or beliefs of the same people is an expression of marginal emotional intelligence. Chill out. You have no idea of my belief or lack thereof based on my initial post. Or is the stereotypical "You people" a not-so-subtle indicator of bigotry?

RknRlKid
RknRlKid

I think you showed more intolerance and ignorance in your post than the first person did. America destroyed by fundamentalist Christians? I don't think so. In my experience those that are self-titled fundamentalist Christians are really a far cry from their own actual beliefs. This game exists because American Christians really are NOT fundamental in their faith. Someone who really understood the fundamentals of their faith would not play this game. But fundamentalist atheism or agnosticism is no better. Its just the other end of the pendulum.

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