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The countdown to the launch of Left Behind:  Eternal Forces into minds of evangelical youth to prepare them for the coming religious war, is now underway.

While many will no doubt play the new video game, like any other game, others in the game's target market will unwittingly  experience an indoctrination in the idea that the failure to convert the targets of religious prostylitization justifies killing them.

Nevertheless, the game's release is tied to the Christmas shopping season, suggesting that the evangelical Christian commercial marketplace is being harnessed to drive a dangerous form of Christian supremacism: Dangerous to religious minorities, as well as members of incorrect sects. Arguably, it undermines and prepares for aggression against constitutional democracy itself and basic ideas of religious equality under the law.

Talk to Action has been a leader in reporting on these aspects of the game. Media are taking increasingly taking notice of the "game" as well.

In an article titled "Jews in the Virtual Crosshairs," New York Jewish Week writer Liel Leibovitz sees the situation clearly:

Manhattan's skyline is smoldering.

In the streets, the true believers are fighting to the death against the forces of evil, consisting of rock stars and atheists led by the anti-Christ, the leader of a UN-like organization.

Ordinary New Yorkers, Jews included, have little choice: They can either convert or be killed.

All this is taking place in a new video game, "Left Behind: Eternal Forces," created, ironically, by a team consisting of Jews who now say they believe in Jesus.



Addressing the game's basic premise -- that characters must either convert or, eventually, be killed -- [company president Jeffrey] Frichner sounded a more ambivalent tone.

"The game is actually agnostic," he said. "The `Left Behind' series is a Christian series, and it has a motive of wanting to convert people to Christianity. But in the game itself, we don't even mention the word Christian. We use the `Left Behind' premise as a backdrop. We have a good force and an evil force, and [the player's] job is to influence agnostic people."

All that, he added, was not to say that converting people to Christianity is "not important to us."

But the message differs according to who the company is talking to. The Record, New Jersey's largest paper recently reported:  

The company also plans to use it as a massive evangelical tool. The game is laden with biblical messages and inspirational music, and it rewards players for engaging in prayer or converting a non-believer. The company is offering a free demonstration model to churches.

"We see it as a beacon of light that could shine in the dark world of video games," said Jerome Mikulich, director of outreach ministries for the company. "The most important thing is that it helps kids realize there is power in the spirit world, and that by praying they can endure and get through their real-life situations."

Yes, there is even a "prayer button" to replenish your spirituality after wasting someone who refuses to convert. That makes it ok to have slaughtered innocent bystanders.

The game's manufacturer has put out double-talk from the from the beginning.  They claim the game is not violent because it does not show blood and guts; but the game is still about a Christian militia slaughtering New Yorkers who won't be converted in the name or a particular brand of Christianity. It is evangelical; but its not. It is religious; but it is "agnostic."  

And so on.

Whatever the company's latest spin, the game still functions as tool of indoctrination into the  worldview of the Left Behind series of novels by Tim LaHaye, who has licensed the brand and the content to the video game makers.  Indeed, the game is prominently plugged on "The official web site of the Left Behind Series".  

It is a classic instance of the extension and licensing of the brand. Rather than something separate from the series, it is an extension of and promotion for the series.

A company press release on "Market Wire" dated October 18th clarifies their target market:  people familiar with Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series. Indeed, although it aims at a wider market, its core market are those already steeped in Left Behind lore:  

Left Behind Games Inc.  has released data specific to Left Behind® book readers' opinions of the upcoming PC game, LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces<sup>TM</sup&gt.

Independent studies by Barna Research Group and Christianity.com indicate the Left Behind readership to be in excess of 20 million. The study shows that of the 3,500 Left Behind readers that responded, 72 percent currently play video games and 92 percent intend to buy the Left Behind video game for themselves or a family member when it ships this November.

"We must be careful to realize research information for what it is," said Troy Lyndon, CEO, Left Behind Games. "Even within the context of a healthy and realistic viewpoint, these survey results indicate definite interest in our products among Left Behind readers."

More than 10,000 retail locations are expected to carry LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, Circuit City, GameStop, EB Games, EB Canada, CompUSA, Amazon.com, Costco and numerous others.

LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces, the first title released by Left Behind Games, is a real time strategy game set in post-Rapture New York City. Players control the Tribulation Force as they attempt to save New Yorkers from the Global Peacekeepers controlled by the Antichrist.

LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces will ship to stores in time for Christmas.

The shipping date is November 7th, election day.The product is supposed to be on the shelves by November 17th.

Merry Christmas.

[Crossposted from Talk to Action and Political Cortex.]

Originally posted to Frederick Clarkson on Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 03:40 AM PDT.

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