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Left Behind: Eternal Forces: a hate-based video game

Allegations of spyware; Reactions


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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 Double 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." 1

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 Christian sniper"

"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.


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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 Christians'."

"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 peacekeeping Humvees."

"One reviewer 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:

"So, 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" button." 4


References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Chris Williams, "Evangelical apocalyptic schlockfest 'snoops' on gamers; Spyware revelations, The Register, 2006-JUN-23, at: http://www.theregister.co.uk/
  2. JHutson, "Who's Watching the Boys? (Part 6, Updated)," Talk to Action, 2006-JUN-21, at: http://www.talk2action.org/
  3. Ilene Lelchuk " 'Convert or die' game divides Christians. Some ask Wal-Mart to drop 'Left Behind'," San Francisco Chronicle, 2006-DEC-12, at: http://www.sfgate.com/
  4. Hillary Rhodes, "Christian game: good word, or bad idea?," Associated Press, 2006-APR-11, at: http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/

Copyright © 2006 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerancebr> Originally written: 2006-JUN-06
Latest update: 2008-SEP-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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