Left Behind: Eternal Forces: a hate-based video game
Quotations and reviews
- Los Angeles Times: "The game adheres to the medium's brutal
- "BlueStocking," post to the TruthDig blog: "Gives a whole new sinister flavor to the old hymn 'Onward Christian
Soldiers', that's for sure."
- "Plugged In," a web site of Focus on the
Family: "Eternal Forces is the kind of game that Mom and Dad can actually
play with Junior -- and use to raise some interesting questions along the way.
Production company Left Behind Games is pushing it as an evangelism
tool for teens, and I can see that, too. You certainly don't have to be an
eschatologically minded seminarian to appreciate it. In fact, when you stack
Eternal Forces up against other RTS games, its foibles don't pull it
very far down in the pack." 1
- Jonathan Hutson: "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.....The Scriptures say, 'Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.' (Proverbs 22:6) The
Scriptures do not say, 'Train up a child in the way he should blow away
the people of God as well as infidels: and when he is old enough, he will go
out and do some killing'." 2
Reviews of the game:
Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities, believes that the
game may be a financial success. He said:
"The reason that I think this game has a chance is that it's not
particularly preachy. I will say some of the dialogue is pretty lame --
people saying, 'Praise the Lord' after they blow away the bad guys. I think
they're overdoing it a bit. But the message is OK."
Jack Thompson, an attorney, author, and critic of video game violence is
concerned about the level of carnage in the game. He said:
"We're going to push this game at Christian kids to let them know there's
a cool shooter game out there. Because of the Christian context, somehow
it's OK? It's not OK. The context is irrelevant. It's a mass-killing game. ... It's absurd. You can be the Christians blowing away the infidels, and if
that doesn't hit your hot button, you can be the Antichrist blowing away all
Thompson has severed his ties with Tyndale House in a dispute over this game.
A. Larry Ross, president of a Christian public relations firm that helped to
market Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" and three "Left Behind"
movies commented on the game, apparently without having seen it. He said:
"There's an audience here. In addition to the youth audience -- that's the
primary target -- there are parents who are concerned about what their
children are exposed to and are encouraged by products that are biblically
based. I would assume, if there is violence, it's the cosmic struggle of
good versus evil, not gratuitous violence."
Jeffrey Frichner, president of Left Behind
Games' said that the game actually is pacifist because players first try to
convert non-Christians. If they are unsuccessful, the players then kill the non-Christians, but lose "spirit points." They can replace the lost
spirit points by having their Christian characters pray. Frichner said that
players on Christ's side:
"... are fighting a defensive battle in the
game. You are a
sort of a freedom fighter. ... Muslims are not believers in Jesus Christ -- and
thus can't be on Christ's side in the game. That is so obvious."
Actually, Muslims revere
Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus
Christ) as the second most important prophet in history. They consider
themselves to be on Yeshua's side.
Jeff Gerstmann, senior editor at Gamespot.com, said that they rate the game at 3.4 out of a possible 10 and report that it
has lots of glitches. 4
The Democratic Underground discussed the
game in its news release for 2006-JUN-05. They rated "The Left Behinders" as #8
of "The top 10 Conservative Idiots" for the week. 5
Plugged In, a publication of the conservative Christian group
Focus on the Family, gave the game a "thumbs-up." The reviewer called
it "the kind of game that Mom and Dad can actually play with Junior -- and
use to raise some interesting questions along the way."
Zach Whalen of Gameology reviewed the demo copy released on 2006-SEP-01 and commented:
"... as a visual message, the exclusion of minorities is profound and
troubling. For a game developer to go to so much trouble to include
backstories for its unit characters (some of whom are, it turns out, Asian
Americans) without bothering to program in corresponding appearances
indicates that they didn't think it was important."
"Along with minorities, women are also excluded from doing much important
in the game. Again, I've only looked at the demo, but so far, women can only
be trained as Medics, thus excluding them from such career paths as Builder,
Soldier, Disciple, and Musician. Female units are also distinguished in
that, whereas untrained male units bear the label "friend", female units are
identified by "friend woman." This qualifier, "woman," here serves the
purpose of signalling [sic] to the player that this unit is not as useful as
an unqualified "friend." And since men can also be medics, women may not be
necessary at all in terms of completing one's goals in the game."
American Atheists commented that the game:
"... promotes intolerance and demonizes Atheists and other nonbelievers,
gays, and even members of minority religious groups..."
"Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists, said that
everything from the content to the marketing of "Left Behind" takes the game
to a new and possibly dangerous level. 'There are plenty of violent and racy
video games out there in the market, but 'Left Behind' conveys a message of
intolerance.' Johnson added that players score points for 'blowing away'
their heretical opponents, and that points scored for 'unnecessary killing'
can be redeemed by prayer. 'In a time when our nation and the rest of the
world desperately need to stress tolerance, this game -- targeted at a
vulnerable segment of our community, namely, young people -- preaches that
violence is acceptable as long as Jesus or some religious figure demands its
However, American Atheists did not advocate censorship of this or any
other video game. Communications Director Dave Silverman wrote:
"We're not asking the government or retailers to ban this game. Parents,
though, should use the church-centered marketing of this as an opportunity
to talk to young people about good judgment, acceptance of others, and the
need for tolerance -- not violence." 7
Wired magazine commented that the game is:
"... a classic real-time strategy game: Starting with a single
'recruiter,' your job is to proselytize followers, level them up into an
army of soldiers, medics and 'spirit warriors,' then bring a hard rain down
on the forces of the Antichrist. This all takes place in a sprawling version
of Manhattan that is rendered with breathtaking accuracy -- down to the
precise location of Duane Reade drugstores -- and superb camera work. Actual
battles offer nail-biting action, forcing you to make split-second decisions
as helicopters swarm through the air."
"But what's particularly intriguing is how the developers incorporated
prayer as a central game mechanic. Each of your team members has a 'spirit'
ranking. If you let them get too fatigued or hurt, their spirit drops into
'neutral' territory and you lose them. You can sway enemies to your side by
unleashing your 'spirit warriors' or Christian-rock singers, whose joyful
noises raise the spirit of anyone near them. (You can even convert evil
forces if you're persuasive enough. Of course, the Antichrist has his own
evil heavy-metal musicians who work precisely the opposite effect.) And if
your forces accidentally kill neutral innocents, their spirit drops further:
The act of murder actually has a moral dimension in this game."
"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'."
Mark Moford of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a lengthy article
about the game. Unfortunately, most of it is a tirade against fundamentalist
Christians and their leaders. Some of the less hate-filled parts of his article
"... Do you feel ... that
human cretins like, say, gays and
Jews and Wiccans and all those hippie weirdos
with their iPods and low-cut jeans and easy laughter are a plague upon this fine
and holy land? ..."
"Praise Jesus! Your video game
has arrived. ..."
"Ah yes, the neo-Christian
ideal. The ultimate dominionist police state, a
smoking, reeking, post-apocalyptic vision of New York, a world teeming with
nonbelievers just waiting to be either converted or massacred by nothing less
than a Christianized American Taliban, a world of righteousness and judgment and
death, all in the name of one very nasty and bloodthirsty God. ..."
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- " 'Left Behind' Now an End-Times Game," Plugged In Online, at:
- Jonathan Hutson, "The Purpose Driven Life Takers (Part 1)," Talk To Action, 2006-MAY-29, at:
- Dawn C. Chmielewski, "Converting Video Games Into Instruments of God. A
title based on the 'Left Behind' books embraces the medium's violent style.
It may reach a new audience, but can it impart spiritual values?," Los
Angeles Times, 2006-MAY-10, at:
- Ilene Lelchuk " 'Convert or die' game divides Christians. Some ask Wal-Mart
to drop 'Left Behind'," San Francisco Chronicle, 2006-DEC-12, at:
- "The Top 10 Conservative Idiots, No. 246," Democratic Underground,
- Zach Whalen, "Left Behind: Eternal Forces -- First Impressions, Finally,"
Gameology, 2006-SEP-07, at:
- "Support good choices -- not censorship," American Atheists, 2006-DEC-27,
- Clive Thompson, "Going Into Godmode in Left Behind," Wired magazine,
- JHutson, "The Purpose Driven Life Takers (Part 1)," Talk to Action,
- Mark Morford, "Jesus Loves A Machine Gun It's the new 'Left Behind' video
game, where you maim and murder and hate, all in God's name. Praise!," San
Francisco Chronicle, 2006-JUN-07, at:
Copyright © 2006 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2006-JUN-06
Latest update: 2008-SEP-18
Author: B.A. Robinson