Left Behind: Eternal Forces: a hate-based video game
Allegations of spyware; Reactions
Allegations of spyware imbedded in the game:
Chris Williams posted a comment in Spyware that was republished by The Register:
"Watchers of right-wing Christian groups in the States say a new
apocalyptic videogame released by cultish Revelations-based fiction series
Left Behind is riddled with spyware."
"Developers have incorporated software from an Israeli firm called
Fusion. It incorporates video advertising and product placement into the
game, and reportedly records players' behavior, location, and other data to
be uploaded to Left Behind's Bible-powered marketing machine."
JHutson describes a segment of the bame in which a
goat-footed, horned demon emerges from a UN Humbee to eat the dead body of a
"But then one of your tanks gacks the demon in a big fireball --
along with three nurses from the U.N. Now in a gnarlier game, there
might be demon and nurse giblets hanging from the lamp posts, but in
Left Behind: Eternal Forces, there's no blood and guts, just
dead bodies. ... Apparently this cleanness makes the slaughter of
New Yorkers who refuse to convert, somehow more Christ-like, just as
when the Christian commandos shout 'Praise the Lord!' after a fresh
New Yorker kill."
"But for now, the apocalyptic battle lulls. ... And on one of the
Times Square digital billboards, there's a mesmerizing video clip
playing. It's a promo for a PG-13 movie. The graphics are wicked
good: flash video with radio sound. And it's stupid funny. Your
voice cracks as you laugh at the video billboard playing in Times
Square above the gigantamongous pile of bloodless, dead New Yorkers.
You watch the video play through its 15-second loop, unaware that
this in-game ad is also watching you."
"It's cutting-edge Israeli technology -- a piece of software inserted
directly into Left Behind: Eternal Forces, software that cannot
be blocked or removed -- and without your knowledge or permission, it
tracks you. This in-game ad software records how often you play the
video game, at what time of day and for how long, what game play areas
you visit (like Times Square, Soho, Chinatown, or the United Nations
Building), which video ads and product placements you view, where your
computer is located geographically, and who you are demographically. It
monitors your choices and behavior, collates data, and reports back in
real-time to... whom? For what purposes? Do you know?" 2
We have no way to verify whether this is a valid criticism of the game. It
seems unlikely that a major video game producer would resort to such tactics.
The spyware comment may be due to a misunderstanding of one function of the
game. It allegedly connects to the Internet and downloads updated advertising
posters that appear on the sides of buildings in the game.
Reactions to the game:
Chris Williams continued:
"Aimed at 13 to 34-year-old males, Left Behind: Eternal
Forces casts the player as a director of God's Earthly militia, left
behind in the Rapture to roam the streets of New York, battling Satan's
minions and shooting unbelievers."
"With plans to distribute 1 million copies in evangelical "megachurches"
nationwide pre-Christmas, Eternal Forces has attracted criticism from religious
and secular commentators for its pushing of a violent brand of Christian
supremacy. Christian anti-videogame violence campaigner Jack Thompson said:
'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 the
"In an interview on the series' website Greg Bauman of
Left Behind Games explains: 'Left Behind: Eternal Forces will help readers
get a sense of the conflict and chaos of the time period portrayed in Left
Behind and live out how they would defend themselves and their faith from the
Antichrist and his Global Peace Keeping Forces.' The United Nations,
already organ of satanic machinations for many on the Christian far-right,
features strongly in the game. Goat-footed demons reportedly emerge from UN
noted: 'The only way to accomplish anything positive in the game is to
'convert' nonbelievers into faithful believers, and the only alternative to this
is outright killing them'."® 1
The Campaign to
Defend the Constitution and the Christian Alliance for Progress,
two liberal/progressive Christian groups, asked
Wal-Mart on 2006-DEC-12 to not stock the video game.
- Clark Stevens, co-director of the Campaign said:
"It's an incredibly violent video game. Sure,
there is no blood. (The dead just fade off the screen.) But you are mowing
down your enemy with a gun. It pushes a message of religious intolerance.
You can either play for the 'good side' by trying to convert
nonbelievers to your side or join the Antichrist." 3
- The Rev. Tim Simpson, a Jacksonville, FL, Presbyterian
minister and president of the Alliance said:
under the Christmas tree this year for little Johnny is this allegedly
Christian video game teaching Johnny to hate and kill?" 3
Tara Raddohl, a Wal-Mart spokesperson, said that they have no plans to pull
the game from their shelves. She said:
"We look at the community to see where it
will sell. We have customers who are buying it and really haven't received a lot
of complaints about it from our customers at this time."
The Associated Press commented:
"[Troy] Lyndon, the Left Behind Games CEO, said parents
who have seen the game are thrilled. They say it will instill good Christian
values in their children -- and they're especially excited about the "pray"
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Chris Williams, "Evangelical apocalyptic schlockfest 'snoops' on gamers;
Spyware revelations, The Register, 2006-JUN-23, at:
- JHutson, "Who's Watching the Boys? (Part 6, Updated)," Talk to Action,
- Ilene Lelchuk " 'Convert or die' game divides Christians. Some ask Wal-Mart
to drop 'Left Behind'," San Francisco Chronicle, 2006-DEC-12, at:
- Hillary Rhodes, "Christian game: good word, or bad idea?," Associated Press,
Copyright © 2006 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerancebr>
Originally written: 2006-JUN-06
Latest update: 2008-SEP-18
Author: B.A. Robinson